Do not touch

I may not be liked but I do lovely
So people love me even though I don’t place my value in their stead
Some have tried to run me over
Because they are amazed at the incredible things I do which they call nothing
I might not be the best today but I know my worth
And so,
I look forward to playing more competitive games not just ‘whot
And when I beat you again, all you can exclaim is ‘what the hell!’

The Niel
©2019

Your pride

I searched her face for a sign: something, anything to convince me about the Principal’s statement a few seconds ago but there was none. I couldn’t feel my legs anymore as I dropped back into my seat and Mrs. Hakeem rushed for me.

When I got a call from the office of the Principal through his Personal Assistant stating that I was needed urgently, a lot of thoughts fled through my mind. I had just returned from lunch at the office when the call came in. I didn’t know what to think. Was Simisola sick? Did she have an accident? Did her father show up –as he had been threatening he would—at her school? It just didn’t cross my mind that Simi, my only child would be involved in bullying of any sort. So I was amazed when the Principal said, “your daughter flogged a child into coma.”

As soon as the call had dropped, I picked my purse and keys, locked my office and left the building in a haste. I only remembered on my way out to call Mr. John, a colleague, and ask him to tell anyone who asked that I was called at my daughter’s school.

The drive to Simi’s school that afternoon was filled with mixed feelings. Unlike the normal excitement and ecstasy I felt when going on the usual monthly visits, I was filled this time with fear and rage. What had happened to her? I feared. “Oh, is it that man, her uncaring father who had come to take her? I raged. Whatever it was, I would soon find out.

I hurriedly pulled over at the Visitors’ park and didn’t notice the windows were still wound down. The security tried to call my attention but I ignored him. It was Harmattan and there could possibly be no rains. The dry winds blew harshly on my face and on my thoughts. I was almost sure by now that it was her Dad, he had come for her.

As I walked to the Principal’s office, I met a few members of the staff. We exchanged greetings. Their faces wore expressions of sympathy and shame. My heart got heavier. I didn’t have an idea what the problem was, so I hastened my steps. In the office, even as the Principal tried exchanging pleasantries, I remained worried. I wanted him to spill the beans as soon as he could. It was until he asked that Simi and the house mistress, Mrs. Hakeem be called in that I began to think, it may not be her Dad after all. Yet I still knew it was a serious matter. I began praying inaudibly.

In a few minutes, Simi came in with head bowed, shoulders slouched and fists clenched in front of her. Mrs. Hakeem walked in, after her. It was then that the Principal started talking about why I was called. He started by saying that Simi had been a good girl. I nodded in panic and saw  Mrs. Hakeem nod too. Then, he said that he was disappointed in ‘my daughter’. She had flogged a 13-year old JSS3 student mercilessly. I sprang up before I knew what I did.

While I was still trying to understand where such behavior came from, he made the statement. “your daughter flogged a child into coma.” That was when I slumped back into my seat and began screaming, “Simisola Ogechi Akala has killed me.” “Madam, calm down, calm down Ma.” I heard Mrs Hakeem say as she rushed for me. Her plea wouldn’t console me.

After about thirty minutes, I am sitting in the car with Simi. I parked my car after I drove us a few meters away from the school gate.

“Simisola, what is your problem?” I ask, not looking in her direction.

My cheeks feel cold from the tears dried up by the harmattan wind and my eyes sting: hot and teary. She doesn’t respond. I pick the envelope that the Principal gave me. I didn’t open it then because he already told me its content- a suspension letter- but now, I open it and pull the letter out. I give it to her to read aloud. She does. I barely hear anything she reads because she is muttering the words.

When she is done, I take her face in my palms and look her in the eye. She begins to cry profusely. I let her go and ask her why she did it. She says the junior girl was rude to her and her classmates were looking to know what she would do.

“So it was your pride that put someone in the hospital and I have to foot the bills now. Eh?”

“She was asthmatic.”

“You shouldn’t have beaten anybody!!!”

“I’m sorry mum.” And she bursts into another round of tears.

“You are a child of God, Simi. Even though your dad is far away, which is best for us, you know how your dad…I point to the car roof, behaves. Love is God’s nature. It should be all you do and know. You would have let the junior go and reported her to the house mistress. Your classmates and some other students saw you right?” She nods.

“They would have witnessed for you. Pride is a very stupid emotion to act on. The Bible says God resists the proud and because you know God does not hate anybody, you understand that he hates such character and attitude. Everything done in pride doesn’t give glory to God. Why are we created?”

