Tonye WilliePepple

Rookie (Nigeria)

The Old Riverbank - Poem by Tonye WilliePepple

There was a certain year
when oyster-shells massaged
founding feet
pacing the old riverbank

In that year, as well,
peppered oyster meat
filled hungry flesh-graves,
nurturing their darkened skins

That was the year
of sand-papered hands
paddling with experienced sticks
Their gloves, salty splash of clapping waves

All those were in that year
when the loosened George
and snow-colored bed-cloth
produced fishing boys and trading girls

The years before the first ships arrived
beat our mother,
raped her hard,
and raised the flaring flag

This red flag
that came from hell
replaced the oyster-pot with us,
cooking us deep, deep, to the bones

And so, on the old riverbank,
no more tales are told
of men who once ate oyster-meat,
who fished and bought and sold

But let the ships know today,
that when our gods paddled away
it was not because of their small canoes
but because they went to get their weights

Tomorrow, when they shall arrive the courts,
drunk from our advocates of tears and gin,
that ship shall either sail or sink in the sea
By the old riverbank.


Comments about The Old Riverbank by Tonye WilliePepple

  • Gold Star - 23,139 Points * Sunprincess * (6/17/2014 10:51:00 AM)

    ~ And so, on the old riverbank,
    no more tales are told
    of men who once ate oyster-meat,
    who fished and bought and sold ~
    .........from this stanza I could feel the sense of community (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014



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