tonight I open my body into the
pages of the bible.
i have hidden God inside my tongue,
that’s how he hears while I’m yet speaking.
i find a lie inside my closet,
hanging memories of
sand that taught me to build
a kind of babel here.
i have forgotten how to give a hand to the sun,
and steal a cup of light.
torch my path,
until i burn a way home
like the spirit of a cigarette
entering into heaven.
like a prodigal son.
washing my sins in my mother’s tears,
singing my plea for forgiveness
to the tune of my father’s heart,
to where i first learnt to cry,
to where i cry now.
Olafisoye-Oragbade Oluwatosin David, “King Davey”, is a poet and spoken word artist from Ondo State, Nigeria. He is a medical student at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Kwara State, Nigeria. His works are a blend of his faith and his feelings growing up as a Nigerian.
Richard Thomson is a South African multi-disciplinary artist who composes different art forms together, depicting different versions of the same story. It’s always the story of humanity yearning for peace, love, and unity. What it means to be in this dualistic world. How to encode the light shining from Source and anchor it here and now through creativity. He has shown work at the Aardklop Festival and at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival. Experience some more of his creations here: www.themondayclub.net
You were the Wife of Bath
and I was Claudius Ptolemy.
I was your sixth or seventh husband
and you were my invisible lover, Mrs. Succubus.
We played games in the sack by candlelight.
We crossed deserts.
Some days we didn’t even know each other.
Little wonder I was so confused.
How does one label their experiences
when rampaging Visigoth’s are at the gate?
With biblical floodwaters rising?
In these damnable firestorms?
One minute we’re Bedouins in a Saharan caravan
and the next we’re planting tomatoes back in Omaha.
“Now you see me, now you don’t,”
you cried out from behind a burning mulberry bush.
And I couldn’t have said it any better.
There aren’t enough words to finish a poem.
Words are rare in this tight-lipped land.
Even our philosophers use them sparingly,
each syllable a waterdrop in the desert of mind,
each letter a stupendous gem to the mute pauper
unwrapping his filthy handkerchief, to show his wife
the thing that he’s caught, as if a wounded bird
blown off course on winds scented of cinnamon.
A word so plump and fine they’ll dine a week on it,
and poetry be damned.
Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with poems published in hundreds of magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books include The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press); An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy; (Cawing Crow Press); Like As If (Pski’s Porch); and Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).
Kerry Lush is a photographer, designer, and stylist living in Queensland, Australia. Her work can be viewed on Facebook at Lush Creations https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100066787272286, and on Instagram at hybrid_queen_photography.
written during travels in Japan
The sun and moon without light. Sky and earth in darkness.
Who can uplift the sinking world of women?
I pawned my jewels to sail across the open seas,
parting from my children as I left the border at Jade Gate.
Unbinding my feet to pour out a millennium’s poisons,
I arouse the spirit of women, hundreds of flowers, abloom.
Oh, this poor handkerchief made of merfolk-woven silk,
half stained with blood and half soaked in tears!
A Reply Verse in Matching Rhyme
For Ishii-kun, a Japanese friend
Don’t speak so easily of how women can’t become heroes:
alone, I rode the winds eastward, for ten-thousand miles.
My poetic ponderings, a lone sail soaring across the vast, expansive sea.
Dreaming wistfully of the Three Islands, exquisite under moonlight.
The imperial palace’s bronze camels have fallen, the grief unbearable.
Toiling warhorses are guilt-ridden, not one battle yet won.
As my heart weeps over my homeland’s loathsome troubles,
how can I linger, a guest abroad, savouring spring winds?
Yilin Wang’s translations of these poems were first published in Asymptote. They appear here by permission of the translator.
Qiu Jin was a cross-dressing Chinese feminist, revolutionary, and writer who died by decapitation in 1907 after an unsuccessful rebellion against the Qing government.
Yilin Wang (she/they) is a writer, poet, Chinese-English translator, and editor who lives on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations (Vancouver, Canada). Her writing and translations have appeared in Clarkesworld, Fantasy Magazine, POETRY Magazine, Guernica, The Malahat Review, The Toronto Star, Words Without Borders, CBC Books, and elsewhere. She is the editor and translator of The Lantern and Night Moths, an anthology of modern Chinese poetry forthcoming with Invisible Publishing in 2024. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC and is a graduate of the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop. Website: www.yilinwang.com / Twitter: @yilinwriter.
