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Three Square Meal | Obongofon Etuk

Three Square Meal | Obongofon Etuk

Three Square Meal | Obongofon Etuk| Poetry| Afrocritik

By Obongofon Etuk

The main course is a revelation…

I. Breakfast

Life is for us to survive,

& love for us to wonder.

Wonder, my love, wonder!

It is for us to wonder,

but not be swayed by love’s frivolous gold.


Love to us is to be a distraction,

that binds our heart with fleeting foolish care,

to tether with the impulse our heart skips,

& plummet anon to utter foolishness.

It is a brave coward who proceeds to love,

Yet it matters in zero.


& so, once upon a time it is believed,

that I as God molded fools in my own image,

set them on strings wired to my will,

My marionettes—Adam & Eve,

to ball to their own desires.

They survived and loved,

& thus, the wondering of the first men began.


“How long will our time last, my love?”, Adam began

As they sat beneath the Tree of Knowledge — my own knowledge.

“Will our days be numbered, like the leaves on the tree?”

 Or only does the puppeteer  know, my love?”


“We’re but marionettes, dancing on controlled strings”,

“Our fate, a puppeteer’s whimsical thing,

“But what of our love, our wonder, our desire?”

Doth it not burn, like all things, with fleeting false desire?


“Love is a flame, that flickers bright & true,”

But like all things, it’s fleeting, askew.

To cherish each moment we must, each kiss & each embrace,

For in the end, only love  graces our silent hour.”


His voice trailed off, as he gazed up high,

At the heavens above, where I’ve tied their fate to a spiral of unfortunate events.

They knew not what tomorrow would bring, or when their time would end,

But for now, they had each other, and that’s what envy really hates.


Yet they lived, and loved, and wondered still,

Their marionette strings; a reminder of my will.

As they danced, and twirled, and loved with all their might,

I birthed a devil & planted his seed as head,

To Lord their obsession and bring them to fault,

In the Eden garden as their bounty surpluses.

Eat & die and let the tale of woe be birthed.


For Eve, the she-man so planted found desire in the most appealing of things,

Things of grandeur, my friend—Les belles choses de la vie.

Beautiful colours of lust and the rainbow splashes of vanity,

She so robed herself in it, ate of it, & the seed of it was grown in a flesh.

It flourished, you see, an abundance of ephemeral desires,

On her crown, on her beddings and poked in her bottom,

to be attached with her, to be of her, to be for a memory.


I tell you,

It is easier to bait beautiful things to beautiful things,

Softer things to softer things,

To tease a cherry in the mouth of a bee.

It makes the beautiful ones fail that all may fail,

C’est le fromage sur le beurre,

‘Tis perfection, yours truly. 


“La la, la la, I say this to laugh, la la”. Eve began.

“Love is a flame, to this, I must agree,

But don’t say bright & true until you’ve found what I’ve found.

Look, cave-man, look upon my frame,

Something beautiful resides here, will you love me alone?

I’ve eaten of it in the area of death,

& Yet I’ve passed this foolery test”.


“O, woe is me!” Man-marionette cried, but in whispers to the shame of his first being.

“Are we to breakfast to this?

To this opposed by all of nature’s law?”

Eat, listen, eat. 

To eat is not to die,

But to hunger again.

Art thou not, dear pair, marionettes dancing on the strings of my whim?

Eat and hunger again.


To hunger is to wonder,

Life surely is for us to survive,

& love to wonder.

But say not; ‘I shall pass, I shall pass’

For you must love & live,

& thus you must die.


Eve’s words struck deeply, a fatal wound,

“La la, la la, I laugh, la la,” she mocked,

Her tone cold, her heart hardened,

& my marionette man left confused about how this came to be.

She ate, you hunger,

You must eat to wonder.


“Stay, don’t leave me behind”, he begged,

But Eve’s heart was set on new horizons,

New wonders, new desires, a life to explore,

& my marionette man needed to explore.

Yet is he not bound by my strings?

I shall pull, and his fate shall be sealed.


He wandered, lost, through a little world,

Seeking a glimpse of her golden hand,

But she was gone, chasing whatsoever cloud the rainbows kissed,

& I kissed my little head devil,

but accursed she must be as well.

For to create a balance, something must cost.


“La la, la la”, her laughter echoed,

A haunting reminder of a love lost in vain,

My little marionette man’s heart bore the heavy burden,

Of a love lost, a sorrow to adore,

A confusion to apprehend & a hunger to satisfy

La la, la la, my own laughter resounds.


& So I fetter my marionettes,

They must be to each other attached.

 Adam’s heart, trapped in a forbidden love,

A fleeting dream, a moment’s grace,

A love lost, a sorrow to embrace,

& marionette-woman to obey.

Eat, idiot, eat.

Death has served breakfast.


Life & love, life & love,

I’ve chosen not to comprehend.

Is this to survive or wonder?

Wonder, wonder, wonder,

This is to wonder,

& all must be well met.

II. Lunch

Life again is to ponder,

& If then so, can all surely be well met?

It is not well when you say; “It is well”.

When you voice “it is well,” it is but a pretence.

It’s like providing air to the breathless,

You’ve cloaked a disguise in sacred vestments,

& your misfortune mocks you; it sustains you, and you cannot challenge.


To sing of Spafford’s peace doth bring no ease.

