He lived with us very briefly
When I was still a child
My father’s elder brother

When we prayed before our meals
And made the sign of the cross
He teased us, Protestants, about having gone Catholic

When he shaved in the morning
He explained to us the mysterious science
Of shaving stick, cream and blade

Other than that he didn’t talk much
A quiet quiet quiet man
Hurt no-one, thoughtfully kept to himself

Very different from the others
Never preached, never argued, never moralised
Never scolded, just silently observed

Three decades have passed
Rarely our paths ever crossed again
A short Hello each time, nothing more

I’m still trying to understand
The pain I’ve felt all morning today
Since I heard of Uncle Joe’s death

It doesn’t make sense
Someone I hardly knew
Just a few childhood memories

Just a few memories
That remind me of a time
Rich in memories and childlike insight

And a few memories
Of a quiet adult who never found a voice
In a culture of big egos, loud voices and aggression

His silence was louder, calmer, more lasting
So deep that only his death
Would open the deep wound of memory in my heart

His middle name was Ahamefula
Meaning “May my name not get lost” –
No, dear Uncle, it will not.

In loving memory of
Joseph Ahamefula Chukwumerije
1935 – 2013

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.


Hardly a night goes by
Hardly a breath flows, an evening
Without this thought
You brighten my life

Curly windows
When the crowds are many
I am alone

I wanted to be a nightingale
To be a flower
I wanted to be a star
The evening wind blows
I am human. Let it be…

Sometimes again
Freed from the city’s shackles
Hackles, hard tackles
I am green, bright yellow, blue as sky
Glad am I.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.


I cherish the sight
I cherish the night
Moon-crowned… moon-found
The Poetry is so profound
That strikes the Deep
Out of its Sleep
When the fortnight is twice over turned
And the Full-Moon has returned.

I hear the lone wolf again
From the stillness of the deep and the pain
Howling from out of my Heart…
Howling from out of my Heart…

The moon…
The moon…

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.


Good morning, Quietness,
I remember how with surprise
I felt your absence last night.
And did I thirst for you? First I thrashed about wildly,
Clutching at every suggestion of you,

Then, exhausted, like a leopard I crouched, still,
And lay in wait for you – awake, listening,
Until the morning came… My life rolled before my inner eyes,
Awakening you from the depths of my heart –
Good morning, Quietness, as I fall asleep at last.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.


Quietness nay silence
Like a virginal victim of violence
Was broken by a passing train in the night
Lonely and out of sight.

I won’t go near the window
Why reopen sorrow?
Let it pass by like a train in the distance
Heralding a second chance.

Night breathes, asleep
Silence sinks into ethereal deep
None shall stir until the dawn doth break
Only I – why am I still awake?

If I were clairvoyant, I would swear
There is somebody with me here
In that quiet hour when night is day
Spirits come out to play.