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.

There,

At the anteroom of heaven,

The land of the Free,

The wealthy kingdom beyond those mountains afar

May the eyes that see you want you

May they smile in adoration –

By how handsome a soul you are.


And when you dine with the royals

In your new home

Forget not your bond,

Your roots

The seasons we looked –

To the stars for bread.


At heaven’s anteroom

The home of the Free

Never forget –

Whose you are

Our little Princess.


The Sojourner

In search of happiness

I leap for the great heavens

A home for the haves and have-nots

Where, the mind rests from all troubles.


In search of hope

I must conquer the frigidness of my own kind

Do battle with the desert demons

Though my feet buckle

And my vision wobbles

Though a great length to endure

Onwards, I pursue.


In search of liberty

Wild as the earth’s expanse

To walk the glowing streets

Where opportunities appease like a freewill offering

Forsake all my present evil, I must

For ten thousand miles I cannot tell.


In search of my treasures therefore

Let me conquer these borders, I pray

Though fenced by sturdy tongues

Nothing must impair the call

“Yes! Sweet Paradise”

Onwards I go, the place of rest.


Akinmayowa Adedoyin Shobo is a graduate in the field of life sciences. He is inspired by various genres of literature, music, history and science. He divides his time between being a public health researcher and volunteering for community development projects. He writes on several platforms, including book
projects, blogs, and magazines. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria. He can be found at https://www.facebook.com/shobo.mayowa, https://www.linkedin.com/in/mayowa-shobo-42601aa7/, and https://www.instagram.com/frankly_dedoyin/

I.

His smile affirms what sixteen is all about

after a journey of one thousand miles

he sits in the raft and looks

into the smuggler’s camera

as he floats the Rio Grande 

the smile on his face believes

opportunity lies on the northern shore

money to ease his parents’ burdens

in San Jose El Rodeo where his father

labors when there is work for $4.50 an hour

yet somehow his parents pay the coyote

to guide Carlos and his sister

across the border to grow a new life

they leave Guatemala in April Carlos knows

in his strong young bones life cannot fail

one so easy in strength and buoyant in spirit

sixteen sees only life’s

outstretched hand


II.

Shining with hope turned burning

with fever in the holding pen at McCallen

103 degrees became a ticket for transfer

to Westlaco Border Patrol Station

a concrete block bench for a bed

thin mylar sheet for a blanket

a camera’s indifferent eye to witness

Carlos walking to the locked cell door

falling face down on the floor crawling

searching for comfort he lay one arm

flung over his head as a child might sleep

but this is posture pinned by pain and policy

the uncaring lens positioned by law

recording Carlos rising to stumble toward the toilet

falling beside it torso hidden behind a wall

recording his legs convulsing then stilling

recording Carlos Gregorio Vasquez Hernandez

lying dead undiscovered for four hours

nine days after reaching the U.S. shore

welfare check left undone

recording Carlos surrendering

his dreams


III.

Carlos’ mother mourns

They detained him there

and they didn’t worry about him

Why didn’t they follow the law

Carlos’ father asks for truth

What happened to him

An older brother speaks simply

We never thought this would happen

where he’s supposed to be

in a better place


Dia de los Muertos en Michoacan Mexico

Imagine a border crossing

no wall or armed guards

and 500,000 floating south

not one turned away and


Imagine a welcome

for these long-travelled immigrants

the laughter of children their faces

lifted to the sky and the abuelas

marigolds and sunflowers cradled

in their arms and


Imagine the women

embroidered flowers blooming on blouses 

walking gardens themselves inviting

the travelers to rest where they might

on shoulders, on hair, in bouquets

on sweet lips and


Imagine the newcomers

lighting on fingertips to play and

parade on the Day of the Dead

orange fans unfolding

prayers fluttering to heaven


just Imagine the oyamel firs

clustered in forests high up the mountains

heads in the clouds waiting to shelter

all that have flown so far 

so worthy of rest


now Imagine a country

welcoming children like monarchs

seeing beauty in strong wings

that carried them north,.

