Poems by Kabedoopong Piddo Ddibe’st

Poems by Kabedoopong Piddo Ddibe’st

 

Ojuk in Town

The arrows of the daybreak
Pierced the land;
As the day broke clear
Like women’s chins.

The whole world
In this town —
A cooking kitchen;
With fulltime aromas,
Diffusing from the level
Of higher concentration
To the level of lower
Concentration,
Caught my nose from afar:
The frying meat
In the neighborhood
Of the Hall of Coaches,
The cabbages,
Tomatoes and onion,
The frying fish,
And oily eggs —
Caught my nose.

The burning smell
Of a clumsy woman’s sauce,
Burnt into a cindar;
And the burning tyres
Spitting dark-some smokes,
And the sewage smell
Rocked my nostrils.

Coughing legions of men
Begging cigars
From their cycle of friends,
And vomiting the smokes up,
Rocked my world.

The perfumes
Of the town women
The smearers of ashes,
Could turn you into a fly.

The scouts clicked
Their feet and saluted.

Another battalion
Of street kids
With congealed noses,
Full inside out,
Full and floating out
Of catarrh,
The thick phylum,
Came begging.

Boys blowing away
Cobwebs from their brains,
Strolled down the jagged streets.

Vrum-vrum—vrum!
The first bus
Coughed,
Farting dark clouds
Of smokes,
Which you needed
To have bitten bread after.

Kitgum— Gulu—Kampala…
Kitgum— Gulu—Kampala…

Eh?
Isn’t that where I’m going?

—Where to, Mzee?
A long bushy bearded man asked.
—Mu— what?
—Where to?
— To your ass.
— Eh?
— Kampala.
— Enter. Only 30K.
*
The junk bugs
Of the men in labor,
Carrying 100kg of simsim
Filled the rear of the bus.

— Done?
— Perfectly done, boss.
— Close the booth.

The bus granted again,
Its tyres rolled on.

— Don’t eat in the bus, Mzee!
— Who?
— You!
— You?
— Damn primitive!
— What about that one?
— Jackfruits aren’t recommended,
Specifically.
— What food is recommended then?

Vrum-vrum—vrum!
Flecks of smokes,
The bus tilted
Like it wanted to fall,
I grabbed the breast of my neighbor.

— Hey, you! A stupid fool.
— Sorry. It’s the bus.
—Must you catch my breast then?
—A drowning man clutches at a straw!

Behind us,
I watched boys
Playing casinos,
Some on cards,
Others betting;
Would they beat the Muyindi?

Cartridges of sunflowers
Fell from my mouth,
Onto my neighbor’s laps.

Carousels of fellow drunks,
Jobless youths
Watching the Game of the Nude.

— My name is Mafuta Mingi.
— Ojuk Komakec is mine.
— I’m the Minister of Silence.
— A new post?
— Yes.
Silence.
— I am looking for a gun.
Silence.
— Man of the Rostrum!
— My name is Ojuk.
— You just told me.
— Speak to me in Luo, Mafuta Mingi.

(Song of Ojuk)

 

Ojuk’s Progress

The world is a ball of fire,
Turning swiftly
With furious flames,
Burning some to ashes;
The world is a ball,
A ball we all want to kick.

Acol, guess where I am?
I am in a fish,
A big long metallic fish,
Meant for 61,
We are 71.

We sway
Back and forth
Turning about
Round unfinished huts,
Backing at road-graves,
And advancing,
Backward and forward,
Left and right.

Men and women,
Young and old,
Bow for forty winks.

The awake,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Converse trans-night,
With food in their mouths:
Masticating chicken bones
And chips,
Sticks of muchomo,
And roasted bananas —
My mouth pours saliva,
Like a hyena’s.

They chew ball gums
And drink plastic waters,
They chew biscuits
And bang laughter,
But they say
I must desist from eating
The sweet juicy jackfruits
You packed me.

Music booms
In stupid tongue,
My co-sitter says
It is English tongue!

Girls, old enough
To be my in-laws,
Argue and tell tales,
Reading big books,
Like Lord of the Flies,
And Romeo and Juliet,
Words spring from their noses,
I can’t hear a word,
They study in Makerere.

