3 poems by Nanya Kooper

  1. Aririọ Kwuteli

Here will I submit my supplication to Ala.

O Ala! I know you are benevolent.
You give children abundantly like rain and watch them grow
like the akpu farms on the riverbeds of Asiama.

O Ala! Hear me
A woman’s petition is the sound of a thousand thunders.
When thunder came      
The people fled while the gods gathered to feast.

O Ala! My insides have not known the joy of motherhood
and my stomach is as flat as the day I was born.
Men have left their tongues and destinies on the tip of my breasts.
Yet, these breasts, this stomach, know not the weight of a child.

O Ala! I do not question your judgement
for you are the womb that holds and nurtures
and renew when you like 
but answer me this fervent question
Is it true?
Mbari went against your wishes
and showed me in a dream at the last moon
that you have decided to hold my twins Chika and Chinwe in your abode.
He told me they are too beautiful to see the earth or
be stained by the pollution that plagues it every day.
He told me you have held them for twenty years while
you turned deaf to the tune of my cries.

O Ala! Hear me!
A woman’s petition is the sound of a thousand thunders.
When thunder came
The people fled while the gods gathered to feast.

I have become the ridicule in Umuozoma.
My dimkpa loves his palm wine
more than he loves the fairness of my legs
the market women feign care in my presence and mock me
when I move two steps ahead.

O Ala! let me know my offence and judge me fairly.
Did my breasts tempt too many men?
Were my thighs too open for them and
the women who preferred to gush at fountains than trees?

Ala! I know you are benevolent and merciful.
Search my heart to be trusty and true and you will find
gratitude even though I have received nothing from you.

I am not Mama Ngozi who forgot
how you love to dance to the tune of gratitude.
I know what you did
I am no fool.
After she forgot to say her daalu
You ordered onwu to take her gift, her blessing.
You let him raise caterpillars from the ground on which they slept
and devoured Ngozi
while she listened to night stories from her mother.

O Ala! Hear me now and give me what is mine!
If not be Chika and Chinwe
let it be any other as you please.

Remove my cloak of shame
Adorn me with the cries of an infant.
Adorn me with the softness and delicate nature of skin.
Let my dimkpa love me and leave his palm wine.
Let the market women come to me and sing;

A woman’s petition is the sound of a thousand thunders
Yet when people fled and the gods feasted
Ala heard the cries of Kwuteli
Ala let her milk flow in the insides of Kwuteli.

2. father

oh father! for you i would have gladly let myself become many things
the pride of your virility
the ivory necklace laying firm on the chest you carry with so much immodesty
for you, i would have become
the depths of the earth, blistering with sunlight
ill-treated by rain and festooned with white clouds.

i would have loved you like subjects do
thoughtlessly to their supernatural beings
feel you flow through me
in oceanic melodies with skin-striking renditions
whilst seeing you come out of your hell, unbent, unbroken and unscathed
purified of all evil, carefully submersed in holy water.

however, what we found was ourselves drowned in miles and distances, masked men forced to tell stories through wires and cables and tariffs, a young generation far-flung from the old.

you said i was insolent
swayed left to right by my mother
like flowers mandated to dance at lengthways with the waves 
not too young to know the truth yet so insensible to it, you said.
lies were fed to me and i became a silo
a storage tank for debris which i never questioned. 

yet, the truth i saw from you, your truth
danced around negligence, shared a bed with desertion
as deceits and misery became the nocturnal entertainers.

with all these i ask, am i not vindicated to show disdain and loathe your wisdom?

oh father! i would have loved you
again and again
i would have been identical to
killer whales who love an open-handed school of
herrings in ravenous water.
you would have become the light in my universe
my blanket when i lose my purpose
as i unclothe like climate
if you knew who i was or be buoyed
as to who i was willing to become. 

you know not both
leaving us to become two strangers
lost at paths of the sea, poles apart
never to find one another
                and again.

3. not[hing]s

romance is a miscalculated adventure
i think of this every time i see a glimpse of africa
flanked by your thighs.
you are magic and it is wonderful
to say.

who am i kidding?          
i am not brave enough.

in the middle of our conversation
i think of father
as pollution in lagos.
it took a long time before i could break the chain from eyes
now they are broken, everything seems…alright.

while sheep slept
the wolf prearranged a
facade to
heap more misery
the devil seems more willing than the saints of god.

the elitists are freed from suffering
any way the wind blows, the profits will gather.

define the middle class
a subset of people threading the thin lines of poor and comfortable.
what is the new name for the poor?
the walking dead.
i love you mother
but i am pestered by pain
and there is too much of father in me.
i hope i bleed it out
like water does through open pipes
for fire has failed in
it’s duty to purge me.

audre lorde’s poem recreation
is about two lesbian lovers giving and taking
while conveying the mutuality and unification of desire and control
yet whenever i read it
i remember us, boy and girl
that while the world was chasing monday
we were busy mapping out our desired spots on each body
places to revisit time and time again.

one stroke, the moustache is clean
another stroke, the lips are purified.

this is not a metaphor.
fear is a sinking pool
but the way we dabble in it
is in itself a delightful affair.

wave by sonali deraniyagala
is a memoir of her losing her family to a tsunami in sri lanka.
nature despises happy moments to birth better quality of torment.

ikorodu at 12,
i played with death out of curiosity
the instrument: a hanging rope.
terrified yet,

i was eager
to see where god and satan played with humans
like chess pieces.

i was eager
to pull the rope higher
and dangle alone like a firefly.

two thousand and nineteen
my terror only arises 
when i glance at the emptiness in my mirror.
who have i become? 

when mother dies what will be your emotion?

when father dies what will be your emotion?

for once i am predictable.
for once, that is…alright. 

Nanya Kooper is a writer, poet and currently pursuing a career in Environmental Management. When he is not doing those, he tweets via @thegodkooper. He enjoys writing from experiences and is a firm believer in the expressional power of poetry. He currently lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

He currently lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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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