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.

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.

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.

With the black man

In his cell

I feel kinship


They say I’m

Not black

I’m brown

Any shade less

Than ebony

But I am black

Black as the night

Without a moon


Malcolm X said:

America means prison

For me too, O

My brother

America means prison


I did not go with

Your ancestors

To the land of the free

In slave ships

But I made the journey

In spirit:

I was with you

Among the rats

And the vomit


Today, the prison

Industry keeps you


Manacled

As surely                                       

As the freedom

Industry

Keeps me in chains


They say I am free

Because I can vote:

Then, O my brother,

So are you

In your narrow

Space


Who benefits from

My freedom?

The NGOs funded

By USAID and

DFID

The intellectuals

Whose careers

Are made in

American

Universities


Only the white man

Has power, O

My brother


Pace patiently

Patiently pace

The flagged stones

Peer patiently

Patiently peer

Between the bars


I do not know

What manner

Of birds you see

But you and I

Shall be free


The Great Bazaar


That marketplace called the United States,

Where we sell our talents, and our clothes, and

Ourselves, like captives of old in the agora,

Where we buy what we need and what we do

Not need, such as our self-esteem which (but

We’ve forgotten!) cannot come from others;

That marketplace where my parents wanted

Me to succeed, and where I chose to fail;

That marketplace where I chose not to go

But stayed here to find my soul, to find you!

You lifted me above The Great Bazaar

Into that circle where the angels warn

Against man’s pride. The currency we use

Eternally remains: what if the world be lost?


Iftekhar Sayeed teaches English. He was born and lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has contributed to The Danforth Review, Axis of Logic, Enter Text, Postcolonial Text, Southern Cross Review, Opednews.com, Left Curve, Mobius, Erbacce, Down In The Dirt, The Fear of Monkeys, and other publications. He is also a freelance journalist. He and his wife love to travel. He can be found at https://iftekharsayeed.weebly.com/, https://iftekharsayeed.blogspot.com/, https://www.tumblr.com/blog/view/isayeed-blog, and https://twitter.com/ifsayeed/.

Using my yellow tail

I yellow-swam

From the Yellow River

As a yeast of the yellow peril

Against the yellow alert

In yellow journalism


With a yellow hammer

And a yellow sheet

I yielded to the yellow metal

At a yellow spot

¼ million yards away from Yellowknife


People call me yellow jack

Some hailed me as a yellow dog

When I yelped on my yellow legs

To flee from the yellow flu


Speaking Yerkish[1] like a yellow warbler

I have composed many yellow pages

For a yeasty yellow book

To be published by the yellow press


Don’t panic, I yell low.


[1] An artificial language developed for experimental communication between humans and chimpanzees.


Immigration


To escape from the tyrannical logic
Of your mother tongue
You wandered, wandering
Through earth’s length and breadth
Subjecting your old self to another syntax
A whole set of grammatical rules
Strangely new to your lips and tips
To expand the map of your mind
Far beyond your home and haven
Yet in the meantime it becomes colonized
By all the puzzling paradoxes
Of this chosen language, for example: 
Quicksand can be very slow
Boxing rings are in fact square
And a guinea pig is neither a pig
Nor is it from Guinea


Migrating


The cold night is like the tide
Surging from beyond the horizon
You are tired of flying
While the twigs at the bank are full of thorns

O Bird, where are you going to perch?
Can you keep flying until day breaks?


Yuan Changming grew up in an isolated village, started to learn the English alphabet at age nineteen and published monographs on translation before moving to Canada. Working part time as a produce clerk, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include eleven Pushcart nominations, ten chapbooks and appearances in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), and Best New Poems Online, among 1,839 others across 46 countries. In early 2021, Yuan served on the judging panel for Canada’s 44th National Magazine Awards in the poetry category.

This is the drum that talks to its own beat

               that started in a royal compound,

               then moved underneath to the hold

               of a ship used to exercise captives

               as if they were horses and cars.


This is the drum that belonged to the son

             of an African trader who travelled

             with slaves to get an education on

             the backs of his brothers and sisters,

             sold out at all costs.


This is the drum, hear the fontomfrom

             at the palm wine chop bar accompany-

             ing gossip and stories, holding them

             together in a social glue as thick and

             consistent as kenkey and stew.


This is the drum that was overcome by grief,

                     whose leaders colluded and left

                     our interior intruded.


This is the drum that tells its own story in bi-

                    tonal, tri-tonal scales and beats

                    that will reincarnate and never

                    surrender, never defeated.


