a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
and zip up your lips the moment she thinks
you care—quickly frown like a doomsday sky
and watch her become a heap of abandoned things;
then open your mouth like a shithole and call
her all the sword-edge names that cut off handshakes
the moment love’s needed most—you can trump up
lies baked in hell and tweet and twist humanity.
Each time my grandfather clock loads his long arm
like a Russian Drok mortar and knocks this side
of Earth on the forehead and says, 12 o’clock,
I call out Frost from his crude sandy bed,
we look America in the eye, clear our throats
like a crashing engine, and ask her how well
‘good fences make good neighbors.’ Has it ever been?
Midnight it is, morning or dark, each time Washington
wakes up with a pharyngitis, yawning like the Atlantic,
and breaks our heads with all the rough-edged words;
midnight it is, as long as we pop champagne,
smile and toast to the pale leaves of climate change
the way the rich clothe the poor with promises;
midnight it is, as long as pistols are pencils
in the palms of boys still learning to spell
hope on the head of a dying bald eagle;
midnight it is, the moment we love in halves
like praying mantises and call each crash country first,
walling them out because hell doesn’t burn from here;
midnight it is, whenever you cut off your tongue
to restrain love and limit hope like a dream
tucked within the chest of an illegal human being,
midnight it is, and will remain, America, if you
only shake hands with those who give more than
they take—aren’t you a library of borrowed books?
Don’t hum into my ears that you, too, feel
what humans feel; you can talk about the exits
of immigrants read as near-misses on CNN and BBC.
Tim Fab-Eme has given us new poetic forms: musical, deep and charming at once; he writes about identity, exploitation, intimacy and the environment. His work has appeared in The Malahat Review, New Welsh Review, FIYAH and forthcoming in The Fiddlehead. Tim often turns to jazz, Afrobeat, reggae, highlife, country and classical music whenever the news weighs him down. He studied engineering at the Niger Delta University, and when he isn’t playing with control instruments, he picks a book and buries himself in it. Tim lives in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.