Catcalls – Jumoke Verissimo

Each girl eats her own eyeballs,

floating heels,

confidence-padded into breasts,

kettle-mouth lips

blow off the steam of male gaze;

in a market world women are

crafts.

 

Her designer labels with absolute names

the reason for her aching ankles

becomes the shame,

beauty the reason for the spare time

becomes the shame.

 

The horde’s hoot hang to her feet

as she flees from a body being stripped

of a dress that homes

shame.

When a girl discovers she’s dressed in disgrace—

wearing a blemish no foundation

power

can hide—she moves away from

herself.

 

The market stalls are no shelter for men,

trading in leers that rush after short skirts

teeth spaced for the

tongue to wag;

there’s no signpost to read their

folly.

Here are men who once

bargained with brains

now they trade their hearts

as ignorance wares.

 

And when tongues rip the cloth

off the girl

the shredding men’s eyes will go

home

to cover a sister, a mother, or a

partner

shame them with another

performance

a poor showman of his market

failing

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PEACE – Adeola Olagunju

I have lived a tortuous life
And since I made 30
I’ve finally found a glimpse of hope

My life has been plagued by various traumatizing experiences since “childhood”
Childhood?
No, I didn’t have any

Being left vulnerable as a child threw
me in the hands of the beasts
The beasts who abused me
The beasts who silenced me
The beasts who normalized danger

It was my fault
wasn’t it?
What was I looking for walking the
streets by myself?
But, wasn’t I just a child?

I have embodied this guilt all my life
I blamed myself for everything
For being abused
For my parent’s failed marriage
For being an “Olodo”

I live my life in perpetual fear
I carried this baggage of worthlessness everywhere I went
My life has been about self sacrificing
Over giving
Being a doormat
Serving
Taking responsibility for what is not my “issh”
Jumping into battles not my own
People pleasing
Playing Messiah
Getting busy
Fixing everything/everyone around
As it is easier to look at the other; rather than the self

Plenty toxic friendships and one sided relationships Abi…why shouldn’t I thank my maker when crumbs is thrown my way? after all love is work…

Biko, Who needs a doormat?

They took everything from me
Gave me this rage that consumes
me day and night…Anger became my only fortress

Fight, flight or freeze
Hiding and avoidant
I wanted to end this suffering by keeping my inner child in a deep place inside, and staying as far away as possible. But, running away doesn’t end this suffering; it only prolongs it.

So much weight my soul is weary

25 years after, 2 days ago
I took a cathartic journey back in time
to where I grew up in Ibadan
I went by every freaking house I was abused
To pick up the bits of me I buried there.
To reclaim my life
To find the cure for this disease
I’ve had to live with it

The hardest part; to forgive
To forgive all you “mofos”

So I can finally stop clinging to everything
that abuses, torture and drains me
So I can finally stop running
away from healthy love
( as I always find it strange)

I am breaking away!!!
Now I know I deserve better than a sick life
I am worthy
It was never my fault
And I am lovable 💚

Hey, Adéọlá, I am so so sorry.
I am coming back home to you.

It’s closure time.

26166793_10215062681904389_345533380904293351_nAdeola Olagunju is an artist and photographer. She lives and works in the universe.

For My Unborn Daughter -A Peom

​Your mother found her voice at 28.

Just incase you’re wondering, this poem is to my daughter – at 12 …
Sorry, I changed that to 5, because these kids are much smarter these days.
Your mother found her voice when the world had stopped talking
It was late.
She had swallowed the world too many times, all those times; the only sound that came out of her mouth was the swallowing.
She swallowed everything through a listening pipe, filled her belle with seasons and wars, and war cries and goings and cumming and everything else that made the world go round.
There were days – silence was the only sound you’d hear no matter how loud you tried.

And so, your mother mastered the art of swallowing her screams.
Conceiving everything – even the things that have no place inside a mother.
Your mother was once a world – a world, pregnant with its past… a past so present she could feel her future kick –
In pain, she swallowed her scream…
There were still days when nothing seemed to be coming out of anywhere – no matter the force you try.
The only time something tried to break out, was the world forcing it’s way out of your mothers mouth,
Not knowing whether to come out as a scream or a whisper or even … a song…
That was the day your mother – for the first time, tasted the lisp in her mouth,
Everything she could have said but didn’t say, all those years stood wobbling with buckled knees on her tongue,
Her lisp had grown with age – she could even taste how sour it was.
The salt in her saliva couldn’t save the world in your mothers’ mouth from decaying.
Every night, she dreamt of the oceans, of the dead fishes still floating, because she was taught that salt is the only reason dead things float  in deep sea. 

