Closure; In the daily survival of the unfortunate; My lover takes me; In the murky undercurrents of living; The desire to be lonely


I kiss the blunt, dull the world, body

languid like jelly, slow like suffering.


I wander small spaces, inhale the dust &

grime of years—memory, a tender hand


on my shoulder. I’m alone. Always, the

nagging feeling of shadowy eyes all over


my body, their teeth white, waiting for

me to offer myself. At night, silence


impeached by generators, I lie still, a

placid stream, the pebbles of my breath


held in my palm, waiting to skip, then

drown this body into finity. There, on


the table, the blunt glows, calls me to its

worship, its lips, a kiss soft, wet, full of


hungry smoke, an invasion of lassitude.

I hunger, I thirst, I touch the door with


blind hands, place my ear to the deaf wall,

listen & feel a room breathe. I find a grey


hair, so fine like ashes after fire. I do not

look at the blood in my eyes & I sink deep


into the hole, where to stay will mean eternal

absence of self. It is seductive, this calling,


this need to efface self from memory. I close

my eyes, sink low & let myself go. There’s no


one there, no light, no sound, just my body

settling like an old building into the earth.



In the daily survival of the unfortunate

In this country, a father walks out & never returns. Truth!

& a mother is a shadow. In the night, she covers the home


with her body. Her fingers are nimble for the tears she

must hide. Even children fear. In the day, a man sits the curb,


his head heavy on his palms, an offering for anyone—come,

take. He wrestles the sun & burns, a rabid fire & he calls it


hustling. A woman hides her sleep in the garden where her

jewels are buried & she is always lying, a griot filling


stomachs with words. The children, promised tomorrow,

learn to play today away as their mother patches shame


& wears it as her wedding dress. & sometimes, a husband

raises his fists, fury at all the genuflecting, breaks his wife


into pieces of kolanut & puts in his neighbours mouth to

chew & forget. You see, a woman lifts weights beyond the


suppleness of her neck. In this country, a wife hides her

pain in the pocket of her waist bag. She knows the science


of counting kobos. She learns to forget beauty & desire.

In the city, husbands die over little. They hide in their sleep.


A wife hides in the struggle to breathe evening in the

brooding hunger of her home. Sometimes, she rails, her


fingers claws, deep into night, by the door, unstitches shame

& force feed her neighbours the taproot of her nightmare.


Sometimes, the children are cruel for they are broken early,

for to sit with father is to know death & to work with mother


is to know death. Their eyes become dreamy & their mouths

become graves.  This is how they wait for God to come


& answer. In this country, we patter to & fro, grey as

ghosts, unsure hands stretched forth into dusk.

We call it hope, this spilling of time in our raw palms.

We dream of chains & sudden accidents of fortune.


& sometimes, all we do is fuck on our battered

matrimony. We fuck to forget, to pretend, to


remain human. Our prayers stay tattered, stained

with constant thumbing. God must know the shades


of our hunger by heart. There must be a record of our

trauma. & we wait, for someone to come, give answer.


My lover takes me

My lover knots the bed sheet into

a garrotte—my throat is open to her


knife fingers strumming my spine—a

three fingered artifice. I dance


the zanku, my fire, a pilate washing

hands before a mob of desires. Look


at us, intertwined within the mirror’s

ugly gaze, our bones clang—bells,


unchained from holy work. Where

does the harmattan ends & the desert


begins? Your hands suffocate me with

want & I’m dying to give satiation.


Your body is a house of horrors,

my hands are its willing residents—we


abide, lacklustre before the sun,

mocking the carriage of chicks within


threadbare hen wings. My lover, you

are a strong drink, wrestled between


teeth, gargled upon the return of

seething insects nesting on corroded


tree trunks. Look at me, a buoyant

balloon, a terrible scream opened at


the seams, dragging into its hungry

gaping wound, your tender blush of


sunset—my lover, we are deep cuts

in each other’s wrists, sandalled feet


climbing the cross with underhanded

welcomes wobbling into goodbyes.


Pass the gentle reefer to the leaves still

picking streetlights from dewy


refulgence—suck sweetness from my

lips. I’m sweet as Lucifer’s orchestra—a


tambourine tied to your thumb. I’m

your music, you are my song. 


In the murky undercurrents of living

This bus seats’ bone stretch taunts     your hands

small in your palms     your shoulders hunched


beside window spinning trees     & faces pressed

     cold     fish eyes counting droplets spilling in


windswept deluge. Your smile is far &     conductor

keeps returning 5 naira back into your purse. The


clasp is broken     butterfly wings in silt. The bus

shudders off its chill     the driver is cradled inside


circumference of wheel     tires revolving through

the different faces of moon     pockmarked road


splattered with every promise that has failed you.

The faces revolve into wet signposts full—death


& lice & hungry insects. You want to throw up

hands     the SARS men stand      lightning struck


trees—black & smoking—heedless headlights

wavering like souls ascending     mirages from


David’s dream. You shift from warmth     your body

unsure of its welcome     if its complacent repose


is true. The driver squeezes 100 naira into wet

prayers & SARS man catches balled paper     pro baller


     his eyes turned away     his hands conducting the

orchestra of discontent on forward march to silence.


The sigh envelopes the bus & you are compressed

behind woman backside. She reeks of several market


stalls     bargains & cheap buys. You want capture your

fire inside candle wick of her thawing sorrows. She is


saving the feathered mouths stretched slack in the

nest. You catch your soul in embrace     shiver as the


journey rattles on & on.


The desire to be lonely

the madness in me          will kill you.          you will

          save me—the last bit of meat          in a pot

of soup.          i love blank pages          the empty


          numb          promise—words are enough.

          my silence           will kill you.          you will put

words          thick          like oily fingers in my orifice.


           you will unsay things          i did not say &

say           i cannot unsay them.          my hands are

tied          behind my back          holding my six


o’clock shadow throttling me.           you will save me.

           you promised.          my laughter will kill you

          with envy at the white teethed          empty


handed maw          between my lips.           you want

to know this darkness drowned in my throat?         i

push my tongue to the roof of the world


          searching—a punitive expedition—for glottal

stops          alveolar plosives &          hyenas bite back

—carrion up here only          they laugh.          my


misery will kill you.          you will carry my body

          a lantern          expecting light & all          the

hungry hands          that eat within me will swallow


your feet.           it will mean nothing.          you cannot

journey for me.           you cannot prise open          the

lockjaw of slow rust.          i envy the bark of trees—the


slow congealed sap          the long story they tell

          without lips          teeth or tongue—their pages

are never white & blank & numb & empty—where the


lumberman tattooed his promise          where the wind

claimed its prize          where the squirrel scampered

          to brown nuts           where the river marked its


height          & how          despite          the treachery of

staying still          it has grown.          you will leave me

          despite everything.          when i have used          a


blunt object—a word of inflection          tonal perfection

          elocution & diction          you will know—hate

          is a love borne disease.          you will know. 


Osahon Oka is a Bini/Kwale writer living in Nigeria. He holds a B.A in English and Literary Studies. A Best of the Net nominee, his writing can be found or is forthcoming on Praxis magazine, Feral Journal, Perhappened magazine, Malarkey Books, Neurological, Down River Road Review, Lit Quarterly, Ghost Heart Lit, Jalada Africa and elsewhere. His first book is forthcoming from Praxis Books. He serves as a review correspondent on Praxis Magazine.