Twenty Twelve

The togetherness of crisp
summer days, afternoons spent laughing and
picnics at the beach. The unexpected
drop ins we welcomed. Late night jamming to
afrobeat and the sound of familiar voices.

We talked politics, the insatiable
Lagos life, the rush, the quickening
pulse, trading stories of police men
swinging loaded guns (in our faces).

There were spicy chicken wings. Liquor store
spendings- Jack Daniels. Merlot. Moet. Some
pulped orange juice and wedding party get-togethers.

Dress fittings. Secret dance practice
in the basement. Left over blue and white
candy from the wedding. Thanksgiving dinner
that actually involved Turkey and mashed potatoes.
The boys didn’t like it.

We made plans and cellphone videos.
Road trips to Edmonton. Sing-alongs to Davido’s Ekuro.
A steady trail of job applications. The long-distance
marriages. Snowstorms and Long-awaited victories.
The awe. The serenity. The magic of it all.

Chasing shadows

Last night I caught your heart
travelling to where he once lived
Tiptoeing across the sidewalks
attempting to leave only shadows behind

I saw the silk ribbon
(that should have stopped you)
laying in the moonlight
A symbol of rebellion- the proof
that our hearts are the wildest
creatures to ever roam this earth

There is a whiff of you in the air
Heart thumping against your pride
Your out-breath still lingers
Like the smell of cheap alcohol

Three knocks and
a voice asking to know your name
Your silence yells into the wind
“You should not be here”

Take the day off, will you?
Tame what is left of your desires.

No revival

We are the ones who love
out of habit. Love,
not because we still feel
its fire but because
there was once a fire.

We are the ones who hold
on to reverie. The ones who
stayed too long. The ones
with alcoves of old kisses and
a fist of crumbly passion.

We are the ones they talk about
when the kids are grown and
the memories begin to sink,
the ones who smell like thirty years before,
the fire that should have never burn out.

The places that feel

{Listen to audio as you read}

I feel it in my chest mostly,
The loss.
The way it scrubs away
All i have known to be true,
As though the last three years
Have been a chapter from a
Tattered novel in the back seat
Of my father’s 504.

I feel it in my fingers,
The digging,
The longing for fertile soil to take root,
The erosion that overtook all we had sown,
As if we never even stood a chance.

I thought i would feel in my bones too.
The unruly quake that comes from hanging on too long,
From losing something you thought you had loved enough,
The way reality smacks you in the face without warning,
Reminding you that history doesn’t always satisfy.

I feel it in the gulf of my spine sometimes,
My shoulders, giving in to the weight,
The one time you said I was beautiful,
Out of the blue, oh, How could i forget?

I feel it all because when i was 8,
There was a fire
In our backyard at three in the morning,
It could have burned the only home
I had ever known to the ground.
But we woke up just in time to save it.

Two weeks ago,
There was another fire,
One we both take responsibility for.
It started in the walls of our hearts
and travelled to the tip of our tongues.
We woke
when all that remained was the smoke.
Tell me, Do you feel it too?
The heat.
The regret.
Can you taste it?

What the world doesn’t tell you

They don’t tell you how much it hurts
when your heart is ripped from your sleeve,
Or how badly your teeth chatter and body shivers,
When you put yourself “out there” and a storm comes.

They don’t teach you how to deal with
the ache of misbelonging;
the pain of rejection;
the soreness of losing;
They don’t tell you because maybe telling, is not enough.

They don’t teach you because you cannot teach a person
how to deal with pain they have not endured,
They don’t tell you because
the warmth of belonging;
the joy of acceptance;
the fulfillment of succeeding; are all incredibly satisfying.
And really, what kind of life would you be living
if the fear of failure bound you by your feet?

I promise you,
If you can just get off the floor after a bad fall,
If you can dust off the dirt and
Find peace as your bruises heal,
If you can come to the understanding that
Nothing will teach you as thoroughly as experience will,
You will find flowers growing on the path you once walked.

