Two Poems by Jonathan Ukah

The Break-Out Boy

I am a break-out boy, baby,

With no mountain in my hair,

No junks in my feet.

You see me stomp around,

Waggle my top, swipe my eyes,

Twist out of my clothes.

Sometimes I gyrate on stage.

Sometimes you watch me drone,

But all the time, I dance like a butterfly.

Maybe it’s raining in your mind,

Or baking in your body,

But I am not in your sun.

The cold tries to burn me down,

The heat freezes my feet,

But I’m the child of air.

And if I’m a break-out boy, baby,

I will be the sunflower,

Dancing when darkness falls.


Though I carry the sky in my palms,

Or the mountain on my head,

I will dance; I will dance, baby.


My Father’s Table

My father’s table rests in the middle of our room

Like the gold elephant at the centre of a market;

My mother races pandas on top of my father’s table;

I measure my head by the length of its bamboo.

My sister’s eyes pop at its legs like the cat to a lamp;

As my father’s eyes sheen like a forest of bamboos;

My sister’s dinner waits on the table like my father’s eyes;

A pot of soup sprayed with coarse tomato puree.

Sometimes her nose picks up a distant scent of anger

Littering my father’s table like fallen leaves of bamboo.

At which my mother’s teeth clatter like pieces of glass,

Strewn on my father’s table like stabs of a scrabble.

My younger brother says he groans like a dry Iroko

When my father’s table cracks like woodworks of Harmattan;

His body screws like a walnut fruit in the heat

And his bones crack like my father’s tricky table.

Jonathan Chibuike Ukah studied English in Nigeria and Law in Germany. He lives in the UK and writes poetry and prose. His poems have appeared in various publications.

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