C.S. Lozie

Bearded Mouth

In primary school, I had this teacher. I don’t remember her name but if you ask me to close my eyes and think of her, I’d see three things: One, a beautiful pastel green pencil skirt she would often wear. Two, a ripe black mole by her upper lip. And three, a dark-skinned chin, full of even darker hair. Well, maybe not “full of hair”, but just enough coarse-looking coils to stir us into calling her a wicked witch when she wasn’t listening. “Ah, she can eat you oh!”, “She is wicked to her husband”, “Don’t you know she hates children?” “She will flog you 60 times!”—these were the mythical lies that 9-year-old children were throwing across the P.6 classrooms like a game of telephone. In retrospect, the source of these accusations was never verifiable. I was either hearing it from one loud-mouthed boy who ate his cold lunch with too much saliva in his mouth, or I was hearing it from another boy who would elaborately plan to push my pencil case down during end-of-term party so I would bend and he would see under my skirt. Imagine. Meanwhile, I don’t think she beat any of us more than any other regular Nigerian cane-loving enthusiast. In fact, I don’t think that woman had ever touched me with a cane in all the years I went there.

Then why was I so quick to believe those stories?

Honestly, as pathetic as it may seem now, I really thought boys knew more than girls at that age. I learned somewhere that the loudest voice was carrying the strongest reasoning. But more gravely, somewhere in the recesses of my 9-year-old mind, I was very comfortable believing that women who had facial hair were unkind, treacherous, monstrous, capable of great unkindness and quite frankly, willing to devour children they wanted to punish.  A few years ago, I got lost on the World Wide Web and found myself in a Nairaland forum where a man spent some hundred words, complaining bitterly about all the hair his sister had on her chest. By the end of the post, he had called his sister Satan without ever mentioning any evil she had done. The conclusion was made on the single premise that she had a hairy chest. And there it made sense, why my mother’s mood always seemed to deflate on the days when I would see a tiny hair on her chin, and move to stroke it.

In 1957, a Spanish physician —Juan Huarte— decided that “the woman who has much body and facial hair (being of a more hot and dry nature) is also intelligent but disagreeable and argumentative, muscular, ugly, has a deep voice and frequent infertility problems.” Reasoning like this has lasted until now. Growing up and hearing similar myths about women with facial hair led me to regard facial hair on women as an abnormality that hit maybe 1% of the population. However in her article, Female facial hair: if so many women have it, why are we so deeply ashamed?, Mona Chalabi reports that as many as 1 in 14 women deal with the growth of male-patterned hair from as young as 11 years old. 1 in 14 women makes a total of 56 million women. 56 million is a lot of women made to think they are terribly unusual; a huge chunk of women made to feel inherently criminal, based on nothing they have done by the work of their hands or intention in their hearts, but merely by the hair on their chinny-chin-chins. It is a crazy, yet popular, opinion that women with facial hair are criminal. In her work, Chalabi also recounts the influence of Darwin’s book, The Descent of Man, on male scientists hungry to validate an obsession to segregate by using racial hair types to indicate primitiveness. “One study, published in 1893, looked for insanity in 271 white women and found that women who were insane were more likely to have facial hair, resembling those of the ‘inferior races,’” she reports. Fortunately, this wasn’t always the truth everywhere. While Darwin and Huarte where working hard to segregate and negate women with facial hair, the Yoruba people down south were building the sacred image of a bearded female leader called “Iya Nla.”

Bearded Great Mother headdress (Iya Nla). Wood, encrustations, feather, h. 1515/16 inches. W. 89/16 inches.  Seattle Art Museum. Photography by Paul M Macapia

The Iya Nla face figure is the most sacred mask paraded during the annual Gelede festival, a procession of masks dedicated to perform and portray the tropes of femininity as accounted in Yoruba oriki. As opposed to the other masks, the Iya Nla is the only one carried at night, covered in an opaque veil that suggests an otherworldly power, too great to be seen, but so powerful it must be acknowledged. For scholars like Henry Drewal, the Iya Nla face represents “the essence of Gelede, and constitutes the foundation of Yoruba society.”

