THE RIVER’S ORDEALS by Fadairo Tesleem

THE RIVER’S ORDEALS by Fadairo Tesleem

sorrowful black woman crying in light room

THE RIVER’S ORDEALS

by Fadairo Tesleem

For the first time, father told me of

the grief that discolored our walls. How

a river of aggressive velocity swallowed

his beloved. But, tell me, how do I approach

a river & fight it for eating up my mother’s feet

when it isn’t the same water that was there yesterday?

 

Since then, I’d visit river Asa,

sit at its temperamental area &

place my ears across the

river & against its bank, awaiting

mother to speak to me in any form; as a

stormy wave, as a fish, or a mermaid.

I want to kneel beside my

mother’s grave, rearrange the pebbles on it,

like every motherless boy would do.

But, this is me, visiting & revisiting

river Asa every night, beseeching each

wave to vomit my mother’s remnant.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fadairo Tesleem is a young Nigerian poet from Ilorin, Kwara state. He is a teacher, a poetry coach and a literary critic. Tesleem is a final year student of “Kamal school of Arabic & Islamic studies” Ilorin, Kwara state. He is a member of Hill-Tip creative art foundation, Kwara state branch, and the “Association Of Nigerian Authors” ANA, Osun state branch.

His poems are published or forthcoming in Fiery scribe review, Pangolin Review, Queer Toronto literary magazine, Arts lounge, Best of Africa, Blue Minaret, Down in the dirt, Ninshãr arts, Blue pepper, Upwrite magazine, Inverse journal, Eremite poetry & a host of other publications. 

He tweets @Olakunle.

HOW TO MOUTH BROKEN PSALMS IN AN EARTHQUAKE by Wisdom Adediji

HOW TO MOUTH BROKEN PSALMS IN AN EARTHQUAKE by Wisdom Adediji

people looking at wrecked buildings

HOW TO MOUTH BROKEN PSALMS IN AN EARTHQUAKE

by Wisdom Adediji

1

It’s okay to let go. to spread your palms over the clitoris of your shadow

& mouth your fears like the incarnation of a broken spirit.

 

2

You danced your lips to your heartbeat hitting your ribcage,

as the sand collects imprints from your vigorous foot.

you’re scared.   scared of why the earth have to open its mouth while sleeping,

scared of the tremors escaping its snore,

through the epicentre. the sock waves. fires bashing out of its yawn.  

The earth seems like a bouncing castle pricked at its brim.

Before you’re eyes, everything becomes Sodom

everywhere becomes Gomorrah,

you stand still. shocked. like a bag of dry bones,

as water balls skate down your cheeks,

you weep, weep, weep….

but it’s nothing.    Jesus also wept….

 

3

You remember your teacher. geography teacher.

what he told you about earthquakes,

he said one day, the earth will yawn

& gulp bodies, & crave souls, & spit fire as sputum,

& he too will become a labyrinth,

& many others will be like unexcavated artifacts,

forgotten inside the earth’s belly

 

4

& you too will tend to survive,

you’ll stop running around. fearing.

You’ll flee away from walls. from poles. from trees. from holes. bridges. tunnels.

& hold your ground. Cat yourself under the wooden cabinet,

or the strong ancient table in your room.

now, all you have to do is breathe. press the red button on your phone,

& chew psalm 23. once again, breathe    breathe    breathe    &    breathe…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wisdom Adediji is a genre-bending writer from the city of Ibadan, Nigeria. His works have appeared or forthcoming on Oneblackboylikethatreview, Arcuute, World voices magazine, Arts lounge and elsewhere. He is currently studying geography at the University of Ibadan and writes from there. Meet him on Instagram @wisdomadediji7.

THE CLEANSING by Taiwo Odesanya

THE CLEANSING by Taiwo Odesanya

man touching back of the head with hands

THE CLEANSING

by Taiwo Odesanya

Say, frustration is the seed mothering these 

Bullets the earth is puffing,

Say, it is the gun flooding this heat, 

These droughts, these storms, 

These insects, these wildfires, 

These diseases,

Say, humans have pushed the earth to the wall, 

Forcing her to taste her blood,

Say, humans have harvested earth’s tears like fruits,

And punctured it with inhuman activities,

Say, the earth warned and warned, 

But humans’ 

Inhumanity clothed their ears like a river over a land,

Now that frustration is pushing these bullets from earth’s hands, 

Many of them are trying to recede into shadows?  

Now that the earth is

Hatching climate change and her consequences as eggs, 

Some are hiding behind shields? 

Some are passing the burdens to others? 

Tell me this cross will rollover,

Tell me, 

Tell me the earth will cleanse this frustration and grow grace. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Taiwo Oluseye Odesanya is a Nigerian Poet, Non-fiction writer, Blogger, and History enthusiast. He is a Computer Information Systems graduate from Middlesex University London with a deep passion for writing. Taiwo calls writing his first love and hopes to write something “groundbreaking” about remarkable events from the past because of his undying love for history.

FOR THE FIRST LOSS OF INNOCENCE by Adedamola Olabimpe

FOR THE FIRST LOSS OF INNOCENCE by Adedamola Olabimpe

Two young black lovers hugging

FOR THE FIRST LOSS OF INNOCENCE

by Adedamola Olabimpe

your first kiss was a crime scene.

stolen from you in the darkness of your

mother’s kitchen.

it slid down your throat & started

 

the spark that turned you into the wildfire of a human.

your first kiss stolen from you

in the darkness of your mother’s kitchen.

a loss.

a funeral with only your 14-year-old self

& a mute god in attendance.

you wore nothing.

