The Pauper (poem)
by Richard Ntiru
Pauper, pauper, craning yours eyes
in all directions, in no direction!
What brutal force, malignant element
dared to forge your piteous fate?
Was it worth the effort, the time?
You limply lean on a leafless tree,
nursing the jiggers that shrivel your bottom,
like a baby newly born to an old woman.
What crime, what treason did you commit,
that you are thus condemned?
And when you trudge on your horny pads,
gullied like the soles of modern shoes,
pads that even jiggers cannot conquer.
Does He admire your sense of endurance
or turn his head away from your impudent presence?
You sit alone on hairless goatskins,
your ribs and bones reflecting the light
that beautiful cars reflect on you,
squashing lice between your nails
and cleaning your nails with dry saliva.
And when He looks at the grimy coating
caking off your emaciated skin,
at the rust that uproots all your teeth,
like a pick on a stony piece of land.
Does He pat his paunch at the wonderful sight?
Pauper, pauper crouching in beautiful verandas
of beautiful cities and beautiful people.
Tourists and I will take you snapshots.
And your MP with a shining head and triple chin
will mourn your fate in a supplementary question at
1. Skin parasites
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