“The word Gelede describes a spectacle that relaxes and pacifies the beholder,” writes Babatunde Lawal, who has written most extensively on the subject.  In his words, Gelede is primarily dedicated to the maternal principle in nature, personified as Iya Nla, the Great Mother. There are many different origin stories of the festival, most of which conclude that the inner spirit of the sacred mother must be evoked for any fertility and reproduction to occur. What I find interesting here is that in a festival designed to conjure up the most cultural epitome of femininity—childbirth—the most important visual metaphor of that the event is that of a woman with a bearded face. Meanwhile, in our colloquial understanding, the beard seems to negate that femininity, and seemingly cause sterility.  But even though the beard (irungbon), in Yoruba culture, is seen as a symbol of wisdom and advanced age, women with one are very cautious about keeping it, for fear that they may be accused of being Aje (commonly translated as “witch”).

How manage?

Well, it turns out that fear is partly responsible for this misunderstanding. By creating myths of woman as an inherently secret creature who would attack you without your knowledge, there is a paranoia that women aim to be feared, rather than understood. Apparently, there have always been rumours of women who would “just look at you and that will be the end,” or the women who could steal your organ by walking past you. The myth of the irascible and wicked Aje has unfairly allowed women to be punished arbitrarily, for making gestures that may correlate with, but not cause, misfortunes. As a result, women have had to take extra caution to rid themselves of anything that may seem Aje-like.

But before being negated to mean witch, “Aje” was a word for the respected mothers who could be destructive, but more often, brought balance and maintained social order and morality (Ifogbontwaase). Because the mechanism of their healing wasn’t articulated visibly in the same way as masculinity, the feminine power was often embedded in mystery. The fear of the unknown provided a competitive threat to the predictable and visible strategy of male physical power paraded in battles and exposed through war. In his book, The Gelede Spectacle, Lawal explains that “to the Yoruba, nature has compensated the women in other ways by giving them cunning (ogbon aje) with which to level up with the physical advantage of men.” And so, men cannot allow themselves to be manipulated by the “…explosive nature of male-female relations in a male dominated society.” When Henry Drewal, author of the book “Gelede”, interviewed some local Yoruba men, he also confirmed that there was a reverence for women’s power that bordered on revulsion and fright. One of the men complained that women have the power to bring technological advancement but instead choose not to:

“[T]he aje change into birds and fly at night. If they used that knowledge for good, it might result in the manufacture of airplanes…they can see the intestines of someone without slaughtering him; they can see a child in the womb. If they used their powers for good they would be good maternity doctors.”

In his mind’s eye, women are responsible for holding back their creative strength. On one hand, the thought seems empowering. But on the other hand, it dismisses the systemic dilution of femininity into only things that smell like candy, and bodies that glisten hairlessly in the sun. While some women do prefer to smell like candy or glisten hairlessly, it is important to see the ways others make the world unlivable for women who refuse to participate in the performance of that one fickle, and pre-colonially dislocated narrative around femininity. The truth is that some women with beards will wax for the rest of their lives. But some women won’t. Unfortunately, some of the women who don’t will get death threats from men, insisting that it is morally wrong for them to retain the hair on their faces. Women like Harnaam Kaur: a 29-year-old woman who decided to stop shaving frantically every morning. Without caring that Kaur has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which can offset hormonal changes and increase hair growth, causing both emotional and physical pain, there are strangers on the internet that threaten to take her life away if she doesn’t shave.  It is not hard for me to imagine that the Nairaland guy threatens to do the same to his sister for harbouring hair he deems Satanic.

With more time, I could guide you into the profound world of scientific and biological reasons why women grow male-patterned hair on their bodies. However, this is not that essay. This is a shorter one that simply asks that we see how far our realised forms of femininity have deviated from what was once the mystical, idealised metaphor of a full femininity that placated the earth and removed hostility from its womb, providing abundance and regeneration for all who asked. If the face of that prayer is that of a bearded woman, why and how have we become so ungrateful for what the bearded women in our lives can teach us about duality and harmony?

“Iyamapo toto aro no dama e ko  kere  abirun lenu”
 Iyamapo, please, I beseech you, I do not intend to slight you with bearded mouth

-iwi Egungun (translated by Theresa N Washington in The Architects of Existence: Aje in Yoruba Cosmology, Ontology, and Orature)

In this moment, I wish I could reach out to my old teacher and tell her we were just silly. I wish I could tell her I didn’t know her well enough to make any of the judgements I made. I wish I could tell her she never has to agree with the loudest opinion; that in matters of wisdom, might definitely doesn’t make right. If you could take me back to Primary 6 with what I know now, I would un-look that over-salivated young man along with his foul-mouthed accomplices, and find a way to let her see that, according to Yoruba mythology, a bearded woman may, in fact, be the sacred reason for every season.


