Juliane Okot Bitek: Day 72, Day 78

Day 72

The difference between the top screw

and the bottom screw is this: direction


We are squeezed in by the past and the present

Everything is relative, they say

God and religion and offer escape from the screw

in the name of forgiveness, reconciliation & clean heartedness


Be like Jesus, forgive

Be like Jesus, remember to pray and to pay taxes

Be like Jesus, wear robes,

Have your first cousin shout in the streets about the second coming of yourself

Be like Jesus, hang out with prostitutes – love the sinner and all that

Above all be like Jesus and demand an answer in the moment of your cross

Why, God, have you forsaken us?



Day 78

Insouciance must be blue

How else could we explain a sky that witnesses

And still insists on magical hues of its self?


Insouciance has to be blue

From royalty to madness

From the marked maleness of babies

To those that stayed death

From indigo at midnight

To the peasant hue of the mother of God

Another young woman to whom a hole in the pale sky announced

That she would bear a child

That she would bear

A boy dressed in madness


How else can we explain the resonances, echoes and exceptions?
The mother of God in us mothers of sons who had to be killed

& God in the mothers whose sons had to be killed



Juliane Okot Bitek

From a collection in process.  This is part of a series of poems inspired by Wangechi Mutu‘s daily photographs commemorating Kwibuka 20.  These are Day 72 and Day 78. As I write I also think about the experience of war in other places, from my own experience and from that hollow place of the anxiety that we held when we knew that there was a killing in Rwanda and there was nothing we could do about it. I was a young mother then. I was in my mid-twenties and my first child had’t turned 1 yet. I will never forget that hollowness. This is my first attempt to respond to the Rwanda Genocide, even obliquely as I do, via Mutu. Her instagram photos are posted here: http://instagram.com/mutustudio

Juliane’s 100 Days: A Poetic Response … is published here: http://julianeokotbitek.com/


Juliane Okot Bitek was born to Ugandan exiles in Kenya and now lives in Vancouver, Canada and so she has no experience in being a natural born citizen of any country. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art (Creative Writing) and a Master’s Degree in English from the University of British Columbia. She is a doctoral student and a Liu Scholar at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia. Juliane lives with her family in Vancouver.




One thought on “Juliane Okot Bitek: Day 72, Day 78

  1. Pingback: Blog Hopping | Juliane Okot Bitek

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s