I May Be Lying in the Gutter, I’m Looking Up at the Stars

The streets lie harshly deserted
As the cock’s crow is sifted within.
The air rotates and speaks to itself
With none visible presence on the lonely ground.

The roads lose constant patronage
As the to and fro rush rides cease the fleet.
The breeze blows on roughly cold
As the dry wind seizes serenity.

And then from parallel sides of every angle
Emerge folks with clenched fists,
Storming the peace for a march
As the climate weeps to a boiling point.

The fumes of haze rises up to the clouds
As the burning tyres join in, in lighting up the day.
A busy town welcomes dawn in fury,
As a marching song is raised along.

The streets of Lagos
Rage on with a protest lot
As a nation holds still at pause,
Losing calm in a long held breath.

Tears on a new year
Fiercely fall upon our palms,
As vehicles on the highway
Ever stay at a packed end,
On empty tanks
Till yet another rainy day.
And as the national tide
Changes to a falling stance,
We grip ourselves in wait
As deregulation shuffle
Brings on tides of adversity,
Rigour, on a charred chaotic flag.

But alas, we stay pale,
Ceasing our breaths
As we brace the tide.
Part and parcel of the austerity walk,
We join our fellow comrades in wailing on,
At a test drive, we hope be quickly quelled.

And as I observe involuntarily,
Flat down in a pensive gaze,
I may be lying straight in the gutter,
But I’m looking on inspirited, up at the consoling stars.

© Dowell Oba 09/01/2012



37 thoughts on “I May Be Lying in the Gutter, I’m Looking Up at the Stars” by Dowell Oba (@dowell)

  1. I rarely read nor write poetry but your poetry was quite good and the depiction of the protest was nicely captured. However, your last stanza got me confused. I perhaps thought at first that you were with the protesters, if yes, what does this then mean?
    “And as I observe involuntarily,
    Flat down in a pensive gaze,
    I may be lying straight in the gutter,
    But I’m looking on inspirited, up at the consoling stars”

    1. Thanks Enoquin for enjoying this! Well as regards the last stanza I’m referring to the subsidy removal situation we were all put into beyond our wish.

      At the end, I had to take a pause from the action to observe the state of affairs. And even though l found life extremely difficult (i.e “lying straight in the gutter”) as I sadly reflected through the economic standstill nationwide, I was still hopeful as I consoled myself in my contemplative hopeful gaze, that things would surely be better at the end of it all.

  2. Lovely poem. The tittle got me thinking if its a comic short story or something.

    I like the way you told the story although, the imagery coulda been deeper.

    And you wrote this on the first.. Feel your frustration and share in your hopes. good job ‘king’.

    1. Hmm Gooseberry since when did I mount a throne to become ‘king’? Thanks for the sweet compliments though!

      Happy the figurative title caught your sight! l feel your point with making the imagery deeper to catch the fearful scene of the protest more. lol.

      1. I thought Oba meant king.. Or am I mistaken? Correct me pls. My brain could act funny atimes.

        1. Ooh!!! You’re totally right, don’t mind me. Didn’t know u were referring to my surname.

  3. If I knew it was Dowell’s poem, I would have come prepared with a different stance. But it is good…the title got me, though I have to
    say that it didn’t capture the poem to me – just my views…
    I agree with @Enoquin on the last stanza…I do not think that the first line of that stanza works…’And as I observe involuntarily’…
    Now, I do not argue the import of those thoughts but I think part of it can be rephrased.
    To mention a few other things, don’t you think we are doing this ‘cock crow’ thing too much. Maybe we should do some changes…
    Come to think of it, na how many times you dey hear cock crow for Lagos? Most of the cocks I hear crowing na inside pot!
    You might want to review others like ‘rainy day’ et al…
    Certain adjectives and overt description can be cut…Like, ‘constant’ patronage. Patronage does it. Yeah, so some trimming of unnecessary
    fat and we would have something better…
    I said I wouldn’t talk much on many posts but for people of the verse like you, I would. Cheers Dowell, Danbaba still sends his pride. S’

    1. Ah! Master Su’ does his thing again!..lol..
      @Dowell, I liked d poem..When I saw d title, I was expecting a piece written from a drunk’s POV..hehe..but ur explanation wld do..Nice poem..Well done..

