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WHAT BRIGHTON SAYS ON A SUMMER EVE & IF LAGOS KNEW (two poems by S. Su’eddie Vershima Agema)

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Brighton’s summer day is a pain polluted by a million visitors, pilgrims led by the sun, guided by the sea spreading her soul to lovers and the lovelorn.

In the shadows, the homeless thrive, begging a penny.

I crouch in a corner, smiling at a poster proclaiming our town a rainbow.
The rainbow – promise: a flood will never destroy the world again.

Darts of Brighton’s insensitivity hits bull’s eye— my chest.

In the flood of passers-by, someone stops.
Drops me a McDonald. I open the wrap. Cheap soggy burger.

I hear harsh wails and a flap of winds. Seagulls descend from heaven. Attack me and peck at my meal, which I fling.

I see Brighton’s pilgrims stare, smiling, as they take pictures.

I walk away, hoping to be a light. I am only a witness to the dark.
I am dark. Dead on another night.


(for Abulatan Wuraola)

If Lagos knew, its streets sing a saner song
In the hearts of those whose tunes an orchestra never loses beat to
The roads wouldn’t rage with the anger of hustlers in BRTs, kekes and danfos
Swearing, sweating in hope for a slice of the Island’s promise.
It wouldn’t grind all to its slow pace or halt time for folks whose foreheads 
fold into waves of worries as adrenaline increases several thoughts
raised from internal pain as they try to escape the sun’s whip
lucky folks shielded in moving tents filled with gases that purr noiselessly 
bringing the harmattan to closed chambers on another hot noon…

If Lagos knew, even if the chaos were gathering from Ajegunle to Ikotun
or overt poshness descending from the Island to Maryland
there would be that pause for the wind to dance across the skies 
leaving imprints of colours and shapes in cones and candles
for the waves to dance across the waters in claps and hurrahs
for the beautiful tapestry seen from Third Mainland to be rearranged 
and that beauty captured by several lenses to be seen in a new light, 
the sun kissing her belly in million sparkles,
those boats in proper formation.

If Lagos knew, it would change, if only for one moment
to breath in deep in awe of this nativity
Bethlehem slept but Lagos hustles on another sunny day.
And as another placenta gets buried
Eko’s beauty is crafted in the sound of another infant cry.

S. SU’EDDIE VERSHIMA AGEMA is a husband and father, an editor, scholar, publisher, cultural enthusiast and development worker. He was listed on Nigerian Writers Award’s 100 Most Influential Nigerian Writers under 40 (2017 and 2018) and EGC’s Top 50 Contemporary Poets Who Rocked Nigeria (2012-17). He was also recently Curator, Black History Month/Project and founding President, African Writers [Society] at the University of Sussex in England, the United Kingdom, where he earned a second master’s in International Education and Development under the esteemed Chevening scholarship scheme. He is a past chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (Benue State Chapter) and a former coordinator of the National Teen Authorship Scheme covering six states in Nigeria. He was also an Associate at the School of Education and Social Work, University of Sussex.  Su’eddie is the author of Home Equals Holes: Tale of an Exile (Winner, Association of Nigerian Authors’ Prize for Poetry, 2014); The Bottom of another Tale (Shortlist, Abubakar Gimba Prize for Short Stories, 2015); Once Upon a Village Tale(Shortlist, Association of Nigerian Authors’ Children’s Literature Prize); and Bring our casket home: Tales one shouldn’t tell (Nominee, Association of Nigerian Authors’ Prize for Poetry 2013). Among other awards, he also won the Mandela Day Short Story Prize (2016) and was shortlisted for the Saraba/PEN Nigeria Poetry Prize 2013, Association of Nigerian Authors Prize for Prose Fiction (2014) and the Soyinka Prize for African Literature (2018).  He is the chief executive/lead editor at SEVHAGE Publishers, team leader/lead researcher at SEVHAGE Literary and Development Movement/Initiative, and the Benue Book and Arts Festival convener. Su’eddie blogs at and is @sueddieagema on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook.