Bad Juju

Go on,
spill your guts:
Does your ram-headed divinity
still listen?
Does he still woo the smoke
from your intestinal pots —
ribboned in red and black —
as it makes the lazy dance?
You, Judas at my table,
depart from me!
I’ve become a newborn,
married to a Western hand. 
Though of your very blood,
I’m  baited by your art,
like a bank is constantly lapped up 
by the frothy white tongues of the sea.
If I die young,
will you wade in my blood,
will you eat my meat,
or will you take my ripe testes
for the balls of your occult bell?
I’m sated not with wine or pleasure,
but with shame and discomfort.
So I’ve come to tuck you into a bed
of nails and bones — 
the same you’d have my lie.
And damn the memories of you
for you’ve always been 
a wasted thought.

72 responses to “Bad Juju”

  1. Instant, and Confrontational, comes across strong in live performance, almost as if written for a play. An incredible touch to the voice when listen.

    • Thanks Sean. I have a friend in Long Island, NY, who asked me tell him the much I know about this topic. I think I got inspired in the process.

  2. Good lord, that second stanza. Man that’s genius.
    I also really like this and can relate to it; “And damn the memories of you
    for you’ve always been
    a wasted thought.”

    What spectacular poetry, I almost feel proud of my own self for stumbling upon this gorgeously and unconventionally constructed piece of yours.

  3. Oh my! All those stanzas rippled with rage and anger!! Uzoma, it was powerful, I felt the poem, walahi (don’t know why I said that!) I felt it. You tell stories with your poems!!

    • Haha. “Walahi” is perfectly acceptable. I wrote the poem after a friend in Long Island (NY) asked if such power did exist and why some people would say: “This is bad juju.”

      I don’t like it (Juju), but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t exist.

      • You’re right my brother, juju does exist, the only thing important is to have the power to counteract it’s negative effects. The devil is an international citizen. But the poem is powerful, I love the way your words flowed with simplicity and grace!

  4. You have a way of catching attention, Uzoma. And yes, I know Juju exists. It is most powerful in Africa. Modern society, especially in the West, I think, has a way of tuning it out and pretending it is not there, but that does not mean it does not exist. The gods and the spirits matter.

    • Haha. But not as much as you do, Allyson. You’re a pro 🙂

      I’m so pleased you could weigh in with your acceptance of the existence of this power (juju). Yes, with the technologies and innovations in the West, the tendency to turn away from such reality is high. No wonder why a friend regarded it as the “Mother of all superstitious belief”

      Thanks for dropping by, Allyson.

      • I’m happy to pop in, I like your blog and your writing. 🙂

        As for your friend thinking that juju is the “Mother of all superstitious belief” – man, he is so wrong! I hope he never comes face-to-face with such forces. A person who isn’t aware of such a truth is more shattered for the experience because it shakes his/her very foundation. It throws out all certainty for that person, and deeply terrifies them.

        Cheers to you, Uzoma. Now that I’ve freed up some time, I’ll pop in more often. 🙂

  5. Deep. Dark. Awful as in Awe- full. To be so powerful and have it make you so angry, that is juju and that line with the “testes” in it, imagery in its living, breathing form of poetry.

    • Aw, thank you so much, Robin. Yes, as much as I believe it exists, I hate people who indulge in the act and use it to attack their fellow humans spiritual and otherwise with its powers.

      “Breathing form of poetry” — that’s the best thing I’ve heard about my poem *dances, turns, dances*

  6. Hi Uzoma… Seems like i missed an interesting episode in your world. 🙂 That is ONE GREAT POEM, my friend! And I read through the comments – so much love and praise for you and for the work. Great job with this!

    Now help me with one thing… I have a little (instinctive) understanding of juju… please tell me more about it… what it implies and what is its place in people’s lives. Then I shall return with fuller appreciation of your angry and full and ‘manly’ (as in human and strong) words.

    Take care!

    • Thanks for the compliment, MJ. Everyday is a learning process, so it makes happy when I get congratulatory remarks from the poets/poetesses I admire. And I am proud to say you fall in that category.

      Now, to juju… It’s a supernatural force that has the power to control man completely. Depending on the level of divination of the user/invoker, such power can travel as far as he wants it; it can go as far as taking the life of whom the spell/charm/power is intended. It’s believed — and I don’t doubt it — that my people used it against the first group of British soldiers who tried to engage us in battle. It was an effective force until the British shelled our villages and warriors from afar, causing the survivors to submit.

      Today, it’s a rare practice considering that a big number of people in my country are either Christians or Moslems. The ones who still indulge in this practice use the dark power for a range of wicked purposes from stopping a woman from giving birth to human rituals for riches.

      I’ve personal accounts of such power, but as a Christian, the Almighty has kept me safe from all of them.

