ODE TO OUR BODY ON FIRE by Anthony Okpunor

ODE TO OUR BODY ON FIRE by Anthony Okpunor


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.


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.




by Sheikha A. 

Her eyes are ponds rippling the moon;
snip in the air turning fade
and the confusion of a quarrel
with the deceased relative’s visit
in mother’s dream is grimier
than the clarity of murky water  
she saw centered in a ruinous court-
yard. It must have been the moon
had browned in the hide of a bear –
the tones of honey-hue yet majestic dusky;
she wasn’t able to tell one from the other
while we waited as a weightless voice
like in chants of allegiance, when a grave
is ordered to convert into a fruit-
bearing field. Mother’s mind is  
listening to winds; how fast metres
race when arrival collides with departure.
Of late, this is how it’s been. She gets
on her feet with a scrubber and can’t
decide what corner needs most
cleaning attention. Fabrics of chiffon
are the different ways she folds  
in decisiveness. We see her looking
outwards, towards the common  
man taking the bus to work, she  
sees his feet are steady even if his
heart has lost accountability of
the number of breaths he draws  
out of his veins, just to watch the day
successfully end without incident.
There is envy in that sort of timeliness;
predictability doesn’t have to be
a god, or human invention. And
we have seen many springs take
the stairs of summer to alter  
flashing lights into a comfortable
breach-birthed darkness. We are
here hanging like the first sign,
the kind that we miss because  
of speed, also cannot reverse to.
Mother knows from the circling
birds overhead, neon rains
are about to wet flamboyant  
paints of vitality.



Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her works appear in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Recent publications are Strange Horizons, Pedestal Magazine, Atlantean Publishing, Alban Lake Publishing, and elsewhere. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, Greek, Arabic, and Persian. She has also appeared in Epiphanies and Late Realizations of Love anthology that has been nominated for a Pulitzer. More about her can be found here
IF GOD WAS A NIGERIAN by Othuke Umukoro

IF GOD WAS A NIGERIAN by Othuke Umukoro


by Othuke Umukoro

ASUU would strike him
till his sorrow grows a beard.

He would be a Yahoo boy or a pimp or a drug dealer
or an innocent girl in the cold & dark streets of
Italy tendering white men’s amorous dreams
or all of the above.

He would be a potbellied politician
that swallowed (y)our children’s future,
or a snake that swallows dollars
or a rat that chases the big man
out of his office.

They would have slaughtered him, like
Ramadan rams, in Benue or
bandaged him with bombs in Borno.

His children’s life expectancy in the
Niger Delta would be around
9 or 10 (that’s a conservative statistic)
—all they would ever have are: a bowl
of oil spills for breakfast, a plate of
greenhouse emissions for dinner
& grief sandwiched between.

Policemen would f**k him using pure
water satchels as condoms
& afterwards ask for a bribe. 

He would drown crossing the
Mediterranean or sold for peanuts in Libya.

He would yelp & complain on the mad streets of twitter
but will never come out to vote out oppression.

The sun would die in his mouth in Kirikiri
or other eyeless places where those who try to
sing new songs are stripped, chained & tortured.

He would not be in school but on the sidewalk, holding a
blue plastic bowl for your damn pity or under the leprous
stare of the sun cleaning your windshield at a red light.

SARS would shoot him & the government hospital
they will rush him to will not have electricity.

He would be a broke ass poet like me.


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
FLOWER PETALS by Ugochukwu Damian

FLOWER PETALS by Ugochukwu Damian


by Ugochukwu Damian

for ikedinaobi
your country is a hunger
that you cannot name
your bones are fragile
like flower petals
& there’s a river in your body
that you cannot name
& there’s a country emptying this river
into itself
where queer bodies drown last
after drowning in their bodies


Ugochukwu Damian Okpara is a poet and a medical student based in Nigeria. He began writing poetry in 2017 and his major theme explores depression, loneliness, and sexuality. His goal is to inspire those who have been hurt, making them realise that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an illusion. He was one of the 21 mentees in the second cohort of the SLM Mentorship programme. His poems have appeared in Woven Words, African writer, Kreative Diadem and elsewhere.
SELF by Adejuwon Gbalajobi

SELF by Adejuwon Gbalajobi


by Adejuwon Gbalajobi

I wear my fear around my neck like a tie,
my fear, the reason my sleep comes in fits.
& anytime I close my eyes,
my demon transmogrifies into thoughts, an accuser,
a finger pointed at me:
“You, you’ll be like your father, a waste.”
“You, you son of a beast!”


2:00 am,
I saw my demon clearer today,
he has flaccid ears, a squared nose, a red carpet for hairs; 
it has my face & my mother’s voice,
“You! I curse my womb for having you!”
2:30 am
I woke up drenched in my sweat,
picked up my phone,
opened my writing app &
finished this poem.


Adejuwon Gbalajobi is a Nigerian poet and creative writer. He writes to explore every sphere of human consciousness.
His poems have appeared on Praxis magazine, Writer Space Africa and Okada blog. He is a lover of tigers, trees, paintings, and sculptures.



by KC Manuel

The chalk writings leap off the face of the blackboard which received a paint job 
that nudiustertian morning. The blackboard, always in a continuous mode of data collection like a government database, is as rigid as the education we procure. Although bound to a state of 
deletion and depletion, the chalk reincarnates into a chain of dunes at the foot of the blackboard, clogging the teacher’s gullet and painting her black hands white on its way down. Through 
inculcation, she belts the mnemonic now earworm: ”Z for Zebra”, and coughs maniacally.


Mother warned me not to trust anyone when crossing the road, not even the yellow, green, red 
and amber colours of the traffic lights, but the white stripes on the black bitumen because the 
way these colours kiss my frail feet is like an entire street holding my hand to safety.



History has it that at first the black on the Kenyan flag wasn’t accompanied by white. On asking 
why, the teacher says I’m old enough to know that a complete day is the binary of daylight and 
darkness. The added white fimbriation turned the black and red and green into a pout. The 
minimalist white wears its new identity – peace – like an undeserved medallion. The black, 
always as rigid as the education we procure, doesn’t even acquire something as simple as 
pertinacity for a new identity. It’s so insecure of the white that a shield and two spears have to be ingrained in the flag, for why would they be needed where there’s peace?
My screenplay was returned unread because it had little white space. But how else could I have
told this Biblical epic when this way was my only way of making sense of the world around me?
The Bible is open to interpretation like a poem. It’s a scope you can only see through in a split-
second and strike its meaning like gold from the earth’s underbelly. As I muse over my loss, the
major plot points play in the theatre of my hazy headspace: Jesus comes back on earth as a zebra.
As He reincarnates into the Father, He flays and His skin carpeted on the road leading to the
judgement square. Some people step on the white spaces. Some people step on the black spaces.
Others, bound for glory, walk with their heads held high, heedless of the ground graced by the
union of two beautiful colours people deem to be odd, but still revelling in the power of this



KC Manuel is an emerging Kenyan poet and writer, and student at Kibabii University. His works have appeared in The Kalahari Review. His piece, ‘The Rough Ride Home’, was shortlisted for the Igby Prize For Nonfiction. More than anything else, he reveres moonlit nights and twilights. If he’s not writing, he’s thinking about what to write next.

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