      1. Thanks @Bubbllinna! Glad you feel the piece to understand it deeply beyond a first glimpse! Much appreciated! Would do some comedy soon though! lol

    2. Sueddie, the thorough analyst! Thanks for the long review. lol! Well let me start…. Poetry at times can have a figurative abstract title that may not entirely capture the poem. Take for instance Kwesi Brew’s “The Mesh” having such a title “The Mesh” that hardly portray the dilemma situation in the love affair. But then it is loved for its artistic nature till date.

      A cock may not crow in Lagos but that’s the ironic part whereby you can only hear or sift the cock’s crow at moments of desertion in the streets and total silence, like in the strike mornings before the protest. You caught my deliberate point there, though that analogy is quick becoming a cliché like you say which I agree.

      The cars parked “till yet another rainy day” means the cars would be driven only when we have money. Well I can accept removing “constant” in the patronage because I would still have the flow. But if I over trim the poem like you suggest, the feeling would not be felt enough by the reader since it’s a narrative poem in which we are meant to image the happenings, and at that it may be seen as somewhat rushed and unreal.

      The last stanza ends on an artistic note for the reader to imagine the rest and give metaphoric or paradoxical interpretation, from the persona’s feeling of pain and contemplation as well as motivational driving force, like Gooseberry did see. Once more, I appreciate your thorough review my man!

      1. Point taken…point taken. Cool it with the name jor :) About the title, that was just a passing comment. Your title is
        good…Was feeling bad that you cheated me out of what I was expecting to read! Yup, I was going along @sibbylwhyte ‘s way…
        I mentioned earlier that the last stanza was good (@Kaycee see your head :) ) – just that I think a ‘lil’ part needs some tweaking.

        Ask Kaycee wetin im mean by the exquisite gist…hiding with small words to knack person…Haba!
        Dowell bro, well done jor. It isn’t easy to write a poem with thoughts … many others (‘I myself am one of them’)
        just write and when asked or interviewed, just ramble some crap about the import or how we inspired it!
        Hee hee hee…Well done.

        1. Hehehe…. Didn’t think it like that. Kaycee sef!

  4. Can’t say the poem is exquisite. But, there is nothing here to deserve a harsh comment.
    And as for the last stanza, that’s the best part of the poem. So don’t mind those…editors.

    1. Abi o Kaycee! After wearing my bullet proof to reduce critiques to the minimum level. But then I take all as essential review which every literal work must be subjected to, to prove its standard.

      I’m glad you heartily approve of the last stanza which I agree is a very essential part of the poem. Thanks!

      1. And stop sounding so polite and proper jare! Its boring.

        You look familiar, where did you school, in hull?

        1. I schooled in Heaven, lol! Like say u no know my school.

  5. Good one. Well done.

  6. I also think the conclusion nailed it for me. Yeah, We may be down and/or out, but there’s definitely someplace shining to look forward to; like mingling with the stars after our period of wallowing in the mire is over. Sheer optimism, I believe

    1. Straight in the bull’s eye, @tosyn! Thanks a lot!

  7. Nice poem Dowell. Frankly I didn’t get the last stanza until your illumination in one of your comments, which makes me to berate myself: must I have the mind of a poet to understand poems? Well done!

    1. Lol @Ablyguy! Well at least you got the protest part. Just take such lines the way you interpret proverbial sayings then you’re all good. Thanks!

  8. For me it was, it was the title that got me. I agree the writer can improve on this piece, but the last stanza was da bomb. Nice work

    1. I smiled at your comment @natiloni, thanks!

    1. @Seun, is it the case of the speechless observer?

  9. I like the way the whole sage of the subsidy protest was captured, but I kinda agree with Sueddie on the overt description you give sometimes, don’t forget that sometimes less is more. And your paragraph 5 I think the statement “hold still at pause” seem to be saying the same thing.

  10. i meant the “whole saga …”

  11. U did good with this one. I like it.

  12. I like the air or it’s mother breeze ( wind, brother abi?) speak, rotate; and or
    it’s most romatic strokes on gangly branches of tress! I like this work too.

  13. Thanks @ostar! Appreciate you liking it.

    Yeah it’s wind I was referring to.

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