Poem: “The Dining Table” by Gbanabom Hallowell

The Dining Table

Dinner tonight comes with
gun wounds. Our desert
tongues lick the vegetable
blood—the pepper
strong enough to push scorpions
up our heads. Guests
look into the oceans of bowls
as vegetables die on their tongues.

The table
that gathers us is an island where guerillas
walk the land while crocodiles
surf. Children from Alphabeta with empty
palms dine
with us; switchblades in their eyes,
silence in their voices. When the playground
is emptied of children’s toys
who needs roadblocks? When the hour
to drink from the cup of life ticks,
cholera breaks its spell on cracked lips

Under the spilt
milk of the moon, I promise
to be a revolutionary, but my Nile, even
without tributaries comes lazy
upon its own Nile. On this
night reserved for lovers of fire, I’m
full with the catch of gun wounds, and my boots
have suddenly become too reluctant to walk me.

— Gbanabom Hallowell
Gbanabom Hallowell

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    • Technically, the poem is not about Nigeria. It talks about the Sierra Leonean civil war that midwived a lot of traumatized child-soldiers. But then, I agree that the poem may have a level of universality to it.

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