Decolonial Passage is honored to announce the 2022 nominations for the Best of the Net Anthology.  This list includes writing published between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.  Congratulations to the nominees!

Poetry

“This is the Drum” by Andrew Geoffrey Kwabena Moss

“At Heaven’s Anteroom” by Akinmayowa Adedoyin Shobo

“Where I Am From” by Christian Emecheta

“Netela” by Lalini Shanela Ranaraja

“Certify This Land” by Abdulmueed Balogun

“Climbing Walls” by Eaton Jackson

no wrinkles can dim

the light

of your smile

it silences

the choirs of confusion

on a stage of fear

your love

devours the towers

of despair

mama

i wish to sit in the lap

of your strength

& enjoy the lullabies

of your compassion

sending my stubborn nightmares to sleep

while my baby-mind

hungers

for the breasts of your wisdom

and my back

dances to a freedom song

that lives in the palm of your hand

as you wield your sharp tongue

to wean me from my plate of ignorance

let me grow to be a man who despises arrogance

if winter days of my life come

i want to find warmth in the rooms

of your laughter

not in the dingy taverns

of this township

that turn family men

into

omadakwane*

izibotho ezingcolile*

drowned in toxic dams of booze

but i want to drink

from mphahlele’s

well of knowledge

tiptoe

behind the immortal lamps

of biko & sankara



illing road

the air

wears

the assorted scents

of umuthi*

battle with fruits

& vegetables

on the pavement

and a tavern

coughs out

drunks

with wet gullets

but dried pockets

isiphithiphithi*

buses swallowing up

black men

& women

from various

places

of exploitation


tauland blues

young men sink

in a tavern corner

with cold bottles of hansa pilsner

deep in the oceans of vodka

they soak their livers

they walk you through

the torn pages

of their lives

glued on empty beer crates

oozing stories of bitterness

stories of dying dreams

and broken families

with cracked lips

clung

to cheap

cigarette

skyf*

skyf

skyf

it’s a solemn

morning

trying

to chase bhabhalazi*

away


*omadakwane – drunkards
*izibotho ezingcolile – dirty drunkards
*umuthi – African medicine
*isiphithiphithi – chaos
*skyf – refers to cigarette or smoke in South African slang
*bhabhalazi – hangover


Zama Madinana is a South African poet based in Johannesburg. His work has appeared in The Shallow Tales Review, Stanzas, Africanwriter, Poetry Potion and other literary publications. His poems have been published in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and the USA. Madinana’s work focuses on love, politics and social issues. In 2021, he won the third prize in the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award. His poetry chapbook, Water & Lights, was published in June 2021. He has performed his poetry in various locations, including Cape Town, Mozambique, and Botswana.

When my dad delivered me,
The first thing he saw
Was a thicket of black hair,
Sticking out straight and wet,
Like fur on a freshly licked kitten.
It took a few months to curl into itself,
Grow quick as mint after rain,
Until it had to be gathered
Into soft, twisted bunches,
Always a few determined fronds
Trying to escape.

Our ritual after swimming,
Was two whole hours
Of washing and blow-drying
My drenched ringlets
Into a triangular mane;
Sharp comb teeth
Gnashing at my scalp,
Pools of pain
Welling in my eyes.
He always said sorry;
And I tried not to complain.

My hair was never stroked
By white people;
At sleepovers with friends,
In bed with lovers.
They all seemed scared
It would scratch them
If they treated it gently.
Only Black people, later,
Knew how to whisper to it,
See how soft it really was
Beneath its wildness.

I put my curls to sleep,
On our 11th birthday.
Made them relax with chemicals
That broke them down,
Shocked them straight,
Burnt my scalp to blisters.
Told myself it was worth it
To have hair which moved
In the breeze,
Rather than toward the sun;
The passport to acceptance.

They reawakened 10 years later,
From their drugged stupor;
Regained strength slowly
In the nurturing embrace of plaits,
Interwoven to protect,
Guard, replenish.
Emerged shy and uncertain,
Bit by bit,
Until they were sure it was safe,
And they could gently push
The straight all the way out.

