SHE STARED BACK AT US WITH HER EYES CLOSED by Amarachi Iwuafor

SHE STARED BACK AT US WITH HER EYES CLOSED by Amarachi Iwuafor

burnt matchsticks

SHE STARED BACK AT US WITH HER EYES CLOSED

by Amarachi Iwuafor

She Stared Back at Us with Her Eyes Closed – First Runner-up of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

When death walked in, it took in its arms 

         one person, 

walking past the tunnels where light had 

         never touched.

Then it left two footprints. One, grief. The

         other, memories. I’ve felt pain, 

but grief is twice the weight of pain. Our 

palms have been stained by the colors 

         of it.

I touch the walls of my memories, 

        trying to remember 

the last time we held hands. I search for her 

        in photographs

burnt matchsticks

that once held the whole shape of her.

I heard she had wished to stay longer?

        How often we grope for life 

when we are close to death.

        But most times, the life 

we live is never ours, neither our choice.

         At night,

when the world is dark, fears burn into 

        the walls of my room, 

and in my room there are nightmares.

I keep dreaming into the places we 

        first met. 

I am lost most of the night.

But as time moves like waters across the 

        shore

I build solace in these words:

People don’t die, they only lose their 

       bodies.

Photo Credit: Photo by Maksim Goncharenok from Pexels

ABRIDGED PATHOLOGY OF A SYSTEM UNDER LOCKDOWN by Ayokunle Betiku

ABRIDGED PATHOLOGY OF A SYSTEM UNDER LOCKDOWN by Ayokunle Betiku

black and brown desk globe

Abridged Pathology of a System under Lockdown 

by Ayokunle Betiku

first   the body embraces confinement

as a fast

 

interlude within the immune walls  of 

living 

 

cells      roses sprout  from the  elastic

skins

 

of  streets &  highways  bristling  with

grave

 

silence      the heart  beats well  till the 

rising

 

figures  of  fallen  bodies   go viral  &

cripple

 

a nation’s system    the walls of living

cells

 

get rigid  & extend  after heavy  bouts 

of infections

 

plague the nation      empty  stomachs

develop guts

& leave the walls      some captured by 

hosts

 

in olive  fatigues       the eyes long  for 

sights

 

behind window blinds     & everything 

held

 

in shadows leaves the body  yearning 

to embrace

 

faces   sun rays & a reed organ in the

open field

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AYOKUNLE SAMUEL BETIKU is a Nigerian writer who sees his fingers as bridges between his heart and the world. His works have appeared in journals and anthologies, including Parousia, Monus, EOPP, BPPC, Kalahari Review, African Writer, Libretto & elsewhere. He lives in the city of Ondo, South West Nigeria, from where he writes.

(PIANO-TUNING) by Alexis Teyie

(PIANO-TUNING) by Alexis Teyie

piano

(piano-tuning) 

by Alexis Teyie

Interstice,

a staggered release—

out of step, but thankfully,

ever tense, and trembling in concert

(first dead dog: CupCake) —

who is to say you are not

your own mother, nurse?

 

A sensory key, hammer

is the pin. My hymn: a crumpled

grocery list I discard,

anyhow.

 

Energy transfer,

kinetic traffic and

think: melodic,

these gilded weapons

of interference, beating,

towards a well-tempered mode.

 

(First miss-

ing tome: Pushkin.) Again.

Divergent and twin, this

(first limbs out of tune: right

shoulder, left ankle)

lost parent of mine, out of

time (indolent lungs) — you

are permitted a little

stuttering.

 

first instrument: 

a set of un-

breakable nails; I run them across 

screens, blackboards, dinner plates,

thighs, earth, walls, 

sins, 

water, that favourite sweater— yes,

log it all as a loss, careless

commerce— there is no accounting for

stillness.

a name without an owner,

I call it out from inside night’s crease,

this orphaned, liberated name.

I called from within this valley:

 

It’s so hard to keep our sins

straight, yawning

no no no no, up and

out. 

 

I called to the usual 

ballet of lovers, insisting my way

into this ill-fitting glory. 

Joy, I know, sinks to 

the bottom of any pool.

 

I follow the will.

Is that a lightness blooming

in me?

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ALEXIS TEYIE is a Kenyan writer and feminist. She is a co-founder and poetry editor with Enkare Review. Alex co-authored a children’s book, Short Cut (2015). She has also published a poetry chapbook, Clay Plates: Broken Records of Kiswahili Proverbs (2016), through the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books (see on LitHub). Her poetry, short fiction or non-fiction have appeared in collections like Routledge’s Handbook of Queer Studies (2019); 20.35 Africa; Queer Africa II (GALA); ID (SSDA); Water (SSDA); Anathema’s Speculative Fiction. She has also been published by Jalada Africa, Omenana, This is Africa, Writivism, African Feminist Forum, among others. She also works as a data nerd and sings for a secret choir in Nairobi.

TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SUMMER by Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle

TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SUMMER by Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle

Sunglasses in beach sand

Tell the Truth about the Summer

by Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle

how you find the soil of your joy

then the ceiling. the sweat.

the unmuted sadness.

the unspooled self.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TIWALADEOLUWA ADEKUNLE is a writer and a 2nd-year doctoral student at Purdue University. Her creative writing appears or is forthcoming in Breakwater Review, 20.35 Africa, Indiana Review and 2017 Best “New” African Poets anthology, among others. She was selected as a scholarship recipient for the New York State Summer Writers Institute, and was honored to win the Flo Gault student poetry prize. Tiwaladeoluwa is also a founding member and facilitator of Rari, a Pan-African initiative for emerging poets. She was born in southwestern Nigeria.

THE SOLITUDE OF NIGHTS by Chiedozie Kelechi

THE SOLITUDE OF NIGHTS by Chiedozie Kelechi

cold dark eerie environment

THE SOLITUDE OF NIGHTS

by Chiedozie Kelechi

my days are a calendar of wants.

i want you beside me.

i want to run my fingers through your small black hair.

the rains are falling on the aluminum roof, and petrichor smells of bright things.

i want to know the fulfillment of flowers at the touch of water.

i want your velvet hands on my chin,

feline eyes staring into nothing.

i want to roll the cities between us 

and make them into a small bed to lie with you.

i want to wake up breathing with you at the edge of the map,

to move in you the way a tongue moves in a mouth,

like a shadow moves in light

for there is nothing beautiful here, in this darkness.

nothing in this blue room, now silent without your wings.

i recite age-long prayers for the safekeep of your lungs.

christ must come now, and his redemption must begin with me in your arms.

these nails are heavy, and my thorns are thick with longing,

the cross wet with desire.

sum this need, subtract scarcity and i am a plague’s cost.

late last night, my body made this scene: you playing the guitar with no gloves on,

your tender skin gleaming under the pale moon,

your reflection, a mist, alone on the river.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CHIEDOZIE KELECHI DANJUMA is an essayist, poet and lawyer currently residing in Yola. His poems have appeared on Kalahari Review, Boom, Praxis Magazine. He has a forthcoming chapbook titled “If I Could Write in Water.” He tweets at: kelechi_dozie and can be reached via chiedozieogbu@gmail.com

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