image credit: Niko Lienata via


My Uncle; a seventy-year-old vein-filled man
Who loved listening to seventies music
Anytime I wanted to eat his food at night
I fed his old radio six Tiger batteries

I used to wait at his door when the day
Was handing over duty to the night
As I collected his black, blue, yellow, white sleeping mat
And spread it openly where the moon gleamed

To shake up his musical heart
I’d tune the wrong channel. “Uh, don’t mess up!
That’s not the station, go up, up, up, yeah!” he’d say
Clearing his throat before lying down. “Ehh-ehh”

Whistling, he’d put the radio up to his long, cane rabbit right ear
Take off his shirt, cross his right foot over the left, emotion clinging
Tightly to him like starch glue on a paper or a tick to a dog’s flesh
Then he’d call, “Sorie Lol, check my food pan and enjoy yourself”

Ibrahim Sorie Bangura, aka Cleffy, is a Sierra Leonean poet and musician. Born in 1992 in a subsistence farming village; he migrated to Freetown in 2011 to escape rural poverty, surviving on the streets for several years before joining WAYout Arts. His poetry is strongly inspired by oral story telling traditions overlaid with the beats of urban youth culture. Cleffy’s work has appeared in Write the City, Praxis Magazine Online and Written Off, an anthology of poems and stories from the streets of Sierra Leone. He is currently working on a poetry project supported by the Prince Claus Fund.

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