Oka Benard Osahon is the winner of the June 2017 edition of the monthly Words Rhymes & Rhythm backed BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST (BPPC).
Themed ‘AS THE MUSE LEADS’, the June edition of the BPPC was keenly contested, but Osahon’s emotion laden poem, ‘IGNORANCE IS BLISS’, emerged best out of almost 120 entries. ‘A TUNE FROM MY FLUTE OF FREEDOM’ by Ogwiji Ehi-kowochio Blessing and ‘MONSTER’ by Ikechukwu Blessing Onyinyechi were awarded the first and second runners-up positions respectively.
Osahon who holds a B.A in English and Literary Studies from Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, is a seasoned creative writer and was a co-winner of the Praxis Magazine online 2016 Anthology Contest. His writings have appeared on several platforms including Brittle paper, Praxis Magazine Online and Visual Verse.
Below are the top 10 poems:
- IGNORANCE IS BLISS by Oka Benard Osahon
- A TUNE FROM MY FLUTE OF FREEDOM by Ogwiji Ehi-kowochio Blessing
- MONSTER by Ikechukwu Blessing Onyinyechi
- A WORTHLESS GOLD by Mbagu Valentine
- THE MAN MY FATHER MARRIED by Abah Linus Ajene
- JUNGLE OF JENTA! by Okoliko Amina Grace
- MASQUERADE AT THE SCHOOL GATE by Nwagbo Ebubechukwu Bruno
- MIRAGE by Jamiu Ahmed Adewale
- A PAINTER OF BLOOD AND WATER by Osemwengie Zion
- poesicography by Solomon Olajide Oladipupo
IGNORANCE IS BLISS by Oka Benard Osahon
It is not the sight of mother,
Folded like a rock warming the sun,
On the lip of the bridge that caught the fake eyelashes, no…
It is child, staring with bright eyes at the speeding chrome wheels,
A well sucked thumb slick with spit twisting her shirt into knots,
Who caused well pressed verbs and tainted adjectives
Framed in glottal stops and affricates, to rustle and fall
From glossy lips like small stones caught in the feverish grip of a dust storm,
On the piece of humanity wrapped in the sun’s warm shade.
Mother Earth has spat her children to the sky
But father Sky has denied his seeds and we stand between;
Hanging like pollen in the air, blown about by the seductive winds
Of overfed vocal chords who crushed truth with slippery handshakes,
And pinched eyes shut with the tips of scented nails.
Mother moaned as several momentous morphemes are expelled,
Her eyes blinked to the return of memory; Yesterday’s pain and today’s misery.
She murmured a question. Gold edged glasses heard nothing
But the worried river flooding the bank with bloated bodies
Or was it the whistling wind wrestling sand off bleached bones?
Pleated skirt pointed to undernourished child and descended into cliché;
Canned words processed on TV interviews with bloated agbadas hmm-ing and ha-ing…
Mother murmured her question again…
‘What did you say?’ pointed heels bent bleached knees delicately.
‘Did you bring food?’ dehydrated lips ask.
A TUNE FROM MY FLUTE OF FREEDOM by Ogwiji Ehi-kowochio Blessing
Watch my fingers, sway this way and that way
as I play a tune to recall that day, such a beautiful day
when I broke free from the pen-cuff of themes
Back then, I was behind bars of rules and rhyme schemes
and those days, every single day, from sunrise to sunset
I’d in vain try to write a singular sonnet
Sometimes the prison wardens wanted a ballad
but my muse prepared and severed African salad
with a lot of Abacha, mixed with a great deal of Buhari
and their black stare seemed to demand my remorseful ‘sorry’
but how do I crawl out of a satire, garnished with humor
released to relish laughter-starved fellows; without an armor?
Well, I gave them an idea; ‘make my poem a legal entity’
Give poets the liberty to see through the soul of humanity
by staring long and hard into the blazing eyes of the sun
Allow our rivers of emotions, meander in its chosen distributaries
See, if in a poet’s frantic attempt to be lucid
his words become as corrosive as concentrated suphuric acid
burning the skin on your hardened hearts and sooty souls
let him be excused, for I have seen bombs stroll
out of laboratories to execute lethal pilot projects
yet we swallow the detriments of those experiments
performed by scientists who are mostly left un-trailed nor jailed
So, to the throne and throng, I throw this thorny question:
How else do you expect a poet to exercise his poetic license
other than scribble clean, this sullied society of ours
as he sweeps the system with his overflowing costume of words?
MONSTER by Ikechukwu Blessing Onyinyechi
Midnight. It’s dark. Everyone else is dead asleep.
But you’re awake, waiting. It’s coming.