Your sorrow has taken over your spirit,

You’ve become a hollow shell in a busy world,

& have masked your misery stench with incense.


You can not force all to be well met,

A joyous heart needs not such false pretence.

If well it be, then well it truly is,

If not, then must you grieve without relent.


Hence, here I grief,

For my marionettes & this creation experiment of woe.

Too sure are the perils of this world,

and every lesson learnt is water on a duck’s back.

I was stubborn, and still will be with the passing of time,

For what grandeur defines the Marvel of gods, if not their defiance against the dictates of age?


I mould who I want to be with my hands, for so does the story of creation tell,

And if this renders me akin to a deity, I will Gehenna to the subtle things that break my spirit.

I desire my marionettes worship me,

to hail my brilliance but not for the worth of it.

For now, I’m god and jealous, and frolics with the vanities of this void.


You see, I see, we see,

and we all must acknowledge the allure of complacency,

And the mundane trappings of this existence.

Indeed, too sure are the pleasures of this world,

and everything beautiful must frolic under the sun.


There’s a hush I need you to listen to.

I am clouding forward, to question my marionettes.

Let the earth remain silent.

‘Tis moment is to listen, eh! Not indeed to me,

But to the voices of my protégé — Nay, say puppets.

I have stooped to feast with men,

Same ones I’ve made & marked for doomed.

Am I not indeed supreme?


“Of all foul things, I fear most the devil’s snare”, Adam did begin.

“His demons and all their enchantment to win our mortal flesh.

I am enticed by sin, yet tremble in its wake,

For it pierces my soul while granting my lustful desires.

We know not which demon lurks within our mortal guise,

But our souls decay to hell with each lustful step we prize.

Possessed we be, by demons that subtly dwell,

To whisper in our minds, a haunting, eerie sound.

Perhaps it be the woman you granted, 

I wonder, life’s to wonder.”


I shrug. God shrugs. 

A puppet blames the puppeteer,

A cook blames her broth.

Shame, shame, audacity.

“In my head, a voice loudly rings”. The she-marionette began.

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“In my throat, a voice usurps my very own.

In my actions, an unseen power truly wields,

To all who witness, ’tis truly I they see.


“Our father who art in heaven…”

I will not listen.

“Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come…”

I will not listen.

“Take my life, just as Havergal once entreated”,

I will listen.

“And then to my demons; see thee beneath God.”

I planted the seed,

I will not listen.

III. Dinner

A man, no matter his worth, is cursed.

He is a blooming fruit tree that grows on a barred land.

That it be,

no matter how blessed peasants are, by its fruits,

a day marked of doom will set, that one peasant will say:

“Look, suffer not this tree upon this soil,

Uproot and supplant upon this bare with so and so project.

What is this tree?

It will be nothing that’ll neither hinder us nor thwart the plans we have upon this bare.

In the market we’ll find her fruits and we’ll jolly in her season.

But what use will this tree have in her barren season?”


Not one will remember its canopy of leaves,

the umbrella that shades them all.

Neither will they think of its free fruits as it falls upon their heads in bounty.

But of this decision shall tragedy be birthed,

& a vicious cycle of woes.

& you bother to fathom the depths of a number of human foes.


How can you?

Adam’s tentacles had swiped man right on birth,

Off their feet upon Eve’s lap,

Where in her arms they’ve been breastfed with the sombre nature of being,

To live in a curse and be of a curse,

Labour in curse and return to dust in curse.

I’ll remind you, as much as you should remind a neighbour:

A man, no matter his worth, is cursed.


Men wonder, they certainly do,

If all ambition fades & eyelids close,

There in their mortal end,

will dreams linger in a new reality?


Or shall they scatter like autumn leaves,

Whisked away by the winds of time,

A sonata of forgotten whispers,

In the hushed corridors of eternity.


As shadows lengthen, and stars ignite,

Do their  hopes take flight, seeking solace,

In voids beyond their mortal grasp,

As canvas painted with ethereal hues.


Will the echo of their laughter remain,

A faint melody in the chambers of memory,

Or will it dissolve into the void,

Like morning mist kissed by the sun?


In the embroidery of their existence, they thread,

A delicate dance of moments and emotions,

Yet, when the final curtain descends,

Will their stories dissolve into stardust?


O!  what mysteries await beyond the veil,

As they  surrender to the unknown,

Perhaps, in the end, to live is to wonder,

To wonder, to wonder, & question the universe in wonder.


For in their wondering hearts, they find,

A longing to bridge the realms unseen,

To grasp the hand of eternity,

And find meaning in the fabric of the unknown.


I am bored of these puppet games.

I will let them go, off unattended to,

Perhaps to give the devil’s seed a chance again,

To hear them scream for penance,

As like incense it ascends the clouds:


“I confess to the almighty God…”

Go on Eve, Go on Adam,

 “and to you my brothers and sisters,

that I’ve greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words…

Often with a besmirched smile, I’ll pique on self-satisfaction,

They lay them all upon my brow and contour them in a fine spiral upon my visage.

Perhaps these puppet games shall continue,

& my marionettes may toil forever more.


O! Hell.

O! Hell,

Be nigh,

be nigh.

Obongofon Etuk is a Nigerian Poet and Pharmacist. His works are greatly inspired by theatrics, dialogues and of Shakespeare. Obongofon is published on Brittle Paper, and Spillwords, amongst others.

Photo by Sivani Bandaru on Unsplash

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