In Memoriam: Romeo Nartey And The Lost Poets

Posted: October 29, 2014 in Essays
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I had by accident met Romeo on a Facebook poetry group some two or so years ago. I had started writing again. I needed a place to belong. I loved poetry. Based on some testimonials, I found myself on the P.O.E.T.S Facebook page. There, I met others, who would be friends, family for life.


The unthinkable thing happened last week. My boss had assigned a task to me and I was almost late for submission because our unit wi-fi was down. I went to an internet café to go do the submission and when I logged on to Facebook, I saw people write on his wall.

Sometimes, I wish I could ask God why certain things happen. Sometimes, I wish everything about life would make sense and there would not be a need to ask questions. Sometimes, I wish there would be a transparent glass between this life and the other one so that relatives can still meet and talk to one another about times gone, laugh and be happy forever.

I do not know how to write a tribute. This is not a tribute. It is a friend writing about another friend; his thought on the other’s writing.

That night, I read Romeo’s poems. I reflected on his short life. I thought about mine too. I forgot how to write poems. I knew I was just a reader of a poet’s work.

Romeo’s finest work, with little doubt, will be Passing Through. I am not a believer of secular prophet-ship role for the artist when she, in an artistic moment, speaks of death and under somewhat circumstance, she ends up the same way. Death is too universal to be a contrived narrative. Writing about death is the only truth that an artist can speak to life. Truly, it’s a humanistic ideal.

The persona-poet, if I am correct, wonders about the meaning of life. To him, it is a mystery, a journey to nowhere. He writes –

A countless more miles to walk

A journey of no destination

Caught up in silence in its very bulk

My path is shrouded in my own imagination

(Stanza 1)

Stanza 2 is even more profound –

Like a dead flower on a grave
What is my appreciation to the dead
Must I be brave
To escape the luxury of my bed (?)

It’s profundity in the subsequent stanzas challenges my ideal. He seems to know his fate.

I am a traveller just passing through

My words may be heart-cutting but are true

And then, a she-persona is introduced.

There came a she who added to my bane

From there, there are a lot of unnecessary pun elements that distract focus. But the last stanza is the deal. Seemingly, the poet-persona knows the end is in sight. It is the climax of the internal conversation with the she-persona, a lover, most probably.

I couldn’t watch the tears run down her face

The pain in her heart was moving at a snail pace

Because my words to her were true

I was just passing through

I struggle with ideals. I struggle with beliefs. I struggle with religion. This is one that makes me know that I am a human being. I know I, too, will be on the gallows once. The question is ‘’when?’’ And I have also written about death. I am not aware if my interrogation of the theme is a truth to my fate. Either way, destiny will triumph.

I feel Romeo fought. We didn’t talk in his last days. I learnt he passed on battling cancer. I remember the last time we met. I read to him some of my poems. I asked him to come back to writing. With a smile that struck like a painting, he said he would be back soon. And he never did.

Time is not a good friend now. The physical barrier between the spiritual and physicality will be activated this weekend. Unfortunately, I can not be there.

Once, I heard that the only thing that can be used to bury a singer is a song. I offer my words to the poet. Journey well, my brother. Till we meet again.

From Kwabena with love.

  1. Moving piece. Sorry for your loss, Kwabena. Death sucks and that’s me trying not to write an epistle on the darn thing. Be well.


  2. Great eulogy, Kwabena. A fitting word-bouquet for the fallen brother-poet.


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