 

your first kiss slid down your throat,

hot & ready to consume.

insides turning to ash. unfamiliar desires

travelling through your senses & finding home

in the space between your thighs.

 

your first kiss was not your first kiss

but your second.

this kiss was a sin & this man forgot what a

child was.

fanning out flames with his head buried

in between your chest.

you remember his smell & how it corrupted

everything.

tainted nights. coloured thoughts.

look at you, child. the antithesis of purity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Olabimpe is a lover of white bread who almost always has their earphones in. They have works published in Ngiga Review, Sub-Saharan Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, Visual Verse and others. You can find them on Instagram @borednigeriangirl and on Twitter @lilbrowneyedfae. 

Winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Here is the highly anticipated list of the winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest. Now in its fifth year, the prize seeks to recognize the best literary works by Nigerian writers aged 21 years and below.

Our guest judges: Ernest Ogunyemi, selected three winners for the poetry category and Jerry Chiemeke picked the top three flash fiction entries.

Here are the winners with comments from the judges:

Poetry Category

Winner: “It is Hope That Keeps the Flame of Dreams Dancing” by Abdulmueed Balogun

There’s a decay in our consciousness—the individual and the national consciousness—a deep and flourishing decay, and there’s a rot in our conscience: this poem reaches and speaks to that decay, it addresses and peels itself away from that rot. Yahoo (also Yahoo Yahoo) is presently at the heart of Nigeria’s popular culture; consequently, the morally upright young person is frustrated at every turn by his peers. Abdulmueed writes:

[Dear God] Gaze upon me—a poet, 

a pilgrim and dust, with your merciful eyes, I do not want to brew my bliss like birds my

 

age who have murdered their conscience with knives of greed, from the core of what you 

ordained profane, I do not crave to oil my harmattan-bitten lips like my peers with my neighbors’

 

oil, while they go to bed with growling stomachs, with bleeding hearts.

This poetry is not marked by a sense of self-morality, however, but is rooted in a God-consciousness, a knowledge of His commandments for the living and how He has put parents in place as landmarks. And though deeply reminiscent of Khalil Gibran’s poetry (The Prophet), the long lines and the cadence of Abdulmueed’s voice kin the man’s, it is the young prophet Jeremiah, speaking of a nation rotten at the very heart, that I hear in a corner of my head when I read this  poem: “I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.”

This poem sings of hope, and it is itself a thing with feathers. It filled me up with joy; I am glad to have encountered it.

First Runner-up: “Elocutio” by Olaitan Junaid

This poem, about grief and friendship, with faith woven into its fabric, sustains its power despite its length, and no word feels out of place. Its careful lineation and a masterful use of // allow for a containment of the overwhelming emotions that want to burst the poem’s seams. This is why it is remarkable; it holds heart-tearing grief so tenderly.

It’s also wonderful how it moves beyond the self and engages other bodies, even a ghost body and the body of the earth: “but o, i keep screaming/ & screaming // subhanallah // when a termite bites // & now /// my tongue // is lost // to grief’s brutal dialect.” In this way, this poem reminds me of J. P. Clark’s succinct ‘Streamside Exchange.’

After reading this poem, it felt like I had taken a walk with the poet in a park, on a warm afternoon, and we’d held hands and he’d touched my face and opened to me a throbbing, bleeding room in his chest. That’s how intimate this poem feels.

Second Runner-up: “Euphemism” by Samuel A. Adeyemi

Samuel A. Adeyemi is one of the few young Nigerian poets whose sense of observation is acute, and who has a language to deliver what he sees in plain yet highly lyrical lines. 

Here is a surreal poem, bone quietly sharp. There’s a death-sharp tissue; by calling a wound a flower an ache could be tapered. Though dark and brutal, in language Adeyemi makes possible a softening of violence, which is just what an euphemism is. The poet thus employs a literary device as the internal driving force of the poem: ‘Euphemism’ itself is a long euphemistic song.

The poet’s deliberateness makes for a gentle and shocking—at the turn of the lines, which are broken with care—read. I am deeply humbled and honoured to be writing at the same time as this poet, and to be able to share this poem!

Honourable mentions:

“Overuse” by Chijindu Terrence James-Ibe

“Sunrise” by Chinedu Gospel

Flash Fiction Category

Winner: “A Matching Pair” by Agbai Emmaterry Chinonso

I like the earnestness with which it was delivered, as well as the buildup, use of active language, and the narrative voice. It’s a nicely-written story on paternity fraud, infidelity, trust and broken bonds. The final three paragraphs pack the punch.

First Runner-up: “And This is How They Become Beautiful” by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

I see potential, and I see what the writer was trying to do by trying to render the narrative from the perspective of the child. It’s poignant, it sheds light on a germane topic, and I like that the end is a little bit open-ended: does the child die??

Second Runner-up: “One Dark Night” by Oloruntobi Ayomikun

“One Dark Night” could have been better written, but it’s not particularly disastrous prose. There is a decent use of dialogue, and the writer manages to build a little tension via the antics of the corrupt, trigger-happy policemen on duty. The prose paints a graphic picture of what it’s like to navigate Nigerian roads, and while there are not many fireworks, Ayomiku manages to tell a coherent story.

Honourable mentions:

“Her Baby” by Ndukwe Uchenna Raphael

Congratulations to the winners!

We are grateful to our guest judges — Ernest Ogunyemi and Jerry Chiemeke– and everyone who sent in their work. Thanks to all our sponsors for their generous donations.

Interviews with the contest winners will be published at a later date.

The maiden edition which held in 2017 was judged by Sueddie Vershima Agema (Flash Fiction) and Okwudili Nebeolisa (Poetry).

 

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