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African Poetry with editor Vera Ignatowitsch

Secret Life


First the moon completes her cycle in silence

Meaning it is darker on most days than not

And then the tasteless mornings


Three full moons later

The plastic thing draws two lines across itself

But I’ve been told it can be erroneous


Now my favorite jeans do not fit

No, my only pair of jeans do not fit

But maybe it is that extra burger at dinner


The sixth month is a blaring siren

A world loud with heartbeat inside me

A little one declaring second trimester over


Inside me, a whole other being takes form

Alerts me in no obvious ways

But stays nonetheless







Busamoya Phodiso Modirwa is a Motswana poet with works published on Jalada Africa: Bodies, Praxis Online Magazine, Ake Review, Kalahari Review, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of the Botswana President’s Award — Contemporary Poetry 2016.

Parting ritual


When father died, they shaved my mother’s head to the scalp,

then they forced her to bathe with the algae-green water

gathered from rinsing father’s corpse.

Six yards of white cloth sewn into a mourning gown,

mother wore a smile, it was more lethal than a frown.


They forced her to eat, they said she will need strength,

strength to look the dead in the eyes and confess to lies,

lies that she ate her husband and his other children.

Hers was a feast of worms, and though sadness filled her stomach,

she struggled to eat the maggots

wriggling from the ears, eyes, mouth and orifices of delayed justice.


They let her walk the meadows on barefoot,

father’s grave had been dug at the end of the groove.

They claim she crossed the thin line between apples and snakes,

so at the nodal where two positions meet, she will light seven candles,

then circle the grave with chalk.


For 90-days, they confined her to a room, the ‘other room’,

where every limp comes to pose as a patriot,

where every screamer thinks himself a prophet,

and every crook claims that he is a statesman.

But after all the lechers and mourners go home,

my mother will rise and make love to silence.


First published in Rattle.



Soonest Nathaniel is a poet and spoken word artist. He is the author of Teaching My Father How To Impregnate Women. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Rattle, Praxis, Raven Chronicles, Saraba Magazine, Loudthotz, Reverbnation, Sentinel Nigeria Magazine, and many more.

The Golden Candle


Flickering yet burning bright

Green breath, the smell of mint

This wicked wind will try in vain

To blow you out

On the other side of the street

Impatient hands are waiting

To hold you burning bright


This wicked wind will try in vain

To blow you out


HIV and swine flu

Distorting economies

Turning brother on brother

Heating the skin of our mother earth


This wicked wind will try in vain

Because stone men and women

With unyielding faith

Are busy building

A gigantic shield.


First published in Kilimanjaro on my Lap.



Epiphanie Mukasano is originally from Rwanda where she was a teacher. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature and now lives as a refugee in Cape Town. Her poems and stories have appeared in various publications.

There It Goes

Mapenzi Si Shurua, Huja Yakaja


The night you leave, the sky breaks out

in stars. They burn like open sores.

The acacia, scarred from private wars,

still has leaves.


I am not radical in my sorrow.

What has come before,

that which has been handed down—

these are my only methods.

I feel what I feel should be felt.

I say nothing new, nothing different.

My concerns are as they were before:

is the tea too cold to drink?


From Clay Plates: Broken Records of Kiswahili Proverbs.



Alexis Teyie is a Kenyan writer and feminist. Her poetry, short fiction, and other writing has been published in many journals. She recently coauthored a children’s book, Shortcut. She is a poetry editor with Enkare Review.

Under the blank canvas


Anytime I like to talk about love on the racket

I hate to think of this very serve

An ace that died with me in the skull.

When in doubt

I strangle the umpire by the collar

Looking for ways to bring him to my situation

And if he’s not dying, he cannot live again,

Fair play!


Love is not fair!

Upholding the essence of fidelity

Man can be perfect someday

But days of lovers do not come new

When two arms refuse to swing together

How it irks

Withstanding . . .

If I’m not searching for my tennis racket

Or sketching shapes of my tears

I have another way to live

I wear my best color

And try to find it in the rainbow.

Because I don’t find black

I measure a handful of painkillers

To heal the moment

That cannot heal naturally with me.

First published in Nathanda Review.



Gabriel Awuah Mainoo is the author of 60 Aces of Haiku and Chicken Wings at the Altar. He serves as project manager to Ghana Writes Journal and creative editor to WGM Magazine. His work is widely published in journals and magazines.


The Night Hawk


To whom shall I tell my tale of woes?

who shall sing with me

my song of oblivion

the evil that descended hearth-stead,

in the tail of a winter night,

swooped upon us like a bald eagle,

as vicious as a hungry wolf,

raped my mothers and their daughters,

and planted in them his abomination.


To whom shall I tell my shame?

The unthinkable events of that night

Left behind unthinkable souvenirs.

Now, my mothers’ bellies are swollen with abominations.

To whom shall I tell my fathers’ dilemmas?

My fathers now accept congratulations for another man’s evil.

What other option do they have anyway?


I have tried running away,

but I still hear the echoes of my imagination—

the penury of my mothers’ voices,

giving birth to abominations.

Running won’t cleanse my roots of the abominations.

But where do I begin?

Everywhere pongs of abomination.


How do I begin?

When my mothers even love the abominations?


When do I begin?

Maybe when the sun trades shifts with the moon?


I cry like a mother hen.

The night hawk has whisked my offspring.

I do not cry so the evil one would release his clench.

I’m only crying so the world would hear my voice.



Darlington Chukwunyere is a Nigerian screenwriter and poet. He moved from Owerri to Lagos in 2016 when he began his professional literary journey. He co-wrote Gold Dust Ikenga which premiered in London in 2017 by Silver Achugamonye’s UK-based Silver-Globe Sines.


Photo by Leo Moko, Unsplash

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