Phillips Olayanju


Street Urchins - Poem by Phillips Olayanju

Many stories twitched my youthful ear
In grades the advice came
The more I grew, the more they fared
Good and bad before me were placed
With ponderous confussion in my care.

At a crossroad,
I took the crooked road
On a dumbfounding journey
To painstaking success.

After a decade,
We all came to another crossroad
In retrospect some wept
In elusive memory some drank.

On my porch they daily siege
With breath-punctuated chants
And sobriquets ringing through the air
Rhythmic salute stamp-footing the ground
*Tuale baba*
They chanted.

Rendering lucrative eulogies
A business many have resorted to
In the face of promising unemployment
From generations to generations.

Able-bodied men
Innovatingly jilting people
With precocious brains unput to test
Turned into miscreants
Despodent owners of clinging bottles
Beleaguered voters of political overlords
To rest in peace
With unutilized potentials.

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

The poem takes the readers on an exclusive journey telling the unfortunate stories of street urchins popularly known as 'area boys'. The poem tells the story of how they become uneducated landscapers of the street. In the first stanza, we are informed of the advice every parent gives his/her child. This advice however bcms less frequent as the child grows and is able to discern between good and bad. In stanza two the child, now a teenager takes the deserted crooked road to success while everyone takes the straight path.The journey to success is described as 'dumbfounding' because most people wouldn't bear to hear someone taking the 'hard way' to succeed. After 10yrs, the teenager, now an adult meet his youthful friends and 'in retrospect some wept' regretting the wasted years. On his porch, they assemble everyday chanting and hailing him expecting him to 'tip' them.They render 'lucrative eulogies'. That is their source of income.Most of them ate able-bodied men who are blessed with intelligent minds which they use to dupe people.Their only possession is their 'clinging bottles'. After living an unfulfilled life they die and serve as fertizers to nourish the grave with their 'unutilized potentials'

*tuale baba: A yoruba word used to hail rich men
*precocious*: well developed

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 20, 2012



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