It took me 10 years to fall in love,
Marvel at their shape,
Finger every curve tenderly,
Breathe their smell in deep,
Rejoice with each bounce and spring.
This hair was now acceptable
Enough to put on posters
To sell clothes to white people
Who thought they were woke;
To sell music to Black people
Who should know better.

It only took seven hours
To weave magic into my curls
With a crochet hook;
Wrap them around each other,
Locked in love with themselves,
Accepting their own beauty at last—
None left to fall by the wayside.
Thick glossy roots
Growing with age and wisdom;
Their dreaded power
Will build, each and every day.

 

Grace Louise Wood is a British-Jamaican writer, artist, educator, and curator. An alumnus of Barbican Young Poets, she performed at their poetry showcase in 2013. Her poems have been published in Human Parts on Medium, Drama Queens Ghana COV-19 Zine, Tampered Press (Issues Five and Six), and A Womb with a Heart That Beats All Over the World: African Poetry. She performs her poems at numerous events, including: The Offering at Greenleaf Café, Arts Nkwa’ at The Canvas, Ehalakasa Online – Talk Party, SheSheSlams, and Tampered Press Sixth Issue Launch. She can be found on Medium at Grace – Medium

After a day of hunting deer,

chestnut mare and ebony stallion

leaping hedges, following streams,

galloping across cornfields,

the men join their women for a feast:

Anadama bread, blueberry muffins,

corn, peas, sweet potatoes, duck, venison,

home-cured Virginia ham, bear, milk,

flagons of beer and the best French wines.


Men discuss politics, philosophy,

whether to plant tobacco or grain,

Ladies in elegant gowns play piano

and sing, discuss what their children

have learned, strut across the lawn.

Then Mr. Jefferson takes out his fiddle,

plays minuets and the Virginia reel.


My feet can hardly resist dancing,

but I, who worked all day butchering,

plucking feathers from ducks, cleaning

vegetables, sweating at caldrons hung

over the hot fireplace must now wash dishes,

clean the dining room and stay out of reach

of that fine gentleman whose hand found my breast.


Monument: Lincoln, Kansas

The monument on the courthouse lawn

lists ten who died.

Blood oozing on the prairie,

Grandmother said.


Her brother was among those

who lost their lives,

his innocent play interrupted,

by the false Pawnee.


Her telling was graphic, intense,

full of sorrow.

It seemed but yesteryear

tomahawks split heads,

broke settler lives.


Years later,

I saw it all in print,

found it happened

before Grandmother’s birth.

Her vivid recollections

were family tales

she’d heard from crib.


Later, too, I pondered

other dead,

protecting home, family,

forests once full of game,

fields where they had wandered free,

tracked the sacred buffalo.


More lives were shattered

than Grandmother knew or told;

more died than had their names carved

for all to see. I claim each one

as brother, sister. I cannot grieve

the named without the unnamed.


Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and past President of the Illinois State Poetry Society, has published numerous poems in anthologies, webzines, and print publications. She has published two books of poetry, Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant (RWG Press) and Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (Kelsay Books). Current projects include haiku, rengay, and other poems. Wilda’s grandchildren say she lives in a library. Her poetry blog features a monthly poetry contest and can be found at wildamorris.blogspot.com .

He licked it, not like a lollipop, but with intent,

the burden of royal tasters, back in bad old days:

tongue artists whose job was to absorb poison

and ensure it was palatable for noble appetites—

Wolf’s music his way of explaining: I asked you

for water and all you’re giving me is gasoline.


He would lick that mouth organ as if eating

the blues, taking a bite out of this hard life,

as a Black man living always under suspicion

of the same things he sang about: killing floors

& moaning at midnight, white eyes expecting

you to play the fool—or prove your innocence.


He licked the harmonica only because he had to

spend the rest of his time swallowing the gristle

of separate but equal, and all the things awful

about the South—and North; no safe haven then

(& now); either sitting on top of the world or else

you’re going down slow, one spoonful at a time.


