Poets’ Thursday: Another one

You clutch the clothes to your skin

Cold Nostalgia chills you to the bones

You walked away again

This time the mallet hit the wood

Arrogant tears traipse down your skin

Regret and pain encircle your bosom

As you nod painfully

Your thoughts walk back in time to

When you sold your soul to lust, intertwined with desire

You saw blur but you walked through

Through forbidden territories and boundaries

He whispered words and took a flight in you

Sailing through bones that became still

You laid down mistakes and buried a dusty Bible

Now yours walls are cracked and evil eyes see through

Your lips part and you can still make a sound

A sound of healing from within

A music that heals and a voice that soothes

You are back

Again

hurt woman

By

Deborah Nwanguma

Are you feeling poetic? Does your poem need some polishing?

Is there a poem inside you awaiting some prodding?

All roads lead to ojukwumartin@gmail.com; attach your work in a mail titled ‘Poets’ Thursday’. We shall ensure that your poetic muse does not divorce you, now or ever.

Poets’ Thursday is powered by Words Are Work.

What If

pensive African woman

I was 18 when we broke up; 18 years, 11 months and 29 days old to be precise. He attacked my weight again, I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time he did it, I can’t remember what we were talking about but arthritis came up and he said I should watch my weight or something like that. Basically, “you are getting fat”. That was the beginning of the end because come on, he knew how sensitive I was on the matter.

Well this time, I decided, would be the last. If all his love did was make me feel wretched, then it was pointless loving him. So I called it off. I knew he would come back, and come back he did. Suddenly, my weight was not an issue anymore.

Anyway this story is not about him. This story is about another ‘him’; the kind of ‘him’ that marks himself.  You know…right up there. He is like that scar you alone know of, the one you often find yourself fondly rubbing your hands over. The kind of scar that makes you smile. This story is about him.

I was 18 when I met him; 18 years, 11 months old to be precise. Funny how ‘met’ as a word is now very subjective, what with social media and its array of networks. I remember it like it was yesterday. I commented on something, he replied, I replied his reply, he replied mine…and we got talking. You know how you meet a guy and unconsciously compare him with your father, and oh the joy it brings when he checks every box. If you have your dad as a benchmark – Daddy’s girl club – you’d know exactly how I felt. Because this dude checked every box and moved on to circles.

We did not date, it was not practical considering the distance. But oh my, the chemistry, it sizzled hot and fierce on both sides. I had hit jackpot and boy, did I have plans! I would graduate at 22 and go on to Lagos Law School so we can officially be together. Then NYSC, settle in Lagos and live happily ever after with four kids; three boys and a girl in a big house with…well, we could work out the other details later.

Then I turned 20. They say when you get older you have more answers. If that is true, something must be wrong with my growth. My birthday that year came with a lot of ‘what ifs’ – “what if I only get into Law School in Abuja?”, “what if I am drafted for NYSC in Sokoto?”, “what if his genes are allergic to mine?”, and “wait oh…what if he does not feel the same way?” And in all of these ‘what ifs’, there were no answers.

I have always wanted to be mature, to really live in the 21st century as a 21st century woman. Gender Equality! If you like him, tell him, et cetera. Anyway, I told him how I felt. And in response, he officially asked me out. Not the answer I was expecting but an answer nonetheless. It felt nice at first. I finally could call him “baby”…aloud – oh yes, I used to say it in my head – and I could end the calls with” I love you”. But distance, the witch that she is, refused to let it be.

I couldn’t kiss him or hold his hands; we couldn’t touch each other or “touch” each other. No dates whatsoever – forget all that Skype. There were no eye to eye declarations of love or playful tickling that ends in bed with panting and sweating and no clothes on. Yes, we connected intellectually. Yes, relationships go beyond physical needs but…I don’t know, it just was not enough for me, for us. And so we broke up.

Looking back now, I think we just missed being friends that we did not work to actually be a couple. We became just friends again and yes it was awkward – going back from “hi baby” and “I love you” to “hey buddy” and “guy, pack well”. But we got over it. We were die-hard friends!

I told you the first one came back, right? Not my ‘jackpot’ now, I mean the first ‘him’ with the weight issue. Yes, he came back and became a good boy, always on his best behavior. He was safe and secure – no sizzles, no hot and fierce whirlwind of emotions. It was not the same as with my ‘jackpot’ but it was something good. I was not lonely, needy or desperate. So I settled.

Sometimes, I imagine what my life would have been with my ‘jackpot’. “What if I had waited and kept my mouth shut?”, “what if I had met him at another time, under different circumstances?”, “what if we had held on to each other just a little longer?” Even at 32, I still ‘what if’; like I said earlier, something is wrong with the way I grow.

