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Boulevard of Broken Branches

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm

BOULEVARD OF BROKEN BRANCHES

 

I

my life is a boulevard
i am a piece of broken dreams

my life is a bough
i am a piece of shredded leaves

my life is a road
i am a crossroad of chaos

my life is a space
i am a void of evil thoughts

my life is a waste
i am a face of an unwanted child

my life is a test
i am a failure

 

my life is a root

i am a debris of broken dreams

 

my life is a shoot

i am rising against interred nightmares

 

II

my breasts are small

the village say am but a girl

three moons after now

they ask why the golden pair has come

so robust

 

my breasts are big

the village say am spoilt

by the fondling hands of men

who stay behind at the ancient stream

does the act make breasts grow?

 

my breasts are known

like yam tubers in the village market

they are the topic at the village square

mama and papa say i bring home shame

in this court i can make no plea

 

to a harrowing ritual i submit myself

i am another lamb

in the shadowy shrine of breast-ironing

 

III

i am now a powdered face

with bleached and transplanted teeth

advertising themselves

a pair of lips dyed with luxurious lipstick

20-karat gold in the holes of erring ears

like gold-ring in the snout of a swine

toe-nails pedicured in scarlet

constructed mediated breasts that

shame reality as they pop out

like the head of seething anaconda

 

a vain and glorious caryatid sculpted

over thousands of moribund nights

a face of beauty no more than skin deep

 

your conscience may mock me

how many of your eyes feast on me

and in the name of light, camera, action

you glorify my beauty

 

IV

it won’t be once

and it won’t be twice

you will always come to drink

from this fallen fountain of fleshy waters
the broken cistern of hades

palaces of red-light ladies where secrets of shamefulness are shared
in the shadowy interior of paradise of promiscuity
where potent seeds of pestilence are sown and reaped and spread

and you go into hundred halls with harrowing hordes of statistics preaching the gospel of zipping up

apostle of death fouling salvation with your soiled soul
how could i survive when you sleep with my mothers, sisters and girlfriends?

 

V

tell shina
tell him that the silence hurts
like a dead knife cutting through
the flesh
tell him that mother-hen does not
look on while her chicks go astray

tell shina
tell him i’ve cuddled
the tail of a cobra
for when an idol becomes too proud
it is shown to its face from which
wood it is carved
tell shina
tell him that many moons may pass
but the past has nowhere to go
tell him the words have eluded my tongue

 

VI

i can talk about it now

dusts of broken china clouded the room

pearly pieces of earrings jangled out of their holes

and balls of beads bounced brazenly

off my violated neck

shreds of sundered dress carpeted the floor

pints of blood dotted the bedspread

as the stiletto tore through my flesh

 

i can talk about it now

the filthy fingers froze feelings on my face

i looked on ceaselessly like a decapitated head

as by a cruel stroke of lightning i was put asunder

and shook like the epicenter of a sacrilegious violence

a temple desecrated

he was on top

as my world began to burn

in the fleeting ecstasy of a stranger

 

VII

moon, stars, clouds, and sun
time merged and dispersed
on the sandy, thirsty plains
of sahara we trudged
against fiery trade winds
we forged

sun, clouds, stars, and moon
in cold, hunger and strife
we arrived morocco
the threshold to golden europe
as the mirage of golden fleece
played in the sands before our
cataracted eyes

dogs barked and dogged our tails
mortal voices sounded death knell
and we fell one and all
our sunken face asking
is this the way to europe?

