In minutes my bones will break
through red walls of my flesh, ribs, knees…
—Betty Adcock

What I’m saying is that
this is the scene of a crash. I mean,
there are no roads here. I mean 
there are burning grasses, a few stems
lopped off the stumps, and a fold 
of leaves kissing fresh fire. That is,

I share this chest with a swarm 
of scarab beetles,
and there are too many voices here,
and the voices are nothing different,
and the voices are different.

Mother said Father died unearthing stones
from the nipples of another woman,
and grandpa died carving way
for a smoke wisp to make heaven…

and, and each, a memoir of grief burning
through a yard like wildfire. Listen: I

am tense. I’ve lost too much trying 
to smile in the dark. Ha! It costs too 
much to own one’s own body. I am
walking the fuck outta here.

You can fetch me a new sun. I mean,
I have known too much of the east,
and the sun knows too much of convention.

I mean, the sun casts shadows from
the wrong side of our yard, and my mother’s
words are too much of old cheese:

there are times like this
there are times like this 
there are times like this

All I Say of All This

I had asked back for my old room
and you walked in. We went

out in the rain, tramping on squelching 
mud. In the moments that followed,
we were at a forking trail. You ran

out for the sound
of a lone thrush near a tunnel. You sat

out the next night, on the old sofa, setting
free a gust of live smoke. 
Later, you would hurl your missile, piercing
    the dead night: stop being an asshole!
You slinked in to untie a pet bird from 
your bedstead.

Today, whoring winds push against frayed
kitchen curtains. I unearth the snow white

of your sniggers buried in me. 
You are wicked. Broken images 
fan around you like wuolo dogs.

Homage to Motherland 

			  “We are children who are still 
                                      in the war our fathers did not win.” —Obari Gomba.

The termites in my mentor’s cupboard
feed on secrets. In my last visit, they had
gnawed a chunk from your face on the ’86
paper, & I can’t tell the expanse
of your beards. I was still with many 
masters, right in my mother when you
were puked from the swirl of dark smoke
& you went

crossing the river. Dele, silent now,
living on the pages of a tabloid.
Truth is a child whose birth despises 
the mother, & this is the update:
carrions still clog our culverts. Dele, you
ran from the war,
& now termites are in your eyes,
termites are in your skull. Dele, grenades
still unearth the sands between my mother’s
legs during worship. Culverts still embalm 

missing bodies.

Dele, how often did your columns
carry a girl distancing from self
to escape terror? Dele, how often did 
a child leg it

out a school hall to escape the call
of a cannon?

This is the update: we still mix lime
and salt for anaesthesia; we unscab
wounds to heal, & our children curse
their mothers for failed levonorgestrel.

Note: the Nigerian journalist and newspaper editor, Dele Giwa, was assassinated by mail bomb on the 19th of October 1986.

You Would Be Wrong to Say Sorry

Staying out this late, you hold on
to memories to palliate the bleakness
of the night.
You wonder how little things go
big. A brisk sigh sets you free again.
You unearth his last missile:
you mustn’t prove an asshole bitch!
This should set you leaping

off your body. You look at the couch
dumped outside, where he sits holding
a blunt. The fitful glow
of a lighted end. He stares at you. 
     His stare should 
make you stop. It doesn’t.

A neighbour’s dog breaks through
a rust belt with a bark. Acoustic
dissonance, tearing through stiff
friction. You look back
at him. A burning rhythm. Wisps
of smoke spiral to the sky. Bats 
thump in the eaves. You look away.

Datura Innoxia


For love of society, I speak
of the swiftness of the fire
ravaging my body. 

Listen: my head is my castle. 
I speak in the number of books
written in my name. I am
the souvenir
of a country scourged by fire.

When I say books, I mean 
a swarm of bees whirling
in my head. Bees are the fire
burning through the crevices
of my grey matter.

This is my apotheosis: to hell
with grief. I cling to the fire
coughing red smoke into 
my eyes, and I go far east,
out of the toxic alleys
of my body.

A curling smoke wisp is my
homage to society.
I relish nature in the wind
attempting to blow off folds
of my dried leaves and seeds.

Datura Innoxia: an annual to perennial herb commonly known as indian-apple (or locally known as Datura metal, Zakami, or Babba Juji), with the ability to produce different reactions when the leaves are smoked or seeds swallowed.

Beelzebub Speaks

Je pense, donc je suis.

“I am not omniscient, but I know a lot.”

Some men puke fire against 
my business. Sucks to a thousand years
of wreck for my body!  A swift walk 
is my homage to self. There’s what’s good,
I know—there is your shadow in Kafkaesque
diktats. Ha! Pull
out the scimitar and uncover your bones,
says the old riddle. Shall the swallows 
heckle this sham— the meech of self
to leave this manacle. Do not understand,
you will not. Only think. To see,

what is good? 
 The bad?
 the law of weakness. 

                                   Lord of the Flies.
                                   Fallen angel.
                                   What not? Ha!
To see, if you’d ever known
a thousand believers, you’d know a thousand
sophists. A thousand mine homespun fire
for a freethinker. My head is my castle, O son
of man. Think. Be. Selah!

“A thousand years” is an allusion to the popular biblical believe that the devil will be imprisoned for 1000 years after the rapture. (Rev 20:2)

“Sucks to sth (or sb)” is a phrase I invented over the years. The original idea came from the popular William Golding’s phrase “Sucks to your assmar”. I use this phrase as a way of saying “to hell with sth (or sb)” or “I don’t give a damn about sth (or sb)”

About the Author:

Lukpata Lomba Joseph is a Nigerian poet currently residing in Port Harcourt. He reads poetry for U-Rights Magazine. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Agbowo Magazine, Jacar Press’s One Magazine, the Tipton Poetry Journal, South Florida Poetry Journal, Misfit Magazine, and elsewhere. Lukpata’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net.

Featured image by Steve Johnson from Pexels