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Black Lagoon

— chekwube o. danladi

I have yet to taste either
salt water whole nor

inland dry—tongue
bleating as horrid as each May’s torrent—

nor slum battered, stilt village,
sore jointed. Where Portuguese tongues

took solace in cuckoldry, one
cartography subdued, bubbling beneath

another. The Atlantic’s edge drawn in,
soft as a negrita’s moan.

Shore swollen with bloat, frothy with
the sky’s erotic. All of the land is ready,

eager for the captive tautology:
straighten, lighten, brittle, unbecome.

The native tongue’s final task
to suckle loose one more

tamarind seed, evidence of
this committed curse,

my diction now as mangled
as my hair.

May I be early dark, keeping watch,
offering my meat for horses to feed.

The swamp’s lumen tempting enough,
I’ve already forgotten my father’s name.

Sated with the port of Badagry.
Yet as I slumbered, the waters

deemed me displaceable. War-bound.
Allowed this abiding haunting.


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