Kerry Lush is a photographer, designer, and stylist living in Queensland, Australia. Her work can be viewed on Facebook at Lush Creations https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100066787272286 and on Instagram at hybrid_queen_photography.
On Deserving/ Undeserving Love
I am walking down memory lane, and the streetlights cast my path with wreaths from our dead marriage. I stop at a cursed tree, pregnant with affliction. Jutting offspring of dried-up leaves; horses and mules eat of. A thrum after plucking. You are that galloping wind returning to me like it never left. Memory, like you, without whom my body would speak no evil; the figurines on the shelves I see across the street windows are tired. Tired (and still) they make even the pictures in frames cry. Broken bottles on these streets have my blood in them, they are scattered and everywhere like Jesus; all you have to do is call with a mead in your mouth.
I am walking down memory lane. Did you see me? Wailing solo. At the scuttling mouth of a river. Ever so divine. Pristine, as gold. My neck draped in bust, my feet unglazed and hard-baked from the scorch of sun—terracotta. My lips bare and dry—terra firma—they sing of ache and rejection. Permit me this once, Beloved, to look upon my lowly works and exhume a part of me which yearns to deserve you. Not this flitting rage; not this stray affection; but something real.
I am walking down memory lane, and like every lane, there are narrow passageways, hedges, or trees. Something of a hindrance to this love. Even when you morph yourself into my memory, I wake up not remembering you. Nor this love. Or the man I am to be. I see only brocade silver dust adorning my wife-to-be on a patio field, with a congregation of well-wishers.
i usually would lie with my feet bare & my eyes
traversing toward the nebulous keyhole of heaven.
observing the grey. the blue. the haze. my dendritic
fingers were spectator enough to cheer & catch a
swarm of stories i would have told you if the sky
wasn’t poniarded into fissures.
i gourd our memories, especially when brought face
to face with the rim of your teacup, where i uncork
my body to the safe pillows of your eyes; how you are
stoppered by your strides into a half-baked room,
an ocean of guilt, the corneous beak of rain, & the
strums of a wailing guitar.
ours was a tale about how loss cracks us open & wells
in our hearts thin empty spaces with boxes of guilt lying
around. the distance between our feelings mathed itself
into the spaces of our glabella & now, we have nothing to
trim and mow except the pubic strands of grasses we hoard
& so i ask, aren’t we all called by a swaying bell with
no tongue? i am beginning to agree that time is a
mother because she heals all things. is it this hate?
this incalculable love? this excess of history that
once sprouted out of the lawns of our eyes?
Prosper Ìféányí is a Nigerian writer. His works are featured or forthcoming in Caret: McGill University Graduate English Journal, Black Warrior Review, Parentheses Journal, Brittle Paper, Identity Theory, and elsewhere.
Stephanie Liebetrau lives and works in Port Elizabeth/ Gqeberha. She completed a Diploma in Graphic Design at Cape Technikon. Her evocative oil paintings & collages fuse South African women with natural elements to create hybrids that diffuse the boundary between the real and recreated. She explores themes such as eco-feminism and remains fascinated by the “fragile hieroglyphics” in nature’s design. Her work is often ekphrastic, inspired by poetry, scripture, and sacred texts. She may be contacted via facebook.com/StephanieLiebetrauArt.
stand outside your body, naked
take a walk out of your own skin and
go spend time with the trees, sit under
their shade and let your imagination
carry you away to places only
known to your inner child
the moon… and the stars, draw
your ears to their conversation
for they indeed speak of things —
things about words, numbers,
symbols, on their lips they bear
the spell mankind is under and
the mystery yet unavailable to the
wanderer who has already strayed
away from his soul
it’s noon o’clock and the sun is
wild today, shining, emptying all
of itself… freely giving not to itself
but to life for living — take a glimpse
of its selfless nature: to see life bloom
in another form without gossiping
to the stars, and to other celestial bodies
trying to walk but staggering and falling,
still falling, I see his strength failing,
he takes a pen, writes down tomorrow
on a soiled A4 — bringing light
to his manifestation; seizing the sun
in the body of the sheet
The Yoruba title of the poem, Ìwà Pẹ̀lẹ́, could be translated as ‘good or gentle in character’.