“For His glory”

“Good! You didn’t give God glory. You acted in the flesh!”

“Mum, I’m sorry.”

“I know. So what do we do?”

With a voice shaken from crying, belching at intervals, she said, “We will go and visit her in the hospital. I will use all my savings. You say what is best for us to buy.”

I hug her tightly, and say a word of prayer in gratitude for God’s word and His work in our lives when we let Him.

Kendra Okpara
©2019

Golden Boy

One step in front of the other
I watch you plant them
Like a weary traveler who has lost his way
Your back is burdened with a sack full of disapproval
And a lifetime’s worth of disappointment and doubt
But you shoulder it like it’s nothing
You smile at me, golden boy
And make me believe there is beauty to
The cracked burden of the tortoise

You’re just a little eccentric
I tell myself, every time I catch a glimpse of your pain
I believed I could heal you
You made me believe I was,
And I trudged behind you gladly
Cherishing every moment you put the pack down
And opened it.
But you never got rid of anything in the pack, did you?
I think you loved the sweet torture
Of owning exquisite pain
I learned to appreciate the beauty in pain
And see the hope dressed in disappointment

So I did nothing
Till you slipped right off the edge
And scattered in a burst of gold dust
Slapping my face with the truth I should have seen
had your beautiful, golden smiles not blinded me;
That I had no power to make you happy
That love could be as strong as pain
Or could be its equal

So as I stand at the edge of your cliff
I want to hate you
But I don’t
I will remember us as we were
And I will choose to be happy, golden boy
For both of us, I will choose life.

Miracle Ifechukwu
© 2019

Dear God #2

To follow you
Anywhere
Anytime
Anyhow

2

I’m on a boat sailing to the shore where you are
The waters, still, remind me of your love –
Unwavering and completely overwhelmimg
When I’m stuck and can’t go any further, you still believe in me
I’m sorry for not trusting you enough
For not doing the little crazy things you want to me to do
For not completely giving in to your desires
I’ll listen to those little nudges inside and obey your voice
I am not going to hide the light that you have put in me
You know what you’re doing
You know what’s best for me
From now on, I put all of my faith and all of my trust in you
I see your hands stretched out to me
I love how warm and safe it feels
I don’t want to ever be in a place where you aren’t
I want to follow your lead

Your darling

– Ifiokabasi Okop (2019)

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.

If you are reading this, you are already here
The anthill is now a mountain
The pond is a sea
Life is now a fountian
Bursting with whatever troubles may be

If you are reading this
Dark clouds have converged
For the storm is now fruitful
Your feet and head await to be submerged
As all previous plans don’t feel as useful

If you are reading this you may be at worlds end
But “be not afraid” is the Lord’s trend
And his love is past, future, and present
Even at the world’s end

If you are this reading this
Know that Gods love is breath when you are left gasping
And his embrace can fill all your gaps in
The issues of life tend to always buckle under his name’s weight
And his word makes mountains mere exercise for faith

If you are reading this, you are already here
If you are reading this, you already won.

– Ini Brown (2019)

Judging the Judge

Do not judge if you do not wish to be judged
As simple as it seems,I assure you its not
For on the deepest recessing of my mind
I already classed you… Everytime

The watch you wear, the time you spend
The monies you lend that do not compare…
To how much you are self aware.

Funny, I already judged you
You who sleeps with she’s and wake with hymns
I’m sorry you dare not speak…you’re dim
I’ve judged you

For you think I did not know of the lies you told
Grow a pair, its getting old
And yet you judge me so

Who gave you the right to judge me?Answer me
Who gave you the right to judge me??Answer…
Answer me, I…
I
I

Answer me.
But I turns a deaf ear
I is self righteous
I is indignant
I is blind to me
And me does not listen to I
So I ignores you and lets this continue

I, You, Me
The tripatite judge of all who be
Seeking justification in an existence parallel to HIM

In a self created universe beyond HIS reach
Using standards we know won’t stick
Just winding down the clock with every tick

I would rather not be judged by HIM
You would rather not be judged by HIM
Me would rather not be judged by HIM
Cos HIS ways are just and would turn ours to dust

– Somto Onubogu (2019)

The strongest charm ever made: Samson’s tale retold

I lived a life full of pride. My life was awe with matchless grace. My hair was strength, my strength was grave. Nations and cities bowed to me and all I knew was victory. Victory, till I fell to charm. Now let me tell you about the strongest charm ever….

