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OJAIDE, Tanure

Emergency Kit

When I find myself among a laughing tribe,

I know they hide something from me;

I conjure up a laughter box whose button I press

to outlaugh them all. As long as they hear their music,

they leave me free; I don’t want to surrender all I have.

I am a moving stump in the forest of men

and if I stray into a towering company, those

more than a kilometre from the undergrowth,

I release stilts from my soles; I don’t want to be

looked down upon by the very top ones.

I collapse the long legs when I step into where

giants are the required offerings of the gods of the race.

I have a lifesaver installed in my body

just in case I am knocked into some deep river;

unless I come out alive, I will be declared evil—

who ever wants his adversary to have the last word on him?

So when a hunter stalks me to fill his bag,

I call on my snake from nowhere to bite him.

Folks, let’s drink ourselves to death in the party

as long as we wear sponges in the tongue;

let’s stay awake in our unending dream so that nobody

will take us for gone and cheat us out of our lives.