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House of Hunger: Poems and Artworks by Barthosa Nkurumeh


You don’t need to worry
we are not in a hurry
our lorry left early enough
though we are heading for Warri
and of course, Port-‘arcourt
We are not worried
that by ten
we may not know fury
By then
We could only be weary
Or hours after then even: merry
And asking for cherries or fresh berries
We don’t need to board any ferry
This lorry is cool enough, dear
never dusty, never too domestic
It’s never lousy, dizzying and devoid of history
as you render and tender
we do not trust it’s so
It’s only too dream-like, too romantic
that even the aged among us dance
in golden silence.
We might be late now
but we are lateless
let it be heavy rain coming
Or a brooding darkness calling
by then we could be hairy
or hours thereafter merry.





Two thorns on a brown thumb
One thorn in a brown thumb
Three thorns and red fingers
A joke can kill!
Nsukka, the journey
your check is in the mail, ha ha
jokes can kill
jokes can cure
For pain is only in the mind- hello
Second chance, always a miracle
Second choice, never a miracle, never admirable
Nsukka, the journey
Nsukka, the return? Now
Fast food dinner
Walk in the streets
Talk in the streets
Unusual bills to pay
Talk in the streets
Walk in the streets
Lost years in travails jungles
Why some men hit their wives
And wonder so long that way
As the rise and fall and fall of a falling hero
Fuels souls with inspiration
But doesn’t knowledge breed dominion
While the rise and fall and rise of a rising hero
Feeds all with aspiration, yet
Increase in knowledge may beget denominations



farewell to my alma mater
Farewell to my Alma Mater



(To A maala for its proverbial ways
Nnsukka class culture
Visual Communication Class of 1997)

‘Nza, the little bird
That has from the ground
Flown to perch on
Nka earth mound…
Is he not still
On the ground?’
One of us asked;
…from its little beak
came a lasting song:
‘A cook
In a hurry
To lick the fingers…
Are fingers meant
For the rafter?



(To Olu Oguibe during those years at Nsukka)

WHEN water
Spills, life
Is in circle.
When soup
spills, the stomach
Is empty
Who shall
We Blame?



A Rainmaker
Immersed his stone
And vowed it must
Be a gloomy turn.
The celebrant
For the sun’s porridge
Face, had
Another paid;
A tussle blindness
Stirred, and the day
Was lost.



Journey of life



FOR WHEN the eye
Of the earth
Throws down
Its spears
And the waters of the heaven
With its tears. We
Lift our hoes to the hills
And we
Lift our baskets from the hills
For our land
Is rich.



The sun has sunk
our eyes rest
from the porridge day skies
we can sight
and count with leisure
all the heaven’s stars
1 2 3 4 5…it is full moon
boys and girls are coming out to sing
and dance to moonlight plays
it is full moon now
There, poises the disdain
clasping his tool axe
the kin who pecked fire wood
on a Sunday
we are Catholic here
of sons and daughters
of God, trinity
there poises the disdain kin
with open mouth begs abstinence
from this sin
or is he crying
or is he laughing at the trunk
where no more rests
er where never may rest his axe
with crooked ribs
with fair firmness he clasps
his axe, his tool
how long have you been there
wailing, waiting to be heard, freed
earth’s mirrors hear the plea
repentance in a heart obliges
and er…obligates.


Old Neighborhood: Moonwatch, acrylic on board, 32″x42″, 1998



(1997/98 National Youth Service Corp, Ugbokolo. An artist-teacher’s experience)

There goes
The madman, passing the market
Advancing Ankpa Junction
With gages
Fastened to his bicycle with utmost care
For the contents
Are intact, undiluted
He is drunkard himself
For he taps and drinks his wine
With anyone who could offer a little amount
He is mad indeed.

Poems/Artworks (c) Barthosa Nkurumeh

Barthosa Nkurumeh
Barthosa Nkurumeh
Barthosa Nkurumeh received his formal art training at the University of Nigeria, an institution synonymous with the Uli style, an established school in contemporary Nigerian art which borrows from Uli body decorations, traditional wall paintings, ritual objects, etc. He has worked in several media including metal-smithing, sculpture, graphic design, printmaking and painting. His poems, drawings and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Contemporary African Art, Black Artists, The Anthill Annual, West Africa, Prisma. and New Traditions from Nigeria: Seven Artists from Nigeria. He has been featured in more than seventy art exhibition in worldwide. Nkurumeh has completed a number of artist-in-residence programs and several art workshops and lectures for schools and museums in the US. Between l993- 2000, Nkurumeh taught art at Cheyney University and Clarion University, Pennsylvania. He attended the Teachers College - Columbia University, New York for doctoral studies and he completed work on a PhD. in art education at the University of North Texas, Denton.

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