so far to fly

so worthy of rest


Imagine


Susan Martell Huebner lives in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. Her novel, She Thought The Door Was Locked, was published by Cawing Crow Press and is available through Amazon. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Reality Changes With the Willy Nilly Wind. Her work history includes public school teaching, employment and volunteer experience at The Milwaukee Women’s Refuge, The Foster Care Review Board of Milwaukee County, Lutheran Social Services, as well as the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program. Links to her writing can be found at http://www.susanmhuebner.com/

U, come from

That flesh? Of which?

The one that mirrors your hue?

Or, the one whose darkness seeps through?

Those wires that make up your being

are gradient sand particles aligned to the composure of one.

One code of imperfectability perfectly pasteurized

for the exposure of you to the eyes of the undeserved.

Do you believe? Do you fault?

Why subject yourself to a beauty of no scale

instead of raising your particles to the infinity power

to say

I Come From That Flesh. Yes.


Alligatoridae

There are black stretches of danger 

living on an island, surrounded

by a nothingness of darkened water

impaled by the pollution of man

yet still existing in harmony.


There are black stretches of danger

hunted for their skin

killed for a natural behavior

left piled as a message

if you kill one; we kill all.


There are black stretches of danger,

only because of perception,

living as they are, bothering none

hunted for personal pleasures

killed for being them 

in this world you decided to claim as your own. 


There are black stretches of danger,

Endangered, trying to live

but are hunted by _______________.


Jami’L Carter is a poet, fiction writer, and filmmaker. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Southeastern Louisiana University and is pursuing an MFA in Film at the University of New Orleans. Since her youth, Jami’L has utilized writing to express her storytelling and truths. A young creative, she thrives to impact the world the best way she knows how, with her writing. She can be contacted at directorjca7@gmail.com. Her poetry can be found in Passengers Journal and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/jthapoet/.

Every now and then.

I hear voices in my ears from the waves.

The voice is the messenger of the sea.


Still a dynasty unknown to men.

It still carries vessels, ships and people.


Every now and then I see a young  woman.

Travelling on boat with others.

In a sea which fulfills her hopes.

Sealed in a world of fantasy,

of Atlantean memories.


Every now and then I see her looking  down at the waves

their dance invoking memories.

Warm days under African Sun,

when life was free,   

when meadows were green and she walked with other women.

Before the war, before the blood.


Every now and then

I hear waves become harder and harder.

The dream drowns, the new land disappears.

No help, only cries.

I no longer see the woman who escaped war but did not find her dream.

I cry for her.

Every now and then I see boats coming into shore.


But there is nothing more to say.

Absolutely.


Mary Anne Zammit is a graduate of the University of Malta in Applied Social Studies. She holds a Diploma in Diplomatic Studies and a Masters in Probation Services. She also has a Diploma in Freelance and Feature Writing. She is the author of four novels in Maltese and two in English. Her poetry has been featured in international magazines and anthologies. She is a regular contributor in the International Poet Magazine. Mary Anne is also an artist with multiple international exhibitions and awards. She can be found at https://www.instagram.com/mary.a.zammit/ and https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.zammit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

She is no Lady who turns her back to her family to solicit strangers in the harbor. Who leaves her children like motherless exiles in time of need and promises strangers what her own charges lack.

Descend your pedestal and wade to shores your soles have never touched, wander among the people your eyes have never seen. Listen to the cries for mercy that your ears have never heard. We have here too the tired and poor in huddled masses yearning to breathe free. To breathe. Who cannot breathe.

Cast your lantern in the darkened corners where injustice lives and where blindness-feigning Justice lies. Where children are stopped, searched, cuffed, assaulted, detained. But only some. Where a ruler sprays with noxious fumes and rubber shells upon those who gather in peaceful assembly and where mysterious goons in darkened vans steal away dissenters who seem to cry with masked lips, “We’ll put down our signs when you put down your guns.”


