WHAT IS YOUR BODY by Onyekwelu Chiwenite

WHAT IS YOUR BODY by Onyekwelu Chiwenite

WHAT IS YOUR BODY

by Onyekwelu Chiwenite Kingsley

 

Shortlist (Top Six) of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

And he throws my body open, the way you
move into a river
when someone is drowning. And my body
is a dark room filled
with rotten birds that spit blood through their
wings.

He says I want to love you.
He says why won’t you let me love you?

But there is something rising into my tongue,
it tastes like fire,
it tastes like knife blades slitting my skin into
halves. And in my
body it’s drizzling I can’t find my voice.

He says you have to understand.
He says you have to let me in.

And my body bursts apart the way a river
flows out of your
mouth, the way a song drowns inside your
throat. It’s bleeding
and soft and filled with pain.

He says what is wrong with you?
He says lie down let me love you.

When your body is a pathway, you build walls
inside it to obstruct
the steps of sleepwalking men. But what is
your body when it is a country?

What is your body when he spreads you out
like a map to
claim a whole nation for himself?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Onyekwelu Chiwenite Kingsley is a Nigerian essayist, poet and storyteller. He studies pharmacy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He holds a certificate in essay writing from Lifesaver Essays, Oakland, California. He was the 2nd prize winner of the Newman Writing Contest, 2017. In 2019, he made the top-100 poem list for Nigerian Students’ Poetry Prize, and was shortlisted for the Kreative Diadem Annual Writing Contest. Chiwenite was recently shortlisted for Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize 2020.

REMEMBER US by Chibueze Obunadike

REMEMBER US by Chibueze Obunadike

REMEMBER US

by Chibueze Obunadike

Shortlist (Top Six) of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

“Someone, I tell you, in another time will remember us” — Sappho

 

a drunk man walks into a room and hits his lover till she begins to look

like all the love that has left him.

somewhere in the rotten underbelly of this city, a man is forcing himself

into the body of an under aged girl and claiming that

she looks like his wife’s ghost.

 

my father takes his wrist and cuts it open with his teeth

until all the memories escape and the floor is again red with him.

we begin again, and it’s the same old story. 

the villain. the world falling apart. the hero only trying to do 

good and ending up as the very thing he wanted to destroy. 

the villain and the hero and how they are 

us. all of us.

 

i am tired of writing the scenes where we save the day.

where we make it back alive again. 

where we come back and act like the blood on our hands

isn’t even our own.

humanity is blood and only blood. i told you this the first day we met.

i also told you i loved you.

 

and how that too, is bloodshed. only of the heart.

i took you to my mother’s garden in the backyard and showed you the roses.

how they bleed red and bloom through it. i still remember how the light flickered 

in your eyes as you said how much you loved them.

how in that moment i wanted to be nothing but a rose, not minding the blood,

my heart in your hands.

 

this is how the story goes:

we meet years later, in a bookstore, or a coffee shop, or on a street out in the 

middle of nowhere, i don’t know, 

and i tell you i love you. i tell you i never stopped.

your eyes are still and bloodless. you nod yes but you don’t say a thing.

somewhere, a boy is holding his father’s gun to his head and trying to outrun 

his ghosts. he comes close, but doesn’t die. doesn’t die at all.

 have you learnt nothing yet? the story is coming to a close

we were just kids. we didn’t mean to fall in love.

we certainly didn’t mean for all this blood.

 

i take your hands in mine and tell you i love you. you nod yes but you don’t say a thing.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chibueze Obunadike is a young Nigerian writer and poet who is still learning all the ways life has to break him. His work focuses on the search for self and the fragile nature of human identity amongst other things. He has often been described as a love poet even though he does not know what that means. His poems are published in the Best New African Poets 2018 Anthology and won the 2018 UBA Africa Day Poetry Contest. He was also the joint first recipient of The Singing Bullet scholarship award 2019. He resides in Enugu, Nigeria, and you can find him wandering the lamplit streets at night, laughing.

