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Vincent Chimobi Okonkwo | A Gift of Loneliness

A Gift of Loneliness

You wake up at the foot of your throat, gasping
You must have forgotten to breathe
marooned in the liturgy of your mind
Where you are punctual at drowning.

I see it more clearly when you laugh
A small language that follows your every sigh
empties your body like the flask that holds my spirit
And colours your lies with light.

You tell me you listen to Nina Simone too
To keep the conversation alive
Because no one else is coming
Because no one else will come.

You say you’re happy to be invited
Go ahead. Kiss me
until we are briefly alive.
Slip me into your skin, one hand at a time
Here lies my body. Contoured in pain.
How can you not love it. How can you not hate it.


A Temporal Statement of Anxiety Disguised as Prayer

                                                 [Our father]

Don’t pretend that you don’t see me crouched
here, in the sacred gaps of your palms
with fears only I can demonstrate
And I wouldn’t pretend that I don’t see you discharging me
a mumbled novena,
on the ninth day.

                                         [Thy will be done]

Yesterday, I was a little boy
I feared for nothing and laughed too much
danced with lithe steps, and ran as you watched
through the world easy across the river cut
in the neck of the forest, before me.

                                         [Give us this day]

Today I am a man and my intentions are (mostly) good but
the world is too much with me
Can’t you see it on my temple, brittle to your touch
A trickling thought that empties my body only through
screams that I manifest as silence.

                                 [Forgive us, eventually]

Tell me, holy father, do you get anxious?
Maybe in purgatory, maybe in reading Nietzsche.
So do I. So do I;
and I am, in fact, anxious, father, always
I fear everything at once
I fear indistinct thoughts that form here
in the nipple of my mind and nest
there, in my body, where I am briefly alive.

                          [Deliver us now from most evil]

Holy father,
everyone suffers from something
I from my mind, you from your love.
If it pleases you as it pleases me
let us start afresh.
I can say a mumbled novena
and you can let it manifest as silence
like all the best prayers do.


Poetry: Vincent Chimobi Okonkwo

Image: Omid Armin on Unsplash

Vincent Chimobi Okonkwo
Vincent Chimobi Okonkwo
My name is Vincent Okonkwo. I am a poet based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I began writing poetry as a teenager. I fell in love with writing as a kid after reading some of the books in my father's book collection, which included classics like Amo Tutuola's "Palm Wine Drinkard" and Thomas Hardy's "The Mayor of Casterbridge." I have been writing poetry for over 10 years, and I was part of an early decentralised online community of writers on Facebook between the years 2011 to 2015. At the time, I am undertaking a Master of Laws at Harvard Law School, and I am working on finalizing my first poetry collection. Twitter: @TheOkonkwo_Esq

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