Your mother sinks in her dreams, unable to scream out and beg the salts to leave the oceans for a second to wrap her up in a heap and wait for her to climb back up before the salt return to where they belong. 

Your mother never came back from that dream. 

Daughter, wherever you find yourself, if you’re ever wondering if you should be somewhere else, don’t be confused with the words on the map except where it says “you are here.” 

Patience Tiencepay Lawal. 

ON YOUR LIPS – Laura M Kaminski

Each conversation begins with mourning, words of loss on your lips.
Grieving phrases hang suspended like an albatross on your lips.

Do you ever feel enslaved? Indentured to others in power?
I have seen you sleep, tears on your cheeks, name of your boss on
your lips.

Victims are frightened, embarrassed, ask themselves if it’s their own
fault.
Outsiders echo that question. Silence is a cross on your lips.

They have made a suggestion to limit entry to non-Muslims.
But you cannot pick faith from your teeth, heretic floss on your lips.

Survival instructions are applied to our lives with a wide brush.
Layer after layer of silence, hard lacquer gloss on your lips.

Why should we wait for resurrection? One Love brings heaven here
now.
A little light is enough. Smile creeps slowly like moss on your lips.

Bring your own kettle-drum, set it on fire, cooking up your own
words –
Halima would dance to such salsa, hot pepper sauce on your lips.

Laura

Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba) grew up in northern Nigeria, went to school in New Orleans, and currently lives in rural Missouri. She is the author of three full-length poetry collections and four chapbooks, most recently 19 GHAZAL STREET.

This poem, from 19 GHAZAL STREET, includes sher regarding some of the current disturbing political rhetoric in the US and elsewhere.

Liberty is a many-colour-coat made of Rags

 
Coming out of my closet, I carry my heart about
           like cufflinks.
It is my way of being transparent- that is coming out wearing
                 my heart 
on the cuffs of
                 my sleeve.
It is my way off attracting like-minds.
I find my kind of people everywhere I go
                             or
any closet I snoop in. 

It will amaze you …the number
The caliber of people
hiding away in their closets,
coiled up upon themselves,
trying to get smaller and smaller,
                    or
just hoping to vaporize.

I am not one of them,
I come out all the time,
even though I am timid 
For self-validation,
I like to look in on them-
those still hiding away
                                    in their closets-

Amongst this run of
                  Homo
                          Sapiens,
hiding away their
sexuality
in the Closet of
                        Marriage
are the most gifted beings-
humans
and
            women.

And many they are that will never come out of those
                   dark places
to get some air in the sunlight. They dread to be
                gay,
to be outspoken
You know like the
                             feminists
 
I was one time peeking into such
dark
      dreary
              airless
                      gloomy
closet,
and I found a feminist
          housewife
                   mother
a one who really could use the
                   liberty
of getting some
fresh air and sunshine

“so, what are you still doing in there”,
            I probed. 

“I went in
             for the feminist rants,
  and stayed in
             for the kids.”
she replied. 

I knew she isn’t coming out
of that
          closet
anytime soon;

so the answer
            to the question of
“why don’t you come out from that hole already”
was out of the
                    question.  

Great many
        are they
              who are like
I am- timid about coming out
and walking in the
              gaylight,

but
if liberty
is a
Many-Colour-Coat made from rags,
I still will wear mine
and strut about in it
– even if I only do that
        in
          my
             closet.

Christopher Raphael Okiri

Leftover

P.S:  Memorabilia
You left it lying on the floor,
beside the laundry box,
a kind of slough,
keepsake.

& this was how caution peeled off
in a rush of adrenaline and desire;
& this was how we made hasty decisions,
remade Eden.

There is nothing impossible with a few drinks.
nothing insurmountable, not even celibacy;
if it is dodgy like two left shoes,
if it is bulging like a phallic tumescence,
if it is throbbing like a thumb whitlow,
worrisome like an obstinate mom
tactile like a jock’s itch,
trembling like a maiden wife.

There is nothing impossible for soft lights,
soft music. Red lights cast flimsy
shadows on burgundy bedspreads.
Robert Kelly spells b-o-o-t-y;
We catch fire.

Lagos is locked out,
we are stowed away.
The grind of tires on asphalt
are eons away from this room,
this room where your bosom
holds primacy. Perky nipples
betray anxiety too like fidgety eyes.
It is always a first time.

This seduction began long before
we threw casual hellos.

This seduction blossomed over time
from a distance. We once interred
it under a shallow canopy of laterite.

Did it rot or sprout?
Did it sprout or germinate?
Did it germinate or flower?
Did it flower or blossom?

-Dami Ajayi

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