By Chidozie Okonkwo


I could do it better

—teach you how to undo small things that take up big parts. 
—swim back to the land of origins, and become the ideal plot in the emotional narrative of the gods.
We will dream dreams and take flights
—of ecstasy and of glee.
We will meditate in the sunlight and by the magic caves.

What will you be doing tonight?
Let us run to the breadth of Olympus, catching bliss.
There we will become things growing metaphors in God's face.
The myth of the ages,
and the envy of Aphrodite's failed affair with Adonis.

Then we will become another thing,
something priceless.
a whole new different emotion,
the real depth of what humans feel when they are so close to true love. 
We would be unattainable.

It doesn't have a name yet.

If you give me your hand and I hold you down, 
I could do it better.


(With piano accompaniment)

A sad weeping demon,
glistening in the dark,
sails against the current of muse,
to interchange pact of rust,
at the spring of strength.
It zips up your imagination,
curtain your thoughts,
and offers incense of blankness,
for a peace offering at the gates of hell,
withering the comely flowers of your pen.
Shadows hunt you into the city of the lost, 
till you become an endless sad dream.
It spreads a black wing on your bedpost, 
that your dreams may never grow.

—conspires with scorching heat
and burns the teachings of your blood in the sun; 
drying your fervor like the loss of water,
in the ill fate of a broken cup.
Your substances long for grace;
dangle like a lone gold, over the cliffs of death and life
—fighting with exceeding cost
for the religion of your breast,
so you can see what you seek in art.
Trail rainbow again with narrowed eyes, 
and sail to the island of bliss with blushing breath.
Until then, you are a weathered rock,
a sapless trunk in a vegetation of colorless foliage. 

Until then, writing is a clothed death.
You're in a block — a writer's block! 


(To the Son of the Gold miner)

it's raining and you're in my house but I cannot host you.
My heart is hospitable, but my home is not. 
I do not even know how far you'd fare under my leaking rafters.
Welcome to the feel of nothingness.
I guess you're cold friend
but only for some moment.
I've known it since I was two,
when mother left me for the graveside 
—a sad story on her teeth,
and bitter unsung melodies in her eyes.
Assuage my grief friend, 
you who are smiled upon by fortune fair and have a green heart.
I shall sing to you again till love grows petals on your fingers.
Till then, have no contempt for my rags.
And do not be haughty, when I come to your father to grovel for bread.


These sweet melodies in my head
part beauty part pain,
are blueprints of your ownership.
Confessions of what you do to me,
and your lasting reign over my bosom.
If I paint how you dwell in my eyes,
generations will read my lines and say:
“Hypnotize a poet and he thinks his lover an angel.”
I have astronomy,
but my assessment comes not from the sky.
Only the sea of stars in your eyes,
glistening with every love.
burning with every grace and promise.
I know music is a delightful sound,
but what could beat your lullabies for me in the dead of the night?
in you are places I wish to go;
reeking breaths that equal the finest of myrrh in eminence.
I need your omnipotence;
that you eclipse all gloom with your sunlight.
Darling, you've not changed since the first time I saw you,
when it was your eye I first eyed;
even as furious scorching sun and icy cold of the harmattan embattled you, your greenness stayed unwavering.

My love craves only to increase in you what is beautiful,
which is why I am chanting to your glowing moonbeams, 
that even with time's despot run, would never wear off.


(To Selves of New Love)

Let me tell you
—about the pillars of my chest,
heavy against all loves
—about the wicked streets of my skin, 
once to a feel never fallen,
but now are of trodden passion,
alive with fire burning at the stakes,
forest thick with love.
In me is a depth of fallen places,
ruined by a hammering comeliness,
and the singing red beauty of a voice 
ministering to me in the quiet,
in the company of soft whisperings.
Where is me: firm, rough, resilient?
What is wrong?
This is love knocking at your feet.
This is what it means to hold dear,
to be open to all influences — to be powerless.

Remind Me

Remind me when I unlearn to hold your hand.
Love is fleeting.
Gold may lose its sheen.
I need ivory.
Remind me that I once loved feeble glows,
and your weakness, once my attraction.
If I thirst for your youth remind me,
belle is wrinkles;
age is a bastard.
Tell me how I had drunk your stars and shone.
Shout indigo.
Remind me that I had thorned my soul to win your love.
Your touch is god.
Say love,
goddess in wind's breath.
If I take little notice of your sorrow,
remind me how the waters of your eyes
were for me as precious as a mermaid's tears.
I need chalice;
preside over this ritual.
Stand before white lit candles on bare soles.
With the roses present,
remind me at last that you are my totem.


Your love turns me to lofty spirals;
other times, a strident leap
—intonated with warm-pulsed laughter
—like the throb of a heart made of jelly.

The edge, curl and thrust of your emotions are clear to me,
as you watch my face, listening to the timbres of my voice;
evoking in your eyes with them,
spells that translate raw artistic injuries into true beauty.

Yesterday, something died in your smile and one of my roses drank death in its thorn.
I left you cold with no fire, abusing our mysteries.
We became probabilities; I held my spark and you didn't water my rose.
That was how our best text for the world lost a leaf.

Several moons have passed and our hearts are still sore.
We may never heal. We know.
You've searched for me in his eyes just like I did in hers, and they're empty of us. 
Now we're back to our arms, to soothe our worn souls that may otherwise die.

To Heal The Rainbow I

If I confess to you in secret,
all my emotions, and thus say:
“come live with me and be my love”,
I do not know what desire of yours I'd be offending.
For I'm only a poor youth with no wealth to my name, 
and my untutored lines you have not wished for yourself.
For you, although no royalty born,
have sought to exploit love,
with standards elusive even to the fairest of the gods.
For how can a man be all good lest he be divine?
Your face, though like the sun shines,
is in the dark of love want, and your company thus unused.
But I have magic to get the birds sing you their madrigals, 
or make leaves of rustling trees clap you their breaths 
and prosper your bosom with burning love.
Sometimes it's all that matters — to be with one with the magic.
For you have long since gone after the rich,
and you have been most unhappy.

Chidozie Okonkwo is a creative writer and performance poet. His works have made both international and local appearances in literary journals, magazines, anthologies, newspapers and blogs. He has previously been published on Brittle Paper, The Whiskey Blot Journal, The Lowdown Station, Eduquest, Akụkọ, Trinitas Newspaper and elsewhere. He was educated at University of Nigeria Nsukka, where he studied English and Literary Studies. You can reach him on Instagram @pengod1.

4 thoughts on “Better and Other Poems

  1. Great read. He writes like one who’s possessed as if cut from the cloth of Alexander Pope and Chris Okigbo. He writes like a true god. Amazing poetry. I will now watch out for his works often.


  2. Unmistakably poetry. And all the poems come under what A.N. Akwanya calls “a site of encounter with language,” which means they are literary, and rouse feelings.


  3. These poems are musical that one begins to wonder if there can’t be melodies growing outta the lines, no cap. A lyrical poet he truly is.


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