This is the drum on the plantation that spoke

                   to Old Country and united the hands

                   from many tribally scarred lands.


This is the drum that recovered myriad times,

                made of Cordia africana, stretched

                over space, time and land, repaired

                in Amerindian antelope and

                deer skin, to begin again, uniting

                the Akan, Virginian, Taino and Carib.


This is the drum of three orchestral movements,

                    three continents shifting, telling

                    its story, all chained, enslaved in

                    different ways.


This is the drum made of wood, skin and fibre

                    that survived inhuman disaster.


This is the drum housed in Room 26, between

                    and betwixt a triangle of transatlantic

                    slavery, its watery graves and no gates

                    of return, blood trickled lands, snapping

                    fingers, picking cotton, sugar and tobacco

                    adjusting New World rhythms.


This is the drum, in glass coffin in exhibition that

                    started the very first British Museum

                    collection.


This is the drum Reverend Clarke passed on to Hans

                    Sloane with his penchant for manacles

                    and shackles, grim black iron artifacts

                    forming the chains of human enslavement.


This is the drum, part of a royal fontomfrom full

                   ensemble, where every kyɛne has a name,

                   role to speak and play in its own tempo

                   mood, rhythm and signature of space and

                   time: atumpan, odondo, kwadum, adowa,

                   abofoe, kpanlogo, djembe, gomo; ntorwa,

                   apentemma and pɛtia part of the kete.


This is the drum, housed in the royal palace,

                           where the okyerema tongue talks

                           directly to the chief of every village,

                           played with open palms or sticks.


This is the drum they thought was Native

                                American Indian until Sloane

                                travelled to Jamaica in search

                                of more bounty, then he saw

                                it played by African slaves.


This is the drum, its true identity submerged

                   under transatlantic seaboard

                   floors like Atlantis, an amphibian

                   landing, surviving and circulating,

                   even as traders sought to reduce

                  their makers and users to chattel.


This is the drum that Kew Garden experts

                    sampled and found its wood

                    was grown in Africa, originally

                    made for a musician in the Chief

                     orchestrating, dances of slaves


This is the drum of middle passages, locked in

                    the holds and grasps of the sarcophagi

                    of slave ships, greased and palmed off

                    in embalmer’s oil and put on the plinths of

                    Machiavellian Merchants of Venice.


This is the drum regarded as dangerous, inspiring

                   identity; genetic memory connected

                   by the umbilical chords of fibre attached

                   to its stretched skin across continents;

                   a communal rebellion among New World


This is the drum of hybrid tribal nations, healing

                   their scars, strumming guitars with fife,

                   drum and banjo, allowed to make work

                   music, later confiscated for fear of

                   incitement to revolt.

.

This is the drum of pre-colonial history of the Akan

                    nation, butchered, scrambled and carved

                    down, across and up by Europeans: Dutch,

                    Portuguese, Dane and British, establishing

                    their profitable trade of grain, gold and slaves,

                    traded between Ewe, Ashanti and Fanti

                    for guns under the golden coast sun and

                    salty Atlantic Ocean tears.


This is the drum that sailed on a ship that was a gift

                   from a nautical captain or crew with a cipher

                   of scruples, accompanied by sons of Asante

                   chiefs, part of their education of exploration.


This is the drum, indigenous ingenious heir to the throne,

                    home of the Golden Stool of Ghanaian music

                    our ancestors played and made at the palm

                    wine joint, drumming ɛnsaagyaesenwom,

                    palm wine music, where we reflect and pause

                    for thought on work life balancing acts.


This is the drum, we put our palms on to drum ancient

                    beats of fontomfrom comfort, singing and

                    lamenting, a tradition expanding then on to

                    the Chief’s palace to entertain royals, also

                    in sadness, announcing in funeral procession.


This is the drum that travelled the Middle Passage in six

                   months, in horrendous conditioning, next to

                   men below deck, chained in pairs, occasionally

                   let up to breathe, exercised, danced as captives,


This is the drum used to keep fit their investment from

                   sickness and suicide, as our brothers and sisters

                   tried to jump ships, kept running like horses

                   and cars, erased of identity, shackled together,

                   densely packed sardines in a black lacquered can.


This is the drum, the oldest surviving African object status

                    made by the Akan, played in religious ceremonies

                    and social occasions, travelling on a ship with call

                    and response musical legacy.


