Feature image by Theresa Bloise, Ribs, 2011. Watercolor on paper, 29 1/2 × 42 in.

When you sleep in the midst of rats
a night so beautifully started
can be un-night,
then you keep sleepwalking
on rat tracks,
the feces forming slippery pads.
Rats are very moveable people.
They sleep very little at night.
Rats don’t sleep at night.
And it happens to you
that the man next door
escaped the war of rats
when he took sleeping pills
and woke up in his silent coffin,
chewing away at his own lips,
crying out blood.
Life cleans up the world that way.
But why do men keep rats
in their inner rooms?
And you hear the voice reply:
It is a rat world.
You only live to keep them out
or on the way.
They like human flesh.
They are carnivores,
always busy sharpening
their claws and incisors.

Ejiọfọr Ugwu

Ejiọfọr Ugwu lives and writes in Nsukka, Nigeria. His poetry chapbook The Book of God was selected by African Poetry Book Fund in collaboration with Akashic Books to be included in the 2017 New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set. His poetry and short fiction have been published in Guernica, African American Review, Drumtide Magazine, The New Black Magazine, ELSEWHERE Lit, Cordite Poetry Review, Sentinel Nigeria, The Kalahari Review, and The Muse, a journal of creative and critical writings at the University of Nigeria.