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Becoming: Poetry by Naza Amaeze Okoli


Image: Brian Stocks via Flickr


I was brewed with the tears of a grieving nation
Steamed in the heat of endless battles
Poured down the winding path
To gather dust
To inhale the fearsome fury
That lies beneath

I was cast with the forces of a world far gone
Bent by the weight of vision
Turned, twisted, trampled
My soul cannot stand apart
From these thorny darts
Hurled to sear my skin

I am the mirror of a million faces
I have drunk from the river that runs the earth
I have spoken in tongues far and near
I have grown
I have become

I am the taste of mashed bitter-leaves
Washed, rinsed, dried… bitter still
The truths I speak of are fused with my breath
The wetness in my pores is drawn from the ground
On which I stand, rooted.


(For Jenkins Onyedumekwu)

My memory of you
Are kites hovering over our roof
Ripe mangoes high up in the trees
Midnight stars watching me at night

My memory of you
Is your blood that was my heart
The rose in your house; love of a child:
Truer than truth, and larger than life

My memory of you
Are bundles of newly mown grass
Laid across our green field
On a chilly Saturday morning

My memory of you
Is my brother that is you
Two so different, and you so true
As the melody of my childhood

My memory of you
Is you – alive, like life
Like your laugh
Which never dies


© Naza Amaeze Okoli
Image: Brian Stocks

Naza Amaeze Okoli
Naza Amaeze Okoli
Naza Amaeze Okoli, PhD, is Assistant Professor of African American Literature at Eastern Kentucky University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Mississippi in 2022, and was most recently a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Literature, Media and Communication at Georgia Institute of Technology. He is co-editor of Footmarks: Poems on One Hundred Years of Nigeria’s Nationhood. Twitter/X: @nazaokoli


  1. I have read poems, and these lines count among. The truth is some poems are ‘the mirror of a million faces’.

  2. You carefully chose the very simple and clear words and beautifully twisted them like patterns of African lady hair; yet you never let your message and the agenda in your mind cheaply be uncovered by the undeserving reader.One must take time to read and repeat many times to clearly get the intended message.You inspire me.

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