Salutations and Prostrations, poem by Martina Newberry

Glossary of Names
Shakpana-Destructive God of Dahomey (Duh-how-may) Mythology
Abbadon—Hebrew Archangel of Armageddon
Nenaunir—African God of Storms
Shigidi—A Yoruba deified nightmare

black wind desaturates our once-
colorful land. Now our homeland quakes
in gray and white images.
Soldiers again,
missiles again.

Black blood flows over our sickened land.You
can hear the rush and tink of it
in your ears. See it at the back of your eyes.President Shakpana—Pox Bringer –
give us back our children!
Secretary of Defense Abbadon—Angel of Hell,--
give us back our husbands and lovers and wives!
Secretary of State Nanaunir—Rainbow Snake—
give us back our mouths to say against you!
Attorney General Of Justice, Shigidi—God of Hate,
master Torturer—
give us back our animal radiance.
A black wind whips our skirts, hair, scarves, trees.
We parody smiling at you from
our noir deserts. We don’t have the courage
to be unruly.
How can we overcome
what we are not permitted to see?
Touch me, hear me, world on fire,
world drowning, world with windows closed.
Turn up the damn radio and send
this out—this fucking rage, this fucking
lack of respect, this fucking—our just fucking.
Eshu, do not undo me,
Do not falsify the words of my mouth
Do not misguide the movements of my feet.
You who translate yesterday's words
Into novel utterances,
Do not undo me.*
A black wind desaturates our once-
colorful land. Now our homeland quakes
in gray and white images. How to valorize this…
Now we are all third world—everyone born common
is third world—and this spiritual blackmail
Makes it late afternoon no matter what time
Of day it is.
* a Yoruba prayer


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