The universe will remember you

Every ground you have walked is sacred ground,
The earth still remembers your feet’s kisses.
Everything you have touched is anointed,
you left remnants of yourself beneath it.

It may have been five years or a week ago,
the universe still remembers all the places you have been.
It has your foot prints stamped on its chest,
It carries your scent in the air.
The wind still remembers the feel of your skin.

The artist on the bus has your face etched In his mind’s eye,
He spent the last two weeks looking for the right colours to paint you in,
A poet saw you cross the street the other day and he wrote the loveliest sonnet about you,
He said you look like a dream and that you had poetry in your walk,
The lady you smiled at told her husband of the beautiful soul she met on the train,
she reminds me a lot of me when i was young” she said. “Her eyes beg for beauty and adventure”.
Alot of strangers have walked past you and wondered what it would be to be a part of your orbit,
The others have shamelessly fallen for you in the simplest way possible.

I just want you to know,
Nothing would be the same without you here.
You are a hurricane.
A tattoo across the earth’s forehead,
You leave signatures of “I was here”
in coffee shops,
at airports,
On pavements

And I know sometimes you feel so small,
Other times, the world is too big
In the midst of the all the faces you meet,
you might feel like you are about to lose yourself.
But the earth remembers you.

I know you worry about leaving this world someday,
You worry if the time you have been allotted will be enough.
You worry if you will leave behind enough to keep you remembered,
You worry if you’re even living at all.

Remember this, child of the galaxies,
There will always be pieces of you floating through time.
Your writing will always be on the walls of life,
Your picture in the earth’s gallery will remain in it’s frame,
The universe will not forget you were here.


I spoke to your father
And every word out of his mouth was love for you.
I can confidently conclude that your very existence
Is intertwined with the reason he was created.
You are the blood in his veins.

He told me had to wait sixteen years for you to come.
16 years with one woman; your mother.
He looked at me and said “you don’t understand what it means to wait for 16 years”.
He was right. I couldn’t possibly understand,
So when you finally came he named you “flower in heaven”.

Nineteen months and you are the most beautiful flower,
He showed me a picture of you and your eyes look like a constellation of stars,
Your smile reminds me of the brightest day of summer,
And the corners of your mouth spell mischief but your father loves it.
The things he feels for you could bring even the greatest lovers to their knees.

He misses you.
In between the 12 hours of driving strangers to their destinations,
You are like a prize to be reached, a light at the end of the tunnel.
As the hours go by, the day is easier to bear and time with you is almost near.

He said he took two days off to be with you.
Darling, you are his drug and he craves a daily dose of you.
Your energy is his fortitude. Every second with you is gold.
And when you rest your head on his chest after play-dates and ask to be fed,
Every beat in his heart is laced with love.

He told me he had to get a better job.
Two hours with you every day is too little, he can’t take it.
“I want to give her a better life but I also want to watch her grow.”
Your father would build an entire world for you if he could.
He loves you and he has the kindest; most gentle soul.

Today, i met your father for the first time.
He is so grateful to Allah for you.
And I want you to know that after your mother,
You are the only flower in his garden; the brightest.

My Acceptance Peace

I am at peace because I have finally accepted the imperfections in my blood.
And No! I am not just saying this. I have taken the time to consider the magnitude of this utterance.
I accept that my mother, my father and the bible have taught me the difference between right and wrong,
And I will honour their labour of love by striving to be in the right but sometimes I will choose wrong.
I accept that the fact that I love Jesus does not strip me of the stains in my heart or the darkness I will be fighting all of my days.
I accept that I am afraid of the future but oh! so excited for it; yet I must only live one day at a time.
I realize that even the people I love will hurt me and I will hurt the people who have decided to set up camp in my heart.
Hence, my life will always be a never ending cycle of love, hurt, forgiveness and love again,
I understand that I will not always be happy. I will not always “be in happy”,
Because happiness is not an exotic island, happiness is not a destination. I cannot travel there.
Some days life will bring me to my knees then push me to the ground but I will still breathe in hope like sweet oxygen,
I accept that some days will be harder than some others; I will even forget what patience means,
I will not always be sweet-kind-go-lucky, some days I will spell indifferent.
I have accepted that I am a human being.

