Hungered Echo

It takes me with its bony hand
Clamped over the exaggerated
Throb at my wrists
To days of sandaled feet scuffing
Over-exposed laterite to brew
Hot, air-sick mist

Of rain’s afterthought through the dust
Raised by well-fed footballing boys;
To mock thunder,
To belly echo of the storm-call;
I, cheated out of a meal or two,
Or through blunder

Having cheated myself (I was
Still gathering up my due quota
Of plain bush sense).
That shake from effort of walking,
My own rumble without a spark,
The pestilence

That left Biafra in no fit
State to fight out her long-term claims,
Wrapped my finger
Like a thread of gum-plucking floss
Memento mori as the dead
Were said to linger

Taking ghastly revenge against
Fools such as I who might well dare
To steal a yam
From their descendant’s plots; deterred
Or not, a thief is what I was
(And what I am)

Under the grim provocation
Of bones so untroubled by flesh
That they link joints
With those very dead as the danse
Macabre of my gait jars my pinched
Gut’s pressure points.

I remember taking bird form,
Nature’s ultimate design
Of hungry thief
Times when I got caught, plucked and roasted,
Times when I flew off with a prized
Handful of relief.

These days I’ve shaken off the plupart
Of truant art’s feathers, I’m roosted in
The middle class
So when that ancient plague visits
It’s by invitation, awareness
Of just how crass

A life can become with no heed
Taken to profligacy of
Its calories;
Even hunger’s honest-seeming
Opposite holds its perilous
Forms of disease.

Now that I’ve become a football
Player, grown, I’ve learned what just one
Excessive stone
Can do in damage, crowding out
With flesh and multiplying force
From bone to bone.

I starve myself to save the cherished
Meniscus, intermediary
Of my aging knees;
Pondering this side effect’s quinine sweets,
The rough-clutch recollection of
Boyhood agonies.