Topography of Shallow Graves Across Milkweed

Benard Okechukwu Nweke

By Benard Okechukwu Nweke

august rain. flood mooring a convoy of crania,
exhuming the old open cemetery from the end

of the river. i, transfixed to such neo-gymnasium
as i ask a surveyor: which finger of topography

revives forgotten wounds of men? he says, alkalinity
or acidity respects, sometimes harbours skulls

to the science of wonder. this is not about science,
but, so much newness lies in the investigation

of the mundane. again, i confront a grave digger:
what feet of abyss betrays you, & your shovel,

except waters regurgitating skulls as if rare
roasted beef between old shaky teeth—such terrific

scavenging. & i pity him. all troubles he has to go
through tying ropes to the nape of many questions—saying

it’s burial specific as i cast a basket in contrast
to Moses, it divides, each in the marriage of sandbank.

soldier ants paying homage to pigeonholed caves out
of the eyes. exactly, in our aquatic class on flood,

i don’t ask too many questions because i know soil,
too accepts GIGO—by which flooding of dead bodies

is directly proportional to burial format. by which
the science of burial, the deeper the claws of the axe,

quieter they sleep underpavement, unnoticed. he repeats
this crossing rainbow-coloured blue river. crossing

a freshly dug grave near lush milkweed from behind a long
boundary, belligerent boys raging like storm. when asked

why too many boys are given birth after the war, father says:
wars unended—fight them, but celebrate pogroms sparing

your blood. there are more to the wind, first, weighing
branches before pulling a tree. & i catwalk into the

tabernacle; praying. if it rains tomorrow, spare a flood
refilling forgotten wounds like a suit. like forgotten
catfish bones in contention with bolus in the oesophagus.


Nweke, Benard Okechukwu (he/him) is a Nigerian poet. He’s the award-winner of the 2022 Neptune Prime poetry prize. A shortlist of the Inaugural Akachi Chukwuemeka Prize for Literature for 2023. A sophomore, a trainee photographer, and a journalist at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. His works have appeared in the West Trade Review, Rogue Agent, Kalahari Review, World Voices Magazine, Ballast Journal, Querencia Press LLC 2022 anthology, a guest poet at Threposs 202 anthology, and are forthcoming in the Zoetic Press, Mud Room, and elsewhere. He tweets @romeobenokechukwu.