Sean Murphy has appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and has been quoted in USA Today, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and AdAge. A long-time columnist for PopMatters, his work has appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, The Good Men Project, Memoir Magazine, and others. His chapbook, The Blackened Blues, was published by Finishing Line Press in July, 2021. This Kind of Man, his first collection of short fiction, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. He has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize, twice for Best of Net, and his book Please Talk about Me When I’m Gone was the winner of Memoir Magazine’s 2022 Memoir Prize. He served as writer-in-residence of the Noepe Center at Martha’s Vineyard, and is Founding Director of 1455, a non-profit literary organization (www.1455litarts.org). To learn more, and read his published short fiction, poetry, and criticism, please visit seanmurphy.net/ and https://twitter.com/bullmurph

The train grumbled out of Baton Rouge

as I tapped my heels against the wooden

floor of the platform and waited for my escorts

to ferry me to the sanctuary of their church.


Rubbing my finger against the barrel of the gun

you swore you’d never use, even after Tyler’s

bullet grazed your forehead, “No gun for me.

If I am to be killed, then maybe it is my destiny,”

I was greeted by a host of nervous congregants

who ushered me to the back of the waiting room,

where if you stood long enough you could still hear

rebel yells filtering through windows that trembled

at each burst of the horn, offering to pay my return ticket.


“Sister, for your own protection, you best

get back on the train,” my driver advised

and a wave of chills wracked my body even more

than the story he whispered about a sister

who had been lynched the night before—

how her tongue wagged to the side of her mouth,

her breasts heaved, and then a stream of yellow

trickled down the back of her dress on to the green

below. I am not a “little Joan of Arc,” as George

McGuire likes to tease. I mounted the pulpit

like those venerable pastors from my boarding

school and preached a gospel of freedom:

“Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people.”


And when the voices from the Amen

Corner rose in a crescendo that spiraled up

the rafters into the belfry and over leaves of gumbo

limbos dozing in the moonlight beside the murky

waters of the bayou, and the sisters wailed,

“Tell it, sister, tell it,” I knew I wouldn’t have to use

my gun that night. For all they can do is kill me.

Better to live with that knowledge than in the fear

of what is to come, which I know will never

be worse than the battles we have survived.


To My Spanish-Irish Heiress, 1914

Perhaps in another life, we could have

married under a white canopy facing

the ocean, where sharks trailed slavers

laden with misery. There we’d build

a red brick mansion in Andalusia

where we would raise a brood of children

under a sky where the rain blesses

the just and the unjust. But in this life,

we could never be together. The war

between our ancestors could curse our bond.


We would have bred monsters.


Born under flags that would compete

like squabbling school children,

they would, like many “black-white”

elites choose poorly. In this life,

those who are destined to have their names

trampled by the unjust are ruled by leaders

who have never broken a shackle, or blinded

the eyes of those who kill with a stare.


No, my love, better to end what never

should have begun, so now we can look

back after many summers of being apart

at the disaster we avoided.


Photo Credit: Vanessa Diaz @vvvzzzzvvvzzzz

Geoffrey Philp is the author of two novels, Garvey’s Ghost and Benjamin, My Son, three children’s books, including Marcus and the Amazons, and two collections of short stories. He has also published five books of poetry. His forthcoming books include a graphic novel for children, titled My Name is Marcus, and a collection of poems, titled Archipelagos. His forthcoming poetry collection borrows from Kamau Brathwaite’s “Middle Passage” lecture, Aime Cesaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, Sylvia Wynter’s “1492,” and Amitav Ghosh’s thesis in The Nutmeg’s Curse to explore the relationship between Christianity, colonialism, and genocide. He is currently working on a collection of poems, titled “Letter from Marcus Garvey.” He can be found on twitter at https://twitter.com/GeoffreyPhilp and on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/geoffreyphilp/

I have watched Alejandro spiderman over the wall. I am

climbing up too. and I over. my ribs hurt. footprints left. I stumble in

them. and ran towards wide      expanse. but this earth is booby-trapped. the

knives of  decorative barb snaps. at

saphenous veins.

Alejandro is faster than I.

am

caught.         hung upon

                                               trip wire.

                          a thrashing prey.

                                                                                                  SEARCHLIGHTS.

ripping hoodie. grabbing back onto soapy non-grip freedom.  another wire rips out

bigger chunk of my calf. paroxysm has to be swallowed. Like the sand.

Mary. mother of jesus.

