Decolonial Passage


The Food of Our Ancestors

I am from Eastern Nigeria/where the power of the wrestler/comes from Akpu and egusi soup/a region that eats Abacha/to celebrate harvest season/when Abacha is used to tell about/the birth of cassava, the time of cassava

table d’hôte

visit wine capital Stellenbosch twice/mint rinsed in first splash of boiled water/be scalded by inequalities sousing all of these

Pharoah Sanders Donating Blood to Buy Food, 1962

And few of us feel unfairness more keenly/than artists caught between buying bread/and selling their souls, our markets incapable/of sustaining those who bear beautiful gifts

Our bodies need glorifying

Ripened mangoes, sliced watermelons/Discovering the girth of our throats/As our tongues paddle the depths of their fleshly rivers

food for thought

and why is there/this primal, human need to murder/to frenzy feed on human greed?

Comfort eating

Suddenly realising what to do/You scooped a lump of the mixture/into your hand, dipped it into the angry lava and swallowed it/lump by lump until it disappeared

They spoke habanero

They believed it was their real life, real language, real food/primordial, liberating, and they wanted nothing else.

We Were Always Hungry

We never went hungry/unless our father locked us in our rooms without dinner. If mother failed to sneak/us a snack in her apron pocket, we ate toothpaste to fill our grumbling bellies.

Blight

The Famine Queen is so pleased to eat our food, tons/and tons of meat and butter; the Monarch’s/not keen to see our cankered fields, the skin/and bones our children are. We are not her/kind, no fancy tea at four; we do not eat scones;

Mango Salsa

There are worlds in here/There’s golden fire, a moon and a sunset both, a dusky pasture, a sweet sweet rain/There’s a farmer in a hat, loading his cart for the walk to a town you will never see.

Sugar

She guards both your body and the wealth/of which you are the symptom, the/cause, the result, the cherry on the pie/Now you are crossing the emerald lawn/towards the main entrance like a knife

Homeless

My body lies down/in muck and mire/taunts me with its needs/food, water, a place/to rest/My body walks/talks to people/asks for fifty cents/or a dollar, for a bus ride/to some place where it/can eat and drink

White saviour

Sniffing glue out of Liqui Fruit juice boxes, the lost children stumble back out into the night, dreamless, in shoes they cannot walk in.

Bitterness

his trailer is crowded/with the others/here for la pisca/already planning the trip to/North Carolina or Georgia/for the strawberries/until Christmas/when Ybor City calls them

Read the Receipts

Not a nod to the lives whittled down/to sugar crystals, fingers that twisted/free each cotton boll 200,000/to make a bail. No mention/of ships funneling millions of/Africans to plantations far from/the cool green of Hadley/How the steel-blue Atlantic/laps against the unspoken/shores of our story.

Mammy Does the Morning Chores

And after breakfast, when your apron and head rag/Have been disheveled by batter and sweat/And your hunger and senses have been tempted to partake/But you must always wait, they order you still for more;

Idee Fixe

She had not wanted this, this ache in her chest that felt like it was choking her from the inside. She had only wanted a taste, had only wanted to be the person who could afford something she yearned for so dearly.

Monarch

In the evening, when everyone came back from working in the fields, after dinner was eaten and dishes washed, we sat around to watch I Love Lucy in English and eat blush-colored grapefruits and mangos the color of Mojave sunsets.

Too Ample Pockets

It doesn’t matter that these women have been up since five in the morning, or that their hands prepared the feast that will be unleashed on guests in a few minutes.

The Bride’s Passage

“So, we will get fresh catfish and come kilos of chicken at the market. Let me see whether your barrister brain can still cook a pot of soup.” Mummy was laughing, but Kelechi looked away.

The Sling

He could remember very carefully that this was not the first time they were using food as a weapon to suppress the Africans. When they were coming to colonize the country, they brought in soldiers from Europe to come and fight the Africans.

The Kitchen

Somehow, I have become a person who plans meals around produce — around a deep-seated fear of wasting. It should not be surprising to anyone that fear leads to oversight — to order.

The Oil that Binds

And there it was. The salty flavor. The flaky texture. As good as I had tasted in my grandmother’s small apartment in Pittsburgh.

Searching for Aina in Hawaii

The spoon is an example of what’s thwarting me in my Don-Quixote-like search for the local and the real — the people, the food — on this big, fecund island.

Pushcart Prize Nominations 2022

Announcing the Decolonial Passage Pushcart Prize nominees for 2022.

Photo: Victor Kibiwott

The Trenchcoats

“I can never bring myself to work for the same people who have enslaved us!” she said fiercely. “I too would be dead if it was not for my father. Much as he hates me, he can’t stand the shame seeing his only daughter dead of starvation.”

Best of the Net 2022 Nominations

Announcing the Decolonial Passage Best of the Net nominees for 2022.

song for mashombela

but I want to drink/ from mphahlele’s/well of knowledge/tiptoe/behind the immortal lamps/of biko & sankara

How to Love Your Hair

When my dad delivered me/The first thing he saw/Was a thicket of black hair/Sticking out straight and wet/Like fur on a freshly licked kitten/It took a few months to curl into itself.

Let Us Educate the Miseducated

After all, part of the injustice of lies and slavery meted out on us were rooted in the inharmonious postures we assumed and the lovelessness reeking out among us.

At Monticello

My feet can hardly resist dancing/but I, who worked all day butchering/plucking feathers from ducks, cleaning/vegetables, sweating at caldrons hung/over the hot fireplace must now wash dishes

Howlin’ Wolf’s Harp

He licked the harmonica only because he had to/spend the rest of his time swallowing the gristle/of separate but equal, and all the things awful/about the South–and North; no safe haven then/(& now);

Southern Report From Amy Jacques Garvey

Rubbing my finger against the barrel of the gun/you swore you’d never use, even after Tyler’s/bullet grazed your forehead. “No gun for me/If I am to be killed, then maybe it is my destiny,”/I was greeted by a host of nervous congregants.