Utility

Onye na’aga ahia

I am the shiny red apple,

That catches your eye from two stands away.

The perfect one that makes your mouth water,

And sparks the hunger for the crunch between your teeth,

And sweetness on your tongue.

But I am the apple you set down in disappointment,

Because on the side you did not immediately see,

I am badly bruised.

Biko gwa’m,

Is apple that is bruised no longer sweet?

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Walks with the Moon

The grass practice podophilia with me,

As the tails of the fireflies fluctuate before my eyes.

My skin is made of pearls in the pale light

And my shadow dances nkwa umuagbogho against the ridges,

Defying my jean-clad modernity.

The wind whistles the call of a home I have not known,

Leading me beneath the eyes of my lover,

And her silver halo.

 

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Nature’s Children

 

We used to run with the wind

When we were young,

But now we have grown,

Our feet are too heavy.

The wind still remembers us,

But we no longer know how to play.

 

We used to dance in the rain,

When we were young,

But now we have grown

Our things must not get soaked.

The rain still remembers us,

But we no longer know how to play.

 

We used to laze in the sun,

When we were young,

But now we have grown,

Our schedules are too tight.

The sun still remembers us,

But we no longer know how to play.

 

We used to roll in the grass,

When we were young,

But now we have grown,

Our paths are made on concrete

The grass still remembers us

But we no longer know how to play.

 

We used to know the earth,

When we were children,

But now we have grown

Our cares are too many.

The earth still knows us,

But we have forgotten what we should know.

 

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Oku

This place where this building stands,
In my dream it is a mountain that is there
With a staircase carved into it
Leading me straight to mama.

Mama stands at the top of the stairs on the mountain.
She carries the sun on her shoulders,
and clouds dance around her head,
moving too fast for me to follow.

She beckons to me, urging me up.
Bia, Little Light, Bia. Oku na ere oku.”
I am hesitant at the bottom of the mountain,
“Mama I will burn everything o.”

It was mama that told me to hide,
“Cry me a lake, bleed me an ocean…”
She told me.
“The world must not suffer your wrath.”

I am unsure,
But she beckons me still.
Nwam, now is not the time to cover the light,
It is not the time to quell the fire.”

And so I go to her,
Mama in the sky above the mountain
I become a raging fire, skin and clothes melting from existence.
And I burn at the top of the mountain.

This place where this building stands,
In my dream it is a mountain that is there.
That is why I stand naked atop it, undaunted by the camera’s flash,
Bathing in the colors of mama’s rise.

 

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Mad Men

He was always terrifying, that man at the food seller’s junction.

Everyone called him a madman, struck with madness after a mob killing at the market in which he stirred the contents of a fifteen year old girl’s womb with the thorny branch of a small tree.
They said she cursed him, laying there screaming while her teeth were kicked in by faceless feet and he grasped her by the hip, a crazed excitement in his eyes as he twisted the stick into her, not minding the catches of the thorns on her inner walls or the blood that coated his arm while he performed his task.
She swore by her virginity, they said, that the womb that she would never get to use would forever birth evil for him until the day he died a death more gruesome than hers.

This was pure bullshit to me, even though they said, that after that she went mad, laughing and moaning to the torture, until the people got scared and only he was left to deal with her, while they stood watch.
She spat on him, a direct hit to the eye, with some of her teeth in the bloody mix. It was like he was possessed, they claimed, as he dragged her by her faux locks, now dirtied with sand and blood to the stack of tires and placed her through two. All by himself, he doused her with gasoline. All by himself, he set her ablaze.
According to them, she laughed even while she burned. I think it more likely that she screamed, but they insist she was laughing. I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t know.
Three months after the incident, his neighbor ran into the street screaming, crying in uncontrollable sobs. He raped her five year old daughter, she said. He ran out after her, dazed and apologizing, claiming that he had no idea when he did it. The young men in the area were on him in seconds, giving him blows from different directions.
It would seem that they were not surprised, only intent on dishing out punishment. My guess is that they already figured that he had some sick, twisted sexual urges from what he did to the mob victim. In five minutes he was dirtied and bloodied, meticulously beaten by one young man who was a soldier. The soldier was the dead girl’s boyfriend. They say the soldier would have killed him if not for the fact that he ran mad at that moment.
He grabbed the soldier by the foot, and tossed him into the crowd. The rest of the boys cleared away after that. While everyone watched in shock, he undressed. He began to run around, and when the crowed cleared to make a path for him, he made a beeline for an orange seller. She screamed and ran like a frightened rabbit.
He didn’t want her though, he wanted her knife.
I wasn’t expecting it, but they say he castrated himself. With the dull blade of the orange knife. The locals say it was not pretty.
They called the police, but they couldn’t find him. He escaped into the nearby bushes. The people say the girl’s spirit didn’t want him found, so she hid him from their eyes.
A year later he emerged from the bushes, with whip marks covering his entire body, and took residence at the junction. Nobody called the police again. They felt it’ll be futile. I joined the community a little after his reemergence.
Now three years later I’m standing over the madman, my ax going chop, chop, chop in time to the gurgles he’s making as blood spills out of his neck and mouth unto the ground of rotten leaves.
His eyes still hold mirth as they film over with the whiteness of death, and I can’t help but smile back at him.

