Pulse 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 off, 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 i. 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. ii. 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. iii. 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. iv. 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? Freedom. The bad? Inertia— the law of weakness. Serpent. Dragon. 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! Notes: “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