Image source: Caustic Frolic Journal’s Noise Issue

In the era of rumbling clouds,
at the falling edge of a season,
a group of men having fallen
to the lure of a sorceress,
slogged down

a small valley,
to lick the urine of a woman
on the floor of a coal pit.

Years of sipping drips of dross
from the bladder of a priestess
for water,
were of a sudden tramp beyond


In numbers they stood,
exhuming guts,
in numbers they lay—twenty-one
biers and fifty-one
in heaps or piles— only twenty-one biers—
like frost in an Armenian River.

What is untouched
by the push of a river,
plants staring afar to cast
shadows at the nudge of the sun?

Rivers are made of delicate
unions, like life and dread
molded into a vessel
for passing bodies: flotsams,
floating ferns, floating seashells,
bodies leaving

the sand bar.

And now, my pen bears their weight,
flesh fading to names
and spirits, swinging in thick traffic
on the way to misery.

What is the weight of a pen
and the weight of a soul?
How does a pen lift 21 grams
and how does it lift 21 grams of 21?

These bodies were fathers, these
bodies were hewers, these
bodies were voices, these
bodies are names,

Note: Iva Valley is a coal mining site located in Enugu state, Nigeria. On the 18th of November 1949, 21 striking miners were shot dead at a coal mine owned by the British government. 51 miners were also injured. The miners were protesting for the back-pay they had not received from the British government.

About the Author

Lukpata Lomba Joseph lives in Nigeria. He is a software developer by day and a writer by night. His work has appeared in Jacar Press’ One, Misfit Magazine, Runcible Spoon Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal, The Collidescope, Squawk Back Journal and elsewhere. He is fond of satirical writing and also enjoys Aesop’s Fables.

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