Poet-Today ~ Iquo Diana-Abasi ~ The Arts-Muse Fair

Pic: Aminu S Muhammad


The heart betrays,
pretends to be stoic in its unfailing rhythms,
yet reduces to inchoate stutters at the smell of perfume.
Alien may be signature scent,
but this heart falters at the memory of how you
define and own this Thiery Muggler creation.

The nose is accomplice here,
deciphering the scent's various components,
perfume, alcohol, an 'other' smell;
the indelible scent of you.
the nose betrays at the aroma of food too...

Afang, spliced with Cameroon pepper or Nsukka yellow,
and heavy helpings of periwinkles and dry catfish,
escorted with baby-bum-smooth fufu.
Achi-thickened Oha, sweetened with a
slight splash of mfangadusa, but no ogiri.
This nose perceives you instead of
Abak Atama, spread lavishly, on soft rice.
All with just a bit too much salt –
the way you like it.

In this, the mouth is accomplice too,
attempting to acquire your tastes in your absence,
smiling that sardonic smile with each unsuccessful
attempt, yet trying again.

The ears hear a note of your laughter in my every laugh,
incomplete, the cadences of mine
unable to match yours in loudness.
the ears break down all laughter and voices,
partitions each tone into layers: warmth, pitch,
and an 'other', a mystery stretching the distance.
The ears betray further with Lady Antebellum,
Lady Gaga, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw.
I sing the lead, but all the ears hear is
your resilient alto, each time

Like a puzzle of adequately aligned pieces,
with perfect indentations and protrusions.
This is how the body and memory conspire,
when a girl misses her sister.

Loving you is to awaken

Loving you is to awaken to
The smell of fresh blooms
Lilies, Roses, Chrysanthemums, Daffodils
It is the most fragrant potpourri
Lavender, Jasmine, Vanilla, Lemon

To lie hour after hour in Rose bush,
Bud within bud, stalk within my petals
It is to be pricked by the thorns of your Rose
And yet be simultaneously made whole
By its stunning, breathtaking pain.

Loving you is to
Rejoice in meetings
However seldom
It is to know your endings
From the first sentence

It is to be irrevocably,
Your poem and song
As you are the syllables
And meanings of
The words yet to be formed in my head

Loving you is breathing
The air you exhale
Though we be hundreds of miles apart
It is communion
Sacred, ritual

Haloed in the innermost recesses of being
Spirits, we soar
Beyond earth’s transient boundaries
We are the products and
Pledges of a time past and to come

Loving you is to slow burn
Fragment and clinker
As the coalescence
Of my every verse
You are timeless lyric

Lyric, sung one time and again
By lips imprisoned to yours,
Unable to kiss another
For you are the shadow
I glean off every other

Loving you is the ultimate oxymoron
The sweet pain of surrender and climax
It is fatal recognition;
No morning-after pill
Exists for you

It is Panacea defying;
This irresistible ailment
For you are
Both deadly virus
And elusive elixir.

Loving you is to
Die in fragments
And awaken whole
Loving you is to awaken

Warri of No Worries

Blue and white painted tricycles
Chortling by,
Loudspeakers blast Wizkid and
Mr Eazi in cosy corners
where virtue is easy

at AJs, two muscled men erase
post-gym sweat with cones
of vanilla, chocolate and rum.
Queer, or class statement?
we’ll never know

life is easy here,
money goes faster
than it comes, but
not many worry about this
faux ease is the shroud that

blankets Warri’s disturbia.
behind the fancy hotels and mall,
a light burns bright relentless,
no respecter of night or daytime,
gas flares unchecked.

Beyond Ogborikoko and Barracks,
swamps beckon, home to
thousands of earthen fish ponds;
uneasy calm is the tale of these clusters

the river ebbs and flows,
fishing community sleeps, wakes and prays,
then sleeps and wakes and prays
that by dawn the river brings
no contamination from source

no quicker invitation to hypertension
exists, than the sight of
thousands of helpless
fish, belly-up
come dawn.

Still, life is laidback here,
‘Easy o,  jeje,’ Reekado sings.
what is yours will come to you,
in this city where only visitors or
the ‘foolish’ obey traffic lights.

Warri is no Gaza,
but sniper posts manned by Mopol
in busy fuel stations tell
a different tale from
the city’s faux-peaceful air.

military checkpoints
litter every turn,
but there is no war zone here...
just the curse of oil and
her ever restive militants.


Iquo DianaAbasi writes prose, poetry and scripts for radio and screen. She often performs her poems with a touch of Ibibio folklore.  Her first collection of poems, Symphony of Becoming, was shortlisted for the NLNG Nigerian prize for literature, and the ANA poetry prize; both in 2013. It has also been shortlisted for the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature.
She is an alumnus of Fidelity Bank’s International Creative Writing Workshop, and was writer in residence at the Ebedi International Writers Residency In 2013. An avid student of human nature, Iquo’s writing explores socially cognizant themes, pain, love, womanhood and trials of the griots of this age.
Her writings have appeared in Kalahari review, Saraba magazine, ANA Review, AfricaInWords and Olisa.tv. She has been featured in several poetry anthologies.  She has also graced several stages including: Lagos International Poetry Festival, Ake Arts and Book Festival, TheBig60 Cultural Exchange, Wole Soyinka @80, Lagos Black Heritage Festival, The Macmillan Literary night, PLAY Poetry Festival, Word slam, The Lagos Poetry Festival, Word and Sound.
Iquo resides in Lagos, where she has just completed work on a second volume of poetry. Her collection of short fiction Efo Riro and Other Stories was released in January 2020 by Parresia