For Leah Sharibu, A Hero

There is a wall
in my mind where thoughts of you should be.

I can’t imagine the horror,
pain or the insults you have received.

What I do know is: you are a hero
A general of the faith, an Icon of your time

Young kids will grow up hearing your exploits, your faith and your fearlessness in the face of evil

Everyday we pray for you and one day will see you again

Till then you are on our prayers
on our lips, on our phones
in our hearts
Till we meet again.

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For My Favourite Artist(s)

My baby,

I know you are scared
to put your words on the page because how do you top your past laurels?
Forget that. Just know, I am here waiting for what you write next
and for me you are always everything.

No one is perfect, but do you know how much dies every time you shut up the wells of your soul?

Deserts are made of the dust that piles down the way waiting for you to write again.

So, please don’t close your spring, break your pen, kill your gift, muffle your voice and bury your words.

Bring them: boring and plain, imperfect and frayed, flawed and promising,
We are waiting.

Other

When the rocks gathered,I was a diamond
When the diamonds gathered I was a flaw
When the flaws gathered I was human
When the humans gathered I was African
When the Africans gathered I was poor
When the poor gathered I was ugly
When the ugly gathered I was lame
When the lame gathered I was dull
When the dull gathered I became rock
Chalk, and I taught. I showed them what they could do, have, be. Together we learnt and built and grew. Now they are no longer dull and I am no longer rock. We are all diamonds glistening in the sun.

Is This How We Learn Your Names?

 

For Dapchi

Is this how we learn your names?
Soaked in blood and tears
drenched in the stench of a nation’s fears.
Would I ever know
Buni Yadi, Chibok, Dapchi
places so pretty
stained by tragedy
bent by the weight of wails ?
My feet have not kissed your dust
but my heart beats for your loss
I long to gather you in my arms
kiss away this pain that keeps growing
a gluttonous cavern, an abyss
which never goes away. Will you
ever get past this to become what you could have been before the war?
what can we call it when our daughters are stolen sons slaughtered
homes set ablaze mercy lost.
Innocents made casualties in a matter
they know nothing about. My arms are too small, my feet feeble but my voice will scream your pain to the heavens
my pen will record your groans, my books will carry your grief, my lens will collect your tears And one day
when pain and war are no more
we will lift an altar to your sacrifice
And at its base will be inscribed
No more death, no more pain, no more loss.

Should You Say Yes When A Doctor Proposes?

Should you say yes when a doctor proposes?

If you are strong of mind, steely of soul unsettled by blood urine vomit and gore

If stories of pain and hurt make you wish there were ways to help and you could do more

If you are accustomed to Valentines spent on telephone, Christmas spent working, many a lonely night

If you are never tired of hearing about suffering, cancer, Zika, Lassa, Ebola and mosquito bite

If you have experience waiting for things the Patience of Job, the calm of kings

If you know how it feels to hope for cures that may not come

Of you are wealthy enough for two an astute manager, administrator too

If you are contented, at peace, not one who dreams for the moon and sun

If making do with what you have is your strong suit, a hobby of yours

If sacrifice is your middle name and economics your favourite course

If you know how to water visions like palms, day and night though they seem to stall

If you know how to ease away stress and importantly, how to dress!

If you have nursed sick things to health or helped them up from a fall,

If you are a good listener, unmoved by words you do not understand

Then by all means, as the doctor kneels, gladly take their hand.

Celebrate Your Valentine Without A Dime

Hold her/him/them/it
in your arms
talk, about the way they have changed you
the joy they bring to your life
how happy you are to be with them.

Write their name on paper,
sand, a tree trunk or the sky
in a bed of hearts.

Take photographs of them smiling
eyes closed, lifted to the light
save, title it: My Beating Heart.

Listen to them breathe

Rub their feet
Hold their hands
Look into their eyes

Say: I would never want to be without you
Never want a world where you are not there
You are my everything.

 

He Called My Home A Shithole

He called my home a shithole,
I know he meant a dark place filled with flies and smells that make you retch where waste and decay reign,
I know he meant I was less in some way coming from that place.

My home maybe dark but is also full of joy: people laugh in trouble,
children smile with hunger,
lands yield bountiful and green.

It smells sometimes: cloying stench of corrupt, gluttonous leaders and rotten systems; but at others,
the air is clear with the scent of rain, Queen of the Night and palm wine.

There is waste and decay, but from these life grows, seeds take root and soon will fruit.

It is not the names called but the nature of a place that matters,
the good that spring from it,
life, hope, happiness,
the sound of laughter, dance steps
and revival rising from her depths to conquer all.