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Sentinel Nigeria

Online Magazine of Contemporary Nigerian Writing

ISSN 2043-0868

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WELCOME TO sentinel nigeria | Issue #2 | May 2010


Lola Shoneyin is the author of So All the Time I was Sitting on an Egg, Song of a Riverbird, and The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives. The poems published below are taken from her 2010 poetry collection: For the Love of Flight.

Lola Shoneyin


And do you think that love itself,
Living in such an ugly house,
Can prosper long? ¨- Edna St Vincent Millay

The ring of red on the coaster dries
I taste your robust Shiraz
so your blood can break my bread.
My lips leave a mark on your glass.

I flatter the guests,
fret about the salt in the stew,
Husband will not look at me.
He knows, he knows itís you.

Across the table, you touch my lip-print.
circle the length of my smile
from the centre to the corners.
fingering every grove.

I want to reach for you
above the shaken salt,
press your palm into mine
but no, this is not the time.

The wine sours in my mouth
when reach for your coat.
Soon, you will leave me by the door,
stroking your kiss and wanting more.


He creeps into my bedroom
when the night is most alive.
Unafraid, he feels for the walls
that will bring him to my door.
It has been four years since I spat him
from a lip in my womb.
Yet every night, he crawls back in.

The first light pries through the curtains.
He kisses sleep from my eyes
and pinches my lips to seize my first words;
he wants them for himself.
I breathe in the smell of milk
that has never left his forehead.
God, if I could birth this boy again,
I would.

I watch him at breakfast.
His face is crushed like an eggshell.
For him, food is slow, fist-under-chin torture.
Mother, let this plate pass over me, he pleads.
Then he attacks the sweet jar.
Heís a boy soldier.
His face is ever smeared
with chocolate paint.

I watch him from my window.
Bent over like a rainbow,
he scours the garden for things
his fingers are drawn to.
He seeks me bearing gifts:
hollow beetles, strange stones, flattened cans.
I push them back into his metallic hands.

At night, he pulls me down
on my knees and moistens my lips
with kisses.
Good Night, Mother, he says
and walks away
from me.
My insides flap about like a wet loincloth.
Come morning, come soon.





Abigail George
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
Aderemi Adegbite
Angela Amalonye Nwosu
Anthony Agbo
Chima Iwuchukwu
Emmanuella Nduonofit
Ifesinachi Okoli
Immanuel Inyang
James Tar Tsaaior
Lola Shoneyin
Ozioma Izuora
Rasheed Ademola Adebiyi
Richard Ugbede Ali
Rishad ibn al-Sudani
Saka Aliyu
S. Ifedigbo & R. Ali
Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
Su'eddie Agema
T.J. Nanna
Tonyo Biriabebe
Umar Sidi 


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a chapter of Sentinel Poetry Movement

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