there’s a butterfly on
nkiru’s new pants
there’s one on mine too
hers has the color
of mashed rainbows
as if a rainbow was
a huge insect
and someone squashed it
on her pants
Nnebuife Kwubéi is a writer and photographer based in Lagos, Nigeria. He uses his photographs and short stories, which heavily employ the use of chiaroscuro and reminiscences, to communicate nostalgia, language, history, translations, placement, and the human condition.
What the poem did not say
the poem did not say I am a
lifebuoy swaying to the tune of
the wind on the belly of the sea,
waiting to ferry everyone else but myself to safety.
the poem did not say my body is
a house on fire but no river to eat
the flames. there is a tree in my mouth.
once, in spring, I saw a crow stoop in search of fruit
it pecked all the way to my crown
but found nothing & cawed & cawed — a distress song — before it flew away.
this poem forgot to mention that
I am a flower standing in the broken
fields of time burying those petals of grief in
the sun’s smile. mama’s body is a country of bruises & shadows
& papa and I are cities speaking
a different language. silence.
another country far from home
I go there often to
watch with tears-streaked eyes mama floating
in a cloud of songs — the fetcher she uses
to pull papa from the valley of dead memories.
Ewa Gerald Onyebuchi is an Igbo writer of short stories and poems. An alumnus of Professor Chigozie Obioma's creative writing masterclass, he has been published in Afritondo, african writer, brittlepaper, arts lounge magazine, and elsewhere.
Let me. I’ll scrape some too
if I could birth an honorable man for you
but right now, all I have are these hands.
Atieno Sharon Sonia is a resident of Kenya with an immense love for toasted bread and short scribbles.
Better Version 2019 by Ayesha Feisal
I know how to spin my hand & sketch a portrait of myself on white water.
I have learned natation from my father who was taught by his deft father when life was clueless about many things:
it didn't know God was going to fix me in the form of a boneless soul,
it didn't know I was going to sleep on water & won’t submerge to the bottom of a river. / a paper boat that survives a hurricane in the middle of a choleric sea.
does a dark replica not survive a tempest by frolicking in front of the muzzle of a gun without fear fighting in its stomach?
they say when a bird flies arrogantly in the sky, / God could disgrace its ego by sending out electric wires from a tall power line.
& a ceiling doesn’t betray a cat, except the carpenter is a villain.
I bet this shadow won't know the road to transiency / & become fugitive like bones altered into dust splintered on the asphalt of Lagos.
& I won’t ever wear the face of a bird, so I won’t be the prey of electric wires. / for I lack flesh in my night skin.
Olalekan Hussein is Nigerian writer. His works have appeared in Pawners Paper, Nnoko Stories, Brittle Paper, African Writer Mag, Nantygreens, Kreative Diadem, Kalahari Review, Neuro Logical, Arts Lounge, and others. He’s a student at the Darul Falah Instiute in Lagos.
it’s been two weeks since i have written
a poem & i mostly thought this writer’s block
would hinder grief from finding a door ajar or a porous
border into a new verse i would spill.
but grief is often the air seeping into
every pore of my skin & i don’t want
to be an occultist bat haunting the nights
of a loyal reader. peace is a contract
this city breached, & i am a town inhabited
by miseries, a cricket dying within
the calloused palms of ennui, a sparkling light
fading from the retina of a star — flawed.
i’d be a happy ghost if i died as a local song in the
mouth of a foreigner, but i saw a video
of my brothers hauling each other into coffins
last week — a ripening chaos. i have watched
men on TV going home when the sun dies,
to throw a family party at the dining table;
my mother gathers us in the parlour to mourn
another branch of our tree severed by a gunshot.
& i still eat my silence cold with rosewater tasting like blood.
Eniola Abdulroqeeb Arówólò (he/him/his) is a Nigerian emerging writer and an undergrad in Mass Communication. He is passionate about inequality, politics, domestic violence, and child rights. His works have appeared in Brittle Paper, Rigorous Magazine, and many other journals.
Untitled by Jimoh Buraimoh
death, how many more good souls will you take?
every equation is an imbalanced riddle at the middle of a game.
i slice my throat every night to know how many
beads of blood drop, how dark, how potent its magic is, each time a poet dies.
a girl will tap me at the back. her pronunciation of suicide
is a bullet shot at a boy in the cold — faint and innocent.
i am assuming a bat and a raven — one as a garden with roses, the other
a collection of thorns in a gallery of bones.
death will come, but sometimes without pity,
without an array of light.
this burn does its best to torture my feet, to paint my face with
the fist of its palm. death, do you
even imagine how many tears you've drained? are you thirsty?
are the worms in your stomach not tired of being overfed?
Maami will invoke the names of her mothers, and there will be a consensus on your government.
today, or tomorrow, you will also be seeing your own death
in the spirits of the souls you’ve sieved.