Deep, powerful, and reflective are the adjectives I use to describe Cascades – a collection of 20 poems written by Okey Uzoechina over 20 years. Okey’s poems are really rich in meaning, and they speak of a mind that is deep thinking and liberal. Being a well-traveled man, Okey’s poems reflect his experiences from his many travels to different parts of the world, which is responsible for shaping the perspectives from which he writes as well as his choice of imagery. The poems in Cascades are all brilliant, but two stand out for me, and they are “Tomorrow” and “Prologue”. I like “Tomorrow” because of the interesting similes Okey used to discuss his subject. My favorite simile in the poem is “Like the sun that never fails, tomorrow gives hope when we wail”. My interpretation of that is when a man is down and out, and it seems as if his world is coming to an end, as long as there is tomorrow, there is always hope of him getting up again; as long as there is tomorrow, he can always make lemonade from the lemons life gives him. As Nigerians, we are too familiar with this concept, which is why we have coined many slogans, such as “God’s time is the best”; “No condition is permanent”; “Wait for your time”; “The young shall grow” and so on, which you often see decorating the bodies of commercial transportation vehicles. A Nigerian musician also once sang: “I know one day, one day – one day, e go better”. All of these underscore the fact that as uncertain as tomorrow may be, we hopefully look forward to what it will bring when we are beat up by life. And so, truly, tomorrow gives hope when we wail. Well said Okey!
Then I like “Prologue” because of the medieval British imagery Okey employed in that piece. He alluded to the Middle Ages when there were royal courts and kings and queens, who decided the fate of their subjects; whose moods sometimes determined whether a person lived or died. Today, too, we have people who act like kings and queens in their dealings with others, especially those dependent on them in one way or another. “Kings” and “queens” who would prefer to give handouts to others rather than helping them rise. “Kings” and “queens” who feel threatened when others are succeeding. “Kings” and “queens” who like to be worshipped and adored by others; who like others to always go Oooh! Aaaah! at what they possess or have accomplished. “Kings” and “queens” who do things only for the fame and recognition it would give them, and not for altruistic reasons. Yes, “kings” and “queens” who oppress the lowly, and get away with it, because they are above the law. Every society has such ones, who comport themselves like demi-gods and want to be treated as such. Okey’s poem – “Prologue” – captures the disappointment felt by those who have been let down or treated disrespectfully by such individuals, simply because they are dependent on them. If you’ve had dealings with such “kings” and “queens”, then you would agree with me that they deserve to be called out.
Overall, however, Cascades is really beautiful to read, and I can say Okey nailed this one. Jisike nwokem! Looking forward to reading your other works.