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Ókólí Stephen Nónsó: Confession


Today is Saturday-I’m in the reconciliation room
I kneel in the front pew,
kiss the crucifix on my rosary
& make the sign of the cross.
Forgive me father for I do not know how to explain my sins.

He said: Speak son
our God is a merciful God.
Each time I search my heart
I do not like what I see.
I’m trapped in a body that is not mine.
I wore it last night: vanity of nothingness.
My empty head lurked in the dark & collided
& made me vigorously touch a body that is not mine
until a muffled moan escaped me.
I’ve fallen in a wagon of addiction
& I’m sinking…
deeper & deeper…
I’m a sheep that has gone astray.
Yesterday I wore another skin
when you asked us to offer the sign of peace
a friction: waiting to kiss imminent sin.
These and those I can’t remember
are my unholy confession.
He said:
Son this body does not belong to you
It’s the temple of the holy Spirit
birth & death are the only doors through which it passes
Sin is a cancer it eats you up
one filthy taste, one stolen touch
Say your penance & sin no more.
I stand,
kiss my rosary
& make the sign of the cross.



There’s something moist about darkness,
about loneliness, about mirror and a standing body
looking at its hollowed self
                    a sin—a whisper to nothingness
                    a difficult word—gloominess

Emptiness has built a nest in my body
and the moist from these bleary weary eyes
runs deeper than the Nile to nowhereness

A lot weighs on this body
so many I’ve buried trying to be strong
sometimes I see fog finding its ways
in the space of my mind
and I fight it with a silent grief

There’re days filled with dark gaps of time
days I’d said “I’m fine” amidst tears no one could see
days I’d turn my tears to joy, to laughter, to smile
only because they expect it from me

Tears is the language of grief,
a home I retreat
to commune with my mind
It doesn’t kill—it draws one closer to the grave.

There’s something crawling about darkness,
about loneliness, about mirror, and a standing body
looking at its hollowed self
                    avoid it
                    if you’re weak at heart.

Poems © Okoli Stephen
Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay (modified)

Ókólí Stephen Nónsó
Ókólí Stephen Nónsó
Ókólí Stephen Nonso is a Nigerian writer whose poems have previously appeared in Feral Journal, Ebedi Review, Ngiga Review, Praxis Magazine, The Shallow Tales Review, African Writer, Adelaide Literary Magazine New York, Olney Magazine, Tuck magazine, and elsewhere. His short story has appeared in Best of African literary magazine. He has contributed in both national and international pages and anthologies. A joint winner of the May 2020 Poets in Nigeria (PIN) 10-day poetry challenge, first runner-up in the fresh voice foundation Poetry contest, and a third prize winner of the Akuko magazine inaugural prize for Poetry 2021. His bio was included in the 'Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2021’ by Sweetycat press publication. You can say hello to him on Twitter @OkoliStephen7


  1. This is just amazing. I’m almost down to tears seeing myself in the poem.
    Lord! Forgive us for we have sinned.

    Credit must go to the brilliant writer.

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