T. Francis Curran lives in Westchester, NY.

Decolonial Passage is honored to announce the 2021 nominations for the Best of the Net Anthology.  This list includes writing published between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.  Congratulations to the nominees!

 

Fiction

“Unmarried Men” by Linda Wanja Thotho

“Folding Time: Dear Descendant(s)” by Ibrahim Babatunde Ibrahim

Nonfiction

“When Hakuna Matata Became a Phrase in English” by Lorna Likiza

“Crossing Borders for an Elusive Betterment: Filipina and Chinese Women in Japan” by Tommy Gough

Poetry

“How Do I Abandon the City” by Kunle Okesipe

“Four Flights” by A’Ja Lyons

“A Song for Grandmother: Daughters of Hoodoo” by Rava Chapman

“Dealing with the unnatural heat” by Osahon Oka

“I Didn’t Know” by Sharon Hurley Hall

“commonwealth primer for the children of empire” by Lynnda Wardle

Pretty

Comes

In

All shades.


Vanilla ice cream,

Creamed coffee,

Creamy peanut butter,

Caramel,

Honey,

Cinnamon,

Pecan,

Milk chocolate,

Dark chocolate,

Molasses.


Delicious hues,

Sweet hues,

Tempting and

Watering mouths.


I could never

Understand why racism

Continues to exist

With multi-culturalism in the midst.

Careful, conscious societal maneuvers

From prejudice to justice.

But I understand

Far less colourism,

That sickening division

Among members of the same race

Along the lines of complexion.


Who has melanin?

How much melanin?

And who looks beautiful?


The division is large

And super-charged

Among females


Still performing

Plastic comb tests

Checking for kinks in hair,

Still performing

Brown paper bag tests

In their minds.


“Light girls are stuck up.”

“Dark girls are envious and mean.”


Divisive notions

Grown out of polluted soil,

Near-European grade:


“In absence of whiteness,

Go for brightness.

You’ll get the goods with lightness,

For lightness is right-ness.”


Who decides


Who is pretty enough?

Who is Black enough?

What verdict does the bedroom mirror

Give the longer one stares into it?


Sisters lashing out

At each other,

Not once knowing

They’re all royalty.


Brothers ignore

Some sisters,

Not once knowing

The queens they’re missing out on—


Nature has a way

Of passing out

In equal shares

Beauty, brought to the surface

As distinct physical traits, female to female


Hair, eyes, noses, lips, skin—


Apparently, nature likes variety

As I do.


What catches my eye,

Appeals to my eye.


Pretty comes in all shades of black.


(Inspired by the autobiographical essay A Colorist In Recovery by

Stephanie J. Gates and the documentary Light Girls.)


Iola


Pages of the Living Way

Newspaper, which reached readers

Every week, was how the public

Saw eloquent words and meet


Her, Iola


Told many of her harrowing tale

Of injustice turned resistance:

Boarded a steam train for work, Nashville bound,

First class seat taken, comfy ride for


Her, Iola


The White conductor disapproved,

Did his damndest to remove

Consign to a smoky, crowded

“Coloured Only” car, disregard for


Her, Iola


Promptly answered him with her teeth,

Fastened onto pale hand, bitten deep,

White passengers cheered as she was dragged out—

This episode wasn’t over for

Her, Iola


Contested the egregious matter in court

Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, her opponents

The judge awarded $500 in damages

Soon to be lost, company appeal against

Her, Iola


It was the sudden shooting of three

Successful Black grocers, all good friends, because

Southern White businessmen despised competition,

That brought this schoolteacher to her typewriter, motivation for

Her, Iola


Shone truth’s light on ghastly wrongs

Between the Evening Star & Free Speech

Until hatred’s fire was set to her printing press

Added stress on the journalistic princess, Memphis off-limits to

Her, Iola


New York City, Northern refuge

Safe enough to continue the deluge:

