October 23, 2015 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION


Justice Gift Ogochukwu







Papa poured his spirit in a gourd

And made libations with it to the gods.

They gave him nothing in return,

So he found palm wine to fill his empty soul.


They were not even shameful enough to grant his wish,

When he lost his manhood between mama’s thighs.

He had to call death with a calabash and three parrot eggs.


The skin of my drum is hardened,

The eye of the gods is here,

Saying that I have grown old enough

To talk, walk and dance with spirits.

What he means is that I’m old enough to live papa’s mistake.

He doesn’t know that papa’s tale is imprinted on my eyelids.


When I see the pepper, the frond and the gourd,

It is a chance to let the gods beat my drum.

It is a chance to dance to the beat of yestermorrow.

But I remember that they do not recompense the sweat of your feet.


Papa’s tale is imprinted on my eyelids,

I read it each time I blink.

But I want to bid mama farewell.

I want to hear the end of the story that died on her lips.


If I chew the unripe pepper,

If I hold the fronds between my lips,

Maybe I will talk to mama,

Maybe I will walk and dance with her.

…and maybe papa too.











Mama is not a woman.

She is a memory dressed in smoke at dusk

And by dawn, fallen petals of a wilted dream.


Papa says she winks at us from the sky,

But then, she must also live in the bellies of a hundred fireflies.


Mama is not a woman.

At dusk, she is a forlorn path to the stream,

And I’m in the cuddle of her solitude,

Listening to tales told by her high-pitched quietude.

At dawn, she goes back to trading with feet,

Collecting prints and experience.


She has a hundred shades of faces.

Tonight, she wears that of the woman who smiled at me at the stream.


Mama is not a woman.

She is an ill-formed wish in the uterus of my desire.

She is the memory of a memory that never was.








Justice Gift Ogochukwu

Justice Gift Ogochukwu is a Nigerian poet from Delta state. He is a student of Agricultural Economics who loves art. He writes to express his thoughts and fears.


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