The Road to Exile Thinking of Vallejo by Syl Cheney-Coker

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Like others I get drunk in my blood

hiccuping and await the souls of my brothers

perennially on the song composed by the heliotrope heart

at midstream where the spirits walk


excellent then, this sudden shower of locusts

expanse of cortege and the two roads

of the cemetery where time has its teeth

in the flesh of a mother who oxidizes her soul

with the waters of the passion-flower

as May is a brother just as October was a brother

linked to the prodigal who declares:

Mother I want to return into exile to be your poet!

hearing this, my mother seized by an element of nature

wondering whether I am going or staying seeing the roads

in my eyes, turns a terra-cotta sister and her hair

once black illuminates the night with its premature whiteness

my mother prevents my flight into myself

speaking to me through her silence through the beat of her heart

being that she loves me that she is always herself double

the sword fighting my days the lamp lighting my nights

when my heart sinks deep in the oasis

of its pain! she rejuvenates me calling back the me

that has died tracing the man-child to the poet

without understanding the dictates of my soul


blood absent from my soul my dog-starved days

on the peninsula of my Sierra Leone

my legacies which I counted in five carcasses

dancing drunk in the terrible summers

and that cruel winter polyphonic in verse

when I loved that woman without first learning how to live

I bled one night shedding poems from my heart!

It is recorded then: I’ll die in exile!

thinking of my Sierra Leone

this country which has made me a poet

this country which has honoured me

with the two knives of my death passed crisscross

through my heart

so that I can say to a bleeding mother:

Mother I am returning into exile to be your poet!

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