Poetry from Trust Tonji


The beautiful face in my scars


my heart is a pot on fire

I am cooking darkness

I am in love with a girl that

doesn’t hold my hands

gloom is having me for dinner

but you won’t find me crying

I am my lover’s experiment

on dating a broken boy

you touch me, you say I’m beautiful

like the smile on your lover’s lips

I am not the smile on my lover’s lips


they say she’s beautiful, my lover,

I say “yes, –

like a sharpened sword”

then slip into a soliloquy on

how to quench unsensed thirsts

show unreciprocated love

how to call my lover without

calling my tears


I don’t know if

she is a sharpened sword

but tonight all my scars look like her


* * * *

and after the death of affection


love is the hate

of a broken heart

when you became love zealous

clinging all over your lover

like cheap perfume

while she held her breaths

& choked

& you kept grinning

kept irritating her

you still weren’t

paying attention

lacked the sagacity

to discern

the burdening effect

of your gestures on her

it is you discovering later

that what you call love

she calls disturbance

& crawling back into your shell

until need called

her cat eyes and sweet smiles

the subtlety of begging to be shown

a love, whose flames she killed

& that’s a soft sorry

knocking on a hard heart

but this is a rendezvous of war

& love is not at home



Trust Tonji writes from Porto Novo, Republic of Benin. His poetry has appeared in Prachya Review, The Kalahari Review, Praxis Magazine, The Electronic Pamphlet and elsewhere.