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. 

EUPHEMISM by Samuel Adeyemi

EUPHEMISM by Samuel Adeyemi

faceless muscular ethnic man grabbing wrist of girlfriend during dispute

EUPHEMISM

by Samuel Adeyemi

Second Runner-up of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

Murder by a scalpel is pronounced death, 

not surgery. There is no intricacy 

 

when the blade drowns in a body, whirling

inside like a wet threading of gut. 

 

Whatever the instrument, do not hesitate

to call your suffering by its name. 

 

It won’t soften it, but it will unshroud the 

mystique. I have stared at my misery 

 

for so long, it seems less oblique. How this

works—the fangs still terrify, but they

 

look just like teeth. The tissue, death-sharp 

yet quite familiar in its whiteness.

 

Our prophets have always been about pre-

tending. They think calling a wound 

 

a flower will taper its ache, sugar the poison

that mars the blood. But the first step

 

to wholeness has always been recognition.

It is a lie that the lie will be

 

the genesis of healing. The greatest miracle 

lies within the same truth we are taught 

 

to abandon. When you stare at the mirror, do

not invert the image. There, your open 

 

chest. Gaze. Is that a nail where your heart 

used to be? Wipe off the honey & tell

 

the wound as it is. Metal organ. Blood rust.

Why must we wait until our suffering 

 

ends before we name it? What happens when 

we are the ones outlived? I have chosen 

 

to resit the ritual of time, to call every bruise 

by its colour. For what is a scar, 

 

if not a wound waiting to become? Come 

unto me. I will show you where I hurt 

on the river’s body. Look. I am touching 

all over the water. 

 

ELOCUTIO by Olaitan Junaid

ELOCUTIO by Olaitan Junaid

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach

ELOCUTIO

by Olaitan Junaid

First Runner-up of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

depending on // how //    it is handled     //   a poem // 

could be //  a knife //     like a toddler //      with boobs // 

i handle   my grief     // so gingerly //   it knows not // 

to spill // in my wildest dreams // everyone // runs //

away from me // says // i hold onto grief // so close // 

i sometimes forget //   to hold   //   myself   //     often  // 

i wake // to the bleating of // bukhatir’s last breath // &  

even though //  this poem //  isn’t about   // my mother // 

everything // here // pretends // to be alive // alhamdulillah // 

it’s juma’ah // & i want to tell a story // without // 

the grave // i want to tell a story // where // the void //

between us // maintains // just as void // never as // 

the strange woman or // the boy // my father’s with // 

a new // wife // & i, a brother // to love // & why //

does my mother keep // ghosting back // to me // whole

as secrets // anyone around // to love her back // & why // 

won’t she // just // live happily // ever after // 

it’s the semester’s end // alhamdulillah // next weekend //  

i’ll be sleeping // all through // the one after //

i’ll be lost // someplace // with no one // to // find me // 

forgive me // mother // i keep // pretending // nothing dies // 

here // forgive me // mother // i keep pretending // there isn’t //

any silence // in this poem // even when // the closest // 

i’ve come // to joy // is // finger // thru it // to be honest //

i want to believe // grief isn’t bilingual // but o, i keep screaming 

& screaming // subhanallah // when a termite bites // & now // 

my tongue // is lost // to grief’s brutal dialect // & when // 

i mean to sing // i shed // once // or twice in response // to prayer // 

i screamed // asẹ́ // when i only meant // to amen // àṣẹ // & again 

// everything i love // sieves // through me // the ones //

less porous // & wouldn’t let go // keeps falling&falling // like //

luck // o, lord, speak to me // of grace immeasurable // & i’ll tell 

of my friend // who’s barely twenty-four // & hypertensive // & dying 

// & soon // she’ll begin // to fork // through drugs // to stay alive // 

& soon // she’ll be too busy // arranging what’s left // of her body // into //

a collage // of memories // that we may hold // on to // &  soon //

she’ll be too tired // to stir fries // to say // hey // old friend // 

how many dreams // have you survived // today // & soon // 

i’ll mistake her for my mother // a tired beauty // only that // come

tomorrow // she’ll be home // sleeping // her lover // still hers //

watching // she won’t be dying // too soon.

IT IS HOPE THAT KEEPS THE FLAME OF DREAMS DANCING by Balogun Abdulmueed

IT IS HOPE THAT KEEPS THE FLAME OF DREAMS DANCING by Balogun Abdulmueed

low angle view of spiral staircase against black background

IT IS HOPE THAT KEEPS THE FLAME OF DREAMS DANCING

by Abdulmueed Balogun

Winner of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

It is hope that keeps the flame of dreams dancing, even when the wind of forlorn 

throws at it a thousand blow. I have taken my heart to the silvery river, to remove 

 

all traces of greed, what turns futile a century’s strife, to wash away the sticky dusts 

of dissatisfaction, what steels people’s mind to the teachings and admonitions of patience, 

 

what makes them envision the blessings of God as crumbs, as nothing worthy of glorification. 