Sheila Chukwulozie is a filmmaker and tea-maker who uses the camera to preserve the full range of human expression in the belief that emotions like civilizations, may one day go extinct. Her works have been shown in, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’ivoire, England, Germany, South Africa, Czech Republic and USA. In 2020, Sheila spent three months with Delfina Foundation filming a documentary film on the relationship between pole dancing and religion called |temple| of which an excerpt has been shown both in Delfina foundation and Arebyte gallery, London. From August 2017- August 2018, she travelled as a Thomas J Watson fellow studying with traditional mask makers and cloth weavers in eight African countries. As a writer, she writes mainly on the African perspectives of global matters relating to sonic history, anthropology and digital humanities. Her work has been published by The Republic Journal, Disegno and Infrasonica. Her latest essay published by LIFE magazine was long listed for the SOPA journalist awards 2022. Her installation at the Johannesburg Art Fair “Thanks Xenophobia” has been reviewed by Artnet, Frieze, Financial Times and other leading media houses. Her latest film “Egungun” (directed by Olive Nwosu) has been launched at the British Film Institute, TIFF International film festival, Aspen film festival and Sundance. Her most recent installation called “OBSIDIAN” is a collage of materials—visual and audio—made in collaboration with artist Jasmin Fire, curated by Raphael Guilbert. The piece showed through a digital portal connecting Berlin to Lagos in real time, using live feedback from both performers and audience members.




Chinwendu Nwangwa

Unholy Things

The first time I kissed a girl, it was nothing phenomenal. It was easy, as easy as breathing. It did not feel like something that needed to be learned. I was not experimenting or practicing how to kiss boys. I was a 10 year-old who liked another 10 year-old, and the movies had said that when you like someone you kiss them. So I did. She kissed me back. Then her mom walked in. 

Her mom was a Deeper Life devotee who thought the only reason I followed them to church was because I was largely interested in God. Of course, I was interested in God. I was interested in finding out why God had seemingly taken the high road of silence, instead of helping me. My cousin, who used to wake up to pray at 3am every day, had been raping me. I was interested in finding out why God seemed to be listening only to my cousin, because what else was he praying for, if not the right to rape a child and get away with it? 

However, my interest in God was not the only reason I went to church. It was her, my childhood neighbor. I liked her so much that I wanted to be around her. So, I followed her family to church, and her mom approved of our friendship. This was until I earned her disapproval when she caught me locking lips with her daughter. This was the first time I was told my desires were unnatural. Her mom scolded me for these desires and I was banned from being alone with her daughter. My mom never brought it up. No one in my family scolded me for it. I soon forgot that there was supposedly something wrong with my affections. I would not discover that my existence as a girl in love with other girls was an abomination in the eyes of those who have proclaimed themselves the S.I Unit of Righteousness, until I turned 14 and went to a Christian boarding school in Calabar.

The school had stringent rules for “lesbianism and sodomy”. If they found out that you had engaged in any acts that were considered homosexual, you were faced with a whipping from the boarding house mistress, and public ridicule. In that school, even the most intimate things you said to a counselor would end up as common knowledge in the hostels by the end of the week, and you could be expelled if they felt you were irredeemable. I learnt to hide that I liked girls. Thankfully, I had bigger issues. A boy had lied that we’d had sex. The news spread like wildfire and I became the school’s boy-crazed slut. At the same time, I began to pray the gay away. I started out thinking this was possible because the preachers at school said God could do all things. I forced myself not to question why God could not save me from sexual abuse but could save me from being gay. I was desperate. I began to think that just maybe my punishment for being gay was sexual abuse. 

I declared myself an atheist about the same time I discovered that I was also attracted to men. I was 18, and for some reason, my body decided that it would find a man’s touch less repulsive than usual. I was also tired of praying and trying to fit into heterosexuality because all the churches I had tried had labeled my affections impure. However, I was by no means done with belief, or the church, for that matter. In my early twenties, I returned to church. I figured my attraction to men meant I could still have affections towards women but 

only date men. I would no longer be committing a sin. 

