Chioma had a problem she could not see

A severe case of empathy 

She forgot- weak needs strong 

She adopted everyone’s struggles to a fault 

That’s why she cried louder than everyone else at Amaka’s father’s funeral 

Louder than the bereaved themselves 

She loved to wrap herself in others’ misery 

Borrowed clothes. 

Her condition worsened after her family got a television

Now Chioma could forget about her own problems 

Her family’s problems 

The war in her village 

And adopt the wars in places far away 

Places she had never been 

She adopted racism 

Although the fairest person she knew was Ugochukwu 

She did not attend her village youth meeting 

Where the women were assigned the task of cooking for the soldiers 

She was fixated on the war in America. 

She painted her lips red 

And her nails blue 

Her hair white 

In blind solidarity with people she didn’t know 

The war in her village was not her problem 

She had gone mad. 

If she wasn’t thinking about possible solutions to America’s problems 

Or creasing her brows at the President’s new policies 

Maybe she’d have heard her mother say 

Don’t go to the stream today

America on her mind 

Calabash on her head 

Chioma died with an arrow in her chest. 


We aren’t that different 

Her weave is just sewn in too tight 

Possibly impeding brain functions 

I just appear smarter 

And simpler is better for you.

Her nails are glued in too deep 

Can’t do much 

Nerves and brains go hand in hand 

She’s lost everything now

Stupid nail technician 


(I always tell mine…don’t push too deep.) 


I bathed in the river 

Filled with the goodwill of goddesses and tradition 

Immersed in the wisdom of ancestors 

And all before me 

As a child 

She bathed with water from metal i heard 

Suspended over her head 

Beating away depth and insight 

Till she was left empty 

But empty is better for you 

So you can clothe yourself with the illusion 

That you’re everything to her 

Water taking the shape of an empty drum 

But there is no her 

There is no drum 

And soon the water is on the floor 

And dries.

Brick wall (for you)

Trying to fight the urge to define 

Letting go of things that ain’t mine 

– Kelela

A brick wall can stand for hundreds of years 

Worn but standing still 

You are human 

Flesh and blood 

With your fleeting life 

Don’t fall in love with a brick wall. 

Your object of affection cannot see 

Your many flowers you adorn it with 

You leave your jewelry at it’s foot 

Tears fall down your face 

For unrequited love 

Don’t fall in love with a brick wall. 

Desperate to be one with it 

You run light years in it’s direction 

Smashing your head with force untold 

Red streaming down your face 

As your concussion teaches you

You shouldn’t fall in love with a brick wall.

Bandage round your head and heart 

As you remember all the hearts you tore in pieces, not knowing 

Another will come your way 

As the universe whispers

Don’t be a brick wall. 

(This poem was written based on a personal experience and a will to love and communicate more based on something that was done to me. Being unfeeling may be good for you and help you get through stuff easier…but maybe openness isn’t for us…it’s for other people)