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poetry column

Self-Portrait as a Poem Forgotten in my Father’s Breast Pocket

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By Okoronkwo Chisom

My grandfather told my father
that he could be anything he wanted,
so he chiseled his body to look like rain.

He fell in droplets into a tank of an abstract
noun — a name that lacks ownership.
In a dream I learned the chemistry of forgetting,

I tried to hold the nape of my father’s name
& it ferried away on the back of a strong wind.

I chased after it, but mother called me back,
saying I’m a detritus of his doused soul.
I recall how she once set the house ablaze
with the flames of her wailing, how they burned me.

In this poem, I forget my body in my father’s breast pocket.
I pool my childhood aspirations in these lines.
How I’d be his joy on starry nights, his lightning
bug on moonless nights.

But now, he lives only as a lump in my memory.
A lump made heavier by the weight of this country’s ruins.
& though here, we teach our eyes to reinvent ruin
into a garden of tender light, men with contracted
consciences summon vultures with the mouths of rifles.

I mean, I’ve lived in a neighbourhood where kids know
the faces of the wars that ravaged their stomachs.
They, too, have kissed the skin of the poverty that sits
in their homes & watched it abscond with their comfort.

They have seen their parents hold grief like lilacs
till it sashayed its body into their lives, & like me,
they have begun to question if the gods of this place
have gone into hibernation, leaving the sky livid

like the torn image of my father.

BIO:
Okoronkwo Chisom is a first-class graduate of English Language and Literature. She is the winner of the Delyork Creative Academy writing contest 2021 and a longlist of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize 2021. She has been shortlisted in the Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize 2022, Splendours of Dawn Poetry Contest, August-October edition 2022, YouthhubAfrica FGM contest, September edition 2022 and African Feminist writing contest 2022. Her works have been published in New Man Gospel Magazine, Shuzia, BPPC Anthology, and elsewhere. She’s on Instagram @okoronkwochisompage

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poetry column

The Knowledge

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By Kei Vough Korede

In a dream, two bars of soap
Were handed to me—
One containing melancholy.
The other, mirth.
A voice instructed me to give
The former to my father and keep
The latter for myself.
I broke each bar into half
And handed a half of each soap to my father:
His pain is my pain. My joy is his joy.

BIO:
Kei Vough Korede, he/they, poet, fashion and mustache enthusiast. He works on his manuscript Oral History. Flirt with him on Twitter @theDilatedSoul

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poetry column

I die like waves

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By Daniel Orisaeke

On the shoreline, I watch
the sun—a halved-cut lemon
dip into the sea,
language written
in the dance of waves
there is a pull and I succumb.
The man beside me murmurs a few words
about dying.
Iniquities,
like beads, jut out from my pores
before hands
drown me into a sea of lemonade.
I die like the waves.
A bitter-sweet enveloping—opaque & quiet
there is a pain before I see black.
I wonder if my tears segregate,
seeking absolution.
I resurrect a new creature—made whole
but the sourness lingers.

BIO:
Daniel Orisaeke (he/him) is a poet and a dental student in the University of Nigeria, Enugu. Twitter handle: @dannie_bry

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poetry column

Hoping for the greens we left behind

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By Alobu Emmanuel

—after Saheed Sunday

The day I realised the earth’s misery
was when my keyboard’s auto-correct
called me a poor earth instead of a poet.
the earth is beautiful; so beautiful that mother nature
should slice our hands for daring to touch her this way.
now i sit by the sea & pray the waves to take me—
take me to those days when we, little lads, would
bend our pointer fingers together, calling on cattle egrets—
the white leke leke. begging for fine fingers.
let us grin at the greens in the neighbour’s yard once more,
preying on the praying mantis & spreading our wings
with grasshoppers. we did not always know what the
malaria capsule or the pharmacy looks like—
we have lemon grass & guava leaves
to heal our ills,
fresh fruits & roots to quell the hunger
& make us last longer.
i hope the fireflies & crickets come around again
in their numbers; buttocks lulling the night
into sparkles of green & peace.
our hands are soiled with oil. may the leke leke fly by
to give us new ones.

 

BIO:
Alobu Emmanuel is a student of Philosophy at the University of Lagos, Nigeria who strongly believes nature holds a great deal of magic. Some of his poems are featured in “Blue Marble Review”, “Eboquills”, “Celestite Poetry”, “Agape Review” and “HotPot Magazine”. His poems often feel like a hug.

Leke leke: cattle egrets (believed by Nigerian kids to cause white spots on finger nails).
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