African Poetry

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Oblivion

Another vulture is up in this sky, eating the sun

       into oblivion, another man is drinking himself into death,

gulping this wine of absence, his tongue, dug

      into a burrow. I look towards this body, wanting this refreshing

touch of a zephyr. A man, a lion, undone into a sacrificial

     lamb, slaughters himself into death; a crevice lives in his chest,

& there is no hand to replenish it with sand.

     The ghost in the body channels itself into a piano and refuses

the hands a song. I put a sugar cube in my mouth

      & it ferments into a sweet song wet with sweet sorrow — one

that drowns into a dream, or into an apparition.

       I’ve lived inside a canopy of my own fears, I chisel them

into laughter on scary nights, & I sculpt

     a meadow of fresh plants for a face, a smokescreen for the rumble

of my thoughts. I gather the cold in my body

      on my lips, hoping to break this shiver down, but men

do not shiver, & in my dimly lit room,

      my tendrils don’t stretch, they dry and crumble. My laughter,

a language I manipulate my depressing

      moments into — Na man I be, ọkùnrin mà ni mí, nwoke bilie,

Kai kammana meji. Yesterday, Francis drowned

      himself. He poured gasoline into his unshared anxiety. Who will

listen to a man with muscles? Men don’t get depressed,

      until they flood themselves into the mouth of a river, or offer

themselves to gravity from the top of a cliff.

Abdulkareem Abdulkareem (Frontier III) is a Nigerian writer. His works appear or are forthcoming in POETRY, West Trade Review, Feral Poetry, Afro Literary Magazine, The Shore Poetry, Rulerless Magazine, Claw and Blossom, and elsewhere. He reads poetry for Frontier Poetry and Agbowó Magazine.

fireflies

today, we pick up fragments of ourselves

— as of a figurine smashed against

 

a wall. we pry the fear gnawing

our hearts into crumbs. we unhinge

 

from our memories the terror plaguing

our spirit to its tether end. today,

 

we quit inhabiting a vase in the wilting hand

of grief — a body bearing an ache

 

too young to possess a name, not yet ripe to be

scythed. may our wishes become horses

 

willing to lay down their necks

for ploughs — make furrows

 

where our little seeds of hope can

thrive. may our longings become miracles —

 

fireflies on a moonless night.

and when the world begins to slip from

 

our hold, when life becomes a ball quaking

on the edge of an abyss, bestow on us

 

courage to tally up our joys, till

darkness crawls into a gash of nothingness.

 

till our bruises start to scab.

till the scabs begin to glow.

Damilola Omotoyinbo (Frontier XIX) won the 2021 SprinNG poetry contest; she is a fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency. She is Damilola Omotoyinbo on Facebook and Instagram.

Better-Version-2019-by-Ayesha-Feisal.jpg

Better Version 2019 by Ayesha Feisal

Untitled_1978_Jimoh_Buraimoh.jpg

Untitled by Jimoh Buraimoh

Sweet Home

See, I come from a place

Where a cow’s life is worth more than a man’s

And whole villages are razed to the ground

For defending their farmlands against

Errant herdsmen

Animal rights activists would be proud

I come from a country where terror and mayhem are staple meals

A nation of attacks and reprisals

Where gullible youths are lured to their deaths

By orators safely tucked away in their fortresses in Europe and America

Where the things that unite us

Are songs that reinforce our strange bedfellowship

And the drumbeats of secession

I come from the land of the unholy matrimony

Between our assailants and our perceived protectors

Where ego, greed and avarice precede duty

And the public servant grows more powerful

Than his employer

I am from the place

Where crime is rewarded and virtue

Is judged, condemned and punished

Where mediocrity is applauded and so many airs

Given to the seat of an idiot

And any attempt at criticism is repressed

With brute State apparatus

Iyke Obinna Igbokwe was educated at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. His work has appeared in the Blueprint Newspaper in Nigeria and in December, 2011 his poem “I Rise” won the KorlueNow Prize for poetry in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Children of the Owl

the night when ashes from

cremated bodies were thrown

into the shallows of sea, was a night

crammed with spurts of crimson

from the doleful sky.

 

i, on the other side, could see

these ephemeral things

protruding from the closet

in my father’s house;

two hassocks combining to cradle

cadavers were aligned before the

entrance; with two undertakers

slowly, but mournfully swaddling

the innards of things we kissed as children.

& whenever i was taught a thing about

life, i immediately scribbled it in

my book of death; because that was

the only definite thing there was.

 

how does one remember to not

part with one’s dead in such ignoble

fashion? even the muezzin calling

aloofly claims he heard a voice far

louder than his.

Prosper Ifeanyi is a Nigerian writer. His works are featured/forthcoming in Lumiere Review, Afrocritik, Salamander Ink Magazine, Identity Theory, and elsewhere.

Vallei van Verlatenheid

I have a photograph of a house at sunset

a frontier homestead

with seeping dark koffee

squirming pale milk

 

my father walked me up

he did not want to look inside

he remembers it alive

 

it’s a pirate ship now

alone

he told me to bury him there

 

I dug a grave

and left him.

Nica Cornell is a South African writer and academic, with her Honours in Political and International Studies and Masters in African Studies. Her full portfolio is available at www.nicacornell.com.

Trapped

In the broken bottles are men

overweighted by marital issues

drowning dreams in streams of

fermented drinks, bodies ashamed

of their roles in an existence captive

to a cycle of recurring mistakes.

 

In the aisles of gods, broken women

piously pray for miracles to free

them from vicious violent blows

as they kneel on thin carpets of veiled

sin, heads bowed worshipping, while

the echoes of their prayers are drowned

by the politics of the clergy’s greed.

 

Broken bones heal, but these scars of time

tell the story of young minds trapped in

a circuit of reincarnating ghosts.

Day after day in this erosion they grow older

— the fumes of hate wafting from their own

desperation leads to a stupor of indifference

when they see their dreams dissipated into

the polluted rivers, drained into the lakes of

a political system’s unquenchable gluttony

— and in the classroom, the teacher stands

preaching water to a roomful of thirsty kids,

while he sips from his thermos of liquor,

trying to escape the darkness.

Ndiritu Mwangi is an aspiring poet born in the Kenyan highlands. Poetry has played a major role in helping him cope with different challenges through his life. His aim is to speak out on the issues affecting his society and the African continent in general.

On wishing reality was a healer

Cheers to blue serenity on the night of Qadr,

To the crescent moon like a broken plate,

To Ramadan's bloom, dates and its sour age,

Chai and mud, to December’s fair breeze

Breaking through the watered skin, to the old chair,

Brown faded furniture, the sand grains like body,

To purple hibiscus, the folding mountain,

The bloated, the youngest full moon,

To buried virtues, the forsaken magnolia,

The outcast by the mouth of the shore,

Cheers to these, sorry we believed all would heal,

A big cheer to the newborn escaping from

The heavens like honey.

Abdulrazaq Salihu is a 17-year-old Nigerian award-winning poet and novelist. His works are published or  forthcoming in Mask, Kalahari, Kolkatar, Artslounge, Synchronized Chaos, Angel Rust, Pine Cone Review, Jupiter Review, Inkiddos, Rouge Agent, and many more.

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