November 2017 Vol. II No. XI
Not your ordinary poetry magazine!
If good coffee (or just the concept of coffee), great books, sharp wit, and great authors excite you, we are for you!
International Poetry الشعر শ্লোক ကဗျာ ליבע ਪਿਆਰ өлүм
with Tendai Rinos Mwanaka and Rameeza Nasim
Michael Ochoki is a Kenyan poet, writer and expressionist. Winner of KOLA: African Street Writers Awards, his poems have appeared or shortlisted in BN Poetry, StoryMoja, Praxis Magazine,The Lake, Kalahari Review and African Writer; and of recent was a runner-up for Nyanza Literary Festival, 2017. His poems are featured in the anthology, Best New African Poets 2016. He is currently working on his first short story collection.
these streets have forgotten the echoes in our footfalls.
here we smoked our first joint; had the taste of
rebellion. mom was still crying near the door after
her divorce. keith had a job but he drank his money off
until he got stabbed: family: blood, pain and sprinkles
these streets have forgo- tten the blood we spilt to
split the vote and share the national cake. they have
forgotten the stench and tribal ghosts of mass
graves. these streets have woven our shadows into
mau mau dreadlocks. they may mute our songs but our
words are inscriptions in stone; in statues,
monuments and tombstones:
- here lies a man who died slitting the throat of his mother's
- here lies a girl, books in hand, who tried speaking the language
- here lies a country, my brother keith, my cousin & all their
dreams for a brighter sunshine
these streets are snapshots of our existence. no filters.
they are diaries of our secrets. they can smell
terror and division. they can bear witness to the
crimes humanity has committed against herself in the name
of democracy &progress.
home is now/here/a moment
a philosophical space between your teeth
where your inhibitions go to rest
home is not a place but a sound,
a book, a bomb,
a hand reaching out for a dream
a state [feeling/not a building or boundary]
a city inside your cranium
road: the umbilical cord that feeds the soul
as in home?—is not a yawning mouth
or a burning house
home is everything that moves beneath the cloud
home is work, work, work: trying to die with a good name
on your father’s lips:
we bookmark the sun with the sweat of our brow
because the sky is a garden of diamonds
home is campus riots/burnt tires:
dying young with a raptured lung;
yelling revolution!, reforms!
then across the block the crowd roars,
the liquor is an ocean wave, bodies float like a rhythm &
human feet—like tongues—kiss the floor
home is purple nights like these:
as in home is [order out of] chaos.
memory: as an out of body experience:
i’ve always wanted to write about death & you
but i’d rather write about a body now
a body, as a vase with petal stalks
drying by the window watching life flourish by;
and not a body, as a sky of water or a hub of desire
but, since your body was a science studying my mind,
& since your body used to imprison mine,
i will write about you now:
— i will tell you how i thought of dying,
inhaling your body as my last breath when you left,
— how poetry lost its sound & music tasted like unwanted sacrifice,
— how change affects the body's ability to catch up with time,
— how when i think of you i think of death
&i’m drowning like a song in a sea of careless rhythm
— how the body is a seed that needs a body to water it,
to touch it, to light it to growth;
i will show you
— how the body learns about rejection if another body
leaves it burning like a house
in the middle of war
& all it is left with is:
NURENI Ibrahim writes from somewhere in Nigeria. His poems have been published or forthcoming in Africanization and Americanization Anthology, Shamrock Haiku Journal, Best New African Poets’ Anthology, The Mamba Journal, Poets in Nigeria Journal and lots more.
(Extract from an unpublished collection of poems titled “Some Birds Hold Grudges Against Me”)
Let us play the moon with hide and seek
journey with me into games of the earth;
Game of leaves and trees housing the elders
in the placid wind of the night,
sketching muse from the gourds of palmwine.
Let us play the skyline with our hidden logos
on the face of tribal marks,
drawing maps on the soils of Oyo, Ibadan, and Ikare.
Let us tussle the game of lines;
of my father’s farm,
deciding the courage-foot to unsoil the line.
Let us gamble with the game of wedlock;
of white hankie,
of my woman’s first entrance
to determine if protected
from the sniffing men’s sledge.
Let us amuse a game of theatre in an open stage;
inscribing lines with whips
and other colourful masquerades,
who appease the gods only in the parched season.
to find out the warrior of the land.
Let us open the buttock of a fowl,
to write the lines about my father’s diary.
