Poetry from Ojo Olumide Emmanuel


hear me: we do not immerse our pages
with words because our hearts are swelling
with grief, sometimes, or floating with joy.
we do so because these poems want to breathe;
they want to live their own lives.

here in my country, it’s the season of harmmatan
the cotton tree in our garden breaks open its pod
we gather the seeds & the snow-like wool into basins
the papaya tree close-by ripens with the wind & sunlight
other trees shed their leaves & dryness is the new culture
the ground is with littered leaves & they sing under our soles.

we are all seeking to breath, even in warmth,
in cold, when our skins are pierced with the lune of chill 
our bodies immerse longer under our duvet.
we are still breathing, everything wants to breathe
this poem is not about misery, bliss or nostalgia;
it is about you, it is about [the] poem--- breathing.


because i am kneeling down between the pew
sifting my thoughts on what i should have confessed
i wanted to cast the pitcher deep into my heart &
draw out every word from its place 
i wanted to purge; to fetch out the darkness beneath
to the rays radiating from the sanctuary.

because my heart is full & bubbling with water
i wanted to break a part of me & leak
i wanted to flood everywhere until i’m lean.
i shudder like one met by the steering of a dagger
i shriek like one almost eaten by his foes
i gather words into groan & my lips began to bleed.

because i am cut open by the laser of truth &
all i know about myself gushes out
i break open to all who care to listen
god above or the other worshippers
staring down at me from across their benches.

Ojo Olumide Emmanuel is a Nigerian Poet and Book Editor. He is the author of the Poetry Chapbook “Supplication For Years in Sands” (Polarsphere Books, 2021). His works have appeared and forthcoming at Ake Review, Feral, Quills, Poemify, Melbourne-Culture, TNR and elsewhere. He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Nigerian Review (TNR).He currently curates the monthly Wakasoprize for Poetry and Abubakar Gimba Prize for Short Fiction. He is a fellow of the SprinNG Writers Fellowship. Say hi to him on Twitter @OjoOlumideEmma2

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