in me words were trapped; they couldn’t find their way out
they were prisoners locked up in my head
so i grew up with tongue atrophied in my mouth

once i’ve been told, ‘there’s a place in you where it is all alive’
so i searched and i searched till i lurched and i lurched
then on a night the sky was filled with dancing stars
on that same night my heart robbed of my appetite and sleep
i found this place where it is all alive
this place with people whose presence i felt
we laughed, we played, we talked
there i was taught how to mask my emotions
clean as a whistle
like a gift, I wrapped up my emotions with tape
and i placed it away from my sleeves

some days when i step out of my comfort zone
i inflame, i drench, i fall
for i couldn’t stand the gaze of vulnerability
of broken eyes, healed eyes, stout eyes. . .

so i fall back to my head

“sleep little one
sleep dear one
sleep little one”
there’s a place in you where it all happens”

often, my mum would sit by my side and cradle me to bed
with a poem oozing from her mouth
i am a night owl
my eyes are stars lying in the sky
do the stars leave when the sky needs them most?

in a moment, i bury my stars in the sky
and i fall back to my head
where it is all happening,

i grew up with words as prisoners
i grew up setting them free through my ink
i grew up learning to write
on nights when my heart robs me of my appetite and sleep

i grew up learning to write of things in my head
i grew up being a night owl

i grew up…

About Writer:

Ugochukwu Damian Okpara is a poet and a medical student based in Nigeria. He began writing poetry in 2017 and his major theme explores depression, loneliness, and feminism. His goal is to inspire those who have been hurt, making them realize that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an illusion. When he is not writing or reading, he spends time listening to songs by Simi, James Blunt or Ed Sheeran. 

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30, a collection of poems by Jaachi Anyatonwu banner
Jaachi Anyatonwu
Jaachi Anyatonwu is a poet, editor, and publisher living in the suburbs of Aba. He is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks and collections, and the Editor-In-Chief of Poemify Publishers Inc. Jaachi is passionate about discovering new voices and mentoring emerging poets. He is also a fierce advocate for the boy child and sexually molested.

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