I kiss talisman. swallowing

lumps in my throat. undigested shrapnel  cutting wider roads to my stomach.

families back home. their prayers. for me limping to jump                 across the moats. I cry. a

stupid boy. I stop crying. I see Alejandro. I break the damn cotton thread.

I throw things off my back.   everything. gotta catch up with Alejandro.

                                                                                            SEARCHLIGHTS.

                                                                                                 dodging.

I drop.

v

e

r

t

i

c

a

l

plop.

like vaca shit.

crawling like soldiers on YouTube.              across.

spitting out dust.  swallowing some. taste like cactus. like manure.

but mud hut-boy gotta keep moving                across

                                                                                                SEARCHLIGHTS

                                                                                                    hiding again.

Lady Liberty.  a GIANT lady. I bet she’s

like Mother Teresa.

Upper new York bay. uncle describes. he drives cab. knows all 50 states. he

says they are really 50 different  countries. but one hate for dirt people.

he’s supposed to pick me up. at drop spot.

                                                                                                                  SEARCHLIGHT.

                                                                                                            I lay still. I am opossum.

the moonless black night is back. quarterbacking

into cactus. out of cactus. under underbrush. out

of underbrush.

uncle says a man can make a living over                   here.

my heart thumps against the hot sand. Ignore pain. I. mud-boy. It is what it is.

damn, noisy knapsack. village food for uncle and some other shit that he likes.

I have to be quiet……shit.

                                                                                                                   SEARCHLIGHTS.

                                                                                                                    keep still. dirt boy.

you are underbrush. underbrush becomes you.

quiet. like you. pretty much. dead. quiet.

                                                                                                                    SEARCHLIGHTS.

                                                                                                          it swings over to the east.

I run. west. left leg is still bleeding. Alejandro is gone.

I am now    ( in )

I am now home health aide.

wiping nose.  wiping butts. sponging backs. washing feet of

border guard memory-loss old folks. and I cut lawns. their

dog shit splashing my goggles. splashing  in my mouth.

my family is eating more regular now. my little daughter. Juana

now going to school. I cry.

I am happy. but

I  can’t be happy.

I miss them.

I miss my home.

I am not apocalyptic

demographic change.

Eaton Jackson is a Jamaican, naturalized US citizen. He has been writing all of his adult life. Inspired by an undying desire to produce publishable works, he considers himself still on the learning curve. His writings have appeared in Scarlet Leaf Review, River Poet, The New Verse, and other publications. Eaton’s dream is to be read as a credible writer.

Tami Sawyer—

A Tennessee legend—

Met her biggest adversary in a park,

Sized him up good with tearful eyes:


Slave trader,

Confederate Army General,

The first Klansman

Nathan Bedford Forrest.


Some things had to give.


Tami Sawyer

Made loud, sufficient noise

In her hometown of Memphis

In marshalling together youth & elders

In removing the toxicity of ages,


Graven blight,

Cleared the pedestals

Once and forever

Of racist trash.


THE SOUTH SHALL RISE AGAIN!

Rednecks curse.

THE SOUTH HAS LOST AGAIN!

Anti-racists curse back.


Tami Sawyer

Knew, as her allies did, that

Rule by fear must end, starting when

Certain venerated idols cease to stand.


A single push

Toppled over one,

Then the rest

Fall like bronze and stone-carved

Dominoes.


Dee Allen is an African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California. Active in creative writing and spoken word since the early 1990’s, he is the author of seven books–Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater, Skeletal Black (all from POOR Press), Elohi Unitsi (Conviction 2 Change Publishing), including his two most recent, Rusty Gallows: Passages Against Hate (Vagabond Books) and Plans (Nomadic Press). He has fifty-three anthology appearances to date.

 

Tell me I will be alright, my wrecking mind

needs to be fed with some soup of validation now.

 

The bloodbath like raindrops, please persuade me into believing will

cease soon. Tell me protest fields will halt to morph into abattoirs every time

 

we demand for a sunny life, for the right to inhale and exhale, every night we want

to resurrect strangled justice from its grave. Assure me please, that my brother will

 

return unscathed from where he went to air his deprived voice, please and please

sweet-talk me into a new realm where I can perceive the fragrance of freedom

 

even from a thousand miles, paint my questioning mind with the hue of affirmation

that my unmatched mother’s soul will not be catapulted to the shore of afterlife for

 

frowning at inequity. Men and women of this anguish-strewing land, justice-mourning

settlement, unveil to my yearning eyes: the time, day, week, month and year,

 

when we will have bliss as neighbors, when we will wine and dine

without dread knocking on the doors of our hearts, when our minds

 

will truly certify this land, home. Tell me now,

now, now or forever be a graveyard.