The gate bangs open with a metal wail
Footfalls, heavy, like the drums of doom
Booming down the hallway. It’s here.
At your door, a choir of ravenous fingernails
Singing, scratching, scraping on wood
Making macabre melody. It wants you.
Drenched in cold sweat, biting on your pillow
You lie shivering under the covers
A prototype of fear, you groan soundlessly
Leave me alone, I’ll never let you in.
The voice that replies, is in your head
A sad, hushing, hissing whisper wrapping your mind
In wraith-like fingers of smoky mist.
“I cannot go away, my dear. You know that, and you know why.
These nocturnal trysts will never end, as long as you keep the door shut.”
You’re tired. Exhaustion fills your bones like lead.
Enough of this! you think. It ends now!
You toss off the covers, march to the door
Grab the knob, fling it open in angry surrender.
“Come in!” you scream.”Come in and let me have peace!”
Your eyes meet the monster’s, and you gasp.
Those eyes are your eyes, tinged with a hint of madness
Its face is your face, only with an unholy sneer
Its body and yours are mirror images
It is you, but it is not you. But it is you.
A WORTHLESS GOLD by Mbagu Valentine
Ti’s above all, this war on Unity must be fought,
And it must not be lost as its cost must ne’er be bought,
It should not be desired, ’cause her gold is worthless,
Howbeit she’s priced when we can invest in oneness?
She must weep all night and dawn for her tears to be desired,
And bought by all who yearn for her worthless gold to be priced,
Ti’s not fit pricing a chaffy gold but we be desperate for Unity,
Therefore must we die of this plague whose cure is solidarity.
Let’s embrace Unity till it be that the heavens touch the earth,
And all mankind see reason to dry up the stagnant river of disunity,
Henceforth must we not fight one another for we grow one breathe;
Till the hills reach the sky, we must make Unity a hallowed deity.
Ne’er will we fight for we must sacrifice every forbidden fruits in our midst,
Only then can there be a worthy gold fit for a profitable feast,
Our hatred must be quenched by a burning love for the sake of harmony,
Howbeit we treasure one another in chaos when we’re but one country?
We must all invest in Unity for it should ne’er be despised,
‘Cause it must be bought as its worth is become fit to be priced,
It must be desired if we must live to exist in solidarity,
By so doing can we restore the chaffy gold of Unity.
THE MAN MY FATHER MARRIED by Abah Linus Ajene
The man my father married
Is from the lineage of lions
He sees thick forest as clear desert
He calls night bright morning
And hunts elephants for breakfast
The man my father married
Is an eagle in sky
He flies to meet the farthest horizon
And travels millions of miles on high altitude
Just to catch a dream
The man my father married
Is a Solomon in wisdom
He knows how to track the tricks of tortoise
And even escape through needle’s eye
To bring breakfast to my father’s table
The man my father married
Is graced in every endevour
He is endowed with countless
Flairs and oils of aptitude
To break the hardest rocks
And mine the hidden gold
The man my father married
Is the mother of my father’s children
He is whose womb I had visited
The one whose breast I had sucked
He is a man inside a woman
He is the man my father married
JUNGLE OF JENTA! by Okoliko Amina Grace
Jump the legendary jungle of Jenta!
Sting not your lungs with wafts of its stink
Skillfully skip its frothy evil filths
For the fish griller smells of smoke more than fish
Tis proud humble jungle of junkies
With gods of whoredom and goddesses of sodomy
Is a poisonous grey garden of Eden
Basking in bounteous trees and sumptuous fruits
Dotting lone hills and manicured rocks
And a dizzying stream that catwalks across
Gliding buttocks upon cursed stones
Fawned hibiscuses flatter lissome lilies
As they flutter purple lashes to natures charm
A picturesque beauty indeed jungle seems
Oh but chimneys from her nostrils paint the skies black!
Pungent putrid weed impregnates the air
Marijuana and cocaine, a strand of noodle their hopeless lip
Maman mama sweats in haste to serve her burukutu
But dingy Danjumas’ hands are much too wobbly
And down goes the toxic brown broth
Spilled sleekly upon a spongy earth
Garose leans upon a tattered mud house
Knocked up and knock kneed in a ripped jean
Sandwiched in two thugs in upturned face caps
As I skittered through that dreadful morn
A withered lad with black saggy lips whistled at me
I simply shook my drooped big head in envy
At how highly elated they easily hardly be
Jenta – a ghettos like street in jos
‘Burnout’ – a drink made from fermented corn gruel
Garose – a female given name from a major tribe in Plateau
MASQUERADE AT THE SCHOOL GATE by Nwagbo Ebubechukwu Bruno
Mr. Kobo; masquerade at the school gate
With ekpo* face and Ojuju Calabar’s* fearful gait
Deep guttural laughter of a vengeful ghost
Smoking furies of evil forest: the chief masquerade of my town and its host
Armed with fat whips like a bloody soldier
Asking for a gate fee or ‘about turn’ home, my dear
Should you fall for his trap, your bail is not free
Roger* ‘Awolowo’s head*’ for the policeman in exploitation spree
Kobo is a kola*-loving god with large gullets as a big boss
He swallows our lunch box to launch his abdominal box
Even his pen needs to be oiled to mark our scripts
We scratch our pockets to scratch for his phony phones
When Mr. Kobo sends for you, first count your books and take stocks
If anything is missing, then pad your pocket or pad your buttocks
Rub his palms or he robs you your buttocks with twenty needles
He has no ears for cock and bull stories or nettling riddles.
