The Chicken and the Belly -Two Poems


I remember those early days
Of school uniforms and visiting days
Of seniors and hunger’s medicine–
That potent drug garri.

I remember how we would refuse
The prescription given us from home
Daring to take overdoses
Soaking three or four cups a day.

Garri’s power over stinging belly pain
Was enough to corrupt absolutely.

I recall now how it was when
We took it in groups
Of three, five, or even ten!
We would ready our weapons to do battle
Fork or spoon, whichever suited the user
And begin the contest of gauging
In the bowl, pot or mini-bucket.

Each boy would wait in stressed patience
For his round.
Each boy would search his thoughts
For that perfect method
To separate the grains from the water,
On the journey to the greatest mound.

And now I wonder…
How that era would have been
If we had schooled with girls
If our bellies’ nakedness were uncovered
And we trotted around
Its contents in full glare
Like broken pieces of kuli kuli
Wrapped in a big Santana leather.


You were calm, months ago.
I chased you with glee that time
Enjoying every bit of
The oppression.

You would flap your wings then
With frightened speed
That shot up my desire
To distress you.

Now you have kids
Pretty little chicks
chirping sweet songs.

Now I will not cross your path
Even with my boots on
Whenever you search for that thing
You never seem to find…
With your kids.

The childhood fears
Of your painful beak strike
Is replayed clearly in my mind.

The tables
Have turned
Against me.

Mother Hen
For the love of her chicks
Is the new terrorist
On the block.

23 thoughts on “The Chicken and the Belly -Two Poems” by chemokopi (@chemokopi)

  1. Nice one Chemo….. lol
    You brought it down just the how it appeared way back then…

    1. @charles: Thanks man. Hmmm…I still love garri O! Even though stinging belly pain is no longer a norm. As for Mother Hen…let’s just say I have an embarrassing phobia. Thanks for reading.

  2. Garri taken with Sugar,Milk n G.nuts, shared with friends is quite heavenly…hehehe…

    Do not cross Mother Hen, she is a fierce mama…

    Funny ones Chemo…Nice…Well done…$ß.

    1. Hehehe…you understand well well @sibbylwhyte. E be like say you bin dey the ajebo pack of garri choppers abi? You know say dat one dey abi..hehehe. Thanks for reading.

  3. straight, simple. sweet. nice one chemo

  4. Hehehehe. Almighty Garri, a saviour.

    I remember, back then, the series of fight “we” had over who gets to drink the garri water. Chai, good old memories.

    Nice one @Chemo

    1. @lancaster: You nailed it man! Garri water was the best part! looolz. Thanks for reading.

  5. Nice poems Chemo.
    Hehehe @ the first poem. I happen to have been in a mixed school. The ladies were not so different, but it was fun trying to pretend we drink cornflakes and cabinflakes. Using fork was only if there’s no spoon around, good old days.
    Well done!

    1. @francis: Hmmm…enough effizy things abi? Classic case of forgetting the food that really fed you; Like having a loving and hardworking wife but still preferring to go on ocassions with the sophisticated mistress…hehehe. As for fork, you need to see the dexterity of some guys with that tool…amazing!

      Thanks for reading man. Appreciate

  6. Learnt of garri, milk, and Groundnut too late.

    1. Hehehe…@kaycee, I guess you were part of the ajekpako pack. Hmmm…you are not alone.

  7. Talking of the garri days, there was this thing called ‘soak and travel’ that used to come into effect during the SAP or crucial period – which was like, at the end of the month or so. The days that were only changed by Visiting Day. Phew! Boy, were those the days!
    Anyway, to the poems – Surface poems that we don’t need to use a stone to crack. Now, most poets especially the classic ones use capital letters to start each line. From Okigbo to Soyinka and most of the modern writers. I feel that it is far better when you start succeeding lines after full stops with small letters. Not only does this help the reader to flow better, it helps you organise your thoughts more. During the editing process, it allows your mind to roam around more accurately and paint a far better picture. Where am I heading to? You should try to adopt that style… It just might help better.
    On the whole, well done. Cheers!

  8. Hahaha…who won’t remember soak and travel? In fact it was a necessary component of the garri-eating expeditions that took place in times of ‘provisional poverty’. Hehehe.

    If you would notice by now, I focus on writing simple poems. This has its difficulties paradoxically, as I have to balance simplicity, eloquence and many times depth of meaning.

    I actually use both methods of beginning each line with a capital letter and using small letters for succeeding lines. My use of each is stylistic and depends on how I want the poem to be read. I think starting each line with a capital letter helps the flow better, if it is well arranged, and helps to keep the poem simple. I use the small letter version when I want to express running thoughts or create jarring sequences/imagery.

    Now that you mention it, I will go read more on these styles. There might be something more to learn.

    Thanks bro. Your comments are much appreciated.

    1. The above is addressed to you @sueddie

  9. you know your poems are good and funny- while reading it somebody just opened a sight were Obj was shown soaking garri with groundnuts- so you see garri whether with milk or garri is naija way of life.

    1. @mikeeffa: hehehe…hehehe…I no go die with laugh! Thanks for the parallel joke bro! Trust Obj.

  10. Nostalgic for me. You capture the essence of a time when things seemed innocent, but where they really innocent or were we ignorant? I wonder…

    I love the tone of both poems, the imagery conjured and structure. What is the intent of the santana leather? What is santana leather?

    Yes, both poems are good, simple and straightforward, but the second, Terrorist, does imply something we did in the past that comes right back and bites us in the arse. A simple cae of what you sow…the terrorist becomes the terrorized.

    Nice one

  11. Thanks for your insightful words @atumercy. Much appreciated.

    Santana leather is a small light transparent leather bag. You know, the type market women tie pepper, salt and other small things in.

    You just fleshed out one of the beauties of poetry in your comment about Terrorist. I have never looked at the poem that way but your words are so apt!

    Thanks for reading.

  12. Well done Sir,
    soaking garri, I hear it’s now called ‘Cassa-Flakes’ (Cassava Flakes) by the University students…

    Stay inspired

    1. Thanks @ayistar. Funny name, I tell you

  13. interesting @chemokopi………….

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