Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern


skinned appearance for the court hearing


The third week my uncle is released from
the prison as a suspect for an IRA bombing,

                                                                                              another explosion steals seventy-three
                                                                                                            lives at the national mosque.

The sky borrows a new tuxedo,
black like empty shadow.

                                                                                              The kite helps us search burnt bodies,
                                                                                       smoke covers evidence, body liquefaction.

That night, I slept with the smell of
whiskey in my blood,

                                                                                           I dreamt about bodies dissolving in fire,
                                                                             bricks lacerations, mouthed words stolen by yells

& help I couldn't replace. That same night,
soldiers raided my father's house in the night best color,

                                                                           stole the sleep in our eyes, stole my mother's plea,
                                                                                                convicted my uncle as new suspect.

I swallowed the night sear-sucking enemy.
At his first hearing, my uncle's Alibi isn't

                                                                       strong to pull him out because none of our neighbors
                                                                                           wants to get involved with a genocide.

He watched the pity glow inside my eyes,
good enough to make them water.

                                                                                                   That night I dreamt of a town with
                                                                                       yellowed fences, built like static home TV.

In the next morning, I can't taste water;
I taste blood forming sour in my mouth.

                                                                                 Mouth ulcer is the first paragraph of the letter,
                                                                        I write to my uncle in cell. The blisters; red like fire.

The next hearing, my uncle walks into
court with skin the color of blue,

                                                                                          his eyes, bulged like a strangled victim.
                                                                                 Genocide becomes the language for the dead.

At the hearing, my uncle catches my eyes water.
He disagrees with me to stop by nodding.

                                                                                    He gives me a tickling smile as he walks out
                                                                                                         of the adjourned court hearing.

Electric iron has stolen a bite of his handcuffed hands.  
My next dream is about fireworks & black tree stricken

                                                                                          by fires, that morning, I am awakened by
                                                                                                        a bruised kiss on my dried skin.

I find my uncle staring at me, his language has become too hoarse,
his two front teeth has evaded, the big shade of black

                                                                                  under his eyed skin has become a new history
                                                                             of fireworks. I sneak into his arms & never wake.

Ugonna-Ora Owoh lives in Nigeria as a model and poet. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Confingo Magazine, Underground Review, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Rigorous, and elsewhere. He is a 2019 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize international award winner and a 2019 Blue Nib Chapbook Commended. He is recently featured on Pride Magazine & Puerto Del Sol Black Voices Series.