Dashing out of the house today, at the door I crashed
But it is better than to be dashed Mr. Kobo’s lash
I have no cash to wade off the clash
A masquerade’s bash is rash and harsh
As I go to school today on high gear
Behind my brisk steps there is this burden I bear
Every school morning, there is this dread I get
I dread the masquerade at the school gate.
MIRAGE by Jamiu Ahmed Adewale
Ghost of dreams on the horizon,
Refraction of light gleaming hues,
Where thoughts fade into a spook
Of unattainable image of memory.
Looking through the mirror of past,
That reflects the emptiness of ettle,
Peeping via the window of tomorrow,
Only to see a man chasing the skyline.
Days of wearing an imprudent wings,
Soaring against the altitude of time,
Running after the shadow of tomorrow,
With yesterday’s meaningless stance.
The firmament is the universal mirror,
That reflect the magical aurora at dawn,
Where beautiful colors randiantly glow,
But vanish into the vacuum of oneirism.
A volume of dusty rubble and malarkey,
Vaulted with vanity of unattainable race,
The images are mere inverted reflection,
Waking up to realize that life is a mirage.
A PAINTER OF BLOOD AND WATER by Osemwengie Zion
Our journeys are better explained in the butterfly.
Gently, it flaps its radiant wings against the golden flickers of the sun, bursting of lights.
It becomes a basket trapping hues of admiration.
It becomes a rainbow- beautiful body covering a burdened soul.
It becomes love.
Soon, it meets mother in the field of grains,
Mourning the death of her larvae broken by careless feet.
How do you console a mother whose child never grows to know the taste of nectars?
How do you console a mother whose wings never serve as shelter for her offsprings?
How do you tell a mother who hides daily in shades and thickets just to see another second to
Something must kill a being.
In hope of getting to safety under a leaf,
It picks tiny fragments of its broken soul and sews them up.
Then, journeys back but runs into the palms of butterfly hunters.
Children diving amongst grasses or oldies killing for no return.
Evening comes and it sits still in their cup.
Death would come for beauty soon
And mother would weep seas again.
So, it silently rehearses its death and paints images of blood and water.
poesicography by Solomon Olajide Oladipupo
tonight, i fall for you:
like pieces of poetry
spread on a poet’s wheel
every piece, every bit
remoulded, like clay,
into metaphors of regeneration
like songs, broken
dying, slowly, into decrescendos
every tune, every hum
reawakened, like sunrise
into sopranos of a rainbow cock
like shadows, left without a trace
bound, blindly, into brittle memories
every face, every pace
rearranged, like the destiny of Esau
into brighter shades of portraits
tonight, i fall into you:
*Poesicography is a word I coined from three words: poetry, music and photography, to show how they interplay.
Osahon takes home the top prize of N7000 cash, a certificate, and books. He also takes over from the current BPPC champion from Rachel Ige, who in May became the first female poet to win the contest in its two-and-a-half year history.
All the poets in the TOP 10 will receive a certificate and free copies of the anthology at the Words Rhymes & Rhythm Literary Festival 2017. Their poems will be automatically entered for the ALBERT JUNGERS POETRY PRIZE (AJPP) 2017 and published in the BPPC 2017 anthology.
“An excellent crop indeeeeed! It’s more awkward than ever to tell the best from the best!”
– Brigitte Poirson
The Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest, a brainchild of Words Rhymes & Rhythm (WRR), is a monthly writing contest aimed at rewarding the under-appreciated talent of young Nigerian poets. It was instituted in February 2015 in honor of Brigitte Poirson, a French poet and lecturer, editor, who has over the years worked assiduously to promote and support of African poetry. Now in its third season, and being one of the few credible contests for poets, the BPPC has since grown to be one of country’s most popular, especially among the younger poets.
NOTE: Submissions are being received for the JULY 2017 edition
CLICK HERE TO ENTER YOUR POEM
I am a member of the WRR editorial team.