 

VIII

bye-bye shina

the lily in the valley of my heart

 

bye-bye shina

the only currency in my life’s vault

 

bye-bye shina

the only coral reef in the seabed of my waters

 

bye-bye shina

the sparkling star in my solar system

 

bye-bye shina

the ebullient gazelle in my grazing field

 

bye-bye shina

the final end of my love’s beginning

 

bye-bye shina

as i bury you in the cemetery of fouled feelings

and assassinated desires

 

bye-bye shina

as you make this transition from lust to dust

as you die interred with love stolen, unrequited

 

bye-bye shina

as you become the symbol of a love

ending before starting

 

bye-bye shina

as i pack an eternity into one final look

the lily in the hell of my heart

 

IX

tears, teardrops, tears drop, and never stop

time hurts as it heals
the heat of longing harasses my
psyche of persecuted passion

fractures of fragile feeling in faded
face of forlorn future
shrunken silence of unsung tragedy
time heals when it’s past

eternal future suddenly made present
just the marks of time left as reminders
in empty space of filled minds
tears, teardrops, tears drop, and never stop
hurting healer when shall these tears
be in your skin-bottle?

 

X

and i pray

 

may the iceberg of realities
not shatter the ship of my dreams

may the frigid fingers of time

not tick against my magic moments

may the harsh hands of hunger

not stir my stomachs

may the fiery temptation of mammon
not lead me astray

 

may the ogling eyes of sex
not entice me into pits of paradise of promiscuity

 

may the silent night

not empty me into the bowels of hell

 

may the day dawn

not behind but before me.

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ATM Machine Gives Away $1.5m

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2012 at 9:10 am

Ronald Page seemingly had it made when Bank of America unintentionally changed his account status, allowing the 55-year-old man to make unlimited ATM cash overdraft withdrawals.

But ABC News reports that Page, who in reality had only $300 in his checking account, used the accidental loophole to withdraw more than $1.5 million—losing it all on gambling.

And even worse for Page, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit says he is now facing 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of theft of bank funds, $1,543,104 in total between December 1, 2008 and May 31, 2009.

“In this case, the bank’s glitch allowed the defendant to lose a significant amount of money that was not even his in the first place,” reads the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memorandum, obtained by ABC. “The fact that defendant acted on an impulse does not minimize the seriousness of his conduct and the need for a custodial sentence.”

The glitch reportedly occurred because Page originally had a banking account with LaSalle Bank. When Bank of America acquired LaSalle, the glitch somehow occurred while the two banking institutions were transferring account information.

Page, who does not have a prior record, could have faced a steeper sentence but prosecutors said his crime was a “lapse of judgment” and placed blame with Bank of America for allowing the withdrawals to take place.

In addition to the recommended 15-month sentence and order to repay the funds, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has suggested that Page be prohibited from gambling in any capacity.

“If his gambling addiction is not addressed, he is very likely to cause further financial hardship to himself and his family,” the memorandum reads.

The day the Bank of America glitch went into effect, Page reportedly withdrew $312,000 from ATMs at the Greektown Casino in Detroit and an additional $51,727 from the MGM Grand Casino. Bank of America placed a hold on his account 17 days later, but he had already withdrawn $1.5 million by that point.

NAIJA: How to Survive a Plane Crash

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm

A former executive producer at ABC’s Good Morning America and a senior broadcast producer at NBC Nightly News, Ben Sherwood has written a new book, The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life, that discusses, among other things, what you can do to survive a plane crash. Sherwood talked to TIME shortly after a US Airways flight made a crash landing in the Hudson River. (See pictures of the Hudson River plane crash.)

It seems that all the people got off this flight safely. That’s sort of shocking, isn’t it?

I write in The Survivors Club about the “myth of hopelessness.” People think that all plane crashes are fatal. That’s because of TWA 800 and Egypt Air and ValuJet and Pan Am 103 and all these other flight names and numbers that are emblazoned in our mind because everybody died. But in fact, if you look at the last two major incidents involving passenger jets in the United States, in Denver and now this one — I’m assuming from the CNN reporting that they think everyone is safe — but in both of the major incidents, the plane that went off the runway in Denver and this incident, you’ve got very, very high survival rates: 100% in Denver — with some injuries, obviously — and what looks like 100% here. People generally believe that no one survives a plane crash. But according to government data, 95.7% of the passengers involved in airplane crashes categorized as accidents actually survive. Then, if you look at the most serious plane crashes, that’s a smaller number; the survival rate in the most serious kinds of accidents is 76.6%. So the point there is, when the NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board] analyzed all the airplane accidents between 1983 and 2000, 53,000 people were involved in those accidents, and 51,000 survived. That’s an incredibly high survival rate.

