BN POETRY AWARD: Death-fall by Nick Makoha (Uganda)

This poem by Nick Makoha is longlisted for BN Poetry Award.

Before Koni, before Museveni, before Obote’s second term, before now there was me. We were in deep Shit! Bridges couldn’t be fixed with gaffer-tape. America stopped lending plasticine to fill pot-holes. I quit playing refugee. Who among you was going to pay our country’s light bill?  Well? You uninvited guests like Rome, you will know where we put the bodies in their tunics and kangas. My sins, both real and imagined, into the trap. To my brother my rival, when he comes don’t let him tap the glass (idiots), devise his death. You stable-god,

a month’s worth of grain for the paratroop regiment won’t purge you.

New wives and shoes and a move to State House while we live in huts. Home will see your troubles cursed. By the way, your Chief of Police, into the trap. You who believed in Churchill’s prophecy. You innocents ruled by a spinning earth, your tears will quench the barns we set fire to. You who call your guns She.You papiermâché martyrs with north Kiboko accents. You shadow soldiers who dig dead men from their graves. You in the motion of battle. You who search the airwaves for the British World Service, who stare

spirits in the face but can’t stand heights, the rules say, into the trap.

I will not forgive the clan who sheds blood for party politics. Your god might. The one with his hands up as he waves, ask the firing squad to send him with the widowers, orphans and motherless sons, into the trap. All you disciples of empires.Mr Men ministers who paraphrase over PA systems, into the trap. Wrecked after five days of being held under decree nineteen. Why riffle through your Yellow pages in search of Heads-of-state? Into the trap. The executioner who lets you watch his navel after bare-knuckle fights, into the trap.

You who played The Bard on screen and stage, or quoted Aristotle, into the trap.

Your second tongue, into the trap. Lumino-boy with that Yankee dialect, into the trap. It makes no difference to me, you sun worshiper. Name your Icarus and fly, into the trap. You who abandon your wife’s thighs for the cradle of a servant girl, into the trap. You at The Uganda Company Limited (Trojans), because you gave us cotton but took our land, follow me with your horse mask, into the trap. Those who offer me your skins as a fig leaf, let me carve a map on your backs to Ithaca. You can hitchhike for all I care, into the trap. Take your stand

with the soothsayer in her snake dress. The ones who hesitate, into the trap.

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