In The Kernel of Service



In this poem, Richard Inya bemoans the piteous fate of pensioners – men and women who spend their years working to better the society only to be treated like worthless beings at old age.


An armed revolution

Rages against quietness

In the belly of starving retirees


Their intestines are trapped snakes

Struggling to break loose

Ever seen they that chew silence

And swallow air?


Pity is a bucketful of a minute silence

Harvested from the bosom of caretakers

Waiting to cast oration on graveyards


Promises sway despair

Vain promises are faecal stuffs

From the anus of bloated talks

This path is not far from mass murder

Another has just fallen whose statue

will never make it into the square




At the tail of service

Is a houseful of ghosts

Echoes and questions


Should I go or should I stay?

What if tomorrow doesn’t come

Or hunger lifts me away like a hawk?


Fifty something is allergic to jokes on age

Trepidation begets rejuvenation

In the enclave of browning records

Manipulation hands out extra years

To faces ripe to vacate the facade of duty


Retirement songs echo the sounds of war with self

The sphere of service is a mountain village

Every swift leap or brisk walk awaits accounting

When age meets with the year of reckoning





Giant hawks prey on pension funds

Hawks are rock-hearted caretakers

Nay, lions watching over aged sheep


Out in the cold the old queue

The lot of veterans exalts beggars

And sets the feet of the fledgling

On the path of wanton thievery


The piteous lot of pensioners

Is the offence of tribesmen

The offence of tribesmen isn’t offensive

Tongues and tribal marks settle scores


Wellbeing of the aged is the Holy Grail

The search for this is endless

Arthritis accompanies spent legs

On their way to another round of verification

There shall be more and more roll calls

Until more names fly with the hawks










Richard Inya is a Nigerian poet and short story writer. His works have been adopted for use in over eight states in Nigeria. Apart from his literary engagements, he works at the Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi State. He is the Chairman, Ebonyi State Branch of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). He writes and writes and writes.

©Featured image created by Osemome Ndebbio

Read Scattered Longings, another poem by Richard Inya