Are you surprised that all the passengers seem to have gotten off the plane so quickly?

The other myth that you see in this is the myth of panic. People assume, in an airplane crash, that there’s pandemonium and people panic. But in fact, according to research done after earthquakes and natural disasters and airplane crashes, panic behavior rarely happens. In fact, as passengers are describing right now, people were scared, but they got very quiet, silent; they awaited instructions; a few people took command, got everybody in line and got everybody off the plane. So there are people crying and people that are afraid and people giving voice to their concerns, but if you’re trying to get off a plane that’s in the water and you know you’re sinking, and you’re pushing to the exits and using your loud voice — that’s not panic. That’s completely purposeful, understandable behavior. (Read “How to Get Out Alive.”)

You write in your book about attending an FAA workshop on surviving plane crashes. What were some of the most important tips that you can recall from that session?

I learned several things. There’s the five-row rule. When a professor in England, Ed Galea, analyzed the seating charts of more than 100 plane crashes and interviewed 1,900 survivors and 155 cabin-crew members, he discovered that survivors usually move an average of five rows before they can get off a burning aircraft. That’s the cutoff. In his view — and he’s done a lot of statistical analysis — the people who are most likely to survive a plane crash are people who are sitting right next to the exit row or one row away. Not a particular exit row but any exit row. That’s the person most likely to survive. Beyond a five-row cutoff from the exit, your chances, in his view, are greatly reduced. So the first thing I think about when I get on a plane or when I’m making my flight plans is, “Where am I sitting?” (Read “How to Survive A Disaster.”)

I also pay careful attention to the safety card and the safety briefing, because every plane is different. That information is part of developing a plan, and because I know that plane crashes are survivable, I want to know what the exits are, what the equipment is. I want to know what’s under my seat. I actually reach under the seat with my hands and touch to make sure that my life jacket is actually there. So the safety briefings are very important. The FAA has done research on safety briefings, and they find that the least informed people, those that don’t pay attention to the safety briefings, are frequent fliers. They think they know all about flying and all about planes, so they get on a flight and pick up their Wall Street Journal and start e-mailing on their BlackBerrys.

I do not take my shoes off. I leave them on in the event that I need to run through a burning plane. I wear lace-up shoes. In the event of an impact, people’s shoes have been known to fly off them, particularly flip-flops and other “convenient” shoes. Typically, people have a couple of pops at the bar, put on earphones; they put on blindfolds, they take off their shoes, and they go to sleep. But research has shown that the first three minutes of a plane flight and the last eight — this is called the rule of plus three/minus eight — are when about 80% of airplane accidents take place. In that time, you should not be blindfolded; you should not be drunk or have earphones on. You should really be paying attention, because you actually can survive a plane crash.

Naija Clashes Leave 80 Dead This Week

In ESSAY on June 6, 2012 at 8:25 am

At least 80 people have been killed since Monday in clashes in northern Nigeria triggered by Islamists waging an insurgency against the government, figures from police and the Red Cross showed on Wednesday.

The violence – some of which was sparked by church bombings over the last three Sundays – has heightened sectarian tensions in Africa‘s most populous country, which is evenly split between Christians and Muslims.

Boko Haram insurgents waged gun battles with security forces in the remote northeastern city of Damaturu, near the radical sect’s heartland, throughout Tuesday, police chief for the surrounding Yobe state Patrick Egbuniwe told Reuters.

He said 40 people were killed, 34 insurgents and six security personnel.

In separate clashes between Muslim and Christian residents of the northern city of Kaduna on Tuesday, at least 40 people were killed and 62 wounded, according to local Red Cross official Awwal Sani.

His organisation was helping collect bodies and treat the wounded, following riots in which Muslim youths fired AK-47 rifles, burned tyres and destroyed a church in Kaduna.

