Jean Pierre Nikuze is a Rwandan writer and poet living in Nairobi with his wife.

In a Backyard

I had a pair of colorless scissors in a vari-colored backyard.
Auburn earth and chestnut earthworms underneath
chartreuse grass. The indisputably green
began at my umber arm's reach, up to the electric-blue fence.
Past this, choice steps in my tan shoes through
outgoing creepers, sucker undergrowth and daisy sap
revealed the green to be cyan.
Though there's a lime-chance it wasn't cyan but navy entirely...
Farther were elevated hills objectively airforce.

In the green, I wished to basil-split the glassy
malachite dew like purple amoeba and form two leaf
palms spread out like a grey-reluctant beggar's hands.
The red wasp and the white-winged butterfly,
I desired to conflate into a charcoal grave.
I wished to scarlet-behead the silver light aircraft hanging
in the blue foreground above a stray midnight cat
which, from that transparent altitude, must have looked
like a gloup—the color of death—as good as dead.

A Wish for My No-Name Beloved

You and me together for seventy years.
That's easy until you have to retreat
Clumsily as if you had inhaled ether.

The situation: me, panicky
as a ploceidae interrupted from broodiness,
and you, beautiful & unanticipated.

Consequence: you remain anonymous.
Then, wishing to know your name,
I gladly douse a poor man's candle.


For better or worse, voices
are couriers of realia:
In the beginning was a voice
from which proceeded other voices.
Coupled with keen ears, like
two haploids cells, voices animate.
Nothing being more exciting
to the ears of potential lynch mob
and accuser than the accused's defence,
he flirts to spell out rage, fondles for
indignation. Tomorrow the sun will reveal
him an innocent man in refractory also,
a father of illegitimate children. But only
if he successfully parted with himself yesterday.

Archivist of Intelligence Matters

As if your library were a Christmas tree, he said:
Decorate it and top it off with Ginsberg's angel.
To you, libraries are gaudy—Sunday golf buddies with graffiti.

What does a Black boy—beautiful or not—know about
Sitting in silence. So silent that you begin to rock back & forth
You rock forth out of your name, whatever it is,

And into another—Hareton. You hear Nelly say something
About the fate of all sinners in heaven.
But you can only be one place at a time, Black one. Choose LaSalle

Or the territories of Mansa Musa. You'll never see Paris;
Postcards transport you as far as inside the pulp, where you drown.
So why bother with Ravelstein or with Papa. Trust that literary

Christmas tree to lead you to your basal intelligence
Which is unlike ours. Read the lips of gibbons, earn your colors
From brown up. Rock back already, you can't fool evolution.

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