 

Death of Another Night


The sunshine cocks have crown again, signalling the death of another night

that will never grace the streets of the sky again in this era, the radios have


risen with a shriek to their daily ritual of feeding your ears with worms, loading

the cart of our frail minds with tons of grief, narrating tales too sore for a boy


my age– stories of dirty uncles brewing nectars out of their unripe nieces’ thighs

when eyes were shut like doors, of blood claiming a northern street, of statesmen


turned python swallowing a nation’s vault of golds in a stretch. The radios in

the neighborhood have christened me– coward and so– their owners.


I tremble at the perch of radios’ baritone at dawn on the twig of my ears

like a bird staring at its death two feet away. Elegies and bloodstained news


are no oceanic views to awake to, neither are they sunshine to grace your dawn.


I Want to Live Where II:


religion doesn’t breed walls

and enormity amidst inhabitants.


skin pigmentation is not a

yardstick of being, of value,


of bliss, of essence, of wit,

of impact, of sanity and sanctity.


compassion— a river of goodwill

flows with rage across the city,


for compassion no matter how little is pivotal

in keeping this moribund world breathing.


natives wake up every morning 

with winsome smile on their faces,


highly inebriated on the wine of motivation

to dream beyond the clouds, not with sigh,


not with hiss, nor a face laden with

remorse, you know every night here,


we pray to God to make dawn

to our souls an unattainable feat.


Abdulmueed Balogun is a Nigerian poet & and undergrad at the University of Ibadan. He is a 2021 HUES Foundation Scholar and a poetry editor at The Global Youth Review. He was longlisted for the 2021 Ebarcce Prize, a finalist for the 2021 Wingless Dreamer Book of Black Poetry Contest, and won the 2021 Annual Kreative Diadem Poetry Contest. His works are forthcoming in Avalon Literary Review, The Night Heron Barks Review, ROOM, Watershed Review, Bowery Gothic, Subnivean Magazine, Jmww Journal, Active Muse and elsewhere. His writiting is anthologized in: Fevers of Mind (Poets of 2020), Words for the Earth, 2021 Cathalbui Poetry Competition Selected Entries and elsewhere. He tweets from https://twitter.com/AbdmueedA and can be found on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/balogun_abdmueed/

I

I never asked you for her name.

II

She tapped red heels under the red hem of a white habesha

kemis[i] while you shrugged cap and gown over T-shirt and

jeans and my mother said on the phone if we’d made it

to America it would have been the same, have you seen

what your brother wears even if I’m dressed to the nines.

Not ten minutes after we sat down to full plates

your mother approached with the dishes from the table,

dealing fresh servings, expression unswerving mirroring

my grandmother at every meal; I asked the friend beside me

for the Amharic phrase I’ve had enough food and he told me

there wasn’t one as your mother leaned in. Your eyes

in her face, amber spiced with kohl, the spoon heaped

with kitfo, added to everything already on my plate,

and I spoke the one word I’d rehearsed well enough to say,

amasegenalehu[ii]

and watched her light up. I cleaned my plate

in the absolute absence of language to tell her

I enjoyed the food; the friend beside me whispered

you passed with flying colors.

III

The gown I chose for graduation wrapped me from knuckles to toes, gold trim

on black polyester expensive enough to mimic silk, upsetting my mother

who still believed me too little to wear black.

Crossing the stage, diploma in hand, sole flapping loose from the plastic heels

my mother shipped to me for thirty dollars more than what they cost,

lipstickless mouth unmasked for the livestream

my parents were watching nine thousand miles away,

I met the eyes of your kinswomen in the crowd,

learning for the first time how to speak my name.

IV

When we left that night you bid each relative goodbye;

I waved to them from across the room.

