How a City Vanishes

Poetry / Nick Makoha

All it takes is two men on a bike,
a convoy in their rear view mirror,
some land, a shortage of visas,
the closing of embassies, a night
lowering its curtain of curfew
and some C-4 to turn a dirt highway
into a makeshift airstrip.

Out come the men in uniform
following the flare of a flashlight
towards life lurking in the long grass.
White soldiers with foreign words
that taste too much like caution,
huddled around a wireless waiting
for orders, keeping their voices down.

A war reporter, tourist and volunteer
with the same faces just cleared
a checkpoint. Said they were on safari,
hence the cameras. Tonight they will make
the weekend edition of People. Tomorrow
our city, or some version of it, will be as
familiar as the dark side of the moon.

Nick Makoha was Shortlisted for the 2017 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection for he’s debut Kingdom of Gravity. He is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow and Complete Works Alumni. He won the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry prize and is the 2016 winner of the Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize for his pamphlet Resurrection Man. His poems appeared in The New York Times, Poetry Review, Rialto, Poetry London, Triquarterly Review, Boston Review, Callaloo, and Wasafiri. He is a Creative Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Goldsmiths working to create an in depth online digital archive of the Metic experiences of Black British Writers.