Picture by Author

i have sat here all my life
drawing your face over and over
on the sea around my feet
let the oceans be littered
with portraits of you

there have been no storms this season
and this city is long and desolate
with arms that hold nothing
yet it remembers your voice
many drops of water that fell
on the nights when we
needed a reason to believe

and i still talk in my sleep
saying the same prayers over and over
that these hot days without you
don't consume all of me

here

on the sand by the sea
where i have sat all my life
all of us in me that grieve your leaving
stare at the sky for your shadow
waiting for the wind that carries you every summer
to bring the rain again


Image: Rain, by Nik Cubrilovic

every dusk, the dreams come as the attacks do. it starts with many memories folding into themselves, a spectrum of falling colours too bright, too varied, i puke in my sleep and wake to my head rolling.

most rainy mornings, i have no words of prayer because my voice is too feeble to travel through raging water.

one day, i might understand god and his choices. but till then, i make excuses for him and wait out this weather.


Picture by Author

i no longer know how to wake to sunlight
but to a heart threatening to detonate
and i carry my body the entire day
like a bomb scare

© Joshua Omena 2021


Ladies of AfriLabs

Growing up as a man in a man’s world means that I naturally saw things only from the eyes of a privileged person. As a young male child, I did not understand that women had unique challenges and that “the patriarchy” exists. The first woman I met was my mother and naturally, that was all she was — my mother.

In my early teen years, my mother opened a shop to host her tailoring business and one hot afternoon, while I was in the shop with her, she shared her complimentary card with me. She spoke about her dreams with…


I am battling insomnia and some anxieties tonight. And I remember today is the 3rd of March. Ahh, this woman’s birthday. It feels good, thinking about you. Everything about you.

I miss the days we run and walk in the mornings as the sun rises on your polished skin and the nights at bistros and galleries where your laughter and light gossips made that city of Lagoons breathable. Felt good. Even the memories of it taste better. Like old wine or old whiskey. Something about alcohol getting better with time.

Well, tonight, I drink every moment I have shared with you. It feels good. And I hope I get to make more intoxicating memories with you in different cities, dear friend.

You deserve all the best today and forever. May you live all your lives.

Happy Birthday, Love.


Picture by author

the air claps its hands
god exhales after a long wait
nothing else matters now
for your lover is the approaching storm
and you flash across the sky
to meet him


Picture credit: Author

she laid bare with her head in heaven and her hands digging into her body

a constellation of shooting stars is a woman falling into the memories of her shattering, she remembers

humid nights, every passing air was a tease, a boy used his fingers to draw god on the skin of his lover till she saw a glimpse of Jesus second coming: the blast of the trumpet and the rapture of her body


for Apele

“and birds go flying at the speed of sound
to show you how it all began”
- coldplay

we are on a bed on a hot afternoon
in a university hostel room
our bellies filled with a meal we shared
minutes before we are bound for class
that's one way i remember

you in a wide smile an ever unfolding fist of light writing your story by your heart and not by what was given to you you taught me your name as a song a foreign word you said i still let it out tenderly trembling in grief for…


Picture credit: Author

thinking of you while you sleep is a forecaster’s nightmare
your twitching eyes could be any dream
and the truth is a cloud gathering in my gut
a familiar rumbling that plays in my head
again and again till the sky breaks

i am the sound of water on things
blowing hard against your pane
the rain can’t help itself i swear

and i don’t want to startle you
from your peaceful life

but a passing storm at 3 am could be strong enough
to leave chaos as a text from your best friend professing love
or be a miserable lullaby that sings till morn
unaware to you in the arms of your lover
but i don’t get to choose
the weather is an act of god


Credit: Author

in the days after you left,
her breathing finds your ashes floating
between the drapes of the room
lingering like incense wisp,
particles of you roaming
in the air you left behind

you are still alive here
she fans dead embers to invoke your face
and to inhale a history of fervent fire
a museum of smoke built in your name
where she preserves your legacy
by deeply drawing in
the memory of when you burnt for her

she is drowsy on the residues of your body
hiding in the knits of your cardigan
that hugs her so warmly
and her eyes water so slowly
while looking back to you
till she is a pillar of salt
in the trail of your leaving

Joshua Omena

Poet. Communications Manager. Daydreamer. Night-crawler.

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