I should know you too well
You occupy my brain like Koran recitations
And cascade from my lips
Like a Responsorial Psalm
Memories resonate in this room
If you listen carefully
You will hear their excitement
Above the din of noisy silence
Feel their vibration in seams
Of long unused bed sheets
Their charm on dusty windowsills
You will hear the walls
With uncensored tongues telling tales
Of exchanges, gossips, petty irritations
Deadly revelations, flat announcements of disaster
The grunts and poetry of love
They eavesdropped on
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.
the cloud unfolds without a star
tonight — not even a firefly in the
air. nothing to link this shadow
to its body. nothing for these eyes
to hunger for & so they search for
remains of light lost in their blind spots.
the truth is, every part of my body
has abandoned its physiology.
the way the body itself discards the
wounds. I know that death will wonder
how I’m still alive, because sorrow has
dragged me uncovered into its shadows.
& I have escaped like air
seeping through a tiny aperture.
Now look at this miracle &
the scraps of grief yet heavy
in my palm. But I put a cube of sugar
on my tongue & it flattens into a star.
Chinedu Gospel is a Nigerian poet. His work has been published in a variety of journals. Find him on Twitter @gospel79070806 and on Instagram @gospelsofpoetry.
Prisoner of Circumstances
Droplets collect in a half full jar
on the wet cold floor.
Little fingers play with the water,
small hands gleefully slapping the floor
as the young mother lost in dream,
sits half naked in a broken plastic chair
fingers running through the toddler’s hair.
A monotonous beat of the drops
plays a dull song in the near empty room,
deep in the belly of a slum.
A young, bearded man snores gently
lying in a stupor, carelessly splayed bones
hanging off the narrow bed naked.
The young woman feels his seed
seeping inside her, as if a reminder
of the slippery hopelessness of life
in these dark corridors of her birth.
This constant suffocation of breath,
as she lights her charcoal burner
to make another meal of ugali
and he slumps in bed after sex;
a fumbling of ill-fitting skirts
as he rides her to his growling end.
She remembers days past,
when hope blossomed in her
— the feel of words stuck in her mind
is her only refuge amongst the refuse
scattered in her path to the community clinic
in a rush to find birth control pills.
Words she wishes would find a voice,
and spill from her silenced lips
to tell the tale of a girl caught in a web
snared in a lie within a trap
— fifteen minutes that lost her a lifetime.
The seed that destroyed a dream.
She could hate her small child,
but all she feels is depth of pity
for a young mind in a prison of circumstances
seeking a path past the tragedy of birth.
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.
Better Version 2019 by Ayesha Feisal
Needle In My Eye
The enemy is ferocious
Its bite is like a needle prick
— for a few minutes,
It leaves a disagreeable itch
And nobody knows why?
Toothless mouth enthralling
Fragile themes of Tsetse theories
“The needle’s skill at metamorphosis can be studied”
Look at snakes appearing from roots
The Tsetse is a horrible insect
Much different from a house fly
And a political prostitute
It changes its shape
And characteristics all the time
Urinating fertile and infertile on a rabbit’s ear
An indiscriminating and discriminating eye for a face
A wizened face of a nourished and malnourished rabbit we see
At intervals that mound stones
On distant graves
Capitalizing on the pain, sickness and misery
The beautiful and ugly patterns of political
Locusts and Worms is implanted
Creating drastic climatological changes
Sharp toothed and dull toothless lions
With rubber faces
Finance a tiny dog to humanize and dehumanize the fluctuating spirits of political prisoners
Feeling threatened the Agile and fragile spirit
Of deprivation and an endless grief
Warming experiences the rabbit used
To follow the rhythms of annihilating nature
Coming away knowing and unknowing as the rabbit died and was born
Independence cracked and culture collapsed
As eyes comically fixed and outwardly waiting
For a needle in my eye
Pearson Lemani is a Malawian poet, short story writer, and critic. He writes about his experiences in life, culture, religion, and politics. He has been writing since he was 17 years old.
Distant voices call us across the earth,
Distant voices loud as cymbals we ignore,
Distant voices whisper from the libraries
Distant voices from times long forgotten.
Voices that try to spotlight
The origin of our error,
Voices begging us to change
To ensure our survival,
Voices that try to teach us
The true star to be followed,
These desperate voices are like
Lighthouses in the horizon,
That try to tell us that our
Sails have grabbed the wrong winds.
Kudzai Mhangwa lives in and writes from his home in Harare, Zimbabwe. His work has been featured in The African Writer, Journal of African Literature, House of Mutapa, Ka'edi Africa, and elsewhere.
Untitled by Jimoh Buraimoh