 

The man who killed my sister.

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I See

 

November 7, 1988

I am a white man’s wife.
You may not understand the gravity of those words, unless you are in a situation like mine.
I am a black woman. I probably should have led with that. Is my cross coming into view?
You are probably already thinking of what could be wrong. A million questions dancing around in your head.
You probably think he hurts me. Or that he has me chained to a fence with a collar.
You are wrong.
It is you that hurts me.
Are you black? Are you white? It doesn’t matter. It is you.
Are you in my time? Are you a stranger from the future happening upon this letter? It is still you.
It is you because you are them. You are born of them. And deep down, you still think like them.
You are white. My husband’s people. And I see the way you look at me. You, women huddled like turkeys at the feed. I see your distaste as you eye my large buttocks pressing against my evening gown.
I see you hating the fact that the gown is wasted on an animal like me. I see you incredulous on how I came to snag the man who could afford such a gown.
“It must be voodoo”
You mutter.
I know that you ostracize me on purpose, flinging yourselves at my husband right in front of me, with malice in your eyes.
You don’t know that I am unbothered, because I know he accepts to dance with you to be polite. I know he enjoys to see these obscene buttocks bounce against his hips.
I see you, white men, leering at my voluptuous figure with yellowing, coffee-stained teeth, wanting, and hating that you do.
You are black. My own people. And I see the way you look at me. With your eyes full of hate and judgement.
“How can she lay with the monsters that label us animals?”
You say.
I see you, black man, the way you look at him. Your hunger for revenge, clear in your eyes, certain that he is the one that hurt you.
I see you, and I have to wonder. What do you know of him? What do you know of me?
I know more about the people that label us animals than you do. And I know they are not my husband.
I met him 31 years ago. It was 1957. His mother brought him to my zoo. I was nine years old, and I thought his blue eyes were beautiful. Not because of the color, but because they were the only pair that looked at me, like I was a person.
I moved towards him, accepting the piece of bread his mother offered, wiping my phlegm off, on my arm shyly, knowing he was watching me. I just wanted to impress. I will never forget that day.
“Look at her Tom. So dirty. Isn’t she the ugliest little thing you’ve ever seen?”
My heart broke, watching those blue eyes squint at me.
“I don’t think she’s ugly, mother. I think she looks like… Me.”
I was certain I was going to fly. He kept his eyes on me, as he was dragged away by his mother, and none of my zoo mates knew why I suddenly ran behind a cage to sit and cry.
He came back the next day, with his butler, and stood by my pen, until I came out to see him. He talked to me, Tommy Hill.
It took three days for me to finally get the courage to respond in my bad English I learned from the Zookeeper. Tommy didn’t mind, he was overjoyed at my response.
He handed me a page, and made me swear to never lose it. My zoo was moved that week, and it was not until 1969, after human zoos were banned, as a young woman, that I realized, that the page was a hand-drawn map, and a painstakingly lettered address.
He knew he would never see me again, unless he made a way for me to find him. And I did.
How long did it take you to realize that you are reading pages lettered with blood? I certainly am curious, sitting here going slightly dizzy from all the blood escaping my right wrist.
I just wanted you to know, that I see you. And that I forgive you.
I forgive you, black men, that took my Tommy from me. I know you have paid with your lives, but that only brings me sorrow for your families.
I forgive you, white men, that want to take the family house away from me. It is alright. Tommy and I have no children to inherit it. And I don’t want it.
I only want my Tommy.

 

 

Photo Credit: Me

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I No Longer Need You

Do you remember, the times when I told you everything?

The times when I bled out my heart unto your frozen chest, watching my hot blood cast steam from your unforgiving exterior, but affect you no more?

Do you remember, the times when I whined for your attention?

When I knocked desperately at the door to your head; where a raucous party ran alongside a cultured class of prodigious enigmas, but was denied entrance?

Do you remember, the times when I cried over you?

Those days when your tongue was harsher than the barbwire whips used to christen the body of Jesus the Christ?

Do you remember, the times when I couldn’t do without you?

When I sat patiently by the side, waiting for you to stop ignoring me and touch my face again?

I would not have believed it then, but now I know it is true. I don’t have you anymore, but I am alright, because when I think about it, I never really did.

Now I can raise my eyes; the coals of a volcano, and look into yours; a storm in a teacup, spread my lips in a smile, say

I no longer need you (Name removed)

And mean it.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Me

 

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