But your mother took me by the arms and I wanted to believe

she saw then what my mother would have seen,

her eyes warm like the Ceylon cinnamon

my mother sent for you across the oceans

as I said amasegenalehu, desperately, amasegenalehu

because it was all I had to give, because I had no words to say

the man you raised saved my life, but he will never meet my mother.

You passed me a Target bag as your uncle drove us home,

saying inflectionless my mother gave me this to give to you.

Inside, a netela[iii], white patterned with red,

lighter than battlefield gauze, fleeting like Ras Dashen mist,

scented like sunlight and spice markets.

I packed it into my carry-on wrapped in the hoodie

you once gave me with even less explanation.

My mother says if we’d been there

I would have brought gifts for your friends too.

V

The night your mother drove into town

we were sitting on the football field six feet away

from a trampled carton of nachos. The crowd rushed the stage

and you were hyperalert and drowsing by turns and didn’t ask me

to stay or leave, so I stayed; I watched your profile

for as long as I dared

every time you shut your eyes.

Then your mother insisted she was stopping by

and I walked you home for the first and last time,

gritting my teeth to keep from grasping your elbow

as you stumbled into potholes. 

You said you know I live four minutes from you

and I said don’t make me tell a woman whose name I don’t know

you were run over while crossing the road

because I let you walk home alone.

I left you in the fluorescent glow

of your porch and walked home through the park I haunted

when it hadn’t been long enough between visits to call you;

the traffic lights were red at the corner

but I crossed over anyway.


[i] Traditional Ethiopian formal garment.

[ii] Thank you.

[iii] Traditional Ethiopian shawl.


Lalini Shanela Ranaraja is a multi-genre creative from Kandy, Sri Lanka. She holds a BA in Anthropology and Creative Writing from Augustana College in Illinois, USA. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Entropy, Off Assignment, Random Sample, Sky Island Journal, Transition, Uncanny Magazine, and elsewhere. Discover more of her work at https://www.shanelaranaraja.com/

1.

the General Muir

pulls into harbor

New York looks gray

2.

we don’t speak English

the taxi driver takes us

to the wrong town

3.

the teacher

gives me a new name

which I hate

4. 

the big girl upstairs

makes me go to a factory

and walk a plank

5.

my sister sleeps

with my grandmother

who snores

6.

I sleep shifts

with mom

and dad

7.

the electric wires

catch fire

my dad can’t put them out.

8.

a train goes past

we go really close

to feel the breeze

9.

we eat concord grapes

slippery but free

fruit-pickers pension

10.

I can’t go to Frankenstein

at the drive in

too many people faint

11.

My dad says he’s bought

a television

but it’s only a big radio

12.

we see fish in the ditch

but not the kind

you can eat

13.

at the A&P they stare

because we talk so loud

14.

my mother sews nights

at the Jolly Kid clothes factory

15.

I start to translate

the world

into English.


Citizenship Ceremony

We take the ferry to Put-in-Bay,

I’ve worn slacks despite the official form

instructing women to wear skirts.

The babies try to hang on the edges of the boat.

The mothers pull them back at the last moment.

We all watch the spray.


I sit in a row to hear the sound of patriotism,

although the military planes are late taking off,

so we have to imagine them

encouraging us with their potential of bombs.

I will swear now to have nothing more to do with “foreign potentates,”

as will the women from Nigeria,

the couple from Mexico,

the Pakistani man.


Afterwards a woman from Germany runs up

to talk in that language

and I try to tell her I’m not really German.

But she still follows me up the lighthouse steps

to see the lake stretched out before us.


Later we dip our feet in the water,

buy some ice cream,

and I swear to myself

that I am not what they tell me.

And what, really, is a potentate?



Mississippi

I don’t know how

they ended up picking cotton

in Mississippi,

but they did.


My immigrant grandparents,

post WWII refugees,

lived for two years among scorpions

on a failed plantation.


It must have felt like serfdom again.

Their homestead abandoned,

only a cow left behind

and a stepmother.


Stepping into these shoes,

this land of promise,

must have been a shock.


Democracy’s promise

on hold,

my grandfather already seventy,

leaving behind his telephone,

the very first in the neighborhood.


Leaving his language,

never to pass beyond “Hello,”

not even memorizing “I don’t understand,”

he smiled into his tobacco pipe.