The day I discovered arsenokoitai,¹ I was overjoyed. The possibility that the Bible was not exactly against homosexuality flooded my being with so much light as it provided me an opportunity to have faith and still be queer. I was already in the process of forming new opinions of God, deconstructing my faith and building new beliefs. For example, I no longer saw the Bible as the word of God. I saw it as an evolution of man’s understanding of God, which could be colored by all kinds of personal bias. Discovering that arsenokoitai, the word which had been translated to mean homosexuality, was referring more to pedophilia, and that it really meant “men lying with boys,” helped me find peace in my sexuality. Discovering that arsenokoitai was not translated to mean homosexuality until sometime in the 1940s made it easier for me to practice my faith and still be queer. 

I had finally found peace. 

But my mind and body had other plans. 

I have always felt like I was born in the wrong body; a body that learnt to grow breasts at 10, round hips by 14, a body that is curved in ways that have made me want to end myself. However, the urge to bend this body to fit my spirit had not been so intense until I turned 23 and began to feel like if I did not do what had to be done, I would un-alive myself. I filed this under the category of “one of the quirks of my mental illness.” Every Christian I spoke to told me to pray harder for myself, to focus on Jesus, and to watch the content I consumed because, to them, gender dysphoria is a disease which is transferable via social media content. Suicidal thoughts and attempts became old friends, easily accessible through my jar of pills. 

This was the turning point for me. All my life, I had felt like an unholy thing, like my queerness was a stubborn stain that required the most extreme methods to wipe—even if those methods required ending my connection to this mortal world. I knew I could not go on like this. 

First, I made peace with losing my faith. Faith is meaningless to the dead. Second, I took out time to make sense of the gender dysphoria I felt, to explore what it means to not feel at home inside my body, and to begin the journey to making this body the home it was meant to be for me. I had to come alive to Self.

I was born into this world with no manual for queerness. Nobody prepared me for the reality that I would become a social misfit in the country I call home. Nobody told me that I would fall in love with the wrong gender. Nobody told me that I would struggle with self identity on some days. Nobody prepared me for the loss; the loss of a faith I fought so hard to keep, the loss of community that came not only with being queer, but being open, too, about seeking ways to make this human vessel conform to what being queer means for the spirit that lives within it. Nobody told me how painful it would feel to be labeled unholy, when all my life I have worked to be good enough, holy enough. Nobody told me how difficult it is to build new beliefs, to find a different faith, to embrace myself as god, to accept that I have always been holy.


¹ Arsenokoitai — an ambiguous, unusual Greek word used in letters by the biblical Apostle Paul. It was translated into the English as “homosexuals,” even though no such word exists in either the Greek or the Hebrew. Some scholars posit the Greek “arsenokoitai” might more specifically refer to pedophiles, pederasts, and/or older men who solicited sexual relations with catamites.


Chinwendu Nwangwa is a Nigerian multidisciplinary artist and an academic currently fascinated by linguistic anthropology and its use as a tool for social development. She spends her time between Calabar and Lagos where she hosts friends and loved ones to delicious, sometimes experimental meals, and runs one of Lagos city’s reputable book clubs.




Egbiameje Omole

Loving the World, that it Loves me back

in those days of despair
that every word was a prayer,
and understanding
the gravity of that promise,
i promised it. i said:
i love you, i am here for you.

i prayed:
i love you, i am here for you.

i prayed,
for Love.


To Me

your desire: a performance
mine: a prayer

but is it not, eventually, 
a matter of perspectives?

shut up,

comfort me.


Egbiameje Omole (they/he) is a poet, editor, and performance artist working from Ibadan, Nigeria. Formerly known as Joshua Morley, they have had other queer poems (like the two above) published in Olney, Corporeal, En*gendered, Stone of Madness, and Boy Brother Friend. Find them @morleyxoxo on Twitter and Instagram.




Vina Nweke

what they call indigenous

i am from everywhere i been

your borders don’t mean nothing to me 
but they mean everything to you

the composition of your blood does matter, 
is it hot or is it cold?

i am from every land i been as i am from 
every soil i touch,

your borders don’t mean shit to me


Vina Nweke is a writer and artist based in Pittsburgh, PA. Their work is centered on interrogating materiality and troubling those sticky boundaries of being. They are currently working on their BA in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, and Africana Studies from Williams College. They are a member of the hotbed collective and their work has been previously published in The Republic and Bunker Projects.




