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Four from Carapace 82 – “Not Goodbye” by Akwe Amosu – and Carapace 83

Carapace 82 - Akwe Amosu's Not Goodbye
Artwork by David Coetzee

Carapace 82 is a stand-alone collection of poems by Akwe Amosu entitled “Not Goodbye”. It is published as part of the Carapace Poets Series. Amosu was born in London but moved to Nigeria as a small child. She now works as a policy advocate for the Open Society Institute on issues such as human rights, governance and accountability in Africa. “Not Goodbye” is her debut.

Four from “Not Goodbye” by Akwe Amosu

Maputo peace talks

The hotel dining room was sunny,
the clatter of crockery friendly,
our smiles swinging about the room were
bright parakeets, swooping table to table,
we all knew we were on the right track.
The General was eating eggs and bacon,
our friend named for the French emperor
was laying out a strategy for disarming
Liberia’s fighters and I was at ease
when you passed and reached out
an arm, drawing me to your cheek
then striding on in one swift manoeuvre,
my smile perched on your shoulder
and yours, slipping under my jacket
to peck gently at my breast.

*

Drought, Nigeria, 1980

No relief from the blank, fierce heat. High above,
a menacing harmattan wind reddened by dust,
drives orange clouds over a stormy horizon
but down here, the air is dry and still,
the mud setting hard and rough
around the vanishing pool.
The Fula’s skeletal cattle
on their forced march,
shudder off the flies,
patiently waiting
to keel over
one by one
onto hot
sand.

*

She should get on the train

She should get on the train
everyone else has said goodbye, separated
but she’s hanging back for one more minute
waiting for something, someone
to turn up, hoping for it.
The others are shouting
let’s go let’s go let’s go
but she doesn’t want to hear.
If whoever it is appeared, he would be
worth missing the train for
but the others know that
if anyone bursts onto the platform
he will be looking for someone else.
They’ve tried to tell her and they are
tugging on her coat, urgently
telling her the time,
that it will be very bad if she
misses the train but she’s shouting
let go let go let go
because she doesn’t like the train
she doesn’t want the journey
she doesn’t feel like leaving
and she doesn’t know
where we are going

*

Gambling

Six weeks radiation in New York over,
we pack and head back down the Turnpike
in a keen red rental, an up and at ’em
sort of a car, four solid hours, no stops,
not bad, breasting 80 all the way while
always scanning for cops who probably
get a commission but they aren’t
hungry today: I am drained and dull
yet there’s something beautiful
about four lanes and a shifting clump of cars,
judgments made at injudicious speed
as we weave among the staid and those slow
on the uptake, trying to gain a few feet
here and there and nip briefly into the fast lane
just to show we can if we like; I’m so fed up
with the man in the middle trundling
along at 55 on a 65 stretch of highway
when the rest of us are in flow at 75
but he provokes me to remember
that scene in Solaris when the cars
drive themselves and I’m imagining
the humans around me brooding
while HAL takes the wheel,
when out of the corner of my eye
I see the blue guy has slyly
snuck his way to the front of the pack
by hugging the slow lane under cover
of the Mack truck, inconspicuous except
when he darts out to take a scalp
then slips back to skulk anew. I,
no suburban saloon but a scarlet hotrod
with its ass in the air, cannot do the same
disappearing trick but I’m sick of the
Florence Nightingale business and
admire his gall so I show that I belong
in his posse by cutting up the beige Subaru
who doesn’t seem to share our dizzy interest
in taking chances, this past ten miles,
north of the Delaware bridge, now with
only two lanes and two dependents,
one dying, to dice with.

Purchase “Not Goodbye” at Scribd

Carapace 82: “Not Goodbye” Poems by Akwe Amosu

~ ~ ~

Carapace 83
Artwork by Greg Kerr

Carapace 83

EDITORIAL

Dear subscribers and fellow travellers, this is the final edition of Carapace 2010.

We are delighted that we are still afloat and hope to continue publishing for some time yet.

Very best wishes for the all-embracing Festive Season. Relax! chill! return refreshed and ravenous for poetry.

Remember a subscription to Carapace makes a wonderful and harmless gift.

Thank you to Barbara Fairhead and Jacques Coetzee for their generous gift in support of the magazine.

Congratulations to Finuala Dowling on winning the 2010 Olive Schreiner award and to Tania van Schalkwyk for winning the Ingrid Jonker prize.

Gus Ferguson
Writer in Residence
Plumstead

Contributors to Carapace 83

Candy Neubert, Malika Ndlovu, Gordon Stuart, Finuala Dowling, Mike Alfred, Gus Ferguson, Pam Newham, Egon Boome, Michael Cope, Mari Pete, Janice Warman, Dawn Garisch, Walter Saunders, Carla Kreuser, Lise Day, Medzani Musandiwa, Yvette Morey, Brown Cow, Beverly Rycroft, Tim Volem, Lionel Murcott, Mangaliso W Buzani, Sarah Rowland Jones, Suzanne Leighton

Four from Carapace 83

Husband

In a restaurant (Greek)
she sits a few checked
tablecloths away.
All movement, she
uses hair and hands
to make a point.
There’s a man
on either side.
One leaning close
listening to what
she has to say.
The other reaches
for an olive
and looks away.

Pam Newham

*

Invitation to a Duel

Egon Boome, a rhyming Fool
Invites great Eyeball to a duel –

Be it villanelle or couplet,
Ode or best grilled cutlet –

If verse be food and wit be salt,
Let foaming pictures be the malt!

All forms of grace will be contested
And let the loser die intestate.

Egon Boome

*

My contributions to world peace

I don’t
give paper cuts to work colleagues who can’t spell
own a yapping maltese or a midnight fighting cat
drink more than three tequilas on any given party night
      (although sometimes I forget)
read my friends’ books in the bath
mess cookie crumbs on our bed anymore
visit no-cell phone-reception areas
      (without letting my mom know in advance)

Carla Kreuser

*

from the river bank

at the bottom of every
flowing body of water
lies a series of sequential
pebbles,
clouded, in a manner of speaking,
by transparency –
the stream eternally (rippling and) conscious
of the sedimentary construct
to follow;

and how oblivious most are,
to how reality
lies with these
loosely aligned pebbles,
essentially pinned
to obscurity

Medzani Musandiwa

Purchase Carapace 83 at Scribd

Carapace 83

 

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