I see them now, smiling as they wine and dine, as they shroud their nakedness with stolen golds, 

 

though survival is the first rule of nature, and when home fails to be a heaven, it’s only natural 

but not justifiable to breathe by all means. Mother urges, with the clarity of a calm river, son, 

 

don’t hurry the procession of life, take every pace at your pace, that’s divine; don’t be beguiled 

by the fleeting pleasure of the world flashing to your eyes, into hacking the tree of hope in your 

 

mind in the name of survival. Father exhorts, with the voice of a resolute thunder rattling in the 

heart of the sky, when clouds wear darkness as cloak before the rise of dusk, beloved, the world 

 

is brief like a second, spend yours as a harbinger of smile to pallid cheeks, and to your 

neighbors— a bamly river be, soothe their pains, if you can, when they grief and if you can’t, 

 

mope their tears with words of compassion. Dear God, I have come to you as a country ravaged 

by war, as a bird with broken wings, the road of life is coated in riddles and thorns, and only 

those under the parasol of your grace can tread unscathed. 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. God, I erect the pillars 

of my dreams in your hands, insure my affairs in your heavenly vault, let your name be praised.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Abdulmueed Balogun is a Nigerian poet & an undergrad at the University of Ibadan. He is a 2021 HUES Foundation Scholar and a Poetry Editor at The Global Youth Review. He was longlisted for the 2021 Ebarcce Prize, Finalist: 2021 Wingless Dreamer Book of Black Poetry Contest, won Honorable mention: 2021 Whispering Crescent Poetry Prize, Shortlisted: BBPC Feb/March 2021 and an alumnus: 2021 SpringNg Writing fellowship. His works are forthcom(in)g: Avalon Literary Review, The Night Heron Barks Review, Salamander Ink, Bowery Gothic, Subnivean Magazine, Jmww Journal, The Remant Archive and anthologized in: Fevers of Mind (Poets of 2020) and 2021 Cathalbui Poetry Competition Selected Entries. He tweets from: AbdmueedA.

BITTER KOLA by Olalekan Hussein

BITTER KOLA by Olalekan Hussein

clear glass jars with assorted foods

BITTER KOLA

by Olalekan Hussein

Where are those beautiful days?

When children pluck their happiness at night

Listening to folklores under the mango tree

smiling at them like an aesthetic bud on a pristine flower?

 

Where are those beautiful days?

When bothers groove jauntily in our local village

Pleasuring with fresh fetched palm wine

From the elongated iroko tree 

& playing àyó to erase doldrums from their turbulent hearts?

 

Where are those beautiful days?

When sisters become cutlery of dance

Lacerating our moroseness with ballads and dances?

Those days we have sold in return for affliction

When Moon and sun would smile at us

With their glittering teeth capturing beautiful women’s hearts in their husband’s beds.

 

Those days have been exchanged with isolation 

& nightingale carries our ecstasies

To zephyr, blowing away our joy into ashes and smokes.

 

Our lives become a bitter kola placed on a baby’s mouth 

& become an awful wound in a baby’s heart.

 

When shall these days visit

Us in our abodes?

Because, this love is deteriorating

And these souls are melting like candles?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Olalekan Hussein is a Nigerian writer, born and raised in Lagos State, Nigeria. He develops much interest in Literature and delves into the writing of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and other genres. He’s an acquisitive reader and a lover of nature, and currently a student of a prestigious Arabic/Islamic institution in Lagos State (Darul Falahi).

If Olalekan is not perusing the holy Quran and other Islamic-related books or scholars’ books, he’s definitely scribbling his pen to catalyze beautiful writings for his readers.

OEDIPUS TRAVAIL by Bayo Aderoju

OEDIPUS TRAVAIL by Bayo Aderoju

lake

OEDIPUS TRAVAIL

by Bayo Aderoju

I

 

Yesterday, the village rainmaker held rain.

This morning, wind mimicked rooster, 

woke a storm,

blew rainclouds’ eclipsing garb into the supple face of God.

 

No amount of sniffle can drain a runny nose,

Mother remarked, coughed –

phlegm in her mouth –

spat & averred:

asunkunsi n fi ikun pamo ni*.

 

II

 

Darkness unfurled after the sea has swallowed

the amber sun

like an overripe orange.

I lay – in my bed – upon my back,

& let my eyes caress the white ceiling

projecting my thoughts

because my mind wouldn’t let me sleep,

because my heart felt like Thebes

where Oedipus gouged his own eyes.

 

 

Doesn’t sleep, however, wield the same charm as death?

A charade encroached my dreamland:

a snake slithered, crept hard

upon a rock in order to etch itself.

Denouement was twilight & soft rays

& gentle breeze fanning the wounds.

So the audience ran when the protagonist ran mad.

 

“You don’t know what you do.”

That’s what night says when it calls

to claim willpower & drop aches.

That’s the atmosphere before father left

to obtain horns for his horse.

 

 

*Sniffle only delays mucous.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bayo Aderoju is a multi-genre writer from Nigeria. His latest fiction has been selected for inclusion in the forthcoming United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s Decade of Action Short Stories Anthology. His works appear/forthcoming on Brittle Paper, Stellium, Agbowo, Platform Review, African Writer, Praxis, Spillwords, Kalahari Review, The Shallow Tales Review and elsewhere. He tweets @bayo_aderoju.

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