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About this poet

Mildred Barya is a Ugandan poet and fiction writer who has authored three poetry books: Give Me Room to Move My Feet (Amalion Publishing, 2009), The Price of Memory After the Tsunami (Mallory International, 2006), and Men Love Chocolates But They Don’t Say (Femrite Publications, 2002). She teaches creative writing at University of North Carolina Asheville and is a board member of African Writers Trust.

The Fire People

We’ve turned our walks into finding things
that catch fire easily, like us
our fascination with bush craft—
how to survive in a forest
without the conveniences
we have at home
the first human to discover fire
rubbed two stones together
friction is a good thing.
we have fun starting fires
scratching the Mora knife against the small iron rod
sending sparks into a nest of dried grass and fibrous barks
you put out the flame with the sole of your hiking boot
so we can begin, again
by the time we leave the forest,
we’ve discovered deer poo combusts easily
human hair doesn’t
I’ve given a lock and you’ve won the bet
By the time we leave
we’ve lost count of the fires we’ve started.

Copyright © 2015 Mildred Barya. This poem originally appeared in Poetry Quarterly. Reprinted with permission of the author.

 

Copyright © 2015 Mildred Barya. This poem originally appeared in Poetry Quarterly. Reprinted with permission of the author.

 

Mildred Barya

Mildred Barya

Mildred Barya is a Ugandan poet and fiction writer who has authored three poetry books: Give Me Room to Move My Feet (Amalion Publishing, 2009), The Price of Memory After the Tsunami (Mallory International, 2006), and Men Love Chocolates But They Don’t Say (Femrite Publications, 2002).

by this poet

poem

Lizards will on purpose sever their tails when in stressful or dangerous situations, an act known as autotomy from the Greek auto “self” and tome “severing” or self-amputation. Even after the tail is cast off, it goes on wriggling, hence distracting the lizard’s attacker. The lizard can regenerate