At Dawn Poem The African Writers



I met a woman at a time in my life,

when the oxygen was scarce in my lungs, my heart was

charred with despair, my fortune fared south and all that

was dear to me could no more forebear the new man,

the wandering, vapid tumbleweed,

the vagabond, the invalid, the knave’


This woman, she, gave me no particular exultation,

but there was a certain intensity in her gaze and the

way she looked at me that told she was one in the habit

of dropping a good word or two that might lift the spirit,


but her remark was to the reference that I could do with

a new pair of shoes, good ones, then she alluded to her

knowledge of a certain cobbler-person that could make me

really nice ones, but I looked her over with wondering eyes

and said ‘Excuse me?’ with a mix of bewilderment and

confusion telling on my face, yet she merely laughed

and reemphasized her point;


So I asked just why, by all that stands with reason,

she was speaking to me, a reject; crestfallen, beggarly

and unkempt as I was, still she retorted with a half-sane smile-

“Don’t we all deserve a new pair of shoes, sometime?

even if the old one’s just fine?” then I thought her to be

rather wastefully crazy, for she looked to be a lady of good means

and turning in indifference, I silently went my way,

not in any humor for her kind that bitter day;


yet she went on, even louder this time,

and just as my neck craned to catch her face,

there was a wash of rare tenderness in her eyes

that warmed me from my head to my feet;

“I really think you deserve a new pair of shoes, Mr.,

You can meet me here at any time. I’ll take you to him;

I and this cobbler, see, we’re always free”


And as I turned again, I thought strangely that she really

did mean to say something more, I felt it like an impression

in my bones, then I concluded It’d probably take eternity to

figure that sort of thing out, though the pleasantness

stayed in my heart’


But I unmistakably came about it sooner than I expected,

when I stood, inches from a drop on that bridge, peering at

my bare deformed feet, and something in me broke at that hour,

and I suddenly was overwhelmed with an urgency to seek her out;


Largely vague and stupid thoughts

began to occupy my mind;

That just maybe her cobbler-person

would fix me up quite nicely with her promise,

then I thought, rather grossly,

a shard of agony piercing my heart, that she was right.

Everyone deserves new shoes every once in a while,

especially If the old ones are not at all fine like mine.


It would really be better to try to see if those new shoes fit,

than trying to see if it could indeed be fatal

to drop from that height;


and I had to look upon that stranger one more time;

I could barely believe I had gathered in one afternoon,

two reasons to live.


Yet, I turned from that place and returned to

the place I met her, fixed my feet on the exact spot,

and looking into the sun I waited,

till I brought my head down and my heart moved with

an overwhelming feeling that scared the light out of me.

but she really was there again,

with her large knowing eyes, abandoned to empathy.






Although the parade of monumental adversaries

did not sway us,

and their bitter bickering climbed over our heads

and walked away, that, even the blind could see

that the ravaging voices would not topple our grit,

their prating, unaffectionate ranting would not upturn

our synergy or cripple our stance,

neither would we let them ride us

half-sane into the wild dark.


Although Principle and Power locked heads

and either way, we knew we would lose,

and even though the length of miles ahead

blackened with a fearsome grey

and the horizon lay low and a strange wind bellowed

and threatened to move me from my place,


And although the Dove wrestled an Eagle above us,

and victory for any was unsure,

and the avarice confessed of lips was creeping into

our Holy-shed, little regard for our denial and rebuke,

and even though monsters coiled by us on our beds,

and the serpent hissed above,


And though Function and Freedom did

battle in the wide free field,

and the monarchy of the Heavens

tended to these underdogs,


And though the arrows rained down like hail

and the ostentatious and miserly perished alike

in the great flood,

and although peace wore new pants

and pulled over its head a helmet that read

‘No More!’


And although the black and white sheep

slept, belly to belly,

sinking into the great deep

and the motions of Time shook idly by,

breathing, panting, resting,

then going again, of their portion in the cycle,

harvesting, reaping’


Although many told us these were tee-to-tales,

soon to go extinct,

Tales about the unseen war,

the ever-revolving battle,

the trans-dimensional rattle of all that

lives and breathes and moves,

the unyielding haggle over what or who shall

prevail in this realm(s) where no ruler may or can

or will enforce his majesty;


this anonymity of the untouchable All-in-All,

this craze of the simple ones to look upon his form,

to behold in awe;

so all went partly-confused and devoid of reason,

but if it would draw this One’s attention,

we would usurp and usurp till he comes.


And paramount, although we refused to turn to be enlisted

among the contenders, we authored and preferred

a more familiar way and answer.

A way not of callous superiority

or undefinable meekness,

No, not any of these,

but a way that simply says;


‘Regardless the red in my veins

or the green in my heart, I was made as all,

and will seek as they to only be a part,

And to look upon and seek ever I live what

may be that part; not after a sojourn of enmity,

but a strife for unity that I be not

misplaced in the great seething puzzle

called life’





This dark-haired Peter was prissy, quite the sass;

He was a rich scummy boy with shiny cheeks

and healthy bones and quite the fattest arse’


Always had all he wanted, always wanted all he had’

He never suffered spanks like we did,

and every time he got even a lip-lashing

he’d squirm, shit-faced, like an ugly worm

and scurry off like a nasty fat-arsed rodent

and we’d snicker and laugh hard.


He had giant pimples the size of a fist

around his beady brown eyes and all the money

in the world wouldn’t make them go away.

He was a wuss, alright, the rudest cunt you’ll ever meet’

He never uttered a word to us and he never could,

the over-bearing arrogant knuckle-head.