HOW LAST TUESDAY BECAME BLACK TUESDAY by Praise Osawaru

HOW LAST TUESDAY BECAME BLACK TUESDAY by Praise Osawaru

HOW LAST TUESDAY BECAME BLACK TUESDAY

by Praise Osawaru

Shortlist (Top Six) of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

last Tuesday began with showers of sunlight/the kind that melts your spoonful of ice cream/before it arrives at the doorstep of your mouth/the weather report read: sunny with a chance of stark happiness/& so i blindly believed/the thirty minutes ride to school felt like two decades/spent watching the trees’ leaves flutter in the wind/the birds chase after themselves in the sky/& Asa’s There’s Fire On The Mountain swim in the atmosphere/a grey cloud—blend of white & black—hovered above the school premises/but i recalled: sunny with a chance of…../so i walked in, clutching my bag tightly/seconds turned into hours & classes flowed/steadily & almost undying like a waterfall/by the time the school bell rung, it sent a shockwave of happiness/that slithered throughout the school/& doors fell like dominoes, one by one/(the governor’s wife was to pass in front of our school that day)/about a minute after the stroked string of the day’s end/sirens stamped its feet onto the atmosphere as black tinted-window cars/arranged in front of the dispersing students/a gang of students surfaced from the corner of my eye/their hands smooching placards in the air which read/give us light! give us water!/and then men in black uniforms stormed down from a vehicle/with their hands caressing the butts of their AK-47’s/back away! one yelled at them dancing his gun across their faces/silence played as slow as possible & its tune flowed throughout the school/everyone’s gaze was held hostage by the placarded students/who stood their ground/give us…./attack!/poh poh poh…/I heard a violent ringing in my head/the crowd scattered like sand or ashes/whichever slow-motions/as the uniformed men/played a different tune with their guns, shattering everyone/the next day, the news read/governor’s wife escapes attack from varsity hostel students/i reclined on the bed, with the hollow in my stomach teasing me/attack!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Praise Osawaru, also known as Wordsmithpraise, is a Nigerian writer, poet, content developer & entrepreneur-in-training. His writings are influenced by his consciousness of mental health, his personal experiences & the desire to heal through words. His works have appeared in Black Youth, Nantygreens, SprinNG & Writers Space Africa. Praise was a finalist in the Clash Of Pen Poetry Contest 2019. He was also longlisted for African Writers Award 2019 & shortlisted for The Zi Prize 2019. His poem, ‘How Last Tuesday Became Black Tuesday’ won Honorable Mention in Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest 2019. He is liberal, & enjoys reading books, listening to good music & binge-watching series on Netflix when he isn’t over-worrying about University life. Say hello on Instagram/Twitter: @wordsmithpraise

FALLING WATERS by Lade Falobi

FALLING WATERS by Lade Falobi

FALLING WATERS

by Lade Falobi

Falling Waters – Second Runner-up of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

My mother says when it rains and one needs to pee/one does not need to find a toilet.
I cry in the rain so she doesn’t see.
The rain pouring from my eyes is heavier than the one pouring from the sky.
I hardly ever feel the one from the sky
 
Think of water racing so fast through a hose that it bursts it open all over.
Think of the heavy slaps of water in a waterfall as it hits the floor.
Sometimes my tears are the storm.
I like storms.
 
Now think of water traveling down the window of a moving car, a child enthralled by the movement and tracing dreams in the mist behind the window.
Think of a tap that does not quite shut completely, tiny drops of water falling from its mouth.
Sometimes my tears are the quiet drizzle.
I do not like drizzles.

 

Imagine pointing the barrel of a gun at your head.

Imagine your shaky hands, too scared to die but too scared to live.

Imagine deciding to pull the trigger because it is easier to die than it is to live.

Imagine the dead silence after.

Not the quiet silence of death. The quiet silence of failing even in this.

An empty gun never fires

and you have been shooting blanks.

 

Today                    we live

GRIEF WILL REMAKE YOU by Ernest Ogunyemi

GRIEF WILL REMAKE YOU by Ernest Ogunyemi

GRIEF WILL REMAKE YOU

by Ernest Ogunyemi

Grief Will Remake You – First Runner-up of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

“Grief will probably/ redraft your whole/ anatomy”
—Caroline Ebeid

I have just begun my walk out of dawn
& I have begun picking dead leaves.

