Modern view of Lagos (Tin-can Island)The Centenary Project
I say home now & mean the grocery store
where I spent most of childhood learning
the value of want has been replaced by an
imposing nightclub. the slouching concrete
walls that once kept my closest friend
is reduced to ash and rubble.
I say home & mean
I have no memory of when or how it happened.
so much destruction goes on unnoticed.
Fireboy DML performing onstage (2019) by @deeds_artOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival
I say home & mean the mosques, the churches
screaming prayers for a god who must be hard
of hearing. the traffic growing impatient
beyond my window. an orchestra of car engines
slaughtering the night’s air like a monarch gone mad.
the flooded streets. the mountains of litter reclaiming
the highway. the never-ending performance of urgency
Untitled (2014) by Obinna MakataOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation
I say home & mean the middle-aged woman
roasting the gifts of the season by the roadside. her smile
big as a billboard. a constant promise. i say home & mean
the house party where i surrender to whatever need
is strongest. lost in the syncopated rhythm of a stranger’s
arms. watching my friends reel in the past & laughing
at the silliest memories. i say home & mean i could live
inside that sound forever.
Central Business District by Dayo AdedayoTour Nigeria
I say home & mean sometimes claiming a piece of land
as your own isn’t so much the point as knowing
you have a place to go to. a city that always lets you
return. i say home & mean the noose around my neck.
i say home & mean talisman. the city i lose my voice in.
the city that sounds my words back to me. i say home
& think i deserve to be happy here even though no one
truly deserves anything they’re given.
Precious Arinze (2020-07-01) by Yẹ́misí Aríbisálà
I say home & mean this city sprawling with roofs
held together by prayers.
where it’s a crime to be born
with only the luxury of a name.
I say home & mean the only thing we have a right to is the pulse in our throats.
I say home & mean not even that.
I say home & mean someday all of this will be returned to the ocean.
I say home now & mean the exact breadth of my loneliness.
I mean tomorrow i could leave my home & hear the door
shut behind me permanently.
About Precious Arinze
Precious Arinze is a poet and essayist, whose work has appeared in Kalahari Review, Arts and Africa, The Republic Journal, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Electric Literature, Glass Poetry, and Berlin Quarterly amongst others. They write poems and essays when they are not sitting in Lagos traffic and contemplating the decisions that have led them to make home in this city.
Explore more at g.co/ekoforshow