Now I look across the table at my ‘best behavior’, and I look at the little one we conceived on one of those rainy nights when holiness flees and everything is possible. And I smile. Yes, I lost my ‘jackpot’ and I settled with my ‘best behavior’ but this right here…this little man in the high chair, gurgling cute nothings and trailing cereal all over his cherubic face, this is my pot of gold.

By Ezinma Ukairo.

Ezinma enjoys good music, food, books and movies. She is currently in her third year at the university where she is studying law so that she can promote the beauty of womanhood, and end child marriage and world hunger. Ezinma is afraid of ever having to just ‘settle’ in a relationship, but she keeps a closed mind to all the ‘unwanted stuff’ and continues to believe in love.

The Lectern: My Sketchbook

The mellow is upon us yet again in this month’s edition of ‘The Lectern’. The ‘crazy architect’ we will be reading today is Hope; if you asked her, she would say that she only writes from a moist mind. After reading this, I was astounded by the moistness in mine.

As an aside, can we get some dudes with the ‘hammer-n-mortar’ write-ups please? Some fire-brand religious mojo, profanities, and hardcore life lessons abeg…any more mushiness here, and these writers will have me dripping eye-sweat all over :/ #Nuffsaid

Aaaaaaaaand so, for the month of May, of sketches, sketchbooks and…well, moisture (what?!), WAW brings you…Hope!

The Lectern01

…that we might be read


MY SKETCHBOOK

sketchbook

I gave it to you…my sketchbook. My most prized possession.

You said you’d sketch and draw for me

Flowers, trees and parks,

beautiful pictures of sunsets and sunrises, buildings too.

So I gave it to you, kept nothing back.

 
 

The first sketch was nothing but scribbles

Ugly ugly scribbles…like the markings of a demoniac.

And so I took it from you. I took my sketchbook back

Even though I didn’t want to.

 

Then you came back.

You were sorry, and you wanted to make it right

I forgave. Just like God taught me

I forgave. And I gave it to you again, my sketchbook.

 

But when I got it back, I saw worse markings

Very bad ones.

Each stroke tore at me like the claws of a fiery dragon

And sunk beneath my skin

Like a vampire’s fangs.

 

My heart broke again.

I took it from you. Again.

But you wouldn’t stop coming. You came back, each time

Looking more contrite. And I believed you, each time

So I gave. Again and again.

But I believed. Just like God taught me

I believed. And I gave it to you. Again and again.

 

Until

There was only one page left.

 

You came again. For pardon

For one last chance

I had only one page left. I could not risk that.

Then you promised. Like God taught you

You promised. To make it up to me.

For all the ripped pages, the discarded ones. For my broken heart

To make everything alright.

 

And I gave.

I was hungry, searching for something beautiful. Vulnerable…what can I say?

But I gave. My very last page.

Because I believed.

 

You were a leopard. On the backdrop of your pale sincerity

Your spots shone…dark and unrepentant.

You did not just scribble this time. You neglected

My sketchbook.

My heart.

 

I found it drenched in the rain, scorched by the sun.

The little boys in the street played with it

Drunks fought over it…prostitutes spat on it.

Then you came along. And with your very hands

You tore it up into tiny bits and pieces…

…and the wind carried it away.

 

Then you came back

One more clean sheet, you wanted…even if only a scrap.

But I had none to give. I gave all I had to you.

So you left…sad.

And I cried.

Again. I cried.

Because I was hurt and heartbroken.

Because I had no beautiful sketches

Because I had no sketchbook.

I cried.

 

By Hope Eboh

Hope Eboh_The Lectern

 

Don’t forget to share with your friends and enemies, also take a minute to tell us in the Comments what you’re thinking about this one. If you have written something which you would like our readers to enjoy from ‘The Lectern’, or you just wan show yourself, attach and send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter, still reach out and we can work up something appropriate for you. It does not have to be right, left, right or wrong…just your opinion.

Chisom

 

UNFORGIVEN – III

…contined from Unforgiven II

unforgiven

Charles Umoh had a touch of arrogance, perhaps the fact that he was wealthy added to it. Those two aphrodisiacs were enough to attract any woman to him.

Standing on her doorstep, Ethel couldn’t avoid looking at him; really looking at him. He was greying at the temples in a way that made him very attractive.

“Won’t you ask me in?” he spoke in a low drawl.

His voice jerked Ethel from her semi-trance. She turned to Maria.

“What is this, Maria? How do you know this man?”

“She doesn’t. She just led me here. Because I asked,” he replied. “Thank you, Maria. You may go now.”