Some on Instagram,
Facebook, WhatsApp,
Upload selfies,
Self-captured shadows,
For likes:
The more the likes,
The happier the slay-queen!

Acol, guess where I am?
I am at a roadblock,
My friend says
It is a police checkpoint.
The driver and the police
Exchange few golden handshakes,
And we’re let free.

Acol, guess where I am?
A useless thing!
I am packed
In the hell of boot,
My seat forfeited to Mafuta Mingi.
Your dowry in my head.

Hearts twist
Into balls of vomit,
Feeble lungs pant,
The west wind whirls,
Cutting window faces,
Tossing passing grasses,
Trees,
Miserable huts,
The road runs back
Faster than the bus.

Angry dust float behind,
Upon the invisible road,
Chasing the bus.

Delighted kids scream
Goodbyes;
The rain still drizzles.

Wet women,
With burden of firewood headful,
(Tigiri-tigiri-tigiri),
Like rain-beaten chickens,
Walk —
Their clothes
Wave in the wind,
Sticking on their skins,
Thighskins,
Forming sweet valleys
And mountains,
Exposing their dangling defiant breasts
Like Akara mountains.

The world doesn’t end at home,
Red thighs,
Ashy faces,
See-me-through,
Open gate breasts,
Big pumped buttocks,
The world doesn’t end at home.

The world is a ball of fire,
Turning swiftly
With furious flames,
Burning some to ashes;
The world is a ball,
A ball we all want to kick.

(Song of Ojuk)

 

Husband My Foot

The whole world
Flooded to bide me
Farewell to the foreign land.

None from our home
Had ever crossed a road;
They say zebras
Lead foot-walkers
Across stony roads.

Let alone
The great passion
To step in Kampala
Whose name
I heard from neighbors.

I would be the first
In history
To climb the homeland bus.

I would be the first
To reach the boma,
I hear they call it city.

Rivers of ecstasy
Streaming
From my beaming
Face in a swarm of sweats.

The passion
To see the iron snake
With fixed iron path
Made me drunk
Once and for all.

My flesh still home,
But my spirit
Already roaming in the city;
Such ecstasy
Worth your sight.

I stayed awake
The whole night
Instructing my wife
What to do for the safari
Tomorrow.

My safari things:
Roasted cassava,
Sweet potatoes,
And simsim paste;
Fried groundnuts,
Fried with salts,
And a gourd of cold water;
All well packed
In my Osofia bag,
Made in London.

My stripped coat
Fresh from the sooty roof
Of my hut,
Where my wife cooks,
Fitted me
Like an Indian girl.

From head to toes,
I looked like a transformed
Chimpanzee.

The whole world
Watched me pack
Like a runaway
Congo wife,
Packed all to leave.

My legs hung,
A thread held my heart.
Chests of children
Soaked in tears.
Daddy, don’t go,
Like not
Daddy, don’t go!

No amount
Of tears
Formed against
My city safari
Would prosper.

My wife?
Her heart bade me
A quick leave.
Why my feet were heavy,
She wondered.
She wondered
Why my feet
Were refusing to carry me faster
From her sight.

The home soon
Would be hers
And her sweethearts.

Onions and tomatoes
In vanished soup
Would be on my table;
Fried fresh fish
Would be swimming
In the soup
Eyeing the eaters,
My fellow husbands.

***
At the home
Of the hand that brews,
I spent the sun
Drinking drinks
Insulting insults,
Friendly insults,
You call jokes,
With my fellow drunks.

We talked politics
Changing like
Marie Antoinette
Changing French cloths.

We talked religions
Streaming
Like in-coming calls,
The flood of religions
In the land.

We laughed
And praised women
Who praise their husbands
Who love beating them.

We danced dances:
Orak,
Otole,
Larakaraka,
Bwola,
Apiti
And Dingi-dingi.

Women sat
Mouth to mouth,
Head to head,
Like whispering chickens,
Like for World Development Summit
With their backs outside
And heads inside —
Rumour mongering:
Mine doesn’t sleep home,
Mine is a utter fool and drunk,
Mine is a lazy vagabond,
And womanizer,
I love a man that beats me…

(Song of Ojuk)
© Kabedoopong Piddo Ddibe’st

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