Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Julius Chingono

My Uniform

My Uniform

My Uniform

When the bread bin
Is empty
I put on my uniform
My police officer’s uniform
Medals dangling
Down my chest
To the rowdy bread queue
To maintain order
To buy bread
Without a hassle
When the maize-meal tin
Is low
I put on my uniform
My army officer’s uniform
With sergeant’s gold stars
Pinned on my shoulders
To quickstep
To the warlike mealie-meal queue
To buy mealie-meal
Without joining the queue

When I am out of fuel
I wear my army colonel’s garb
With its conspicuous badges
Swinging around me
To ghost walk
To the bumper-to-bumper fuel queue
To buy the fuel
From behind the queue

When the family says
Sugar is spent
I wear my uniform
My constabulary tunic
To march
To the anxiety-charged sugar queue
To suppress all dissent
When I jump the queue

When I go window-shopping
I wear my uniform
My petrol officer’s reflector vest
Weighed down by silver, service medals
Clanking noisily
To gain quick entry
And to travel free
On public transport
Close

My Uniform

When the bread bin
Is empty
I put on my uniform
My police officer’s uniform
Medals dangling
Down my chest
To the rowdy bread queue
To maintain order
To buy bread
Without a hassle
When the maize-meal tin
Is low
I put on my uniform
My army officer’s uniform
With sergeant’s gold stars
Pinned on my shoulders
To quickstep
To the warlike mealie-meal queue
To buy mealie-meal
Without joining the queue

When I am out of fuel
I wear my army colonel’s garb
With its conspicuous badges
Swinging around me
To ghost walk
To the bumper-to-bumper fuel queue
To buy the fuel
From behind the queue

When the family says
Sugar is spent
I wear my uniform
My constabulary tunic
To march
To the anxiety-charged sugar queue
To suppress all dissent
When I jump the queue

When I go window-shopping
I wear my uniform
My petrol officer’s reflector vest
Weighed down by silver, service medals
Clanking noisily
To gain quick entry
And to travel free
On public transport

My Uniform

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère