(PIANO-TUNING) by Alexis Teyie

(PIANO-TUNING) by Alexis Teyie



by Alexis Teyie


a staggered release—

out of step, but thankfully,

ever tense, and trembling in concert

(first dead dog: CupCake) —

who is to say you are not

your own mother, nurse?


A sensory key, hammer

is the pin. My hymn: a crumpled

grocery list I discard,



Energy transfer,

kinetic traffic and

think: melodic,

these gilded weapons

of interference, beating,

towards a well-tempered mode.


(First miss-

ing tome: Pushkin.) Again.

Divergent and twin, this

(first limbs out of tune: right

shoulder, left ankle)

lost parent of mine, out of

time (indolent lungs) — you

are permitted a little



first instrument: 

a set of un-

breakable nails; I run them across 

screens, blackboards, dinner plates,

thighs, earth, walls, 


water, that favourite sweater— yes,

log it all as a loss, careless

commerce— there is no accounting for


a name without an owner,

I call it out from inside night’s crease,

this orphaned, liberated name.

I called from within this valley:


It’s so hard to keep our sins

straight, yawning

no no no no, up and



I called to the usual 

ballet of lovers, insisting my way

into this ill-fitting glory. 

Joy, I know, sinks to 

the bottom of any pool.


I follow the will.

Is that a lightness blooming

in me?

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


ALEXIS TEYIE is a Kenyan writer and feminist. She is a co-founder and poetry editor with Enkare Review. Alex co-authored a children’s book, Short Cut (2015). She has also published a poetry chapbook, Clay Plates: Broken Records of Kiswahili Proverbs (2016), through the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books (see on LitHub). Her poetry, short fiction or non-fiction have appeared in collections like Routledge’s Handbook of Queer Studies (2019); 20.35 Africa; Queer Africa II (GALA); ID (SSDA); Water (SSDA); Anathema’s Speculative Fiction. She has also been published by Jalada Africa, Omenana, This is Africa, Writivism, African Feminist Forum, among others. She also works as a data nerd and sings for a secret choir in Nairobi.

THE MEETING by Seun Lari-Williams

THE MEETING by Seun Lari-Williams

two person in long sleeved shirt shakehand

The Meeting

by Seun Lari-Williams

A pandemic meets an old man on the road.

Who is this who is not afraid of me? It asks.

You must be religious, I believe.

Which of the gods do you worship?


I am not religious, the old man replies,

I must go about my business.

You must be immune, then, the pandemic says,

or perhaps you have found a cure?


I really don’t care, the old man groans,

my business is urgent, I must go.

Then surely, you are foolish, the pandemic retorts.

Have you not heard the reports?


I am hunger, the old man began,

I’ve been here since the world began.

Wars and diseases, they come and they go.

None has lived as long as I have.

You burn at both ends; your end is near.

I burn slow like fine firewood.

Keep them indoors and fill them with fright,

but when I knock, they come right out.


Your reputation precedes you, the pandemic responds

and bows before the old man.

They kiss, hug and shake hands like old friends and

smile knowingly at each other.


The old man takes his leave and continues his routine—

knocking on doors and turning knobs.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


SEUN LARI-WILLIAMS was born in Lagos on 28th April 1987. He is a lawyer, poet, and flutist. His first anthology – Garri for Breakfast, was longlisted for the 2017 NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature. His poem, ‘A Little Violence’, won the second prize in the 2019 Guardian Newspaper Poetry Competition. He is married to his best friend, Feyi and they reside in Munich, Germany where he is a DAAD Scholar for a masters’ degree in intellectual property law.

WHAT WE CARRY HOME by Chiwenite Onyekwelu

WHAT WE CARRY HOME by Chiwenite Onyekwelu

grayscale photography of woman

What We Carry Home

by Chiwenite Onyekwelu

I’ve been here for far too long,

I feel my body steeling into the soil,


making roots. Nothing grows beneath

my feet, or close to it, or along


this pathway where I sit to number

my children every day. I’m not afraid,


I swear, I just worry too much about

what we carry home whenever we


collide. My son is 6 and rocket-shaped,

a wild thing. Now and again, I nail


him to the wall, pray his body into

his room. I say, you must learn to sit 


in the house long enough until this flood

sun-dries. Each time a country drowns 


in the News, I memorize half the figures

that try to wash our faces down 


the drains. My daughter thinks we’ve 

overstayed the holiday. She rearranges 


her body on the couch, asks me to map 

out all of the spots where her shadow 


begins to rot. I decline, basin her on my

laps and smuggle her into safety.


There is nothing else to save from the

flood except this poem. Except you.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


CHIWENITE ONYEKWELU’S works have been published or are forthcoming on America Media, Brittle Paper, Kreative Diadem, ZenPens and elsewhere. He was a runner up for the Foley Poetry Contest 2020, a finalist for Stephen A. Dibiase Poetry Contest 2020 and winner of the Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize 2019 for his poem “The Origin of Wings”. He was also shortlisted for the Kreative Diadem Annual Writing Contest 2019 and was the 2nd prize winner of the Newman Writing Contest (NMWC) 2017. Chiwenite studies pharmacy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria.

TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SUMMER by Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle

TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SUMMER by Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle

Sunglasses in beach sand

Tell the Truth about the Summer

by Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle

how you find the soil of your joy

then the ceiling. the sweat.

the unmuted sadness.

the unspooled self.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


TIWALADEOLUWA ADEKUNLE is a writer and a 2nd-year doctoral student at Purdue University. Her creative writing appears or is forthcoming in Breakwater Review, 20.35 Africa, Indiana Review and 2017 Best “New” African Poets anthology, among others. She was selected as a scholarship recipient for the New York State Summer Writers Institute, and was honored to win the Flo Gault student poetry prize. Tiwaladeoluwa is also a founding member and facilitator of Rari, a Pan-African initiative for emerging poets. She was born in southwestern Nigeria.



A man with his eyes closed

Cento for Loneliness

by Wale Ayinla

A sound was wound in my head.

Yes, I know words call things into being–

claw at the bight’s grain.

It is unlikely that we are the only ones in this universe.

I don’t think I’ve ever written the word hope, 

but nothing else fits in here. 

I have been so careless with the words I already have.

Anything can be made into a cage.

We crack the egg, and the weak animal comes out wanting.

Hello, I’m here, I say. Get over it, they say.

God, I say. And it stays that way: no answer.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


WALE AYINLA is a Nigerian poet, essayist, and editor. He is a Best of the Net Award and Best New Poets Award nominee, and his works appear or are forthcoming on Palette Poetry, Connotations Press, Waccamaw, Glass Poetry, Existere and elsewhere. He is @Wale_Ayinla on Twitter. He is the founding editor of Dwarts Magazine.

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