Reports on Southern horrors acquired

From talks with victims’ relations, fleshed out by

Her, Iola


The record of the South continued to go red

From any hick town producing Nubian dead

From shotgun shells, bullets, fire and rope

Enclosed around the necks of humanity, counted by

Her, Iola


That never failed to chill the soul

Commonly used method of control

When Blacks came up, supremacy cut them down—

Allegations of rape of White women found false by

Her, Iola


Chicago, England, Wales, Scotland—wherever she did a speech

On the crime of lynching—Preach, lady, preach—

America isn’t the land of the free

If you’re not free to be Black, the gist from

Her, Iola


“Separate but equal”—official falsehood

Separate and substandard facilities—never good

Signs at public places turned away dark faces—

The basis for a fight for equality, which began with

Her, Iola.


(For Michelle Duster, great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells-Barnett.)


Dee Allen is an African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California. He has been active in creative writing and spoken word since the early 1990’s. He is the author of 7 books — Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater, Skeletal Black (all from POOR Press ), Elohi Unitsi (Conviction 2 Change Publishing), and, coming in February 2022, Rusty Gallows: Passages Against Hate (Vagabond Books) and Plans (Nomadic Press). He has 41 anthology appearances under his figurative belt so far.

Image Description: painting of an amorphous, colorful figure that sits in and seems to be part of a wheelchair — two black wheels are present, but otherwise it is unclear exactly what part is the figure and what part is the chair. The figure seems vaguely humanoid in that it “sits” in/on/around the wheelchair, but has no discernable limbs, head, or other physical features. Instead, the figure’s multicolored form twists and branches out from its trunk.

Too often, disability and mobility aids are often regarded as separable from disabled people, or worse, something that exists outside of, or in opposition to nature and goodness. This painting rejects that ableist premise and instead frames a wheelchair as essential to and integrated with the divine and good.

I think that the way many disabled people (including myself) personify their mobility aids is fascinating, and I took inspiration from that phenomenon while creating this piece.

The colors and style of my work are guided in part by my disability; I don’t have the motor skills for precise work and need higher-contrast colors for vision reasons. This has shaped my art to emphasize bright, varied colors as I embrace big, blobby shapes. Watercolors are well-suited to this approach. In this painting, I also did some strategic water dripping to make the colors of the divine’s “body” flow up and out and into the ether.

I was deliberate in titling the piece The Divine rather than A Divine, not because I think that there is only one or because I claim to possess such a singular truth, but because I want this portrayal to sit solidly in opposition to the white, male, cis/straight, nondisabled god that is so often elevated and granted the “the” when others are simply an “a”– much in the same way that writing about a normative/privileged god is considered “theology” while other areas of study are “queer theology,” “Black theology,” “disability theology,” etc. This god in/of a wheelchair is not a novelty or token, but an equally valid and plausible understanding of divinity as any other.

Wheelchairs provide freedom — however individual and/or limited by inaccessibility — to many disabled people.  And insofar as divine beings represent or create freedom for some people, it felt appropriate to me to portray a god in/as a wheelchair.


Samir Knego is Editorial Assistant at Decolonial Passage and has published essays, poems, and visual art in various journals and zines. He lives in North Carolina with a bright green wheelchair and a little black dog. Find him at https://twitter.com/SamirKnego, https://www.instagram.com/samirknego/, and https://verydecaf.blogspot.com/

“On your marks…Get set… GO!”

Kojo kicked as hard as his little legs could. At first, he didn’t see or feel anyone next to him. Just wind gushing past his ear. But after a couple of yards, his sister was by his side. Then ahead of him. Her breaths lost in the wind.

He kicked harder. Letting out little puffs to urge his body forward. But all he did was in vain. His elder sister was already at the finish line, where Joseph, his close friend, stood with a branch lifted above his head. Waving for the victor.

