PORTRAIT OF LOVE AS AN ARSONIST by Oluwatosin Babatunde-Olotu

PORTRAIT OF LOVE AS AN ARSONIST by Oluwatosin Babatunde-Olotu


by Oluwatosin Babatunde-Olotu

I was eight or nine
when I learnt to balance  my gaze
and heart
      on broken bodies and dreams.
Each time father returned from another fruitless journey
to Egbeda in Ibadan, he’d mouth denial
as if they were truths.
He’d say:
Bidemi is fine, she’d return home soon.
She’d come back to me, to us.


The truth crawls in unseen:
at dinner, as we fellowshipped
with Celine Dion and loss,
I’d taste the grief     brimming in his bones
in my bowl of eba
and my vegetable soup, too, would tell
tales of ends;
of fractured lovers that never find their way
to genesis, to tomorrow.
After dinner, before we find sleep,
I would wipe from his cheeks and chin
saltwater (that burned as though it were fire),
as he too would     from mine.



Babatunde-Olotu Olúwatosin is a nurse and a poet who lives and works in Lagos. He is a lover of art, with a peculiar interest in poetry and music. Tosin advocates for social justice, inclusivity and mental health. His poems have appeared in Agbowó, Nanty greens, anthologies and elsewhere. On Twitter and Instagram, he is @babstoxyn.
HERE IS WATER by ‘Gbenga Adeoba

HERE IS WATER by ‘Gbenga Adeoba


by ‘Gbenga Adeoba

(After Kechi Nomu’s Your Old Bones are Seeking Wooden Crosses)

At the waterside in Boyo, the 
rituals of movement intensify at dusk. 

The pull of tides reinvents the shore 
into a space for things intimate and lost. 

You could find trinket boxes or a girl’s 
plastic doll in that rubble. Baby shoes, too.

The tiny things are heavier—even songbirds.
I am thinking these tunes being telegraphed 

into the dark, fretting the waters, 
are a tribute to the lives of drowned men.  

I sit by the water, knowing how 
sounds could alter the shape of an expanse. 

The boys who walk the boundaries now,
in search of collectibles, bear on their bodies 

a history threaded to this river. 
One wades inward: water around his body; 

water, a different texture, in his eyes. 
He pulls two of his friends along,

past the quay where the barges 
and their fathers’ canoes used to lay. 

Here is water, he says.
Here is memory shifting in its form,

 bearing things heavy and lost. My father 
and yours, here now and gone like the tides.


‘Gbenga Adeoba is from Nigeria. “Here is Water” is the title poem of his chapbook included in APBF’s New-generation African Poets Series.




by Jide Badmus

On the surface you are weak &
Your smiles are a broken stream
But nightmares could not break your sleep.

You hang your fears
Like jackets in closets
& bury sullen memories
In unmarked graves. 

You carry your flaws like a flag,
Showing off scars, like medals.
You wear the seasons—
Face of haze, beards of rain—
& bear tales of sprouting shoots, fallen leaves…

You are chronicles of wailing winds,
Diary of grieving waterfalls—
A chameleon of time. 

You are an emblem of strength—a tide,
Anthology of falls & flights…relentless!



Jide Badmus is an electrical engineer, a poet inspired by beauty and destruction; he believes that things in ruins were once beautiful. He is the author of There is a Storm in my Head, Scripture, and Paper Planes in the Rain; curator of Vowels Under Duress; Coffee; and Today, I Choose Joy anthologies.
Badmus explores themes around sensuality and healing. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You can reach him on twitter @bardmus, IG @instajhide
MAKE IT GREAT, AGAIN by Othuke Umukoro

MAKE IT GREAT, AGAIN by Othuke Umukoro


by Othuke Umukoro

So here’s the story folks. Number one, I am the least
anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen, in your
entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person. 1

Sadly, the overwhelming amount of violent crime
in our major cities is committed by blacks
and hispanics-a tough subject-must be discussed. 2

If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me. 3   They are not our friend, believe me. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. 4

I’ve been treated very unfairly by this judge.
Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building
a wall, OK? I’m building a wall. I am going to do
very well with the Hispanics, the Mexicans… 5


Oh, look at my African-American over here. Look at him. 6


Sorry haters and losers. 7

  1.  Comments made by Donald Trump during a news conference at the White House on February 16, 2017.
  2. Tweet from June 5, 2013 @realDonaldTrump.
  3. Trump calling out a Gold Star Muslim family (Khizr Khan & his wife Ghazala Khan) during the presidential race in 2016.
  4. Donald Trump insulting Mexicans and kicking off his presidential journey.
  5. Trump attacking U. S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel who was presiding over the Trump University lawsuit in an interview with CNN on June 3.
  6. Donald Trump at a June 2016 campaign rally.
  7. Tweet from August 5, 2014, Donald Trump applauding Rush Limbaugh on the 26th anniversary of his broadcast career.



Othuke Umukoro is a poet & playwright. His demons have appeared, or are forthcoming in The Sunlight Press, Brittle Paper, AfricanWriter, Eunoia Review & elsewhere. His debut play Mortuary Encounters (Swift publishers, 2019) is available here.
When bored, he watches Everybody Hates Chris. He is on Twitter: @othukeumukoro19
WHAT IS YOUR BODY by Onyekwelu Chiwenite

WHAT IS YOUR BODY by Onyekwelu Chiwenite


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

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?


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


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.



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.

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