Kris Atta Pappoe

Rookie (Akuse, Ghana)

The Returners - Poem by Kris Atta Pappoe


We did not hear them sneek in,
Nor did we see them in our midst.
We only heard them when we were half-way
through the new anthem.
And we were bone-weary,
They were all smiles and beaming at us.
Wide-mouthed cosmetic smiles.
We did not care and were too
Tired to smile back.

Of course, the battles were over,
The dead were dead and forgotten.
And those who never ever fired a shot,
Received all the medals of glory;

We could recognize some of the returnees,
Who bolted when the first shots were being fired.
Now resplendent in Carnaby Street suits.
And M&S ties to match.
They were fighting over office spaces,
Name tags and seafront residences,

Of course, we stared at them,
Too tired and too confused
To even laugh,
What we knew was that,
the gutters of Nima had been cleaned
And the night streets were clear of armed robbers;
People were walking on their feet
And not on their heads, so to say,
And the air was fresh in Makola

So, we the gutter cleaners and shit carriers,
What do we have with their new arguments?
We had even forgotten how to dress up in fancy suits.
And spot designer eyeglasses.
All we knew was,
It was time to down the khaki,
And go back to our villages,
Empty handed, to tell and retell
the story of the glorious revolution
and how those who run away from the battle
received all the medals for valour
and how the self-exiled ones,
had come back to inherit the Land.

If they ask us for proof,
We will show them our empty hands,
Gnarled from digging trenches,
Desilting gutters
And doing Volu in forgotten villages,
And where we had no medals to show,
Our tattered militia uniforms
Will silence all
Oh, land of our Birth and our Death
We hail you.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, December 5, 2009

Poem Edited: Thursday, December 10, 2009

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