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honourable mentions - 2018 annual awards

Alive by Success Akpojotor, England
(After Sia Furler)

War waged within walls of atomic number 14
After I conked in the torrent that fed me for eons
But broke before I transcended to a life after birth.

Kelpie was my twin before he bit the dust
And longed for the frigid fires of the infernal region
When he gestated I was the other face of Janus -
And that I had found and bussed my first love, Gemini.

Flash forward:
Dada enrolled me in Lucifer's college
Where my garb was the transfiguration
And always I tallied earthoid fluorescent pills
As I trained to be an angel of light.

Like Eve's firstborn perambulating the planetoid
Searching for his humanity effaced off of him, life was
Taken from me and replaced with the body of God
As I learnt the arcanum of creation in a nanosecond.

Cherubs and dybbuks ousted Old Nick
And gifted me his diadem as they whispered:
Breathe. Conquer. Dance. Respire. You. Are. Alive.

Young Nick, they called me
As they hoped for life in my reign
As I rewrote history with dust and ashes -
But now dybbuks and cherubs are at war.

Up in the middle heaven the chiaroscuro of Darwin
Glowers down at me from her pink throne and sprays
Down a mizzle that tells me I'm the answer to her rhetoric.
But how did I survive?

The present:
I recollect the loud whispers:
You. Are. Alive.
Breathe. Conquer. Dance. Respire.
I know: l'm alive.

When I haunt the world by Christie-Luke Jones, England

I'll be the most passive-aggressive phantom you've never seen.
Hope you like the photograph of us I've left in the university library. I sandwiched it between two textbooks on French Renaissance literature.

I'm a pretentious poltergeist, one might argue.
Discordant keys are great, sure, but Morrissey echoing under a railway bridge in the dead of night - that'll make you realise just how much you miss me.

I committed suicide, by the way.
Too sad?
Fine, I drowned in an inky North Atlantic attempting to save some Cape Verdean fisherman who'd veered seriously off course.

Remember how I used to hold your hand and pretend it wasn't all about getting you naked? I always went down on you first, too.
And now you're smelling my Davidoff Cool Water melt through the thick stone walls of Strasbourg cathedral.

Somewhere in Galicia, my initials sear into the rock face. Behind that albergue we slept at - where I ate all the tapas and played with those feral cats. Where I led you on.
Hope you're there to see it.

I can send you cryptic messages over a Ouija board if you've got one.
I'll turn the room a deep, gothic purple and light some gnarled old candles for optimum levels of macabre romanticism.

I committed suicide, by the way.
I tried really hard to make you happy. To keep you happy.
Existentialism gets old fast though, right? Even in death it's annoying.

Hope this haunting makes you suffer. Or turns you on. Or makes you feel anything, really.
Do me a favour, would you? Look outside your window tonight. Please.

DRUMS OF WAR by Peter Chigbo, Nigeria

Bia furu
I mean come and see
What my people are doing it is wonderful
This show of shame it is awful
Could this be the drums of war
Or should it be called what

Bia nu le
I mean come and see
The labours of our Heros' past being
Wasted just like the lives of Youths
Come and see the drums of war being
Beaten by Youths who does not know the Truth

The starvation of our war, the other war
The Kwashiokor of our war, the real one
The carnage, brutality and bloodbath on our street
Do we really want a repeat

Bia nuru
I say come and hear
Do we even need a seer
To foretell us our fate
If this drums we do not abate
Should we call the Rwandans
To tell us the sad end of this dance

Bia nuru
I said come and hear
The cries of Mothers displaced from their suckling Babies
The cries of Babies displaced from their suffering Mothers
Of Fathers fighting on the same front with their Sons
Of Sons dying right in front of their Father

Bia furu
I implore you come and see
Our Youths taken in their prime
Our Sisters raped while they mime
To the beat of the drums we beat
The drums of war we want to repeat

Is this the future we want
Is this the future we want to flaunt
Nigeria, a land filled with hope
Destroyed by our rulers while the youths mope
Biafra, the land of the rising Sun
Please let us not have sunset at dawn
No not again.

The Hero's Wife by Anna Cornish, Wales

He plunges into darkness,
camouflaged by his own melancholy.
I sit and wait,
perched on the bed like a raven
waiting nevermore.
Ribbons of anxiety intertwine through my brain surreptitiously.
He's gone again, to where I can't fathom.

How much more of this can I endure?

Slowly, my body aches from the fear of him not coming home.
I stay there,
Waiting for the creak of life,
to ricochet through the old staircase tonight to know I'm not alone.
These silent nights turn into silent mornings,

his distrust pierces me like a knife.

In half-helpless sleep I am disturbed by footfalls masked in carpet.
A gentle impression sinks into the bed,
his muscles softening into the mattress.
Snapshots of the night scatter over his back in jagged purple splatters and scars.
I lift a hand to trace the bruises gently with my fingertips,
my tears, like pearls, adorn my cheekbones,
glistening as the sun begins to rise.

Breakfast Time by Geraldine McCarthy, Ireland

His giant hand guiding my feet into school shoes,
Tying the laces; gentle, but firm.
No chat, only the munching of Cornflakes.
A two-bar heater glowing in the corner,
Trying to take the nip out of the air.
'Morning Ireland' humming from the radio,
With news of atrocities up north,
And other things I did not yet understand.
The cat lapping up a saucer of milk,
Backside to the two of us.

A six-month adventure,
At the foot of the Jura mountains,
Wine, pain au chocolat, Comté cheese,
Photocopying, coffee-making, filing (of a sort).
And when I came home again,
And asked my father how he was, he said:
'I missed you most at breakfast time,
It was very quiet without you.'
I smiled at the memory: silence,
Except for the munching of Cornflakes.

The Loktak Fishers by Mahesh Mayanglambam, India

The new boats on the serene lake
Spring, as is passing by
The fishermen of loktak,
Mending nets in dim lantern lights
Must be ready
Before the first light of a new day arrives
Crooning the traditional folk songs of loktak goddess
Praising her spirit;
Of her benevolent nature ---
Yet fiercely destructive if tempted.

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