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LHR | Nick Makoha (2015 BNPA Longlist)

Photo By Darlyne Komukama
Photo By Darlyne Komukama

An airport is a room. I keep talking as if my body is elsewhere.

In full sight of a crimson God, as children we were burdens,

coffins with eyes. A professor steps into the light to educate us.

You can’t kill the dead twice. Has he seen the militia slide down

a mountain like goats, or a beating heart explode on to a barrack wall?

Even the coffee I brought back in hand luggage, when poured in a cup,

is an eye, a past dark itching for light. Therefore, I cannot be the memory

of your death, let me bend the way a river does, all shadow and sound,

around a hill, towards a village I once recognised. There are days

when this unplanned landscape speaks its music, above a ribbon of stars,

below a wall of torn-out tents and beyond a river waiting as one would

the apocalypse. On other days you are a name on a list, given to armed men

at a roadblock. Guns held loosely by their waist. Hovering as catfish

in a shallow pool. Before roads led to you, or Livingston’s maps found you,

before the mountains grew their backs, before sight was tempered,

before the revelation on a sky’s blank page in this perfect chalice of night

you are not the first pilgrim to ask the oracle what will I become me.

If I could  stop the sky from stretching its arms across the horizon,

or the serpent Nile opening it’s mouth toward a sea, or star blinking

in a midnight constellation as god watches your wife wash silk in a stream

would I not have stopped our countries’ screams? I have the luck of Caesar;

his robe, his crown and quest for immortality but soon this course

of blue and the way it bends will have no need of me.

Nick Makoha represented Uganda at Poetry Parnassus as part of the Cultural Olympiad held in London. A former Writer in Residence for Newham Libraries, his one-man-show My Father & Other Superheroes debuted to sold-out performances at the 2013 London Literature Festival and is currently on tour. He has been a panelist at both the inaugural Being a Man Festival (Fatherhood: Past, Present & Future) and Women of the World Festival,(Bringing Up Boys). In 2005 award-winning publisher Flippedeye launched its pamphlet series with his debut The Lost Collection of an Invisible Man. Part of his soon to be published first full collection of poems, The Second Republic, is in the anthology Seven New Generation African Poets. Makoha recently won the Brunel African Poetry prize and has poems that appear in the The Poetry Review, Rialto, The Triquarterly Review and the Boston Review.

Makoha is one of the Ugandan poets longlisted for the 2015 BN Poetry Award. The winner will be revealed during the Babishai Poetry Festival, 26-28th August at the Uganda Museum.

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