This is the drum that witnessed a twelve million Maangamizi,

                   labour for mines and plantations of sugar, tobacco,

                   and cotton among others, resisted in the chorus of

                   shouts, hollars and work songs, fife, drum and spirituals

                   evolved into jazz, rock and roll, hip hop and soul.


This is the drum that witnessed European first arrival, internal

                   warfare and displacement, settled empires of enormity

                   that had broken down, viewing war captives, internal

                   systems of slavery, the hands of domestic slaves toiling

                   on farmland.


This is the drum stolen for the massa’s entertainment, cruelly

                   twisting the legacy of African dance drum culture.


This is the drum that watched female slaves vulnerable, kept

                   on the main deck of the ship, raped and whipped,

                    preyed on by parasites of sexual predation, forced

                    to dance in twisted foreplay.


This is the drum that can’t sleep at night with the memory

                   of those that refused to participate punished

                   severely, tortured and killed, for refusing to

                   dance.


This is the drum that saw brave refusals to dance, girls

             declining slavers power and pleasure by rebelling,

             tearing up a racial script of subordination that the

             ‘bosses’ could never destroy or control.


This is the drum, the hollow goblet, full of life and stories,

             a wooden barrelled body, pegs attached, skinhead

             stretched by cord made of two vegetable fibres,

             coated by glue and ochre, decorated in vertical

             lines below its circumference equator.


             Hear the many beats of survival

             This is the drum of rebellion

             This is the drum of fontomfrom

             This is the drum of tradition

             This is the drum of lineage

             This is the drum of genetic memory

             This is the drum of endless reinvention

             This is the drum of Diaspora in chorus

             This is the drum of the palm joint and royal palace

             This is the drum of a triangular hybrid nation

             This is the drum of varied tempo and time signatures

             This is the drum of history, mine and yours

             This is the drum of the Maroons and Nyabinghi possession

             This is the drum of past, present and future

             This is the drum that caused trouble and confusion

             This is the drum of Old and New Worlds

             This is the drum that weaves like Anansi

             across the Atlantic in its tensile strength

             This is the drum of survival

             This is the Akan Drum.


Andrew Geoffrey Kwabena Moss is a writer and teacher who has lived in the UK, Japan, and currently, Australia. Of Anglo-Ghanaian heritage, his work seeks to explore liminal landscapes, complex identities, and social constructs of race. Andrew has previously been published by Afropean, People in Harmony, Fly on the Wall Press, Fair Acre Press, Poor Yorick Literary Journal, The Good Life Review, Scissortail Press, dyst Literary Journal, Sound the Abeng, and Rigorous amongst others. His work will appear in ­The Best New British and Irish Poets Anthology 2019-2021 and his debut collection Childish Recollections with The Black Spring Press Group. He can be found at https://www.agkmoss.com/ and https://twitter.com/agkmoss.

What you left behind follows you like

Shell Afrika migrants; it whispers

In your ear secret of your longings,

Its wishes in your skin warmth of the sun.


It’s in the mirror, your fathers face

Big nosed like elephants of the forest.

You know it like your mothers breast

In fainting memories, you believe it

Like your fathers voice faraway.


It cut across your vein that ‘Black Life

Matters’ you didn’t say it because you know

The future, that you are African

That you are the future.


Across the Mediterranean

I saw mass of apparitions paddling

With their breath on the Mediterranean,

Their oar of hope broken into mystery.

Faceless like shark feed dangling on aquarium.


Their boat like train moves upon rail

Of bones left behind in the benthic.

Mystery coil around them like python

Around its egg in nest like boat.


I hear them above the rising waves

Cursing the land that vomited them,

But my tongue if it be plenty like

Women’s hair cannot tell tales of

Afrika migrants on the Mediterranean.


Willow Warblers

We fly across seas to winter forest

But we shall never forget our nest

Under the Africa sun

Across the pathway many are shot

And their feathers scatter across

Lands of foreigners like songs of

Unknown language. Many are caught in cages

Like volcanoes in paintings.


 We must fly for better life says young birds;

But we remember our nest,

Where we hatched and gaze at green fields

Squawking tales of ancestral plumage

To all migrants the world is home but home

Is where we first grew our feather fore flight.


Owolusi Lucky is a Nigerian poet. His poems have been published by University of North Carolina press, Noctivagant Press, and America Diversity Report. He uses poetry to appreciate the beauty, history, culture and struggle of Africa. When he is not writing, he delights in  philosophy. He can be found at https://africanmighty.art.blog/, https://twitter.com/Mighty_scribe, and https://www.facebook.com/owolusi.