The riots came two days after after Christian youths went on the rampage, killing 52 people in the city, itself retaliation for the bombing of three churches by suspected Islamists on Sundat that killed 19 people.

Residents said the violence in both cities, hundreds of kilometres (miles) apart, had died down on Wednesday.

“Damaturu is calm this morning. Four policemen are receiving treatment for gun shot (wounds),” police chief Egbuniwe said. “We made seven arrests and they are with the criminal investigation department.”

Pope Benedict repeated his concerns about the sectarian killings, using his weekly general audience on Wednesday to appeal for an immediate end to “terrorist attacks” against Christians and urging all sides to avoid reprisals.

Boko Haram says it is fighting to reinstate an ancient Islamic caliphate in the north of Africa’s top oil producer that would impose strict sharia or Islamic law. The insurgents have killed hundreds since they launched an uprising in 2009.

They mostly target security forces or authority figures but in the past year have turned their sites on Christian worshippers, attacking churches in an apparent attempt to stoke a wider sectarian conflict.

In November, 65 people were killed in attacks claimed by Boko Haram on churches, mosques and police stations in Damaturu, where security forces often clash with Islamists in gun battles.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for church attacks on the first two Sundays of this month but has yet to do so for the most recent.

Muslims and Christians that make up most of Nigeria’s 160-million population mostly live side by side in peace, but there have been occasional bouts of sectarian violence since independence from Britain in 1960.

NIGERIA: A PLANE’S PLUNGE…more than 150 perish

In ESSAY on June 6, 2012 at 8:12 am

The white jet grew closer, buzzing the top of a building and chopping a coconut tree as it descended, before finally smashing into a compound and causing the neighbourhood to erupt with a violent shake.

“We saw the plane just coming toward us like this,” said Emeka Okafor, a 41-year-old father of two who lived on the middle floor of a two-storey residential building badly damaged in the crash.

“Blaaaaw! Like a bomb,” Okafor said. “Fire immediately.”

The crash on Sunday afternoon of a Dana Air MD83 passenger plane on the northern outskirts of Nigeria’s largest city of Lagos killed at least 159 people, making it one of the worst air disasters in a country that has had more than its share.

Nigeria has grounded domestic airline Dana while an investigation continues, with questions swirling over what caused the crash of the 22-year-old plane.

The country’s civil aviation chief has said the flight reported both of its engines having failed before crashing.

Residents of the neighbourhood where it plunged described a surreal set of events in the city of around 15 million, with some saying they had no idea what had hit, but knew they had to run, seeing flames, smoke and destruction as they did.

The plane with 153 people on board ploughed into a church, a house, a textbook warehouse and a two-storey apartment block that was home to 40 people, including Okafor, who made it out with his family.

Six people from the now demolished apartment block – four residents and two visitors – have so far been confirmed dead.

Some in the neighbourhood speculated that the pilot may have been aiming for a small, overgrown lot just beyond the chopped coconut tree and across from where he crashed. They wondered if he hoped crash-landing there would save lives.

The crash happened as Nigeria’s national football team was set to play a World Cup qualifying match against Namibia in the southeastern city of Calabar, and many residents were readying to watch it on television.

Chinyere Peace Eweh, a 37-year-old mother of three, lived on the top floor of the building, but was at Bible study with her children and husband at the time of the crash. A friend called her to say that her flat was on fire.

“This is the only thing I have – and my Bible,” she said, pointing to her clothes.

As residents were still trying to piece together what happened, chaos broke out at the crash site as thousands rushed into the area.

Some helped by directing fire hoses into the site, with masses of arms holding the lines above their heads, but others simply added to the confusion, while some even looted.

Authorities responded with whips to clear the crowd and rocks flew through the air. A helicopter tried to land and provoked pandemonium, while rescue workers faced difficulties accessing the scene.

By Tuesday, at least 150 bodies had been recovered, including a woman clutching her daughter.

Many of the human remains were unrecognisable, and rescue officials say DNA testing will be used with the help of international partners.

© 2012 AFP

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