Without hesitating, the petite woman turned on her heels.

“Still used to getting your way, Mister Umoh?” she folded her hands across her chest.

“Still defensive around me, Ethel?” he indicated her posture, “Listen, we can do this here and cause a scene or you can let me in and we’ll talk like old friends.”

Only, we aren’t old friends. She thought, we aren’t even friends.

She moved aside and let him in, against her better judgment.

“Nice place you’ve got here, only it’s a bit small. Don’t you think?” he was walking around, like he owned the place.

“What do you want, Charles?” she asked.

“I miss the old apartment. It had memories, you know.”

She stiffened. He was toying with her. The old apartment had been his; he’d only leased it to her for their dalliances. That much had been clear when the relationship ended.

“What are you doing here, Charles?” she wasn’t going to let him get to her.

Her blood was pounding. With rage and hatred for this man. And something else. Excitement – a teeny bit of the old excitement raced through her veins.

It was the Charles effect. It didn’t matter that he was twenty years older than her or that they hadn’t seen each other for three years; he still had that effect on her.

You’re not this person anymore, Ethel. You have Jesus now. You have no right to feel this way about this man.

“I missed you. I’ve missed you all these years, Thelia,”

She winced. That was the name he’d called her before. When they were…together. It was the name she’d told him on their first date.

“You must be crazy. You think you can waltz in here after three years without a word and tell me you what? Missed me? You really must think the world revolves around you, Charles.”

He took a step forward, closing the little space between them. She didn’t look at him, didn’t want to look into those eyes, because then she was afraid her body might betray her. His eyes had always mesmerized her. His gaze had a hypnotic effect on her.

Be strong Thelia. No. Don’t call me that. My name is Ethel. Be strong Ethel.

“I’ve never been the same without you, Thelia. I should never have left,” he continued.

“Yet you did. And that’s the best decision you ever made,” she turned away from him, getting her strength back. “You should leave now, Charles. I’m not that person anymore.”

“What’s different?”

“I found Jesus. I’m saved.”

He laughed; a deep rumbling sound.

“Get out, Charles. I don’t know why you came but it’s time you left. I have work tomorrow.”

“You can’t keep up this good girl act for long, Thelia,” he was coming toward her again, “Remember what you told me once? I am like a drug in your system that you can’t get rid of. What we had was special, Thelia; people don’t recover easily from that.”

She remembered saying those words, when she’d begun falling in love with him without realizing it. It shamed her to think of it now. God, give me strength here. She prayed silently.

“Look at me Thelia. Look at me and tell me you don’t long for me as I long for you? That you don’t feel anything for me,” he was standing very close to her now, and although she was backing him, she could feel the heat that rose in her body as he came close.

“How’s your wife, Charles? And your two daughters?” her words broke the tension and he moved away from her.

“Low blow, Ethel,” he growled.

“Get out before I call Pastor Tim and tell him he’s beloved brother is hitting on his ex-mistress.”

“Tell me how you ended up in church, Ethel. You of all people do not deserve forgiveness.”

Without thinking, her palm connected with his cheek in a movement that surprised even her.

“You! Do. Not. Deserve. Forgiveness,” she said, anger rising in her eyes, “now, get out!”

He looked at her, “this isn’t over. I always get what I want.”

With that he marched out of the house and Ethel crumpled into the chair behind her.

Doesn’t knowing Jesus kill all evil feelings?

How could she still be attracted to this man who’d left her broken when she needed him most?

Love isn’t part of the equation, her Mum usually said while she cleaned up to meet another ‘client’.

What about my daddy? Did you love him? Ten year old Ethel had asked then.

Why do you think I have you? Mum had snapped in response. Love is a mirage and men don’t deserve it. Even though Ethel hadn’t understood Mum’s words then; she knew that somehow, men were the enemy. So Mummy said.

You’re not that person anymoreYou’ve let go of the hate and bitterness.

So why don’t I feel better? Why can’t I be immune to Charles?

Her eyes fell on her bible that lay on the table and she reached for it.

Cast all your cares on me.

As she opened the Bible and began to read, she felt that strange peace draping itself over her.

Be of good cheer; I have overcome.

An insane idea dropped into her head as she read and Ethel reached for her phone and dialed a number.

“Hi Amaka,”

“Eth, what’s up?”

“I’m ready to talk.”

“Oh. Now?”

“No. I’ll see you tomorrow at the office. Kiss Sharon for me.”

As she hung up, she realized what she’d done. Was she indeed ready?

 

…to be continued next week. Happy Sunday!

 

By Mimi Adebayo