A Market Conversation. by Jonathan Chibuike Ukah

That man over there in white Bubba,
walking on the left like he’s got only feathers as props,
such a swagger, such a swivel as if he’s invisible;
I see the furrows in his eyes, and you can see it too.
Look at him; look at his loop, his second body,
I mean that polished bag in his armpit
like he’s got somewhere else to rush to.
I mean, he's got such a head like an owl.
That man has money, good money, red money,
sinking rich, you know what I mean by that;
rich like our lake of rotten clothes, broken bottles
from you and your children and your family.
tufiakwa, me? I wash my children’s clothes at home,
and my brother-in-law dug us a well.
Anyways, he is at home now with his wife,
though they say she’s not his original wife
but a second mistress, akwuna akwuna.
Tell me, who cares if he marries Queen Sheba
or waits for Makiba’s body to drop on his small bed
when he can close his eyes and buy our little village
and make me his slave and make you his fiftieth mistress?
I do not joke with such trivial things, you understand.
I didn't tell you anything now but look,
let me tell you something I heard yesterday;
I know you have heard too, you vulture,
but you paint your face like a wall of masks,
as if you have come to steal oil beans from me.
That man walking with the air in his gown,
well, that's what it is, a dress flowing over our gutters
like a wizard's mop; his right hand clutching a box,
though I hear it's not a deodorant box, you see,
which doesn't concern me one bit.
I mean to say he’s got something in his hand,
call it blood, call it mud, I don't care,
you don't mention my name at all at all.
It's not well for whistling. I’m not a prophet.
Come, let me see if I have what you are looking for,
what is it again you say you want to buy, please?

Jonathan Chibuike Ukah lives in London with his family. His poems have been featured and will soon be featured in Strange Horizons, The Fairy Tale Magazine, Atticus Review, The Pierian, Ariel Chart International Press, Boomer Literary Magazine, etc. He is the winner of the Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest 2022.