dVerse Poetic Travels

Travelling in the Wilderness

You can never read too much into anything.
That’s what my granny Nne Nne says.
She opens up the newspaper, and points
her poppy red fingernail at some words.

See here, she says, all words need spaces,
a buffer for safety, it’s so those conflicting
words don’t bash into each other.

And now I’m thinking of things that bash
into each other, like this bus did with that
three-legged mutt of a stray dog last week.
Bashing planets. People. Ideas. And fists.

And our bus driver bashes his plate-flat
hand on the bus’s horn to prove the point. 

Nne Nne and I, we’re on the 3:10 bus that
loops around Lagos all day, a 19-minute
circular ride in and out and around town. 
We’ve been on the bus for three hours …

… no particular reason other than to get
out of the house and keep on moving.
If you’re moving, you’re not a target,
Nne Nne says. Nne Nne knows stuff.

Bad men, they came into our town
last night, all khaki and smeary-faced.
Smelling of leather and oil and sweat.
Guns as big as their leg, and boots laced
up and knotted around long knives.

Red dust rolls out the back of the bus,
and I lean into Nne Nne at a sharp corner.
One day this dust will bury our town
back on itself. And I bury my thoughts
back into Nne Nne’s newspaper with its
small type and tight lines with spaces
like blank universes between the words.

Nne Nne takes my hand, she knows
the terror of survival, and says, don’t
you go pretending you’re well-schooled
and smart now. These new men watch
everything, so you do the same, girl.
Watch everything, keep your head
down and covered, and keep quiet.
You can’t read too much into anything.

And I notice a man in the street, he’s
limping, and missing his right shoe.

for dVerse Poetic Travels and Visual Verse December’s prompt . Image by Oscar Ukonu. Poem © Misky 2020

12 responses to “dVerse Poetic Travels”

  1. I think Nne Nne is very wise, and you must take her lessons to heart, girl. Beware the men with the big guns (which they need to carry as a phallic symbol).

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  2. Wow. I love this. You took me right there. The three-legged dog and the man with one shoe….ouch. The way of the world, often oblivious to pain – yet the poet sees.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a captivating read, and I feel the terror of the men coming to town. You put a story to the blackness we read about every day but only as numbers.

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  4. Wow, I absolutely believed this. The details pulled me in – the three-legged dog, the man with one shoe. The warning from Nne Nne to diminish yourself. It’s a great piece. Very moving.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah. Fun prompt.

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  5. I love your poem! It could be also What Grandparents Teach Children! Such interesting images on the bus ride around Lagos! The feeling of living in chaos with the soldiers and the having to watch out for you life all felt very real! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is captivating and vivid. You gave Nne Nne and the narrator distinct and memorable voices.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, this was so engaging Misky! It drew me right in and read briskly. Well written.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Stunning writing, Misky: you wove your words into a very believable narrative, and they were words of wisdom too. I think we could all use a Nne Nne in our lives!

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  9. This is absolutely stellar writing, Misky! You drew me in from the very beginning 🙂

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  10. This wonderful piece reminds me of a movie I recently viewed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boy_Who_Harnessed_the_Wind
    The film is based on the memoir The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

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  11. “See here, she says, all words need spaces” and as I get older so do I are I am apt to start doing the bashing. I think I would like NneNne a lot.

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