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Lola Shoneyin



Lola Shoneyin

Shoneyin is a Nigerian poet and novelist. Her recent and forthcoming books are a collection of poems, For the Love of Flight [2009], and The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives [2010]


 Three Poems  


Adore Her

She waves a menstrual rag
in the village square
then rubs it in the faces
of those standing there.

It is ink, red ink,
she makes to rebrand.
The people turn away
‘cause she stinks up the land.

This pharmaceutical whizz,
once branded a hero
will be clawed into the books
like the villainous Pharaoh

who hardened his heart
to the will of the free,
then sank and perished
with his chariots at sea.





She is a vagrant poem,
a cautionary tale,
an old story,
an open book.

Her belly opens
and pages fly from it.
Words fall to feet,
letters flood the floor,
questions mark her steps.

Like Sylvia, she straddles,
and stumbles.
Who will put her back
together again‌
What will bind her
and bring her to a close‌





agba o si mo
ilu baje

You will not be the last of them
and no, you weren’t the first.
Many have milked their breasts in market squares
while infants wailed with thirst.

You saw the babe’s head lulling
on his mother’s wretched back.
You glossed your lips with anointing oil
and collected stones to stack

on the neck of the waking infant
to steal its air supply,
to watch it writhe in hopelessness
till reckoning hour drew nigh.

We looked to you for wisdom then
but you let the people down.
You changed your tune and pranced around
like a presidential clown.

We’ll speak of your deeds in years to come,
we’ll spit out your name like phlegm.
And to all who claim it was ignorance,
we’ll dig deep graves for them.

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