Vivian, Kojo’s elder sister, was jubilant. Punching the air and skipping around a disconsolate Kojo.

Kojo could see in Joseph’s narrow eyes that he empathised with him. But a sudden turn in his look told Kojo that his friend would be joining his older sister. Throwing salt in his open wounds.

“See you! You will never get across the road. A car will come and …” she skipped a couple steps then clapped her hands loudly in front of Kojo. “Crash you!”

Kojo’s tiny fists were balled and his smallish body went rigid. Deep inside, wells of tears were threatening to erupt from his eyes. Fearing this eruption, he ran away from Vivian and Joseph. Jeers and laughter following in his wake.

Kojo found his special corner tucked between the walkways of a heavily trafficked intersection. The congestion on the node was his cover. People walking, cycling, peddling, carrying, calling, begging. It was a jumble of activity. So anyone standing still would go unnoticed.

Kojo didn’t mind that his sister beat him or his best friend had laughed at him. But what was disturbing him most was the prospect of crossing the road.

The whole community had been talking about it.

Sleek. Vast. Deadly.

Before the road, there was another road and that was easily traversed. Kojo, Vivian and Joseph would cross it together to go to school every day. But a better and newer road was demanded by the mob, and, ‘mighty be the powers,’ the road came.

It had already handicapped five pedestrians, and several motorcyclists had met their end on it. But it was also heralded by motorists as a gateway to economic recovery and growth. Kojo didn’t know so much about death, or economic recovery, for that matter. But he knew what he saw when his father came home one day without a leg. All of sudden he was half the person he used to be. It wasn’t from the road, but from a road. Soon the remaining half of his father was lost too, and Kojo was left with none.

What if Kojo wasn’t fast enough to cross it?  What if he too lost his legs?  What if he too become none?  Then he wouldn’t be able to chase Jospeh about the compound. Or even run with his sister and finally beat her when he grew taller and stronger. These fears tangled with his anger of being teased, and he dragged them back with him to his house later that day.  Then with him into the morning of the first day of school.

***

Zoooooooom. Honk. Vroooom. Zoom-zoom-zoom. Skrrrrrr. Honk! Honkkkkkkk! Zoooooooom. Gyimi! Vrrrroooooooooom- ZZZzooooom.

The pattern of sounds was the only way the children could determine when to cross. Standing on the far end of the road. Looking over the railings. Timing the moment in which they would need to dash. The blur of colours. A trick of light.

Vivian mouthed for Kojo to hold her and Joseph’s hand. Her little brother was much smaller than the both of them. They gripped his hand as fiercely as they might squeeze a sachet of pure water.

Vivian had heard from others in the community that to cross the road, you needed to use your ears more than your eyes. The ice kenke vendor had said it. The koko woman had proclaimed it. The Waakye woman, sweat sticking to her neck, had bemoaned it. And by some coincidence, Vivian realised at that very moment, all their food had lost some taste since the road was commissioned.

The road. The road. The road. It rolled on and on in her head and tongue as she remembered the disappointment of the Waakye the other day.

Vivian was counting the seconds between the zooms and the honks. In there somewhere was their path to the middle partition of the road. During the morning, the death trap moved from left to right. By evening, it flipped. If they got to the middle, the worst would be behind them.

Vivian remembered her mother’s parting words. ‘Protect your younger brother.’ Vivian’s mother had so much trust in her that she didn’t fear for Vivian’s life.

Zoooooooooom. Honk. Honkkkkk!

“Onyourmarks!” Joseph yelled, raising his hand “… Getset!” His wide eyes met Vivian’s. “…. Go!”

Honk! Honk!! ZZZZoooooooom! HOOOOONKKKKK!

The children shot straight through. Vivian and Joseph pulling Kojo as they sprinted across. Kojo squeezing their fingers. Vivian wincing from the pain. Jospeh yanking his friend. Kojo’s eyes shut.

