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,
asked to see his passport,
compared the photograph
to the man before her.
She knew he had flown in from Nigeria.
“Is this you?” she said.
He was tired after the flight
and just nodded.
She looked doubtful.
She turned to search his bag.
There was a pile of poetry books.
He picked one up, “Look, here’s proof.
See who I am. My photo, on the back cover.”
“Are you him?’ she said,
“Or is he your brother?”
He shouted at her, “This is me.
My name is here, look,
Remi Raji”.
She looked at him in disbelief,
“No, no, it is not you.
Okay, your hotel, where you stay?”
“I really don’t know,’ he said,
“I’m here to read my poems
at a poetry festival,
there’s people waiting outside
to take me to a hotel.”
She flipped through the book,
page by page,
poem by poem.
Then she raised a finger to her nose,
“You have it here!”
She gave a snort
and jerked her head back.
And a question raced through his mind:
What trace of a drug,
what mind-bending stuff
could be hidden there…?
“It’s only poems,” he said. “It’s 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. This is a true story.
Read his poems on lyrikline.
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