  7. Thank you. That is helpful. Yes, the poem is indeed provocative and packs a great punch in its last verse… ‘tuck you into a bed of nails and bones…’
    I also like the allusion in the first verse… ‘Judas at my table…’

    Great poem, Uzoma. Love to have more poetry from you.

  8. AHHHH! *For lack of a more eloquent initial statement*
    This poem is just magnificent, you have such a way with words. “So I’ve come to tuck you into a bed of nails and bones –the same you’d have my lie.” How haunting and deep.
    I’ve been MIA for a few weeks but I’m back from Cairo! I see I have some catching up to do on your blog. Best wishes to you, in this scorching heat, dear friend.

    • Whitney! It’s so good to see you! So you’ve left Egypt again? Man! You’re a great traveler. If you weren’t a blogger, I’d have suggested you start writing a book. You can still do so, you know?

      “Magnificent” is a high praise for my work! I can tell you now that am walking on air… Glad you favorited a line too.

  9. I felt uncomfortable. Like I was seating between you and this “wasted thought.” doing this heated confrontation. Oh my! This was Dark, angry, and amazingling! You have such a rich voice Uzoma. Your words project a strong visual image on the brain that leaves a lasting impression. A most excellent poem my friend.

    • Oh dear, oh dear, I’m so glad you found beauty in this dark and mean sort of poetry. “Juju” can indeed make one feel so uncomfortable.

      • Oh no! Not that.
        You wrote such an in-depth story with such strong emotions flowing through each word that they came through.

        The story made me feel as if I was between you two listening in that room.

        No, this story made me uncomfortable because I generally don’t know what to say when others are in the middle of a heated arguments.

        That’s my uncomfort. LOL.

        • Aw, no worries, Glynis 😀 😀 I perfectly understood what you said at first and still do. You see, I don’t like it (Juju) and those who practice it too 😦 Certain trees and animals have been linked to this dark force as symbols and emissaries of its messages respectively. So when you mentioned “uncomfortable” I was, as a matter fact, glad that we shared the same view on the subject.

  10. Yep this sure is dark, and I absolutely love it!
    ‘So I’ve come to tuck you into a bed of nails and bones ..” I really enjoyed that last part especially. You’ve painted a very livid picture with this poem. You are an amazing poet Uzo. An all rounded artist you are, impressive!

    • Hello Valerie. I’m so happy you dropped by 🙂

      Yes, I also like the line your favourited. A rare way to put an end evil, right?

      You, too, a wonderful writer and poet.

  11. Your writing reminds me of the exhibit I once saw in NYC of African sculptures. Some so powerful I knew they were not for my eyes. Felt like it would be profoundly disrespectful to look upon them. I think they would have been honored to have your eyes realize their power, Uzoma.

    • Truly, it will be an honour. Every culture or race has a lot of special things to show to the world. That’s why I encourage people to uphold where they come from.

      It’s nice to see you again, Cheyenne.

  12. Oh my word!!! This is a Master piece.. I want to unread almost everything I’ve read and let fill up my memory bank.. I’m in awe of this! Wow bro, wow!! Hats off to you sir!

  13. Very powerful, a true cathartic freeing of the spirit, your words express so very well the conflict I’d experienced in Africa, so difficult as two worlds pull at the soul.

    • My! You’ve been to Africa before? Wonder what you have to say about the continent in general…

      Thanks for reading the poem and connecting with verses. It’s a honour, really.

      • I lived in Eritria, Djibouti, Chad, Camaroun, Lybia and Somaliland… off and on from 1972 unti 1982, I now live in Italy. I’ve a couple of posts about Africa, I think I tagged them correctly, in fact, I’m doing a little revamping at the moment which is why I haven’t been reading much.

        • Oh my word! That’s an impressive score 🙂 Since you are revamping, I guess I should wait to read them at once. I’m curious about your take and experiences in Africa.

          I’ve not been to Italy before, but I love the country. I’m a big fan of AC Milan and if I should visit someday, I’d like to visit the city of Milan, Rome, Turin, Naples, and Bologna. I used to have a penpal from Italy during the days of letter writing. On my shelf are postcards of Venice he sent me back then.

          • Oh…I’ll have to come back and answer you properly here. If you go onto my Photography category, you will be able to see many photos of my region of Italy…Trentino and I’ve some up from Rome and Padua as well.

  14. Reblogged this on Bastet and Sekhmet and commented:
    Thanks to a mutual friend Eric Alagan, I read a short while ago about Uzoma. I only just passed by and read a little of his blog at the time, but have been so busy lately I’ve neglected many, in this case a true shame on me! Here is just one of his beautiful poems, very powerful which I would like to share with you all, meet Uzoma.

  15. I love this poem. Most African poetry, I find, use this question structure. Does your ram-headed divinity still listen? – this is my best line. Your stanza are independent, telling a story by themselves but they works together as a whole. Good job.

    • Thanks so much. Life has gotten in the way of my writing for soooo long. At the moment, I kinda feel rusty when it comes to writing.

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