3 Poems by Ifeoma Nnewuihe

  1. two poets and a pineapple

so they took their love down to the ocean
and washed it salty clean
their love was like the pineapple
that always stayed green

 “if we cleanse it with salt water,
perhaps it will be sweeter
I hear that salt on pineapple
makes it taste a lot better”

a sonnet
is how long it takes for a poet to fall in love.
it does not have to be a good sonnet.
any rhyme-schemed-fourteen-lined-poem will do.

sometimes, one of me asks, “how hard did we fall?”
“how hard did we actually fall?”
can it be measured by the thud our body created
by crashing from his hands and into the bed?

you see, he lifted us and it was a joy
because many had tried and with anxious breaths,
faithfully dropped us gently to the ground,
mimicking the transition of an egg into its crate.

but he braved it and lifted us.
it was all but 14 steps he walked but the romance of it all
was too heady for our fragile, incorrigible heart.
so we fell, crashing against the bed
that smelt too little of him and too much of what could be home.

home is wherever your soul dances with the joy of being free
home is the voice that promises that you are worth it all

this weird beauty, this boy with no rhythm in his step could be it, our it.
this weird beauty, this boy with no rhythm in his step is home.

2. the Hunger

the Hunger gnawed at her/ it drew blood/it curdled/it sang bad songs/it folded till it felled her/she cried mercy/she cried please/she cried fuck/she cried, i surrender/stiff, the Hunger stood/erect/ feet planted/fist clenching the mush insides of her/teeth teething and gnashing/laughter laughing at the wimp-ness of her plea.

the Hunger said/ give me what i want/you think i like it here? /you think i’m enjoying this?/give me what i want so that i can go/give me dead bloody beings, give me the sweet sweet artificial juice of no existing plant/give me the heftiness of starch/give me salted emollients/give me lollies and sugary chewy plastic/you have an ultimatum/a fucking ultimatum, you hear me, bitch.

for far too long i have let you be/you act like you don’t know my name/like you don’t see my artistry in the dizzy spells i cast on you/ yet i grow bigger/stronger/i grow the growth of an overfed child/ yet you still ignore me/your shrunken waist, shrinking/tightening like a maiden’s corset/your ribs like sergeants at a parade/the blades of your shoulders blade-ing/you- a cracking hourglass/can’t you see that your sands are leaking, you stupid fuck?

you are going from woman to dust/breath of life leaving/creation reversing/you are half-ing, no splintering/breaking the bread of your body/saying to me/take, eat this body/drink this blood/i am the ultimate sacrifice.

3. do good, do for yourself

my mother forces open my begrudged bedroom door
it groans
wakes me from my restless slumber

she says,
your father is complaining that you are sleeping too much
don’t you know that it is not good for a girl to be sleeping too much?
ngwa binie oto osiso, get up!

she also says,
why is your room so tattered?
ebe a di ka ebe ndi ara gbara marathon, so dirty!

When she is frustrated
that i haven’t washed the plates we used for breakfast and it is now noon,
that i haven’t swept the house as she told me to before going for Thursday prayers,
that i forgot the stew on fire,
that i let rain beat the clothes she spread outside

she says,
is this how you will behave when you are in your own home? 
you think you are doing me?
you are only doing yourself

on the days she is resigned to the possibility that i might never
stop sleeping too much,
or boning face when they correct me,
or talking back,
or refusing to change my last name

she says,
ukpala n’ere ere o si na o n’ara mmanu
do good, do for yourself,
do bad, do for yourself.

in this full time job of sadness
i have hosted several sole conferences
in the clichéd river of my own tears
and in the discomfort of the bed ache i get
from laying, frozen in thought,
for entirely too much human time

i no longer want to slap myself for sleeping too much
or painfully wish to be anywhere but in my tattered room
(an unintended performance piece on my state of mind)

i look to my mother
and because we are both funny,
we share a few jokes and fall back on my bed laughing
her feet on my shin,
my hand on the belly that brought me here
our faces facing

i want to say,
mummy i am sick with sadness
it ties me up and throws me on the bed
and i am tied there for hours and hours and sometimes, for days
i don’t have the strength or the courage to release myself
so i sleep there, most times i cry

mummy i am weak
mummy i am tired
mummy i am sick
mummy, can you help me do good for myself?

Ifeoma Nnewuihe is a writer and visual artist living and working in Lagos, Nigeria. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Literature from the University of Lagos. A collection of her poems and self portraits have been published on The Kalahari Review. Her short fiction has been published on The Jellyfish Review and she is the 2018 winner of the Mrs. Paula Chinwe Okafor Prize for Creative Non-Fiction. In her spare time, Ifeoma makes mixed media art. She will eat 200 mangoes if you let her.

Lake Adedamola is a poet, writer, and editor with Nantygreens, who's worked with several other literary blogs including Brittle Paper. He has, since 2018, served in various capacities on the Lagos International Poetry Festival, LIPFest, team.

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