New Poetry, Fiction, Essay

Faith Atuhumuze – the food aid chain

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Faith lives and writes in Uganda. Her work has appeared in poetry anthologies such as “imagine. explore. create. inspire.” and “the alphabet soup poetry anthology” and has also been featured on literary websites the likes of Tangled Routes. Her works revolve around the themes of rural living and vulnerability, hunger, migration, othered-ness and on a better day, love.


the food aid chain

1. Joseph’s gun
the critters were not doing their due
we littered dog beat cries into the night.
and it took effort, as all song, shooting
through the nose like Joseph’s bullet

the men teased their arrows, the ladies stopped
powdering their noses for their feet.
I wonder how far they could have run
had there been shoes upon them

there were bodies at the bottom of the dam,
others at the mouth of the food line
each too taken to hear the shutter,
drums were in thrive inside the shrine

2. the odor of bread
up north, to get on the food list, a man
must seed. he bares his knuckles in the grass
of another man’s, bleeds his goat
and drinks his brew for a soft

girl with a beetle in her flower. her mother
was the same kind of diseased. a woman
forever in bake, to bear
the world—her prickled brood
a bone ash woman with palm sized bone
ash children.

to earn her plate, a girl must gently fold her teeth,
the hem of her skirt and offer herself— a food stamp
bride to a fistfight hero

3. Saturday pictures
a khaki vested woman with a black box and empty
book comes along. the black box clicks and blinds. she
clicks and

says she’ll teach me about my people
about a square man whose gun
ate away at my father’s children
she doesn’t know I don’t care

for her truths.

she counts my bones and calls
me a fighter. I tell her I know
fighters. I tell her they too can count


the smell of lunchmeat still lingers at her fingers
when she gives me a doll and stops


4. set the white pipe down some place Kevin and walk with me
(after Kevin Carter’s ‘struggling girl’)

he couldn’t open his wings
so the bird too.
Kong stayed longer—playing

nine men’s morris with hunger
in the sand. he might have said, ‘I shall wait
to be man’. but he won’t
remember the rest

in the fevers that take men—tribes
take with them the odor of death and don’t
chase the bird to where others flock.
Kevin, none of your fingers told your black box not to

when your mouth stopped and the birds
swirled their tongues between goodness and ethic
killing Kong and killing you at times
right and others


he couldn’t open his wings
so don’t too, Kevin
stay longer—play

5. drawing straws
up north, some people will hold a child’s hand
from the platter. her bones will secure their
place on the food list.

such makeshift children cannot
chase birds

they stand in vast fields— nobody’s crosses.
where crows leave
their rejects upon their shoulders
decorating them as one would
dead trees

who touch their bones and are
comforted that they still are.
where their hands of straw
and sewed-on eyes cannot behold


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