African Poetry with editor Vera Ignatowitsch
The Unreadable Dictionaries of Our Actions
We are the idioms of our time, our sphere,
for we belong to the same era and ecosphere,
yet we are like measly words whose ovaries
and gist no soul can establish from the glossaries
of our shady actions. The paths of our lives lead to ruin
as the world struggles with floods or lack of rain.
Our consumption patterns, our careless lifestyles,
our previous actions and decisions are our dirty files―
they should be our proverbs for posterity and stability
yet we fail to learn lessons from our stupidity
or from wise sayings. The paths of our lives lead to ruin
as the world struggles with floods or lack of rain.
Ndaba Sibanda’s poems have been widely anthologised. He is the author of The Gushungo Way, Sleeping Rivers, Love O’clock, The Dead Must Be Sobbing, Football of Fools, Cutting-edge Cache: Unsympathetic Untruth, Of the Saliva and the Tongue, and Poetry Pharmacy.
Sleep Through the Rains
When whirling winds snarl at your roof, baring fangs like angry
When ice balls and thunderstorm bark at you with utmost malignance.
When light gives way to darkness and it seems the roof over
your head may soon yield to the menacing threats of lightning spikes and heavy downpour,
and then the warmth in your bowels seems to have joined forces with your foes,
clawing your intestines, urging you to seek asylum and attend to
When night thickens with obscurity, oblivion calling at your
When it seems that morning may never return from exile,
Close your eyes, savour the silence beneath the echoes of your
You might sleep through the rains.
When you awake, it will all seem like a dream.
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.
Diamond in Catastrophe
Over a dozen years of blood mixed with morning dew
Words sweet as the perfume of a minute
Sketching a vision into a mountain
Hallucination has now resurrected
A spot of tiny evil in green memories
Double blessing is a double grace
All arms of soli make fake promises
Pillars in malicious mockery like love of self-exaltation
Dark cloud has covered the sun in blasphemy
Calling young ones to the ground
Making the sun and moon count
As a broken leg fails in hypocrite’s
Blood, in fire like a prodigal soul
A stubborn heart and knees are easily camouflaged
with their permanent ecstasy
Corruption in their last drop of sweat
While blood cries for redemption
Dead leaves in great minds
Burn out senses like the empty air of unknown motion
Diamonds shall be paid in weight
For catastrophe no wind of blame shall breathe
Grace in full armour from head to toe
Sweet flowers for a sweet diamond
Pure diamond on a mountain higher than a mount
Pearson Lemani is a poet from Malawi.
On His Return
He stood so tall amongst the rest, almost perfect,
His eyes running about like some ball in their sockets.
He seemed to be paying attention; but not quite,
For I knew what he sought. Me ― his precious jewel ―
Or so he thought for two nights before he proposed.
I said yes; oh! I am not sure what I said
But in his heart he believed I was his for keeps.
So there he stood, searching me out among the crowd.
We had all come for the same reason, with tears
In our eyes as if we all meant it, wholeheartedly.
Well I sure did for I knew that the sacrifice
Which he intended to indulge in was for all of us
And the price was his choice; his decision, his life.
Like others I grieved and mourned him; alive.
With no special fanfare I had bid him goodbye.
Without any regards for I knew he stood no chance.
‘I will wait for you,’ I had said without meaning it.
I joined the crowd who saw the troops to the city gate.
I cried more when he hugged me for the last time.
Then I wished him luck as he got on the black truck.
Maybe I lost hope in him rather too soon but I waited.
‘How many months was it?’ Ten months, I guess.
I got engaged after the most shattering tidings came,
The troops couldn’t make it, they were ambushed.
I mourned him but not much, for I’d done it before,
When he’d stood in all his beauty on his last day,
So I married his best friend, my high school crush.
Today, with all my attention to the movie playing,
On my enormous coloured plasma tv, I rubbed my big tummy.
Then he walked in after the first knock, to my chagrin.
‘You’re dead!’ I screamed. ‘No, I live,’ he replied.
‘I was attacked, I survived. I’ve been in coma since.’
I wanted to hug him but restrained myself in time,
I am married to another now and have no apologies.
I guess he picked up real quick and withdrew a little
‘You look fatter,’ he said. ‘I heard you got married,
You couldn’t wait, I get that. Well, you’re still ever sweet,
Who is the lucky guy?’ he asked. I admired him then,
But not for long for then the door opened just in time
It was the answer which broke the camel’s back.
‘Oh! it’s you, I should have guessed. I must’ve ignored the signs
earlier as open and naked as it sat,’ he said to his friend.
‘You broke my heart, Keena. We could have been happy.
Married and perfect. I wish you both the best,’ he said
He didn’t move, ‘The thought of you kept me alive,’ he said,
And was gone like the wind leaving me mute and still.
Sarah Amuche Akpu is a Nigerian poet and writer with over fifty poems and prose of which some have won her awards. Her writing is diverse, and she has been writing since she was eight.
Egypt of My Old Days
On a run that seemed so long — cut short —
I felt abandoned by those who birthed me.
Spending tireless days weeping
Under the hand that once tamed me
Now turned away and inflicting bruises.
I could call him Rameses
For countless back stabs he inflicted
On my bleeding body.
He drank all my milk and honey.
A bee inside a housefly skin!
He chastised me for crimes I knew not
Peeled me limb to limb like a potato
Roasted me on fire, knowing I’d be cooked
And cast grievous curses on me.
Decades later he danced to tunes of my victory.
Like iron ore, his iron smith hands
Carried me, summoned fire all over me,
Knowing not Goliath’s dagger was being crafted.
Decades after his curse, victory prevailed
Recalling the day I became a man at twelve.
Under the wrath of his majesty Rameses
A new dawn arose.
Wounds heal but scars remain
If only I had a script writer
To translate the Egypt of my old days.
Symon Maguru is a Malawian poet and journalist, born in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial city. He writes about his experiences in life, culture and religion. He has been writing poems since he was 16 years old.