I have never played so close to fire, but
hear, I know the language of been burnt.

my mother taught me, the taste of a live-coal
on a boy’s tongue, when she walked out of her body,

left it a snail shell. today, I forget the language of joy,
I forget how happiness grows into a sugary bird

filling every puff of cheek, nestling under the pave
of the tongue, hiding in the spaces between the teeth

where god decided to let air in in seeps. it is the doing
of grief. how it will gift you a new tongue, or scrape clean
 
the one you knew; bland every bud that knows
sweetness; fill your mouth with a new song,
 
the way a Mother python fills a room-corner.
tell me, what is grief itself if not the remaking of a life?
 
how motherless boys are pushed into a life we never chose
burning wood & Maami’s cooking & the smell of grief’s spittle
from its latest fresh at your skin fills my nose like air.
rainwater & saltwater & the buttery taste of mucus on my tongue.
the rusty bunk bed, your fragile self pressed into its bosom.
here: the sword-edge sharp coldness of your eyes,
the wilt flowers in your hair, the after-rain quiet of your body.

 

something in my head whispers, this might be a joke.
death does not take people when their bodies begin
to green, when they’re in their most beautiful dresses—
does it?
 
when does it not?
 
I feel the pinky of grief on the nape of my neck, its touch
cold & warm like the welcoming of a new born & the burying
of its mother. the ants on my inside roam about, they pinch,
they want. a dead bird falls from my chest & ends at the floor
of my belly. the ants gather in its belly where some bees have honeyed.
a few minutes later, the ants roam again—just as I now
roam, my legs walking me to places somebody forgot to draw
on the map. the ants on my inside now bite; they bite
everything that has a name till everything that has a name forgets
its name—what is grief if not the unbottling of hunger?—
 
I forget my name, too. & I forget from
where I began walking into this new life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ernest O. Ògúnyemí (b. 2000) is a writer from Nigeria. Some of his works have appeared/forthcoming in Acumen Poetry Journal, Ricochet Review, Litro Print Journal, Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology, Lucent Dreaming, Low Light Magazine, Canvas Lit Journal, Agbowó, The Nigerian Poetry Anthology (Animal Heart Press), Polyphony Lit Mag, and elsewhere. A 2019 Adroit Summer Mentee, a 2019 COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective Fellow, and a reader at Palette Poetry and a staff reader at COUNTERCLOCK Journal, he is curating the first Young African Poets Anthology, guest-edited by Nome Emeka Patrick and Itiola Jones. In 2019, he got a mini-grant to Kickstart a literary outfit dedicated solely to young African creatives. When he is not reading a book of short stories or watching the birds flying in the sky, dreaming, you can find him on Twitter @ErnestOgunyemi.

ODE TO OUR BODY ON FIRE by Anthony Okpunor

ODE TO OUR BODY ON FIRE by Anthony Okpunor

ODE TO OUR BODY ON FIRE

by Anthony Okpunor

Ode to Our Body on Fire – Winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

Make me a night
I have not died in & let me see the way it burns.
Because this is life I have
envied everything with broken wings.
I’ve once envied my body. I do not remember how I got there.
I wake to rooms with chandeliers
but my God, I was born thirsty.
I am reminded of dust
three days before my body begins to grow.
I have outgrown the brown color of the earth.
These things mean I’m a little smaller,
my tongue blisters & there’s no city with water,
it is my silence you get to know.
Tell me, when you hear my heart beat,
how often do you stop yourself from dancing?
Does my pain still sour you?
What is dinner if we’ve not prayed over the heat?
I am unsure if the sea will hold me to my word,
my blood ties my body to this poem, in the mirror
a smile spreads to my forehead.
The smell of dust is things to come
written allover a body.
We are unlucky if our body does not burn
in the slow song of fireflies.
They will mistake our silence again.
We catch ourselves lusting in the flame.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anthony Okpunor is an emerging Nigerian writer who discovered poetry and writing in general, as a better form of self-expression. He lives and writes from Asaba in Delta State. He is a student of the University of Benin at the time. He splits his time between writing, reading, lectures, good music, and himself. His works have appeared on online platforms including African Writers and Praxis Magazine.

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