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One day, Uncle sent me to his concubine
On the other side of the next village for some meal
Begging me to beg of her to look at his pain
I smiled when he spoke of the pain
He spoke below, ashamed, and said to me
Tell her I am hard up
Broke in the pocket
Empty, like a down cast bucket

On the road I was alone
Measuring its length with my eyes
With no companion to shorten the journey
In the midst of traveller’s words
Asking my feet if they were going to be painful
Walking along on light flip-flops
Then I saw a friend’s shoe shining in the distance
On the road

I said with certainty, I know that single black shoe
That stands on the road so lonely
Waiting for any foot that can move it
Its owner was a sergeant; a huge, tall, hairy, simple sergeant
Why is his shoe on this war-zone road
Painted all over with colourful blood?
Has he come here? Who might have sent him?
His wife? No, I don’t think so. His boss? Maybe

Look at the leaves, pierced with plentiful bullet holes
Nose don’t! I don’t ask you to sniff for me
Don’t sniff anything strong here
Don’t sniff the reek of blood here
What! eyes? What? are you seeing it too?
A warrior’s uniform? Do you recognise it?
I do, but, not too sure if it’s familiar to me
Am I in a dream world? Or in the real world?

Pardon me Uncle, I will go again another day
Let me first figure out this reek of soldier’s blood.


Cleffy is the pen name of Sierra Leonean poet and musician Ibrahim Sorie Bangura. Born in 1992, he was raised in a subsistence farming village in the northern province of Lungi. In 2011 he migrated to the capital Freetown to escape rural poverty; surviving on the street for several years before joining WAYout Arts for Youth, an organisation supporting street youth. He is now studying music production and creative writing. In 2017 Cleffy was short-listed for a prestigious Commonwealth Writers Adda Poetry commission. His poems have been published in the online literary magazines Write the City and Praxis Magazine Online. He is currently working on a poetry project supported by the Prince Claus Fund, combining poetry and video. His poetry reflects a deep affection for the story-telling traditions of his village childhood home overlaid with the rhymes and rhythms of urban street culture.

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