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Oko Owi Ocho: This Night I Plan to Dismember my Body

“The dead won’t let me sleep
The living won’t let me die in peace” Amir Sulaiman

this night, I plan to
d i s m e m b e r my
b        o         d         y

and drop a piece at an abattoir where history still eats me

but, because only the living understands the ugliness of dying

I had to arrange my body in piles of grief on the couch


two hours within the orbit of a world the colour of my skin

I became an infant with memories of Adoka bending its head in shame

like a fountain falling with the last song in every river’s mouth


my grandfather, dressed in otongwo, looks at me with an eye

that assumes he knows every bit of my sorrow. My grandmother

still a woman, was roasting stones for my dead uncles and sisters

& they all called my name with an accent that resembled an old

version of Idoma that I never learnt


it’s 1:00AM, and I am alive with the torture of aches from my head

tortures of grief from memories only water could compel into life

& when I say water, it does not matter its source, a river, a rivulet

that navigates through my teenage face, tracing every path of my loneliness


I am awake now, I scroll through Facebook without a history of what I loved

& the nightmare that comes with drinking coffee to keep the memory

of god from fragments of words that fell from my nightmares looking like poetry


Same old music that fell from rain’s mouth


Same old music that fell from rain’s mouth

through my childhood is dropping again

only that the drums from a thatch house

is more solemn than the violent note of the zinc roof

I recollect tiny memories from head of a little boy

whose mother is drenched in consonants of cold


I, the little child, savouring the vowels of

pattering on cassava leaf that shields my head

Soft echoes of my ancestors’s footstep bounce into my measly ears

& the glory of their energy, using naked foot to clear pathways stood inside my head

soon, my mother would drop me in the adἁ where I will tend joints of

broken mushrooms


today, the rain sang stones and exile.

the roof drums back bold beats of absence

Abuja is a city with broken songnotes that crave solitude steep in silence:

water falling from gods’ bath as my mother named the rain

& the thatch sounding humble beats she said is the reflection of alekwu

falling from gods’ body to sing with children


Adoka is solitude that shuns silence when the rain becomes utterance of sounds

the village becomes a moth that won’t enter the flame

it dances around it, saying, “the flame is god’s eyes

that turned flowers. I won’t defy this beauty by dying”

this is how it rains differently inside heads of basic city sons

with a memory of village song inside their throats?


Poetry © Oko Owi Ocho

Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

Oko Owi Ocho
Oko Owi Ocho
Oko Owi Ocho is a poet. He was longlisted for the 2017 Nigerian Student Poetry Prize, Top One Hundred Poems, NSSP 2018. A 2nd Prize Winner for the Korea Nigeria Poetry Prize 2018. He has been published in Black Communion: Poems of 100 New African Poets, ANA Review 2017, and Tuck Magazine among others. He works with SEVHAGE Publisher as a Sub-editor. He has a chapbook forthcoming, We Will Sing Water. He is the Initiator of Afrika-Writes Poetry and a member of Aj House of Poetry.


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