Poetry by John Oryem Ernest Loguca, Ph.D.

Happy birthday Aloyotoo
(1st birthday)

My daughter Aloyotoo,
Today is special day for you,
Let me wish you “happy birthday” even if forlornly,
I reserved for you my energy
To wish you “happy birthday”
Even though remotely,
Do not care my daughter,
Even if our voices are inaudible,
Fading deep into memories of pain,
You are a distinctive girl, a princess
Do not mind what the world offered you
Just smile with your daily signature you inherited from your mother
She left for you her infectious smile that dominated her world she left prematurely
Finitude is for all,
Like us your elders,
Accept our fate my daughter Aloyotoo!

Oh Aloyotoo
Today you are one year old?
It was just like yesterday when you came into the world among us
And you happily took center stage with pride, your place of course
In the morning of 22. 4.2022, you disturbed your mum and the neighborhood’s birth attendant as if you were afraid to enter the unknown world
You even conducted hide-and-seek game for two days
But my daughter Aloyotoo,
We were prepared for you my daughter
You think we didn’t?
Your siblings, parents, nurses, neurologist and gynecologists were ready to receive you my daughter
Sweets, cakes, and toys from your brothers

Oh Aloyotoo
That night, you gave hard time to mama
You made her sleepless, restless,
Waiting for your coming into this world
You delayed your triumphant entrance
You coiled and stretched yourself like a millipede
And as if you were seeing everyone with telescope,
You leapt into the into the hands of a gynecologist with a loud cry
Then calmly you loosened yourself,
And relaxed like babies born hours before,
You knew those surrounding your mum were your aunties, uncles and grandmothers!

Oh Aloyotoo
The moment you were born, your aunties and elderly women loudly ululated for you that early morning
They did it for your strong mum
Her iron feet rooted on the ground
Her golden heart attached to you
She bore you with courage and extraordinary energy
When the doctor on duty came for the second time to check on you,
Your eyes were wide-opened….white like the moon
He turned and uttered,
“Congratulations for a princess is born!”

Oh Aloyotoo
My daughter, take heart my princess
You are my golden girl
Know that you have special place in our hearts
We all love you with outmost love
Mama loved you!
She could have baked your birthday cake today
She could have staged a grand birthday party for you today
She could have invited neighborhood kids and their mothers for you today

Oh Aloyotoo
My daughter, do not mind
Today you will be surrounded by your aunties, nieces, granddad and grandma,
Even your great grandma will carry you,
She will sing for you the song she sung for my wife, your mother when she was born decades ago
Do not mind what the world gave us my daughter Aloyotoo
From her secured place in heaven,
Mama will lead the heavenly choirs to sing for you,
“Happy birthday my Aloyotoo, happy birthday to you!”
“Happy birthday my Aloyotoo, happy birthday to you!”

She did it before to your brothers
Do not mind my daughter,
Just remember her tender voice she used to sing lullaby for you
“Aloi, Loi my baby, grow up quickly to wash my dishes,
Aloi, Loi my baby clean up my room…..”
My daughter, you are adorable!

Oh Aloyotoo
When the candle is lit for you today, blow it with vitality
You are strong girl like your mother
You are fearless
Daughter of gigantic clan
You are from the elephant’s stock tribe like my grandmother,
You will continue to blow thousands more candles like her who blessed you after your birth,
“Live long up to my age Aloyotoo Loguca my daughter!”
Happy birthday to you Aloyotoo!
(From LETTER TO MY DAUGHTER ALOYOTTO, © John Oryem Loguca, 19.4. 2023, Chengdu, PRC)

Into your gentle hands

Deep into your hands, I shall jump, yes my love,
Your patience would have ended
Those years you waited for me
Into your world
When I bid you goodbye, tearful goodbye.
Receive me quickly my love,
The roads shall be rocky for me and long
My eyes shall be smoky with the tears
That brought me to you after this absence
. I shall first learn how to scrawl,
And put me into your hands
As we did together in last life.
My tongue shall be weak,
Speak to me my love,
Open it with your hands
Let us just say again, "I love you"
I shall not care,
How long you shall be near me
But I shall just cherish that golden moment.
I would have put all what I had into your hands, Your rings you left behind
And that graceful smile
Each morning you wish us good.
The wind shall be strong on my face,
Do cover it with your hands
That you once gave to me
And tie them now with our rope of love.

