Kiboko Boy by Kelly Showker


Kiboko Boy
by Kelly Showker

He threw the fork his servant touched, silver to his cassava-peel lips,
over the compound wall, rubble — it fell on dry grass,
dirt the color of Mars. 
He was 6.

Peeping through the keyhole at the Mombasa beach hotel,
a woman bent on her knees by a man seated on the bed, 
he sees things, improper things to be seen.
He was 8.

They turn off the lights at boarding school, 
he beats the younger boys with sticks.
He calls it ‘The Kiboko Squad.’
He was 10.

Kiboko means stick in his language, he tells them. 
He touches them; they touch him.
Playing in the dark with his boyfriends
He was 12.

None of them remember his words. They force him to learn Kiswahili. 
Their heads are all shaved. 
No Ugandan lice here. 
He was 14.

Collecting birds, and small things
Cheap Chinese sunglasses, imported Italian silk neckties, 
American candy bars, English slang,
He was 16.

When there’s trouble, like a letter, he’s sent, this time, to Maryland.
His half-sister takes him in. No one asks who her real father is,
He wonders if all his mother’s children were mistakes.
He was 18.

She shows him ‘The States,’ and ‘Outside Countries’ 
Cream-colored girls with thin hips
Things to fill his time so far from backhome.
He was 20.

There are credit cards and no one watching
In this forested place where they don’t know their place, or who his father is.
The things he buys are what he always wanted.
He was 22.

But they find him,
through the shoe boxes and numbers, 
fake names printed in raised letters like brail
He was 24.

His last day begins with a gun and ends on a plane.
He returns to the compound with sacks
and tells his father’s servant not to touch them. 
Don’t throw them away, he says, 
If they go missing, I will beat you.

In the garden now there are many moldy chairs 
Under a mango tree swollen with rotting fruit
behind high walls, broken bottles, and cement,
his parents suffer from gout and old age.

He drinks many beers and sits in the chairs.
He throws out all the old forks.
He does not eat food anyway.
Knives he keeps (what else to sharpen the sticks?)
Spoons he keeps. 
The cards he keeps. 
They are just plastic squares here, 
only perfect for cutting dust.

He was 26.

Hear Kelly Showker, and other selected poets, read their poems on The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast:

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Kelly Showker is a writer, filmmaker, and former U.S. diplomat. Her first feature-length documentary, Slut or Nut: The Diary of a Rape Trial, premiered at the 2018 Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival, and has been featured in the Hollywood Reporter, CBC, VICE, and in the Huffington Post, and was named the, “Most Talked About Film at Hot Docs” by Point of View Magazine, as well as one of the, “Top Ten Documentaries to Watch” by NOW Magazine. The documentary was also awarded a grant from CUPE to produce an interactive web experience and podcast.

Showker holds an MFA in Documentary Media Production from Ryerson University and a B.I.S. in Gender Studies and International Relations from Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as a Graduate Certificate from the University of Toronto in Public Relations, and a Diploma in French and Sub-Saharan African Studies from the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

Before becoming a filmmaker, Showker worked for the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service in U.S. Embassy’s in Kampala, Uganda, Yaoundé, Cameroon, Johannesburg, South Africa, Toronto, Canada, and in Washington D.C.

Her writing has been published in The Temper, POV Magazine, as well as in Now Magazine and she also publishes fiction under the pen name, Charlotte Dune.

Connect to her on social media via her websites:

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