I am three hundred and sixty five days of different emotions,
I am January 15, March 19, September 12, November 30, December 9 …. I am every single day
And I need to allow myself to be human.
I accept the responsibility to let myself grieve a lost love, to hurt from an unkind word, to cry when I am disappointed, to be angry when something is terribly unacceptable,
I accept that I do not always have to be in control and that some days my dreams will seem incredibly out of reach,
I understand the need to let it be. To let it be. To let everything and everyone be.
I accept that every day I will fight to be better, braver, stronger, and kinder
and soon I will evolve into the woman the stars have been shinning for.

Write about things.

Write about the things that happen to you.
Write about the things that people make you feel.
Write about the things you find along the way
and about the things you’ve lost as well.
Write about almost every person you meet,
about every person who caught your attention,
Write about that little boy who waved at you
from across the street,
Write about the old lady at the office
who said your smile brightens her day.

Write about how angry you felt when you watched the news this evening,
Write about how happy you were when you found those winter boots on sale,
Write about how you’re trying to teach your heart to unlove that person,
Write about the weather.
Write about how fantastic your life is,
then when it feels like it,
Write about how much it sucks.

You should write about these things,
because life gets busy and sometimes you forget.
You forget all these moments when you are really alive.
Write about the simple things,
Write to keep these moments alive,
Write so when you forget,
Reading will remind you.

In Loving Memory of who I was 3 years ago.

I think that videos, pictures and journals are ultimately important parts of our lives.
They capture us in a moment, a feeling, a phase, a season and most importantly, in our entirety.
They capture an outpour of happiness or rage, hope or fear or nothingness.
They capture us as girls or almost-women, boys or almost-men, or neither.
We are suspended in time in that one moment…and everything we are is captured as well.
All the things we believe about ourselves, all the things we are afraid of,
Our view of the world, our hopes… dreams… all caught in a single moment.

I was just watching a video I made 3 years ago and right from the sound of my voice I could tell that I am a different person from who i was then. I could actually hear it. I had just finished W.A.E.C, I was about to go home, but I decided to make a quick video of all my classmates (I’m so glad I did).

Looking at our due hairs, skinny wrists, makeup-free faces and extremely visible neck bones, I can see hope and exuberance for life glittering in our eyes. We were children so ready to take on the world, our dreams seemed attainable…. We didn’t want to write N.E.C.O, we just wanted to graduate from secondary school and face the world.

We would sit around in circles and talk about College; how we would dress, if we’d go to clubs or not, if we would date white boys or not and all the things we wanted to achieve. Renowned Lawyers, doctors, engineers, MBGNs, talk show hosts, politicians, C.E.Os. , As far as I can remember, we had big dreams. We all wanted to find true love, we all loved Jesus.

I spoke a little more pidgin English then, than I do now (I guess I realized I sounded awful so I just stopped). I had all these ideologies and beliefs on how the world should work. I had a picture in my head of how my life would play out. I wanted to be a lawyer. I knew I hated business. I didn’t like tattoos and I wanted to be a writer.

Zooming in on my classmates’ faces with my camera, I can see they all felt the way I did. We just couldn’t wait to be done with boarding school and all that came with it. We wanted to grow up and make our own decisions. In that classroom, *moving my camera from person to person* some were in love with people who didn’t love them back , some had people who loved them but they didn’t feel the same, some others wished someone would like them…. the others really didn’t care.

We had spent a maximum of six years in each other’s lives. We slept in the same dormitory, borrowed sports wear shorts and shirts, we made deals with our foods, we knew who liked Thursday fish and who didn’t, we knew our families, we played on the same soccer field, we knew our strengths and weakness, and we were family!