Yahhhhhh!!! I’m so excited to write this. Sometimes most truths are really just hidden in plain sight.

Let’s start by screaming at her, cursing out loud, and maybe, if we get the chance, we would still shake her hand; because she showed you the way.

On a cloudy Friday evening, I took the lone road I’d always stayed away from. The grasses were wet, my feet felt moist. The air was soothing and my heart was free. I saw her. I trusted her, why won’t I, When I had nothing to lose. She was the roadside beauty. Her wink always made me act funny. She was good; at least that’s how I remember it. She was on every man’s lips, only problem was, not every man could get so lucky; her attention had a high price.

I was muscular, athletic and strong. In many parts of that region, I was a kickass warrior. Trouble was my father’s name (laughs); I could almost always get away with anything.

She caught my attention that cloudy evening, when I chose the wrong street to walk my dog. I was careless as usual, not minding whoever my dog tried to disgrace. I loved it actually; what a Bruno he was. As I turned down the lonelier bend, there she was; looking. Charming her way, as usual, she was the first to notice, after all I had big abs. While I was still carried away by the stubbornness of Bruno, she was positioning herself for the kill or let’s call it; the catch.

My heart stopped, I couldn’t even contemplate. Was I delusional, such a beautiful somebody could not even have existed in your time? Call it whatever, but I was hooked at first sight. Unfortunately, I had developed poor wooing skills; like always, my muscles did that job. I was already on a spaceship to HERS and there was no turning back.

I saw her, I know I saw her. I cannot be mad, my two eyes caught her; smiling at me, and my godammmn legs just had to find out. Then we made out (and don’t even ask me what charm I used); I was getting wooed and I didn’t even know it. Her body was perfect, her sense of humor would make you feel like you had never laughed yet, there was no other girl on her level, she was phenomenal; and she knew it.

I was in trouble; and I didn’t even know it yet. I was trapped in the web of my desires.

I fell! I fell without a rope and don’t dare ask me where. I’d whisper anyway, I fell in sin.

It didn’t take long; I was already proposing pitching some permanent ideas to her father. She was my burger without the buck, my silent night on a stormy day, my rose without the thorn, she was my slut. I couldn’t bare it anymore, so I told her everything; my heart is yours.

He was my stuff, my war without the sword, my pass, my personal bodyguard, He was my crush. There he was sleeping on laps; I would like to narrate how beautiful he was, but let me bear my cross. I would have loved to trade souls, but money was always first.  

It was my first loss, she was my only cross, her lies were stronger than death, she was my curse. ‘My heart is yours’ I told her, and that was clearly her plus. The battle was lost the first time we crossed, but how would I have known that I had been jazzed.

Three times she asked and three times she tricked me. All she wanted was the gold and it didn’t matter if my eyes had to go. Three times I broke her bounds, but her jazz was too strong; because every single time, I only came closer to telling her, what made me strong.

Now it is gone, now I am no longer strong. Now she is gone, I wouldn’t even know if she’s not. My eyes are gone and so are my locks, now I could never kill a thousand men like I had with a jaw bone.

Her charm was strong, only it was not hers. My heart was wrong, it fell in LOVE.

Love; real or not was strong enough to cost me my strength.

Love; true or not, was strong enough to take Christ to the cross.

Love; now or later will cost you some sacrifice. May it be for the good. May it be for the truth. May it be real.

Love’s charm is unbreakable.

John Okor and Steven Kator Iorfa

© 2019

RESCUE

I found rags to cover up
I take the lonely road home
Trying to hold back tears
– Mum will be so angry –
I’m at the front door
And I can’t ring the doorbell
The door clicks open and Mum gasps
– What happened? –
– I don’t know –
I sob and drop to my knees
– Don’t worry honey, let me clean you up –
She picks me up and takes
Me to her bathroom, peels
The rags off me, picks out
The dying petals from my hair
And cleans off the ashes from
My body. She gently sponges
Me and shampoos my hair
I let out the tears
– I’m so sorry Mum –
– It’s okay honey, you’ll be fine –
I nod
– I love you, you know that right? –
I nod
When she is done, I look at
The bathroom mirror and touch
My face. I see the glow come into
My eyes, I smile and clean off my tears
– I love you –

IfiokAbasi Okop
© 2019