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‘Gnarled feet’ and other poems by Abasiama Udom

By: Abasiama Udom


Bring the gin and beer,
let us call again to them
who even before us have gone.
Let us bring our problems and a sacrifice,
lifting the shouting hen.
Let us again remember our lineage and fathers,
in memory of them let the sacrifice be restored,
within the bounds of time.
To them! To them!
For the offerings we give,
we ask houses, roads, water with schools.
Since 1960 we have asked,
is it not time you hear?



He stared out the window,
at the warm melody of the calling sun
to the crying call of boys on the ball
to the “pass it here”, “pass it there” cries that ran free
to the give it back and ‘heys!’ that filled his ears
of itching feet, sullen hearts, scandals and pages.

True to age, the ball a friend has remained
once in a time of dashing beauty,
a life of beating veins
a time when the water was in high tide,
with the sky so blue.
He remembered it well, so well.
Pushing from the door he went,
eyes seeing his gait, strong, confident,
seeing his bouncing feet–
a yell to the players to pass to him.
Still, by the door he was
hands shaking on the cane pressed to
the carpeted floor.
Eyes falling on gnarled feet
in the body of one who he once jeered at.
He sighed,
For it was time to crawl and not walk
only the crawl was on two feet with a cane
and groping hands.



Remember me Aja,
when you get to your kingdom
remember my kind words and whispers
the soothing of my palm across your skin.
Remember that once before someone loved and come again.
For now; you leave me lonely.
Remember me whose hips swings,
calling the muse of music to endow your flute.
Me, for whom you blew the flute
look Again Aja on our time,
spent beneath starry skies.
Look and remember,
for I lie here alone, waiting
defying nature and night.



Should i wail, or find beneath the rubles of doubt
the will and strength to hope?
To dream, gazing towards a future with you?
Should I hope that the news brought from yonder is true?
that in service beneath the grey patterned shirt armed to serve your country,
you will go and return?
Or should I drop this ring you put on my finger a week ago.
Should I find grace not to weep at the letter you hold out to me,
that it is to Borno you go–
Should I hold against all doubt, holding hope close?
Will you return? Tell me.

Yet my soul knows the answer. We never know.



Before the world hears of our faults,
and rushes to your aid.
Keep quiet!
Before the sun turns to day
all our deeds sunned for men to see
in the bright light of dawn,
to accuse us of our sins.
Keep quiet!
Tell no one,
never speak of it too loud

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