Literary Zone

Poetry: Ministers to the Toothless

1 July 2019 at 20:16 | 7278 views

Ministers to the Toothless

By Taban Lo Liyong

When I am old and my teeth are gone or rotted
Let me age away near KFC or MacDonald’s hotel:
Potatoes have no fibres and just disintegrate in the mouth
When they are squared and fried hot you don’t need teeth;
Finger-licking good spring chicken eaten hot is swallowed whole
The coleslaw in hamburgers is for additional salivation
It softens the bread and your gums can pound the meat
And you turn everything over in the mouth and swallow:
Nobody knows if you chewed or just washed it down
Especially as the salt on the potatoes, and drugs in the Coke
Contribute a lot to the salivation and gunning down.
The workers of the East with their poor dental care
The poor of the world who buy silence with sweets and ice-cream
Will keep MacDonalds and the General in business
Regardless of ideology, change of regime, whims of the boss:
When I have no teeth apples are out, as are steak and ribs.
Fried chickens, eggs, minced meat, coleslaw and bread
These I can eat with my gums, with my baby.

Taban Lo Liyong is one of the greatest living Black poets. A Pan-Africanist, he was born in the Sudan and raised in Uganda. He was educated at Howard University and the University of Iowa in America. He has taught in Kenya, Sudan, Japan and the United States.