Three Poems – Nonso Okoye


The last time we spoke,
Kano was covered in a film of dust, and our quarrels
sent waves crashing against our balcony.
A butterfly flickered past. I reached for your hands
like my world was ending in a few.
The harmattan lifted.

And my fingers are coated with dust.


It’s that time of the year when birds
fly eastwards to be loved.
You leave at the first sun.
The new chilliness stings my face raw.
And time burns holes through your pressed lips.
We don’t have all night
to see in the shade of the fog.
Come fall, the trees will knee.
Rivers splashing in agreement
Think of me as your hills and valleys
Or the shallow-winged bird waiting for your return.

Peaceful Practice

Another mob converged over a migrant and retreated,
and a body lay on the hot street of Zungeru,
a feast for crows and vultures which soon gathered.
Neighbors watched, eyes rimmed red.
The migrant had kicked a man off their curb.
Their voice was a dart that punctured
what was not meant to be punctured.
It wasn’t the first time they’d endured the talons of
men who demanded acreage on their hunched back.

This is not a story of a lynching
or a map of the hands that wielded blunt clubs.
This is misery wearing pain like flowers,
a requiem in memory of the ones who deserved it.
Tell me, doom: what is the color of a man’s balloon?
Or the smell of the rust after we spat darts that were meant to be swallowed.

I am tired. Just like before,
just like all the sunsets I’ve known since I turned one.
It is afternoon and Zungeru cooks in the heat.
I walk the miles to our tiny apartment
where my mother stands at the gate,
her arms spread open, long fingers
ready to pluck stones off her boy’s red eyes.

Nonso Okoye was born in Kano and now lives in Enugu. He writes poems, essays, and short stories. His work has appeared in Isele Magazine. Twitter: @Okoyenonso_

Banner Art: “return, return...” a VISPO by Robert Frede Kenter (c) 2022. Twitter: @frede_kenter

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