* eke means a fight called wrestling in Yoruba land.
this is my town
This is my town,
where dodo bequests the bowels for appetizers
with pepper-seeds dancing unperturbed
while paying homage to the meals;
Where hot ogi demeans black-pot, and bean cake,
moinmoin with ekuru mellow the mouth;
Where mushroom wears crown,
amid the chiefs of ponmo, shaki and brisket-bones
with entourages of crayfish and the royal sliced-liver;
Where Rotimi* triumphs Are-ona-kakanfo,
in the war of shaki, edo, roundabouts and Efo-riro,
charming soft amala as booty of war;
Where the dawn awakes schoolboys,
as carrot, onion, sweet-corn, cabbage and chicken laps
sing choreography, in the theatre of swinging noodles;
Where the presiding officers purge our nostrils
with pills of melon soup and mass ears
to songs dedicated to the gods of mortar and pestle;
Where ewedu, gbegiri and stew-soup complement one another,
with farcical catfish, abodi and snail-meats not stepping aside
to aid the swaddled bellies with the ease of soft iyan;
Where hunters, farmers and elders give songs
to the hero of burukutu and the heroine of plamwine;
where hunger drums beat of sacrifices
for the birds to feast on left-over foods.
*Rotimi is the Yoruba name of a friend, Oyeleke Michael Sunday.
Tendai Rinos Mwanaka is a leading poet and writer of the new generation of African writers and works hard to promote African writing through anthologies he has curated and co edited. Mwanaka has been shortlisted and won several writing awards, including being shortlisted for a record 7 times for the UK based Erbacce poetry award, 3 times nominated for the Pushcart, The Caine African Writing Award etc.
He is a published and exhibited visual artist (photography, painting, drawing, installation, collage, video.), represented by ARNA gallery, Sweden, until 2020, upcoming exhibitions include among others, Alice Art Gallery Johannesburg, February 2017, Le Corridor Gallery, Harare, May 2017, a published sound/musical artist using mostly tradition instrumentations like the mbira. He is a mentor, translator, scholar, theorist, reviewer, editor, critic, whose work has been published in over 400 journals in over 27 countries, translated into French, Germany and Spanish. He also works part time as a research consultant for a NGO based in Mozambique, in the primary education field. His published work can be found here: Tendai Rinos Mwanaka
i. the ten p.m. you is sad-eyed and
sharp-shouldered. i don't like him.
i don't know him. the you that
belongs to me is lazy afternoon you, is
sunshine-like butter and guitar-calloused hands,
does not stand like a child nightgowned in my door
i am scared of you now, of the blood on my tongue,
of your cold fingers winding through mine.
the ten p.m. you is a retroactive ghost.
ii. trains or pills or drowning.
trains or pills or drowning.
one for sorrow, two for joy.
you never took me to the ocean.
iii. generational trauma, eight tabs open, a cup of
cold. my brain said, true love is forgetting.
six oh three, message read. thank you.
the only thing i can't forget is that you're my
best friend fading fading fading. and maybe i
made up your laugh and the smile-crinkles of your eyes.
the way you held me, the warmth of your lips against
my knuckles, and your fingers carding through my hair.
maybe it was in a book or fairytale, lanterns
lighting up for every time you stopped meaning it.
iv. *i live you. i breathe you. a little bit of your
mouth in my lungs. your hips against my hips.
a dimple in my heart.
you exhale and i forget to move, to move you,
inhale your scent, make you wake up and forget.
astronomical metaphors are overrated so let's say
you're the north pole and you're in my smile
every time i go to sleep.
v. i've loved the ocean but not the sands of missing you.
ayam panggang and your sparking brown eyes,
thigh to thigh, we are not afraid. you eat slowly. i wolf.
i gave you the moon, my heart, plug my ears with:
i could spend forever with you and saturday hockey match dates
art gallery roaming, inside jokes, two people card games.
fill my eyes with: your dance, now, now, now.
i don't hear the scream of metal. you don't see me explode.
*i love you
where we are ghosts
in response to richard siken’s scheherazade
this is the dream
where we are hauling our corpses out of the lake
with wave-capped limbs creeping up shore,
clothing ourselves in seafoam, sandcrumbs;
where our moonlit silhouettes waltz
around the room with melodies
clinging to our skeletons,
where we pretend that our veins are
not rusted over, that our lips are
no longer blue.
this is the taste
of forbidden fruit on our tongues
each time they meet, rotten peel
spiralling from the blade
and tangling into our hair, our limbs
listen, persephone’s sirensong
from below our soles; decay-sweet,
watch, noonlight through the web of
our joined hands, filling
our hallowed souls
the ghosts are only haunting us because
we let them, the voices are only loud
because we've made a home for them
here, echoing through our
heads and heavy in our hearts
this is the dream
where you are kissing me hollow and
we pretend that it is love, where we are
telling ourselves that the voices in our
head are our own, where we are
all drunk on peaches and wine,
and the gods will envy us.
to the one left behind
you are going to fall in
love, and it will feel
like being split open with
the dullest of knives,
all cruel bite and jagged wounds:
he will sail into your skin
but he will never call it home –
making a niche between your thighs
etching memories into your bones and
leaving tender words decaying inside of you, and
he will be gone before his name
settles on your tongue.
do not wither from this.
scrub him from your flesh,
scrape him out of your brain.
remember your teeth.
seraphina is a nineteen-year-old student from singapore whose poems have previously been published in the singapore creative arts programme’s eye on the world 2016 anthology. she was a participant in the creative arts programme in 2015 and in its mentorship programme from 2015-2016. when she is not busy writing essays or poetry, seraphina is pretending to be ed sheeran in the comforts of her own bedroom.
