Call Me Father Poem by Chinyelu Agwu

Call Me Father

If you climb on my shoulder
We can watch the television together
Even though your high chair
Is right beside me.
Your babbles and saliva
Tickle my work-worn neck
And soothe the strained nerves
When we are together.
It's a joy to pick you up
From your mother's loving arms
That cut short a day's work
Just to pick you up
From Mrs Orioke's creche.
My heart bursts with pride
When I think of you
When I am at work
So do your big brother and sister
Enlarge my pride
There and here.

And so, I say
Call me father
When the greedy-eyed desk neighbour
Who stretches forth a hand of secondary school friendship
Tells sweet tales of ill-gotten wealth
Lies of inexistent rich uncles
And fake trips to rich Dubai and America.
Call me father when you shut your ears
Call me father when you shut the windows of your heart
To the spins and yarns of an impatient friend.
And again, I say
Call me father
When you frown at the announcement
That WAEC will be written for you
"Do not worry", the principal will say.
Call me father
As the school becomes history to you
As you resume at another
With more value for the dignity of learning
And merited success.
Call me father
When you see the glint in that 300-level student's eye
And refuse his offer of Lacasera laced with fire.
Call me father
When you see your fellows
Married to laptops for swindling foreign old women
Desperately in need of love
And for snooping into other people's accounts
To steal their hard-earned money.
Call me father
When you shun their selfish, never useful gains
Profit for their glitz, the gamble, the tumble, and the gutter.
Call me father
When your best friend boasts of the taste of blood
And of the midnight meal of raw flesh served
In the depths of the forest, behind the upland campus
Within the brotherhood of machetes, cutlasses, and axes.
Call me father
When you puke in disgust
And remind him that blood is the meal of beasts
Who live in the jungle.

Call me father
When the whispers planning the gory sacrifice
Strain into your ears.
When boys of your age
Prepare the eyes, breasts, and other choice parts
Of pretty victims
For money rituals
To the god of impatient wealth and misguided increase;
For organ harvesting
To the lords of the illegal medical runway
Who tread on the marbled hearts of the slaughtered souls
For gain.
If these whispers of the mindless slaughter
Stir cringes in your decent heart
Call me father.

I know it will be hard
To tear you out from the woods of moving and still images
Made with dress-to-deceive, smile-to-seduce,
Hug-to-pretend and decorate-to-impress
Colours, cuts, and well-designed family circles.
The sites bear many names that feast on sight
That activate the lust for the now
For the fleeting, flighty fancies
For the hard-crusted but half-baked.
Call me father
If through these woods
You see this mirage
And scream
Give me real hands to hold
Real tears to wipe
And real stories to believe.

For I, your father
Crested upon the heights of a towering dawn,
Your dawn,
Gaze into our laced community
And resolve
To groom the one
That all may blossom
To shapen the future
With the anvil of today.
For where we wish to soar
Have only angels billowing
And neat, white clouds.

This is the fourth poem from the I See No Jungles Here poems in the trilogic poetry collection titled, It's No Fantasy, written for Nigeria in 2022. The three parts are titled as follows: I See No Jungles Here; I See the Living; and It's No Fantasy. The first, second, and third parts contain eleven, eight, and five poems respectively. The collection reinstates a belief in Nigeria's ability to conquer its multiple problems which are depicted in the poems using imagery of realism, fantasy, and social reconstruction.
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