In a descent into madness I rarely roam

I’ve been running
all my days
two decades of my life
in two years
from bullies
to bullets
the neighbor’s dog
lecture halls & house chores
an angry father with a leather club
in a riot of religious mob
with my pregnant mum under the cold rains of jos
oversleeping my nights
hoping if I ran long enough I’d fall off
the cliff of my grief
fall into fall where leaves are
the golden brown of horizons swallowed at dusk

In another reality
my sisters came before me
outside the trenches of matrimony
with different names
burnt on the same color of skin
they were there to watch me
wage worthy wars
against my own body – vaginal slits on skin
running head-on into walls
calling out to me
overdose –
& not partake

Stand in the ruin & rabble
waiting to hear my name ripple
because there’d always be survivors
even if the war stood alone
in the room
there’d always be pagan songs
to lead the body
an already jealous god
into dance

So say body
say mine
say stay
god is only a bush
crossed out with fire here
& my body chooses to begin alone
end alone
with no outward approval
in between

Like a poem
it is a backflash of unfinished things
that abandons its maker
before he yawns

No one
should tell me
how to hate my body
or my god

But I dated once
this famous whitegirl who one day
over breakfast said
is there a way you could make
your skin look less black…
my photographers are beginning to think
you’re shadowing me…

Next day
I repeated same to the mirror
scowling back
to a mug of burning black coffee
gulping down
fast as anxious saliva
before running out the door


JK Anowe lives, writes & teaches (when he’s not consumed by wanderlust)
from somewhere in Nigeria.

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