Nigeria (a Villainelle)

Ron Singer

To meet a policeman in Nigeria,

or, for that matter, a soldier,

on the highway, provokes hysteria.

In Hell, devils not a bit bolder

will fleece you, strip you of soul and shirt.

Of the two Hells, Nigeria’s colder.

“Bring your particulars!” the thief will blurt.

He means “papers,” never quite in order.

The only way out is to pay till it hurts.

This happened to me—that is, my driver—

on the road from Abuja to Ekiti.

To get past Captain Crook cost us a fiver.

The next day, we were stopped in Ikare,

a populous town where I used to live.

“Give me something to send me on my way.”

Two shakedowns in two days! It gave me the shakes.

“Something to send you on your way?” I screamed.

“I’ll speak to the Governor of this state,

ore mi-o. He’ll send you on your way!”

Author's Notes:
Ekiti, pronounced eh-kee-tee
Ikare, pronounced ee-kah-ray
ore mi-o, pronounced oh-ray-mee-oh, Yoruba for” my friend”

A villainelle (or villainesque) is a 19-line poem form.

This poem previously published in TAB, The Journal of Postmodern Poetics, 2015

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Main Location:

Abuja - Ekiti Road, Nigeria

Other locations:

Police Road Block in Nigeria