FOOD POETRY (ISSUE 7)
by Olajuwon Joseph Olumide
The kingdom of hunger in chaos!
Yeye Abeke is at it again, anchor of braais:
Her pestle’s incessant intercourse with
The mortar, heralding to banish
All grumbling demons from their gluttonous dungeons.
Can anything good complete metamorphosis without pain?
See the white epiphany of Iyanre emerge,
As the knife-dissected yam tuber – after tried in the boiling pot –
Undergoes a crushed life! pa po! po pa!
Since the demons of hunger have heard the good news
With their errant ears, nostrils discerning good thing, too
Must testify to the enchanting aroma of Obere, snaking out
Of Yeye Abeke’s steaming black cauldron
Whose sitting bottom is tried on the untamed dancing flames!
The previous dusk, ‘arepa Ogun o’ saw Baba Abeke off –
Plunge into the frigid heart of the forest
Haunted by a thousand demons.
His mind of optimistic return reiterated our progenitors’ proverb
Saying: “with the hope of breath for the mortal nostrils,
Mortal teeth will yet munch what’s beyond the grand flesh of Ajanaku”
Today’s solar eye witnesses the celebrated fruition
Of a brave hunter’s return.
How the hovering atmosphere this hour is coloured in regale!
Only a gullible mind will wonder
Why the rains of visitors, only torrenting here;
Such regale that strays focused legs set on the red earth
Stretching to various farmlands…
Such regale that bewitches me – Agbeloba this moment,
To disdain the worth of my productive-harvesting sickles
That once delivered the conceived bulged tubers
From the womb of Beyiose’s fertile soil.
Is inner strength, not the inspiration behind the muse to toil?
That gluttonous dungeon men convey, is a pantheon
With a capricious god, turbulently contorting intestines
When from time to time, its liturgical procession
Isn’t obliged – via the threshold of yawning mouth, where
Morsel by morsel is to sojourn into the sacred of the sacred,
With palm wine of libation paddling erangbe down as well.
Please, let my legs now stray!
The great hunter’s yard is the paradise
Evoked on this spur of lost reasoning: kudos to such regale…
Iyanre : sumptuous pounded yam
Obere : sumptuous broth
Yeye Abeke : Abeke’s mother
Baba Abeke : Abeke’s father
Arepa Ogun o : Compliments to hunters going for a hunting, wishing them good catch
Ajanaku : elephant
Agbeloba : a great farmer whose appellation literally means “farmer is a king”
Beyiose : a fictitious village name
Erangbe : bush meat
Olajuwon Joseph Olumide, a poet and a fiction writer, is a student of Mass Communication at YABATECH. He is a two-time winner of Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest. He was shortlisted for the Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize in 2016. He teaches English language & Literature at a private college. He hails from Ogun State.
MOTHER’S SOUP POT
by Amaka Blossom Chime
Ladle onto my plate
not the watery top
the children struggle for chaff
as it dances in the wind.
Father severed the head of our game
mother smoked the tail
Mazi comes with his white-washed plate
a gaping smile in his skull
Ogbeni storms the kitchen with a plate in one hand
his sagging ṣokoto in another
but where is Mallam who complained
that his tuwo was the size of his fist?
Laughter flows in liquid tunes
oily fingers and slippery throats
of papa and mama
engrossed in tales of woe
of how the economy collapsed
between morsels of pounded yam
and smoked croaker voices
in a dance of history.
Cries of bitter hunger
echo from the soup pot
angry plates fight each other
and blood stains the earth
flowing in violent torrents.
Edojah will not starve nor eat chaff
our land rots from dark waters
while strangers, the ones we loathe
breed wealth and fresh skins
break the pot and spill our wealth
the remnant survives the pox
the dust becomes their colour
we sucked the same breast
but they suck life from us
a parasite comes from the Sahara
in alabaster cartridges
feeding on mother’s pot.
I will ride the elephant and others will walk
the crown cannot fit the swollen head
the shrunken scalp is not fit for the crown
while kingfishers and king-makers
whose bloated skins
hide a trail of worms
fashion monuments of history
in a rotten enclave
while the package shines
in dazzling luminaries
that outwit the sun
and embezzle the moon
while children, the surviving ones
fight for maggot-infested firewood
to roast the lizards that come home to roost.
Amaka Blossom Chime is a research assistant in the Department of English and Literary Studies, Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. She is an English Language teacher on the School’s Radio programme funded by the MacArthur Foundation, USA. Her poem ‘Achebe’s Ulogue’ appeared in the Journal of Chinua Achebe Studies. Another Poem ‘Shakespeare’s Ulogue’ was written for the commemoration of 400 Years of Shakespeare in 2016. Amaka is the Lead Rep. for PIN GO University Connect Centre. Her collection of poems Harassed, was published this year.