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She would make animal sounds
Every night in that cubicle.
I would stiffen my upper lip,
Helplessly waiting for my turn.

I never made any sounds;
Never gave him that satisfaction.
Instead, I would count down time
To go and comfort my cousin.

In my best days I would
Offer a shoulder;
Sometimes I would help drench the
Blankets with tears and other fluids.

I was thirteen when he broke my arm;
My age had become a threat.
My cousin took a fair share:
A speech impediment and a dysfunctional uterus.

His wife taught me ‘things’;
Yes, this was a family with one mind.
He would watch,
As she moaned uncontrollably.

Irritated me much!

One day my cousin lost it;
She used a butter knife.
I took the knife from her hands
With the little sanity I had left.

More is the pity:
Cousin told the police
I am the one who rapped her;
That uncle found out,
And I killed uncle.

Apparently I had rapped
Uncle’s wife too.
I remember I laughed
And I started to cry;
My first time in nine years.

Who would believe my word
Against that of the mayor’s wife?
I hopelessly cowered into
Twenty-five years of prison.

In the first three years
A sonior inmate replaced my uncle.
After that I swore to protect
The newbies with my seniority.

Nothing scares me anymore;
I barely blink an eye at anything.
No amnesty for crimes of ‘my’ ilk.
Just extra food for my discipline.

All I have
Is all that is gone;
Six more years and
Five books of dark poetry.

Herbert Uba

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