6 Poems

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Bògha Etem

“bògha etem” rings in your head like a school bell after school hours
“bògha etem” your mother’s favorite response to every calamity your tired hearts encounter
“bògha etem” you tell yourself when anxiety holds you down and leaves you breathless
“bògha etem” which means “hold your heart” in your native language is what you have
learned to do.
You have learned all the ways to hold your heart both healthy and unhealthy
you have learned to hold your heart still
you have learned to breathe with a clogged chest
you have learned to hold your heart
you have christened yourself “bogha etem”.


Carrying problems like the sea conveys debris
Owuri is like her name
like water
refusing to be stained by the filth dumped on her
Owuri is like her name
Drowning your insecurities with all of her

Owuri is like her name
flowing and fitting into a bowl where you wash your sins
using your coarse hands as a scoop
Owuri reminds me of water
a willing host,
fills you up like a full-course meal
Owuri reminds me of water
When there is turbulence she runs into herself.


The smell of Agbanya soup on fire wafted through my nose
filling the inner recesses of my being
awakening emotions, I thought were long buried
wrapped in your arms
I heedlessly shed the robe of loneliness I tightly had on
stirring up the vulnerability I tucked away
there are no walls with you no holds barred.
You are home.

How you run things

Here, you do not hold on to things that refuse to be held on to
Here, you do not choke on your words, you let them pour out like a fountain
Here, you do not plant flowers in gardens that are not yours to tend
Here, you adorn your desires on your body, you do not stifle your sighs of pleasure
Here, you hunt down the things you hunger for carrying your shame like a placard
Here, you do not crumple your needs and tuck them in your back pocket.
Here you do not truckload of peace for bags of peace that never open
Here, you do not shrink all that you are to accommodate the opinions of others
Here in your head, you are the kingpin.

My happiness no longer lives in abandoned cities

I no longer tie my happiness to cities or people
I no longer leave it on the front yard of those who toss it about
like football in a field
I do not generously give portions of it to clueless strangers
I no longer tie my happiness to cities or people
I do not leave it in cities that could get razed down by fire
Or cities that could be destroyed by an angry gush of water
I no longer tie my happiness to cities or people
I carry it around like a treasured backpack
I make a new home for my happiness
with every move I make
I no longer tie my happiness to cities or people
I carry my happiness the way | carry my heart
delicately yet protectively
I do not leave it unguarded
my happiness no longer lives in abandoned cities.

Gran’s Intercession

You may fall like a house with no pillars and a weak foundation
but you will rise as resolute as the morning sun
intent on taking up space and blinding the gloom of the night.
You are here to bloom,
bloom, you will
Withering morphs to a revival at the sight of you.
Everything about you is
Even your name Is a prayer.

Anita Oguni

Anita Oguni

Anita Oguni is a poet and passionate writer from Cross River, Nigeria, who believes in the pure magic and power of storytelling. She published a novella, Our Father is Dead in 2018, and works as a communications expert in the finance industry. She takes an interest in the study of human behaviour and its impact on society as a whole. Anita thrives on the idea: 'A poem a day, keeps the pain away’.