Uchechukwu Onyedikam (mystic poet) is a creative artist based in Lagos, Nigeria. He’s been published in Amsterdam Quarterly, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, and several print and online journals and magazines. With regards to the intense passion he nurtures for poetry, he’s open to work with other creatives from around the world. He looks forward to exploring all of humanity with words in a world where everyone else is hurting from bombs and guns. His poem, ‘Ten Years’, is on YouTube at https://youtu.be/rXxmuJseh8w.
Richard Thomson is a South African multi-disciplinary artist who composes different art forms together, depicting different versions of the same story. It’s always the story of humanity yearning for peace, love, and unity. What it means to be in this dualistic world. How to encode the light shining from Source and anchor it here and now through creativity. He has shown work at the Aardklop Festival and at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival. Experience some more of his creations here: www.themondayclub.net.
How I witch wish I didn’t swear to document
My pains. This comedy of error in our
Chamber, yesternight, has costumed (consumed) the
Vitality in me. I am tayad (tired) an eraser…
Grieving for being grieved to erase gr … f.
So, pardon me, edit all (editor)… I’m writing a
Poetry of €rror. <❌> €rror5
Right noun, (now) I wish to be a shadowglass (show) glass,
My mouth is of sl(ack)ed like my mother’s
Body, 2 too tired to trabaye travel the tales across.
How father whore wore the face of a Lion – kinging
With a clown crown of anger in his room.
Requesting food, after dropping no koin coin,
From his jobless partner. <❌> €rror
Damn! What did I just call mother?
There’s this (lafta) laughter that shoots noodles
Off need-dos needles… mother beat bit it. I saw them
Find a home in father’s skin – behind
The cutting cotton. They were piercing at
Boat (both) sides… I & brother didn’t mean to
Rebel against father but mother had preserved
That pot to save our sows souls. But father
Will clench his teeth forever. <❌> €rror
The muscular night had mother all to himself.
In our bird bed I bet the lie-on lion didn’t see
Rainbow dreams either. And it’s not
Right – how I can lift them into a solemn
Slumber as if my education didn’t mat her matter.
But everything here has (wait) weight and has
Occupied spaces in me. Under arrest.
This poem has to stop there! Pardon
This (these). <❌> €rror5
Psalmuel Benjamin Oluwasheun is a poet, writer and spoken word poet from Nigeria.
He writes from Ewekoro in Ogun state. He’s the 2nd runner up of the PROFWIC SPOKEN WORDS POETRY CONTEST 2022, and has been a quarter finalist of War of Words 9, 2022, winner of Shuzia Thursday Poetry Challenge, September, 2022, a finalist at POF4 (pen on fire) and longlisted for BOPP Poetry Prize, 2022, with works published in PAROUSIA, cc:Journal, The Lumiere Review, Agape, Arts Lounge Magazine, Eskimo Pie, Lion and Lilac, Allegro, shufPoetry, Communicators’ League, Mixed Mag, Nanty Greens, Kalahari Review, My Woven Words, The Fiery Scribe Review and others. Connect with him on: Facebook: Psalmuel-benjamin olúwásheun. And Instagram: Spokespsalmuel.
Mongezi Ncombo was born in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. He studied Visual Art and Design at Central Johannesburg College. In 2010 he enrolled at the Artist Proof Studio, completing his studies in 2012. He works in mixed media and his work is composed of acrylic drawing ink, paint, and old postage stamp collage. Using abstract impressionism and realistic cubism, he recomposes patterns to project scenarios of urban and rural life. Since 2010, Mongezi has taken part in many prestigious exhibitions He is a participant in the Spier Arts Trust Mentorship Programme, and he is currently artist-in-residence at the Modern Art Project, South Africa. He also manages the Richmond Bookbinding Project.