JED: I am sitting at Terminal 2 customs
in King Abdulaziz International Airport,
my Ugandan passport in my top left
breast pocket, holding on to an unopened
mint condition Transformer ‘Jetfire’ that
my mum bought in East Street market.
My only companion as I wait for my dad.
Through the heatproof glass I see
white Muslims gathered for the Hajj
at the pilgrims’ terminal tent shaped
with Teflon coated skin. Jetfire says
it reminds him of Charlton Heston in
The Ten Commandments. I can’t see Moses.

NBO: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Flight SV 446 from Jeddah delayed by
18 minutes. We are stuck in a holding pattern.
The hostess is collecting headphones and the pilot
has engaged the landing gear. The man next
to me has spent the whole flight pacing the aisle,
rolling Dhikr beads with his right hand. I pick up
his copy of Vanity Fair, August issue with naked
Demi Moore pregnant with her daughter, Scout.
Her whole body is covered in permanent black marker.
Demi says I should read the book Song of Lawino.
The man is holding his beard and calling God’s name.

EBB: Entebbe International Airport, the guards have rifles.
Their fatigues are tucked into their black leather boots.
Milky-yellow teeth smile as they suck on sugar cane,
spitting the pulp on to the tarmac. My passport
has expired. One soldier hangs a transistor radio
on his bayonet as he barters with the kiosk attendant
for 20 Marlboro blend 28. Flamingos perch on the edge
of Lake Victoria, the way I have seen men perch
at the river Ganges. I’m wearing cream chinos
and a denim sky blue shirt. My caramel Timberlands
match my leather wrist watch. And the radio says
this is the closest you will get to be Harrison Ford in
Raiders of the Lost Ark. I find it hard not being a hero.

CDG: Sad is the man who is asked for a story
and can’t come up with one. It is not that I have difficulty
with endings I have lost where I begun. When my eyes fall
like curtains to untie this portion of the evening
A splinter is removed from my palm and I am a boy again.
Death leans against my face to pose a question:
is a blade that undresses the skin to leave me flayed.
unshapen, iridescent flame. Later while lying awake
my tongue will search for a song. What you hear is true.
The chorus knows that I have no home.
Shaded walls can’t guard me. Shadows cannot hide.
I pierce the valance of the wind and on its breath I glide.
No soil is sacred I have no country to call a church.

Nick Makoha represented Uganda at Poetry Parnassus as part of the Cultural Olympiad held in London. He recently won the Brunel African Poetry prize and has poems that appear in the The Poetry Review, Rialto, The Triquarterly Review and the Boston Review.

:: more from this issue ::

Four Flashes

Zachary Doss

ISIS, Or Waiting

Kamelya Youssef

Three Poems

Sophia Terazawa

How To Eat a March Hare

Elizabeth Lemieux

Two Poems

Deonte Osayande


Nick Makoha