And he made us all close our eyes

when he chopped the heads

from the chickens.


Skaidrite Stelzer is a citizen of the world whose poetry has appeared in Glass, Struggle, The Baltimore Review, Storm Cellar, and other journals. Her chapbook, Digging a Moose from the Snow, is recently published by Finishing Line Press. She enjoys watching cloud shapes.

Decolonial Passage is honored to announce the nominations for next year’s Best Small Fictions Anthology.  This list includes writing published from January to November 2021.  Congratulations to the nominees!

Flash Fiction

“The Road” by Ekow Manuar

Prose Poetry

“The Aging Colossus” by T. Francis Curran

“Ode to Newark” by Keishla Rivera-Lopez

Where I am from, we count nights and not days

by day, we become one with the forest to evade bullets

and by night we search for the biggest holes to conceal our bodies.

I have perfected my sense of hearing;

I can detect an enemy by the sound of his heartbeat

It is my sense of smell that has become skewed

Everything now smells rotten to me

Even a clear cup of tea smells like a pig’s urine.


Where I am from, cocks don’t crow at dawn.

Hyenas and Vultures have lost appetite for flesh

Even the fishes in our rivers now know the taste of blood.

Here, the purpose of food is to allow us to see another night.

I have completely forgotten how to mold a smile

The last time I heard somebody laugh was in my dream

Even though I only dream of mad people and dead bodies.

Here, people prefer becoming ghosts to enduring another night


Where I am from, regret is only evident when an enemy evades an attack

Increasing enemy body count means an elevation in rank.

Here, love kills faster than a stray bullet and kindness exposes one’s weaknesses

In camp, we received a new baptism with a new set of commandments

For example, an enemy remains an enemy, even without a reason why,

A true comrade is immune to feelings and reason.

Orders must be obeyed first before thinking.

Only the weak and faint-hearted calculate their actions.


Where I am going, the moon still rises and the sun still shines

Leaves are still green and the skies still blue

Ants still dig and termites still chew

The wind still blows without boundaries.

The treasure I value most are memories of the world before now

When life had meaning and snails crawled faster than Death

My thoughts are where I plant viable seeds of hope

Knowing that the darkest nights expose the brightest stars.


Christian Emecheta is a Nigerian, a 2019 Baobab Literary Awards recipient, a 2015 Nokia Lumia Short Story Contest winner, and a 2015 Mastercard Short Story Contest winner. He has other honorary mentions to his name, even though he is still an emerging writer. With strokes of ink, he tells stories about life experiences. His poems can be read in The Opendoor Magazine May issue 2021, Nigerian Students Poetry Prize Anthology Series 2019 and 2020, and via the British Council International Writing Competition 2014, to name a few. He can be found at https://mbasic.facebook.com/emechetac.

Decolonial Passage is honored to announce the nominations for next year’s Pushcart Prize Anthology.  This list includes writing published from January to November 2021.  Congratulations to the nominees!

Fiction

“In the Land of Queen Elizabeth’s Head” by Foday Mannah

“The Road” by Ekow Manuar

Poetry

“This is the Drum” by Andrew Geoffrey Kwabena Moss

“Billie Holiday’s Deathbed” by Sean Murphy

“Dealing with the unnatural heat” by Osahon Oka

“How Do I Abandon the City” by Kunle Okesipe

In case of fire

this poem is flame-resistant.

Place the cloth it is printed on

over your smoking kitchen pan.

For best results, turn off the burner.

If larger sizes are needed, see

elsewhere in our catalog, items FL-51 to 62.


In case of spills

this poem is absorbent.

Tear one or more squares from the roll,

using additional towels as required

to disinfect countertops, after you have dried them.

If censored texts are needed, see

elsewhere in our catalog, items PC-44 to 93.


In case of capture

this poem is reversible.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o wrote a novel

on sheets of prison toilet paper.

The blank side of this page

is suitable for ink, or similar markers.

Improvise as needed,

and good luck to you.


K Roberts is a professional non-fiction writer and artist who explores themes of memory and identity in mixed media images. Recent work has been featured in Pensive: A Global Journal of Poetry and the Arts, and in Gyroscope Review.