Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Mr Raji is stopped by Customs

Mr Raji collected his bag
from the carousel
and followed the signs
to the exit.
A customs officer
picked him out,
knowing he'd just arrived
from Nigeria.
She demanded to see
his passport.
He handed it over
and she compared
the photograph
with the man before her.
She looked doubtful,
“Is this you?”
Feeling tired after his flight
Mr Raji just nodded.
She turned to his bag
and started to search.
There was a pile
of Mr Raji's books inside.
He picked one up gleefully -
it would help
him out of his trouble.
“Look, here’s proof.
See who I am.
This is my photo!"
He pointed
to the back cover.
“Are you him?’ she said,
“Or is he your brother?”
“This is me!
My name is here,
look - Remi Raji”.
She stared at him in disbelief,
“No, no, it is not you.
Okay, your hotel, where you stay?”
He sighed, shrugged his shoulders.
“I really don’t know.
I’ve been invited to read
at a poetry festival,
there’s people waiting outside
to take me to a hotel.”
She began to flip
through the book,
page by page,
poem by poem.
Then she raised
a finger to her nostrils,
“You have it here!”
She gave a snort
and jerked her head back.
And his thoughts
raced back and forth:
what stimulating
mind-bending stuff
could be there...
“It’s poems,” he said.
“Only poems!”


Remi Raji   Note:
Remi Raji is the pen name of Aderemi Raji-Oyelade, the Nigerian poet, scholar, university professor and Coordinating Secretary of PAN, the Congress of PEN African Centres.
The poem is based on a true story.
Read his poems on lyrikline.
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