By Chukwuma Ajakah

Contemporary poet and prolific writer, Bayo Philip Falayi, presents the concept of love as an indispensable phenomenon in his new collection of poems titled, Blooming Roses.

Set in a typical modern society, Blooming Roses chronicles poems that depict diverse dimensions of love as the nerve of man’s relationship with his physical and socio-cultural environment. Exploring the subject matter from multifarious perspectives, the poet reveals that love could be self-centred, unrequited, romantic, delusional, pretentious, pervasive, platonic, romantic, materialistic or ephemeral.

Generally, the poems portray the belief that love is a mystery mankind grapples with in virtually every sphere of life. Each poem revolves around a particular kind of love and relays an overriding central message that slightly differs from others. As revealed in the works, love has the capacity to either build or destroy. In certain cases, the lover either destroys the object of affection or gets destroyed by it. As the poet puts it, “The things we claim to love, sometimes become our undoing.”

Depicting love as an inexplicable phenomenon in each poem, the poet unveils its benefits and related problems. For instance, the poem, Cat in My Bag, depicts love as a harbinger of pain as it relates how the persona’s pet dies where it is ironically kept for protection. In other words, a lover’s overt passion may cause him sorrow. At times, the reverse is the case. Poems like “No One Flies a Kite Anymore” in which the persona nostalgically reminisces on his childhood experiences, convey a prevailing mood of nostalgia.

Besides the central theme of love, the anthology embodies subthemes like infidelity, betrayal of trust and hatred which resonate in poems set against the backdrop of strained relationships. One such poem is “The Things We do for Love” which reveals the dilemma of a pretentious lover who becomes a victim of his own devious ploy. He suffers in silence for infidelity as the following lines reveal: “With a belly ache/I walked with her to the market/ So she doesn’t sense my false love for her./I find another fascinating,/ But I choose to keep this a secret./ Somehow, I care about her emotions./I choose to stay with her;/To make her feel loved and warm…”

The poems featured in Falayi’s collection include C4, a six stanza poem in which the persona mulls over the vicissitudes of life, revealing his undying love for life despite his plight as one buffeted with misfortunes. Despite the seeming bleak future, he tenaciously holds on to life. Instead of surrendering completely to fate, he demystifies the frustrations, accepts his losses and strives on for survival. The following lines reflect the persona’s persistency: “Day and night /In between mealtime/ There’s a push to play. I lose, I play/ It’s just a game…I suffer, but I play/Not because I get better, /But because I could end up Worse if I don’t…”

The central theme of unrequited love is realized in the poems, Like Butterflies in Flames, The Lover and the Ocean and A Long Night of Fairy Tales which feature poet personae bemoaning their fate as victims of unreciprocated love. Moreover, a pervading tone of loneliness echoes in Last Days, Farewell Darkness, An Unfinished Story, Imperfections and A Part of Me. The dominant lonely disposition also reflects in lines like: “My sanity is falling/ from the edge of the world./ I leave the c4 for other squares, Only to get blown to pieces./ I fix myself to get blown again./ I do not love the pain it brings, /But I do it anyway.”

Most of the poems portray the persona as an optimistic lover who experiences heartaches and emotional turmoil, but illusively longs to be loved in return. Even when reciprocal love occurs, a depressing void lingers as instantiated in the ode, “My Mother” which features a persona, reflecting on his late mother’s virtues. Shops in the Other Side thematically relates to C4. “I’ll Always Find You” has a slightly divergent thematic focus. Parental love is explored in “My Mother” and “Baby Ella” while love for nature is depicted in Cat in My Bag and Trees in Open Space.

The theme of escapism is embedded in Shops in the Other Side as the poet explores the subject matter from the perspective of a daydreamer who prefers a life of fantasy to facing the prevalent reality in his society. However, he experiences psychological conflict because his body rejects the imagined unrealistic lifestyle: “I never liked to open my eyes before noon. It’s/always too bright in the morning./And at noon, the sun/Runs off with my eyesight./…My mind finds it pleasurable, But/my body does not…” Revealing his motivation for choosing the subject matter, Falayi says: “Love is present in humans, plants and inanimate entities, the pure and grotesque…”

The beauty of language in Falayi’s poems which resonate with all categories of readers is achieved through the poet’s novel combination of rhyming patterns, elaborate use of imagery and figurative expressions. Folkloric poems like Visiting Home, Sunset under the Almond Tree and A Long Night of Fairy Tales reinforce this assertion.

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