Prayer before Flight

(after Louis MacNeice)

I’m about to fly, so help me.

May the heaven-bound youth with a
lust for virgins miss my flight.
when the prodding wand comes my way
let it beep briefly, and be

Give me this day
panties like a crab’s carapace,
shield me from the scanner with the voyeur eye;
dress me in corsets for coarse hands and
in bras to brace me for the small room
where they queue with a fiat
to grope

Kill us foxes for our furs,
bulls for our belts &
alligators for the shoes on that flight –
and may the soles on all shoes on that plane
be true wood

May the pops on that flight
spill champagne and
no more

I am hijabed, have mercy.
I lack grace under grief:
do not profile me with the Palestinian beard,
the Arab-sounding name, or the youth from Lagos.
may my sufferings be brief.
let the cup of Iraqi-accented Urdu-speaking men from Yemen
pass by me

I am scared,
bung me up.
constipate me when I eat.
insulate me from the long toilet call
on that ten-hour-trip in the skies

Grant me short, dreamless sleep when I doze.
seat the spy on the plane far from me.
& if I mutter in my sleep,
may the words ‘bomb’ and ‘terror’
not be said

Bless me with a pilot that has learnt how to take-off
and land, and may your kingdom come
(not today).

Chuma Nwokolo

5 Replies to “Prayer before Flight”

  1. LS says:

    I love the playfulness of this poem. But serious issues, huh? Did I tell you that I found your pacesetter, The Extortionist, in a store in Abuja? I am so excited to have a copy!

  2. Chuma says:

    Yes LS,
    Looks like the Pacesetters are making a comeback after two decades. Longevity indeed! Next for your Pacesetters collection (agbaya!) should be my Dangerous Inheritance.
    Pleased you liked Prayer before Flight (which could also have been called Potrait of the poet as a Hijabed Woman)! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. HAN says:


    Dramatically funny but painfully true … what are we to do?

    I guess we all have to wake up to the new awakening of our tomorrows … What are we to do???

    I’ve even heard very well travelled folks now reason (and realize) that they’ve been to the rest of the world but not their closest states – which now deserve a visit…

    What are we to do?????

  4. Chuma says:


    The ease factor in air travel is probably going to get worse.

    You probably got the answer there: more local knowledge. It’s a more environmentally friendly, sustainable (and sometimes downright inconvenient) lifestyle…


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