African Poetry with editor Vera Ignatowitsch
Sahara’s silent tears
Your mother speaks: in different tongues as a desert recycles
heat stockpiled from years before, before your grandmother.
She too, was once a girl, plaits, cornrows and all,
waiting for an imaginary barque to take her
where all dreams take wandering minds
and come alive, again in dead silence.
Your mother calls, in your nightmares,
her voice dried up, from too much supplication
to gods, begging for deserts to bring forth,
just as coconuts drip succulence and water
but this shell will not crack, even when dawn finally cracks,
some dried-up stuff is just beyond the gods.
Lind Grant-Oyeye is an award winning writer, the recipient of the universal human rights poetry award. She has worked on and published in various literary magazines, anthologies and curated poetry work. The lyrics of her poems have also been set to music.
Untitled by Jimoh Buraimoh
Mystery of the Five Houses
At the house of light bulb, there is fog.
The man with the child in his eyes has a cat which sits daily on his lap,
gazing constantly at the big sky, searching curiously for Peter Pan.
In the warm room, the Lord of the Reedy River sleeps.
Under the ivy, the handsome cabin boy sips his cappuccetto grosso.
At the house of silence, they pose riddles that only the dead can answer.
The grave robbers do the dance of the dogs before unearthing secrets.
The wolf and the raven play the peacemakers in a debate over greed.
No evidence against the black sheep, the alibi pans out,
and again the tomb becomes a womb from which the fetus of truth is aborted.
The dead pity the living, as slaves beg for the cadavers of other slaves.
At the house of leaves, the roads fall out of the windows.
The decomposing trees make for bridges, bridges over the gulf of ignorance.
The children of rain join the roots to their school, underground.
Their chlorophylls have been extracted,
they cannot carry out the photosynthesis of their existence.
At the house of jealous lovers, the keeper of storms opens the floodgate,
and the rooms overflow with the rage of angels.
The weather is an equation; the weatherman altered the arithmetic,
and the victims of mathematics are stranded.
There is no sailing away on the ship within the bottle.
At the house of memory, there is a shrine of madness.
Pieces of glass litter the floor; there is a song on the lips of the broken china.
The clock has lost its limbs; no one remembers dance steps to songs of seasons;
the world is ill, she suffers from future syndrome.
Dead children smile from wind-kissed pictures.
There is a woman left brooding upon the ledge, it’s the gravedigger’s wife;
her lover is coming home tonight, he is coming to attend his funeral.
First published in Pedestal Magazine.
Soonest Nathaniel is a poet and spoken word artist. He is the author of Teaching My Father How To Impregnate Women. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Rattle, Praxis, Raven Chronicles, Saraba Magazine, Loudthotz, Reverbnation, Sentinel Nigeria Magazine, and many more.
The Echoes of history shout of triumph and the harmonies of song and laughter
The slow moan of suffering but contrary
To the familiar image
The false poetics of Mtimwazire.
The rush is on
Burdened as it is with a bewitching smile South East is the crucible
The focus of an ancient african frustration and a passionately held idea
From that rich, complex and cruelty introverted psa ndebvu of South East
Moisture turned into drought to the cramped and crummy chenjeza champhongo drum
With its stylish ceaseless twist, its great self-mocking unthama
Over the rainbow while the sky is still salivating
With red protruding wings in many a mused rhyme
Kwaya wa usiku is still uncircumcised. To take into the air my quiet breath
Floating into dead desire. Chimkukuluzi glitters with greed.
First published in Artistic Athena.
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.
Better Version 2019
by Ayesha Feisal
all she wanted was to be right
her stories buried under an edgy chest,
they rioted, rumbled, seeking to reach a crest
inside her silences, her moments of aloneness
an interplay between her calms and their rowdiness
though untold, they told and retold their sorry stories
of moments in time loved, lost in an ocean of memories
she feared telling her best friend or her aunt that each time
he passed by or she caught sight of his photo, it was a crime
she couldn’t find ample pluck to articulate, act on and bare
her unheard words housed in hurt and too shocking to share
that on boundless nights she turned and twisted on her bed
the scars of loneness and longing brutal, heavy, hot and red
she turned to her pillow for comfort, but it was tough and tight
she wasted ages navigating a past that failed to make her right.
Ndaba Sibanda’s poems have been widely anthologised. He is the author of The Gushungo Way, Sleeping Rivers, Love O’clock, The Dead Must Be Sobbing, Football of Fools, Cutting-edge Cache: Unsympathetic Untruth, Of the Saliva and the Tongue, and Poetry Pharmacy.
He hunkered beside the statue look-alike.
He had made it himself.
His friend’s gun to bear his body, his cap to bear his head, and his shoes, his legs.
Holding on to the chain
He had been given on his birthday.
That was two weeks ago.
His luck charm, he had called it.
He let the tears flow
To mock his flaws
He had failed his friend.
A promise he made the day he asked his friend to join the force,
‘Let’s defend our father land,’ he had said to him.
He was more than a friend,
He was a brother.
Memories clouded his vision,
His conscience with its dagger of accusation.
Maybe he could have saved him.
He had seen the foe aim but wasn’t fast enough to fire at him first.
He was far away.
His best friend had died in his arms.
His friend’s pregnant wife, his own his kid sister, awaited their return.
What will he tell Mma?
He had promised her that he would protect her husband.
He had sworn to bring him back in one piece.
He had pulled his sister’s husband to war.
He could imagine his sister’s unforgiving stare.
Her accusing long fingers pointed at him.
Her sorrow and pain at being a young widow,
Of having to raise their son alone.
The loneliness and anguish.
‘Why do you have to die, Ikenga?’
The war has ended
We have won,
Get up and let’s go home.
Mma is waiting for you,
Our country is ready to celebrate our victory.
‘Why did you have to join the vanquished?’
‘Why have you become a fallen hero?’
Sarah Amuche Akpu is a Nigerian poet and writer who has published over fifty poems and prose of which some have won her awards. Her writing is diverse, and she has been writing since she was eight.
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