Another vulture is up in this sky, eating the sun
into oblivion, another man is drinking himself into death,
gulping this wine of absence, his tongue, dug
into a burrow. I look towards this body, wanting this refreshing
touch of a zephyr. A man, a lion, undone into a sacrificial
lamb, slaughters himself into death; a crevice lives in his chest,
& there is no hand to replenish it with sand.
The ghost in the body channels itself into a piano and refuses
the hands a song. I put a sugar cube in my mouth
& it ferments into a sweet song wet with sweet sorrow — one
that drowns into a dream, or into an apparition.
I’ve lived inside a canopy of my own fears, I chisel them
into laughter on scary nights, & I sculpt
a meadow of fresh plants for a face, a smokescreen for the rumble
of my thoughts. I gather the cold in my body
on my lips, hoping to break this shiver down, but men
do not shiver, & in my dimly lit room,
my tendrils don’t stretch, they dry and crumble. My laughter,
a language I manipulate my depressing
moments into — Na man I be, ọkùnrin mà ni mí, nwoke bilie,
Kai kammana meji. Yesterday, Francis drowned
himself. He poured gasoline into his unshared anxiety. Who will
listen to a man with muscles? Men don’t get depressed,
until they flood themselves into the mouth of a river, or offer
themselves to gravity from the top of a cliff.
Abdulkareem Abdulkareem (Frontier III) is a Nigerian writer. His works appear or are forthcoming in POETRY, West Trade Review, Feral Poetry, Afro Literary Magazine, The Shore Poetry, Rulerless Magazine, Claw and Blossom, and elsewhere. He reads poetry for Frontier Poetry and Agbowó Magazine.
today, we pick up fragments of ourselves
— as of a figurine smashed against
a wall. we pry the fear gnawing
our hearts into crumbs. we unhinge
from our memories the terror plaguing
our spirit to its tether end. today,
we quit inhabiting a vase in the wilting hand
of grief — a body bearing an ache
too young to possess a name, not yet ripe to be
scythed. may our wishes become horses
willing to lay down their necks
for ploughs — make furrows
where our little seeds of hope can
thrive. may our longings become miracles —
fireflies on a moonless night.
and when the world begins to slip from
our hold, when life becomes a ball quaking
on the edge of an abyss, bestow on us
courage to tally up our joys, till
darkness crawls into a gash of nothingness.
till our bruises start to scab.
till the scabs begin to glow.
Damilola Omotoyinbo (Frontier XIX) won the 2021 SprinNG poetry contest; she is a fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency. She is Damilola Omotoyinbo on Facebook and Instagram.
Better Version 2019 by Ayesha Feisal
Untitled by Jimoh Buraimoh
See, I come from a place
Where a cow’s life is worth more than a man’s
And whole villages are razed to the ground
For defending their farmlands against
Animal rights activists would be proud
I come from a country where terror and mayhem are staple meals
A nation of attacks and reprisals
Where gullible youths are lured to their deaths
By orators safely tucked away in their fortresses in Europe and America
Where the things that unite us
Are songs that reinforce our strange bedfellowship
And the drumbeats of secession
I come from the land of the unholy matrimony
Between our assailants and our perceived protectors
Where ego, greed and avarice precede duty
And the public servant grows more powerful
Than his employer
I am from the place
Where crime is rewarded and virtue
Is judged, condemned and punished
Where mediocrity is applauded and so many airs
Given to the seat of an idiot
And any attempt at criticism is repressed
With brute State apparatus
Iyke Obinna Igbokwe was educated at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. His work has appeared in the Blueprint Newspaper in Nigeria and in December, 2011 his poem “I Rise” won the KorlueNow Prize for poetry in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Children of the Owl
the night when ashes from
cremated bodies were thrown
into the shallows of sea, was a night
crammed with spurts of crimson
from the doleful sky.
i, on the other side, could see
these ephemeral things
protruding from the closet
in my father’s house;
two hassocks combining to cradle
cadavers were aligned before the
entrance; with two undertakers
slowly, but mournfully swaddling
the innards of things we kissed as children.
& whenever i was taught a thing about
life, i immediately scribbled it in
my book of death; because that was
the only definite thing there was.
how does one remember to not
part with one’s dead in such ignoble
fashion? even the muezzin calling
aloofly claims he heard a voice far
louder than his.
Prosper Ifeanyi is a Nigerian writer. His works are featured/forthcoming in Lumiere Review, Afrocritik, Salamander Ink Magazine, Identity Theory, and elsewhere.
Vallei van Verlatenheid
I have a photograph of a house at sunset
a frontier homestead
with seeping dark koffee
squirming pale milk
my father walked me up
he did not want to look inside
he remembers it alive
it’s a pirate ship now
he told me to bury him there
I dug a grave
and left him.
Nica Cornell is a South African writer and academic, with her Honours in Political and International Studies and Masters in African Studies. Her full portfolio is available at www.nicacornell.com.
In the broken bottles are men
overweighted by marital issues
drowning dreams in streams of
fermented drinks, bodies ashamed
of their roles in an existence captive
to a cycle of recurring mistakes.
In the aisles of gods, broken women
piously pray for miracles to free
them from vicious violent blows
as they kneel on thin carpets of veiled
sin, heads bowed worshipping, while
the echoes of their prayers are drowned
by the politics of the clergy’s greed.
Broken bones heal, but these scars of time
tell the story of young minds trapped in
a circuit of reincarnating ghosts.
Day after day in this erosion they grow older
— the fumes of hate wafting from their own
desperation leads to a stupor of indifference
when they see their dreams dissipated into
the polluted rivers, drained into the lakes of
a political system’s unquenchable gluttony
— and in the classroom, the teacher stands
preaching water to a roomful of thirsty kids,
while he sips from his thermos of liquor,
trying to escape the darkness.
Ndiritu Mwangi is an aspiring poet born in the Kenyan highlands. Poetry has played a major role in helping him cope with different challenges through his life. His aim is to speak out on the issues affecting his society and the African continent in general.
On wishing reality was a healer
Cheers to blue serenity on the night of Qadr,
To the crescent moon like a broken plate,
To Ramadan's bloom, dates and its sour age,
Chai and mud, to December’s fair breeze
Breaking through the watered skin, to the old chair,
Brown faded furniture, the sand grains like body,
To purple hibiscus, the folding mountain,
The bloated, the youngest full moon,
To buried virtues, the forsaken magnolia,
The outcast by the mouth of the shore,
Cheers to these, sorry we believed all would heal,
A big cheer to the newborn escaping from
The heavens like honey.
Abdulrazaq Salihu is a 17-year-old Nigerian award-winning poet and novelist. His works are published or forthcoming in Mask, Kalahari, Kolkatar, Artslounge, Synchronized Chaos, Angel Rust, Pine Cone Review, Jupiter Review, Inkiddos, Rouge Agent, and many more.
Archive of African Poetry by issue:
Archive of International & African Poetry by issue:
Archive of International Poetry by issue:
International Poetry India: