African Poetry

xiv

I should know you too well

By now

You occupy my brain like Koran recitations

And cascade from my lips

Like a Responsorial Psalm

xxx

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.

Sober

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

Featured

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.

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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

Still imprisoned

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

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.

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Untitled by Jimoh Buraimoh