Skkrrrrrrrr.

“STUPID CHILDREN!”

They were at the partition. They just made it ahead of the car that had yelled at them. A distant insult and screeching of tyres now many miles away.

Vivian turned to make sure her brother and Joseph were okay. They both gave brave faces and a shaky nod. Vivian did the same. The next part would be easier, she assured herself and hoped to pass the confidence onto the others.

She pulled so that Joseph and Kojo could follow. They were walking this time. In a line. Then a sound. Vivian knew not to look. Only to run. So she pulled. Pulled hard so that her urgency would catalyse in the other children.  But fingers slipped. Cries were screamed. Hearts in mouth. Hands on chest. Joseph by her side. Eyes wide. Kojo no where to be seen. A red blur flashed. And a blue. A black. A silver.

Then a figure. Still. Rigid. Shaking. With tiny balled fists. Tears in his eyes. Vivian didn’t hear a sound. She only heard ‘protect your younger brother,’ echoing from within her. So she did as she had been told. Protected her brother.


Ekow Manuar is an African Futurist writer who hails from Accra, Ghana. He was educated as a sustainability scientist in Europe, and currently works as a renewable energy and environment project developer. His works include “Beans Without Korkor?”– the winner of the 2021 Economic Commission of Africa short story climate fiction award, “Kubulor Country,” published in the African Writers’ Anthology Resilience, “Tell Me What You See,” published in the Dark Mountain’s Literary Climate anthology, Issue 18, and many more. He can be found at https://www.instagram.com/abdallahsmith06/ and https://abdallahsmith06.medium.com/.

Black girl with a book, she dismisses your superiority beliefs with just one look

You should fear her, this creature; she’s not reading for fun

Her education continues, past your delusions; yet you believe it hasn’t even begun

A double Ph.D.D in life, despite all her strife, or perhaps it’s the very reason, for her well-

seasoned, awakedness. Her nakedness has honed her into this, Oshun like, Godessness


The mediocre white man lied, mimeographed generations beguiled with his belief that she

belongs in a squeeze chute, or somewhere in the wild

Otherwise, she exists only to serve, to fill the cotton pile … to wet nurse their child

13th can’t amend her nor defend her, the white gaze and ways have never been mild


To this day she struggles to be seen

As more than 3/5th of a human being


Black girl with a book, a bibliophile, a sapiophile, a poet, someday a chosen Laureate

All the while her destiny has been written

Her knowledge and power will not be hidden

You’re smitten, with her sage-like words and intellectual prose

Yet you pretend, to be unimpressed, and upend, her, turning up your nose

But you cannot offend her, you’re threatened by her, and … she … knows


Black girl with a book, oh what a dangerous sight


 

You call her names, you pick a fight?

She’s an intellectual heavyweight, your stereotype won’t make you see that you’re about to step

into the ring with Muhammad Ali

You’re blind sided by her mind … it’s one mean left hook

And after she defeats you she’ll write about you in her little black book


Her ancestors would be proud

They dreamed her up while being lynched in front of a coward crowd


Black girl with a book, her fingers have never picked cotton

She thumbs the pages of her history, a history too powerful to be ever forgotten

So many have died so that she could be free,

Still they police her Black-joy and refuse her basic liberty with their modern day slavery

She ponders life quietly, atop ole banyan tree

Wondering … when will life stop lynching me


Black girl with a fiery look, someday she’ll abolish your misguided superiority with just one book


Kerry Jo Bell has contributed to various literary journals and magazines. Her debut manuscript, “Next Time I Go,” has been accepted into The Writers Union of Canada’s 2020 mentorship program.
She has a book of poetry planned and describes her writing as unapologetic. Her poems are unafraid and unashamed of exploring the intersections of racism, sexual identity, and the abnormality of societal norms. Her poetry is a mirror that exposes society through the reflections of a Black woman.