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Death-fall | Nick Makoha (2015 BNPA Shortlist)

Photo by Edward Echwalu
Photo by Edward Echwalu

Before Kony, 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.

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’s poems LHR and Death-trap have been shortlisted 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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