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Poetry

Tonite I Am Complete With All the Deaths My Country Has Gifted Me

by CARL TERVER

or an elegy written in May

For Deborah Samuel, and Harira Jibril, her 3 children and unborn child.

Tonite I am complete with all the deaths

my country has gifted me. & I shall be

a hedonist one last minute before it gifts

others mine. In the bus in Makurdi with my

empty plastic bottle to buy palm wine,

my face out the window, slapped by the

evening, I dream of escape, the final

touches to make on my manuscript &

send to a friend in case Nigeria decides

I am a rose. Now, I finally think of leaving—

of how I shall leave my mother, of my

final suicide in a distant place, my second

slave-coming. I take no grace in the arith-

metic of leaving, to un-be. My feet submits 

to the trojan bridge that beckons me.

My thoughts with Lenrie Peters on many

things—“my two faces / move sideways /

groping for identity . . .” My two departures

mapping me—one, split from my umbilical

cord; two, dying, to live where snowflakes 

are cold metaphors. To Chimamanda’s Obiora:

indeed, man has lost his dignity. Me too. It

is what my country has taught me. This is the

re-awakening, this is telling MLK Jr to

shove his dream up his arse. This is total

blasphemy; I, cursing Jehovah for not de-

fending me from lies. Who is my shepherd?

It is departure. What is his staff? A stri-

king snake. And what can I say? The year

of the end is near. Moloch cheers, Moloch

cheers, for the festival ahead. The bamboonias

are out with heavy erections to gangrape

any salvation. Tonite, I am complete with

all the deaths my country has gifted me. I

gulp a Trophy stout; toast to our achieve-

ment, toast to hideousness, toast to our bravery.

Toast, one last time, to the end.

Carl Terver writes from Makurdi and his forthcoming poetry collection is The Memory of Now. He is a culture writer, critic and editor. He is the founding editor of Afapinen. Follow him on Twitter @carlterver