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Telling Esau’s Inverted Pyramid as Escapee from School Boneyard

—Ben Okechukwu

Telling Esau’s Inverted Pyramid as Escapee from School Boneyard

because it can only be meal—drawing me nearer to the women i jilted, holding guns close to my
chest. because frankly speaking, Esau was not a jester you tease about in theology. after
lectures, the evening sky above us hiding the beauty of refurbished old roads all over Awka
city. & we take advantage of the dimness, hiding our countable ribs to the eatery in pairs. we
line in orange & black vests like dead soldiers during mass burial, after the civil war, under blue
canopy, shaking edges to light harmattan. i steal gaze at chef’s pot, & it is mesmerized by
what could be free back home. the difference between home & classroom is the size of dreams
chased on worm-kicking stomach. you could tell about hunger by the velocity taken the tongue
to round the circumstance of ceramics. women who love me assume i am bank of mint. bro.,
you know i am a so(u)n, prophesied bloom in every terminal divide. & i have no options, no
options than to squeeze seven hundred naira into waiter's palm, & stay hungry the rest of seven
days. because loaned cash offers knifing euphoria. you could see resemblance, thick enough,
between quantity & time taken to stalk dreams out of recession. sometimes, she loans trust.
& if eating to pay later is evidencing trust, then, we have mortgaged her pot, sashaying more
than you would have witnessed funerals. the women, total strangers. but there is this long you
become attached, & your canteen philosophy becomes their benchmark. upon all these, we
pocket the pain to smile at our girlfriends after classes, knowing full well that what matters is
who encodes what could not pass decoding test a time. once in procession to the cemetery,
bearing candles, saluting a dead friend through a suicide, i made jokes with a medic as if a
NAFDAC boss: between food & drug, which stops ruptures of schoolboys in empty hostels,
empty cupboards, empty kitchen cabin faster? he shrugged off. & i cringed at the defense
fears exerted, dismissing death. forgetting that what we detest, knows our homes. i take time to
write this poem in a room of my friend peeling
unripe paw-paw to stay alive, the way i take time to read obituary. because what constitutes
death is not death. it is what leads to burying loved ones.
 & i am skipping it, every bitterest line of this poem, as i am skipping my funeral by exposing my
body to whatever saves, & be named after what could not be buried among soldier ants in the
school boneyard.


Nweke, Benard Okechukwu (he/his/him) is a Nigerian poet. He is the winner of the 2022 Neptune Prime Poetry Prize, and was shortlisted for the inaugural Akachi Chukwuemeka Literature Prize. He is a penultimate student, photographer, and trainee journalist at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. His works have appeared both in print, and online in the West Trade Review, Querencia Press LLC, World Voices Magazine, Kalahari Review, The Ballast Journal, Art Lounge, Muse Journal, Nigeria News Direct, NND poetry column, Rogue Agent, Mad Swirls, & others are forthcoming in the Quarter(ly) Press. He tweets @romeobenokechukwu.

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