We are all different now. I am different. I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore. I think tattoos are cool. I love being a business student and I still want to be a writer (that hasn’t changed). I’m sure a lot of us have had a change of heart about a lot of things. We’ve grown and we’ve found ourselves. We’ve put on some weight and lost some. We understand that people are entitled to their own religious beliefs. Some have had questions about all we were taught at bible club… some have found answers. Some haven’t. Some smoke weed, drink lots of beer, and talk about sex alot.

We have seen that making friends is not as easy and we can’t stop reminiscing about high school days. We have seen that we owe the world our kindness and even good people are victims of tragedy. We realize we have to work extra hard to be extra ordinary and if we want success, we have to go out and find it.

I am sitting here looking at my sixteen-year-old self, listening to my voice and hearing my laugh. If there is one thing I would say to her, it would be, “life will push you and bend you but you won’t break, you will grow. You will be a witness to miracles and you will hear of tragedies… all of these will teach you to appreciate life. The pursuit of happiness is futile…. aim for wholeness. Do not wait for anyone … Chase your dreams no matter what! and Finally, Learn !…read !…write ! and grow!  Believe in that fire in your heart and in your eyes… most of all Believe in the one who put it there.”

And If there’s one thing I want from the girl in this video…. It is the fearlessness in her voice and in her spirit. The belief that she could do anything.. Be anything. I really want that back.

This reminds me of home.

It seems like the perfect morning
as i step into the sunlight on my front porch.
i breathe in the brisk summer air
and i stare into the distance.
The sky is the lightest shade of blue
And it is beautiful.

This reminds me of Nigeria.
This reminds me of my home.
The air smells like hardwork and hope,
And i am hit with endless waves of nostalgia.

it is strange. I cannot hear loud honks from bad drivers,
I cannot smell akara or agege bread,
i cannot see hawkers asking me to buy what i dont need,
but somehow this morning reminds me of home`.

I cannot see overloaded merchandise vehicles,
or people mindlessly throwing things in the gutter,
There are no little kids in plaid uniforms trekking to school,
No mama-put cooking with her crying baby on her back.

I do not even see potholes on the road,
there are no mechanic stalls on the sidewalk,
No okada men with more than one passenger,
Yet this is the aura of my home.

i can’t quite put a finger what it is but
maybe it is the never ending cycle
of everyone trying to make a living.
Maybe it is because regardless of where you are,
you wake up every morning and put your best foot forward.

maybe it is because wherever we go,
we take memories of home with us.
And on some days like today,
we are given a glimpse of home,
that triggers all these emotions.
maybe this is a reminder that we
carry our roots with us wherever we go.

Maybe there is a song in our hearts that nature triggers,
maybe it is because nature is a mirror, and sometimes
we see reflections of ourselves and everywhere we have been.
I don`t really know but this morning, I really miss home.

Chin up.

Don’t do that.
Don’t walk around
with your head bent,
and your shoulders drained,
because you are unable to forgive yourself.

Don’t tell me I won’t understand,
how you stuffed a jar with the usual
“this-is-the-last-time” promise,
But found yourself burning it to the ground.

Don’t you dare tell me you don’t deserve
all the love and good tidings life has brought you,
because you have fallen more times,
than you have been standing.
Because you haven’t stopped bleeding,
from all your many wounds.

Chin up, Lover.
We are all human.
More human that we would ever dare admit.
And humanity, in its complete state,
demands that we crack and fall and break and bruise.
For we are sons and daughters of this scarred earth,
incapable of perfection but dripping beauty and goodness.

So please don’t tell me all the reasons why,
I shouldn’t think the world of you.
Your fine points and flaws have come together
to make the most beautiful work of art- your entire being.
Just take a look at you,
God must have been thinking the finest thoughts
when he wrote and sculpted you into existence.