Dried straw

Don’t throw away my shadow, my love,
Keep the dreams you remember me with,
Though I’m dried now like a straw,
Somewhere you shall find me useful,
I once bloomed with stamina
And gently reached the juncture
When there was no more asking
Even with tears that
I shaded in my whole life
When you reversed your mirror.
The bond with this dried straw shall never fail your heart again,
Rivers shall carry me,
From far, far afield
Gently I will go down stream.
In the dark and day,
Someone shall pick me for a use or two,
Even if you pick me not,
I shall join my friends,
Tall and short, together we shall
Parked our selves into the gorge.
I shall want to continue my journey,
For few meaningful days
Before they discard me aside
By fire,
Or somewhere to manure other fresh lives in the pipeline.
But the one way we must take
To know how much we mean for all
Before we blow our whistle,
Each for a time on lips
And moment to say, "I have finished my race"
It is now for the rest,
Clap not for me,
Because you would have become dried like a straw
At the road’s side
And that shall be me.

Your pieces

There are moments we call painful
When everything you left must talk to me
The old towel you left, still smell newness of your love
It never cost you much monetarily
But my tears of your loss
Shall buy not what you left
Remember your colorful Khanga?
You meant for my pillow-side…. for your "real presence"
It is my sponge of tears today
All because you said your goodbye in a hurry
Before I could leave you my memories
Now I shall pick your pieces, my pieces,
From the frame overlooking my bed
And elegantly watch your graceful face
As I did every morning before you said your goodbye in a hurry
If I turn your old album,
I shall smell your body lotion, hair food
And wonder on your handy works in the cupboard
All faces in orderly calm
Just because of your craft
Then I shall ask again: "God, why have you taken my love?"
The flowers you planted at our parlor
Smiles each morning with your memories
I keep telling them, "My love has gone somewhere."

The candle died

There were many things still in our hearts my love
When life’s secrets were to be told among us,
In the night of our surprise revelations,
We left more in the dreams;
Sadness, pity,
All were around our stories,
But they meant precious things than our elegant faces.
We never bothered virus of love,
That refused to cross our hidden hearts,
It was then;
In the stillness of that night;
That we spoke…only like wizards,
At last we built plots for happy ending by sunset,
Which was yet to come,
And when the candle died,
We hurriedly said;
“Goodnight my love.”

Mother land

Basement of our roots,
Where we stand and shoot our arrows,
Our drums go wild, our eyes glued
On impregnated granaries.
You offer us pure unmatched honey.
Every pride to be found in none
But you,
In mock dance, beads on our necks,
Our feet jingling,
We celebrate your independence,
Children sing lullabies,
Our wives teasing us.
In battle songs,
We march to defend you,
Away from you, we remain resentful
Who can blindfold us to sell you
In worldly currencies?
Woe to us,
If we bargain you,
If we misappropriate you,
Wanderers shall we become
And let our remains from foreign cities
Never be yours again.

Smile of Freedom

From the slums, we wait for our freedom
Though harshness of nature is strangling us in the periphery,
Blind August-September floods greeting us from the gates
Cruel November-January cold is showing us its teeth.
Surely our smile is ready
Already paid for by our Human River
Painting red, red from beginning to finish line
Who shall betray our freedom?
Missed by our ancestors
In the days of their civilization.
Who shall resist this smile?
Hidden under our tears
Beneath our sorrows,
Buried in our tribulations.
Come smile of freedom,
Our carnivals set for
Your feet, purified,
For the great dance.

My land

My land,
Your face blown in the dust
Of famine and war
We walk along the streets of the world,
To beg,
Our war-stricken faces denied.
But you my land have begun it all,
What shall I call you?
My South,
Your womb, sour and muddy
Tied to our tears.
I hear you are so rich and worthless
Like divorced woman in Jaborona slum
Thrown at the edge of progress.
Fend my children,
With the string of our protocols revoked
Before my tender eyes of the morning.
North, say all about me,
All about my children,
Do your lips service
It shall end soon.
Persuade me no more,
Or else my ancestors shall rise
From their transparent graves
Where you cheated them at independence.
Haven’t you left them with acidic mouths?
And polluted land,
With dead air?
You chiefs,
You were cheated at broad day,
Your signatures abandoned like elephant’s penis in the jungle. North,
You said I was unlettered south,
Now I shall be gone,
In to the forest you exploited,
Am only dancing the bitter tune of your greed

In the valley you refused to level.
When the mountains where still high,
You refused to break.
Now am gone,
Gone, not to be found again in your streets.

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