But the last time I set eyes on him, I was rather cruel;

He was being shipped off to some far away

boarding school, as I guess, his parents could no more

contain his bratty guts—


A train of baggage trotting after his royal highness,

I cussed under my breath and yelled from a discrete corner,

as the street offshoot do,

that I wished the witches would eat him up at night

‘cos his smug face could bid an entire clan an invite’


Now, I just want to kill myself!

I heard a week ago that he died,

but that’s not the worst part;

It was rumored to be the dreadful suicide.


Though my little budding mind could not comprehend

why or how a person could kill himself,

I was busy about blaming myself.

It could indeed be that I killed him;

and the thought clawed my heart sore with guilt

His demise erased every scorn in me.

I had begun to feel pity,

that maybe. he wasn’t as happy as we’d imagined

he’d be or as ‘bratty’—


Now, this voice won’t let me be.

It keeps saying ‘I killed him’

Oh now, I shall surely burn in hell,

but I’m truly sorry.

I had no idea words could do that.






They ran in circles, these keepers of the Gate;

Eating in a hurry, standing on their heads,

feasting quickly on the bread of despair,

making an excuse for every stray, misplaced soul

that by cause of wandering, comes their way;

leading them home;


These are they that weave all day,

threads of vein, they tell us, over threads of wool,

intertwining destinies of clay gods,

piercing them about with mercy’s pardon,

draping fate’s veil, one silver button’s lining here,

a good fortune’s there,

a wave of freedom ornamenting every hem,

a yarn of yoke running diagonally

over wefts of falsehood,


They motion, finger into finger,

the tension and rest of arms,

the fervent labor of every steward of this

remarkably fragile duty;

surely, they know their part in the maker’s plot

has no equal in magnitude,

hence, their lust is ever to ascend after his design,

to earn his sacred seal, to prove their merit sure,

to garner lengthier days with us,

to profit this privilege,

so their hunger burns continually as insatiable beasts,

intoxicated with greed.


But these keepers of the gate,

look to me as enfeebled mutts’

standing on thin listless legs,

swinging their hips to mourning and

gay company alike, lifting their shoulders

to whatever song that comes along,

ever present with us, but never among us,

ever shouting their way through

clusters of heads, ever making aware every eye, that,

they are the worthiest spectacle’


The keepers of the gate,

the watchmen of heaven and hell’

Falling from stars, wearing garments of flesh and bone’

their temples stretch high and deep over mountains,

and into dark caves,


their backs, hunch for bowing to all accounted great,

or brave or the perpetrator of some spectacular deed,

or to beauty still,

holding little value for truth, taming shadows,

announcing for fools, manifold perverse scrolls;


The keepers of the gate,

dwelling with us to defeat the alien sperm;

the seed of pure knowledge,

the pruning of truth’


The keepers of the gate,

weaving till the hour glass breaks

and time gathers dust,

weaving heavy duty robes for clay gods and tin gods,

coverings, for the nakedness of transparent curiosity;


The keepers of the gates vend heads in the market,

trading woven mats of two-faced’ fortunes

for clay gods,

they monger for their matter,

they gather round,

they bargain,

weighing value on feigned scales;


they, the benevolent keeper of the gate,

changing faces, mutating forms,

dwelling with us,

never among-st us;

Foxes most divine!


Eating in great hurry, eating in secret,

standing on their heads,

bidding stray clay gods a way home

by the treacherous valley,

marking their trail,

knowing they shall surely choke

on the morsels of every counsel.


Gifting every single one, blindfolds,

even as they follow softly behind,

to devour.






I became, overtime, accustomed to

another kind of bravery’

The kind that sits on sidelines,

shuffling uncanny imaginations,

the kind that incubates hope’s commodity

as it waits on the shimmer of a silver day

and the wistful tar blackness of night,

for reasons entirely unknown to reason’


The kind that pins its tent upon the bridge

joining fear and faith, that one could call the

‘Quasi-valiant’ or ‘the Quasi-unafraid’,

but something of that matter, still;


But on a certain day,

even the sun all of a sudden went an unusual path,

hiding its rays; running away;

So I waited for the moon to do me the half-gain

of a glimmer of light,

and at about midnight, she came,

ever pearlescent with a chaste untouchable sermon,

solemn, yet almost vain I reckoned,

and shy as the grave.

Still, she travelled on and never returned,

leaving me in the company, yet again,

of a vast stridulating nothingness.

How could I, by the gallant heavens,

not be crossed with this fate?!


Then., a raging turmoil, a senseless resistance

unsettled me; an unnerving sickness;

an arousing belly-deep disgust

that brewed a maddening fury’


and in a carefree heartbeat,

I picked up my feet and ran twelve miles,

till I came about my unmoving home,

but even there, she appeared surreal,

never landing on her feet, floating over a swamp,

fading into the wave of haze and heat and glowing again,

caressing the tides, bidding me come nearer,

heralding the elements,

melting away my heart and my eyes.

Now, this bliss, I promised,

I would never ever let slip away.


But as the instance of a fork of lightening hitting the earth,

A reverberation sounded suddenly;

a bombinating here and there,

my soul jumping back in me;

a flutter of sad lashes,

my eyes opening to a new mourning.


Yes, this must be a peculiar sort of bravery’

That I could turn away again,

and spring awake to her crushing absence.

To this plastic face that darkens every day.


About The Author

I am Adodo Ruth, a lover of prose and poetry. I fell in love with writing when I realized the weight of empathy it bore and its ability to open my eyes to the depth of the thoughts of diverse people and most importantly, it gives me the opportunity to tell incredible stories that inspire me and portray characters that are themselves representatives of entities and values and embodiment of a societal idea or phenomenon be it good or evil. My primary purpose for writing is expanding my imagination and creative prowess to enable me relate more deeply with every subject matter, under whatever genre I write.