Story telling walls,
Destruction tells it all,
Places once alive,
People full of joys,
But the wave of destruction,
Erased all the hopes,
What is a place,
If not glittering with hope,
People can understand,
Its not only meant for places,
Human beings are also same,
Making them feel less,
Taking away their self esteem,
What does it results in,
A dead person,
Just existing in this world,
With numb feelings,
A heart once full of emotions,
Now a cemetery of hopes,
Eyes once shining,
Now blank and dark,
Feelings once alive,
Now dead and far,
It is not always places,
Which scream silently,
Sometimes it is people,
Who are silently screaming,
Yet no one hears,
And no one tells,
But the world will keep on going,
And destructions will keep on showing,
Somewhere a heart still beats,
In a heart wrenching silence,
Will someone ever look beyond the surface,
Will someone ever look in those blank eyes,
Will someone feel the screams of broken dreams,
And the answer is given at once,
A deep and dark silence.....
Anum Ammad has done Masters in Marketing from University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan. Sufism and mysticism is close to her heart. Quite recently she has discovered her love for poetry writing. Her wish is to attract people back to book reading.
Hope is the fire that kindles my spirit.
Faith is the wind that carries me through hardship.
Love is the water that bathe me with strength.
Humility is the earth that keeps me grounded.
Pursuing my goals is the fire that kindles my spirit.
Trusting Him is the wind that carries me through hardship.
Loving you is the water that bathe me with strength.
Sinning is the earth that keeps me grounded.
Courage is the fire that kindles my spirit.
Aspiration is the wind that carries me through hardship.
Felicity is the water that bathe me with strength.
Regret is the earth that keeps me grounded.
(A poem written to describe myself with the four greatest elements, as a form of meditation. - entree piece in poetry competition titled Element Poetry)
Rage of God
The eye looked just once but never winked nor blinked
Turbulence in seconds that seem to never end
Like a gale that devastates everything in its wake
Like a blizzard that doesn't care for spared
Darkness in daybreak and clouds obscuring sunlight
Sight blinded hope while terror hovers all around
With the heart of men struggling against the binding mud
Fighting for existence, despite the sea of blood
Tears had gone unnoticed as they stood under the downpour
Devoid of protection amidst all the destruction
Ears had gone deaf from the scream that was their own
Chilling from the core, fearing life is no more
And who would be safe when God is in rage?
Nature's wrath would win no matter how prepared
It will come, it is here, and we are at war
By then we'll be reminded that we are only humans.
(Written for a poetry competition, themed Storm. This piece can be taken both metaphorically and literally. Won first place @PoetryPlanet and Published: Voices of The Aspirants: Poetry Planet Book 3 Anthology)
WINTER AND THE DOVE
(Inner Peace in Waiting)
Be still and close your eyes
and for a moment, embrace the silence
take a deep breath and feel the chill
see the white, snow flakes beckoning
our spirit to calmness by introspecting
asking why, asking how...
All around is chaos running in lanes
where everyday life becomes tedious habit
like an invisible chain suffocating
eating at you, slowly killing that child in you
drowning inside the cocoon of darkness
seeing everything, seeing nothing...
Our soul is screaming to fly higher
for the wind to carry us up to a haven
time had passed and we missed the chance
for we were deaf to the calling - muted by desire
lost in gaining, unaware of burdens accumulating
feeling tired, feeling weighed...
The season of interlude comes in winter
as a gift from God, to give us solitude
for careful contemplation, for seeking peace
within ourselves, rebirth in bargain
waiting for grabs, before the dove flew
out of reach, out of sight...
Maria Gloria Lagdameo a.k.a. OxyMoronicMe GLemz is working woman in her mid thirties from the Philippines. Her passion includes drawing, arts and crafts, cooking and writing. She likes grassy diet, old books, drawing and painting, listening to loud music, creating and reading poetry, watching long T.V. Series. Idle chitchat, snakes, sweets and slimmy food makes her cringe.
Her posted works includes, fourteen (14) articles, one (1) novel, eighteen (18) short stories, two hundred thirteen poems (213), one hundred and seventy-nine (179) of which are English compositions and thirty-four (34) are written in Tagalog. She had won 28 times (11 runner-ups and 19 wins) in different poetry writing competitions and have two short stories and four poems published.
Rameeza Nasim was born and lives in Karachi, Pakistan. Holding a masters degree in English Literature and Linguistics, she makes her living through writing and Blogging. Poetry is her Passion and it's something in her genes.