LEAD ME MORE INTO THIS TEMPTATION: Paying Tributes to a Favorite Meal — A Poetic Analysis of Joseph Olamide Babalola’s “Gone Forever” by Ebubechukwu Bruno Nwagbo

GONE FOREVER | Joseph Olamide Babalola

Dear late spaghetti,

when at first we met at the dining table
your nose-widening aroma ate into me
your garnished presence caught me off guard
I threw my spoon away, embraced my fork
I plunged into your tiny self without hesitating
you dangled on my pronged steel, helpless
I fell in love with your feeble worm-like physique
I felt I’m the green earth to domicile you
you passed through the tongue-teeth route
I couldn’t feel you snake down my throat
for you’ve been masticated beyond recognition
and that’s all I know of you; you’re gone forever
but… is that how soon friendship ends? oh!
you were there a moment, and gone the next
what an unfair world we live in! adieu!

Rest on beloved, late delicious soul
I’ll cry no more for your demise, for I now know
that your ex-presence and departure is of essence
it was your destiny to shut the mouth of my hunger
you were the yam that must be cooked and crushed
the flour that must be caked, cut and crunched
the grape that must be squashed flat and juiced
yes, you were the heavens for my famished gut
like a sentenced seed you entered my stomach
and your energy-giving energy germinated within
it sustained me the whole while, even till now I pay my tribute
and though here from the aromatic gents I write
sitting on this white plate, observing your lying-in-state
enjoying a hitch-free emission of your remains
I promise to be nicer, at least to your suffocating
relatives still chain-packed in Dangote’s prison.


Have you have ever been tempted by a sizzling meal that keeps beckoning on you? With the garnishments gravitating towards your eyes and the aroma roaming your nose? Such temptation is not easy to overcome. So after you have prayed “lead me not into temptation…” having been led into temptation already, the next line would be “deliver me from this evil.”

However, you realize that  it is the destiny of the luscious delicacy to shut the mouth of your hunger. That “you were the heavens for my famished gut.” As the poet here puts it. As such to defeat this temptation you have to yield to it. In yielding to it, both the tempter and the tempted find fulfillment. Both help each other to fulfill destiny.

The poet persona realizes this in stanza one of the poem. In narrating the story of his temptation, he says to his tempter in line 8: “I fell in love with your feeble worm-like physique.”

when at first we met at the dining table
your nose-widening aroma ate into me
your garnished presence caught me off guard
I threw my spoon away, embraced my fork
I plunged into your tiny self without hesitating
you dangled on my pronged steel, helpless
I fell in love with your feeble worm-like physique

Instead of running away, he embraces the seduction. Because the nose-widening aroma of the spaghetti first ate into his nose, he does not only open his nose but opens wide his mouth. He does away with his dulling spoon and engages his more willing fork; digging in without hesitation.

The poem, “Dear Spaghetti” tells us that food is for eating. That food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food. That is why we cannot regret demolishing the food we love as we would regret demolishing a friend we love.

Whatever happens to a friend, one good thing we could do for them is to show them appreciation, Joseph Olamide Babalola does this in his tribute to spaghetti. In stanza two, he defers to his darling friend whom he calls “dear late delicious soul”. He itemizes the sacrificial roles the food has played in his life.  Even as he pays his tribute before the white table where the body of the late spaghetti lies in state, he confesses that it is the seed the supportive friend planted in him that has kept him up till that moment of immense loss.

In the last two lines, the poet persona makes a commitment, a promise to his late friend. He makes him a pledge:

“I promise to be nicer… to your suffocating
relatives still chain-packed in Dangote’s prison”

This is a pledge to remain faithful in the art of eating. The poet persona makes a promise to visit all food production factory stores where the likes of his favorite food are chained from reaching their destiny — to provide satisfaction for the hungry.

Ebubechukwu Bruno Nwagbo
Moderator, PIN Food Poetry Contest

 

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