Zach Tanimola

The Rhetoric of Persecution: An Essay with Quotes from John 16:2

Quoting Paul, this pastor
says he doesn’t mind
being cancelled

for declaring people
like me an abomination.
He’s ready to die,

be persecuted for this:
his right to keep me a secret,
locked up, or, if merciful,

have me corrected via therapy.
There are about two
Christians in the world.

Some queer, afraid, Nigerian.
The handful of us, prey. Tell me
a boy kissing another boy

is persecution.

They will put you out, Jesus
his eyes on mine as he spoke

in Gethsemane. O Christ,
your children have made a mess
of Love, killing in your name,

tyres around necks,

bodies aflame.
They have built Hell

in your honour, made
the gospel a horror.

Zeal, when sharper than

God, will lead to lynchings.

…in fact, the time is coming
when anyone who kills you

will think they are offering
a service to God.

I kiss you, my boy,

in the name of the Lord,

my boy, I kiss you.


Prayer for Queer Abandoned

Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. Teach me your way,
LORD; lead me along a safe path because of my oppressors. (Psalm 27:10-11)

God will direct you into laughter.
She loves you.

Resist the Nigerian suggestion
a Divine Apartheid. God is not

a man.
Not a pastor, priest, bishop, deacon.
She loves you, will tend to your wounds.

God will direct you
into laughter.
She will direct you.

God will direct you into freedom.


Zach Tanimola is a queer poet and teacher from Nigeria. When not reading, he is birdwatching. 




Taiwo Hassan


somewhere in the mind is a mosque.

the adhan is called, believers fall, on all fours

& kettles are scattered, water runs from them into drains,

carrying the sins of a hundred and one men.

a boy rushes in, reaches to scoop this bleach

of an element.         he’s scared, his faith’s pendulum

effect turning him, too, into a circle. can i ever be

purged? he asks.          another question seeps in after the second

face wipe & he washes thoroughly on the third.     iqaamah

is made, his hands are at his feet, his heart, too.     steadily,

he proceeds to join a string, connected toe to toe, on the ruku.

, he whispers, there’s still a chance after all.

in the sitting between sujud, he wonders,         thinking

about that incident, carefully shredding the thought,

like a smoked fish being deboned.     he’s almost at this

skin, when a takbir turns electric, jolting in him the unexplainable.

how could I be thinking about that?   just how?    

wa a’la ali ibraheem innaka hameedun majeed
, a ritual completed.

he looks inward again. will this pass? will I move through this?

questions still swim.   staring in the eyes of a stranger, he sees

the same despair in a different shade.     a salam & a smile, he’s given.    

he searches for words, for bones, for strength to return this gift.

wa alaikum salam warahmatullah wabarakatuh
, he finally offers.    for some

reason, a chip falls off his qualms, he feels it.     well, seems asr

washed this off a bit,    i better make sure to pay maghrib his visit, too,

he concludes.        perhaps chances still live after all.


Taiwo Hassan is a writer of Yorùbá descent, a poet and a vocalist. A 2x Best Of The Net Nominee, his poems have appeared in trampset, Kissing Dynamite, Lucent Dreaming, The Shore, Brittle Paper, Dust Poetry Magazine, Ice Floe Press, Wizards In Space and several other places. He’s also an undergraduate student of Demography and Social Statistics at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ilé-Ifẹ̀, Osun State, Nigeria. His debut chapbook, Birds Don’t Fly For Pleasure is published by River Glass Books.




Pelumi Adejumo

My Lover Has No Face

_ _ _  ~ –
_ _ _  ~
_ _  _ ~  – – -_
_ _  _  _

_ _  -~  ~  -~ —
– – –  -~ ~ ~

– – –  – – –  – – -_
– – –  – – ~~

– ~ ~~ —
– – ~ ~ ~~

~~~ – _ _
– –   – –
– – – – – _

Deze tekst kwam tot stand in het kader van een residentieproject van het Vlaams-Nederlands Huis deBuren (www.deburen.eu) in samenwerking met de stichting Biermans-Lapôtre.

what’s up?

mom carries multiple faces in her bag
each church activity knows a different one
dad lost the remote control somewhere
between five languages and his mind
like the pursuit of happyness
but with less action
of a well-meaning parent
it is well repeating itself
from a dried-up hollowed calabash
sampling the title song of our lives
renunciation becomes
a habit when with every new haircut
colleague’s introduce themselves
reparations for 17EU per head
malaysian kinky curly
aliexpress sells 6 bundles
for only 30EU in total
charlotte adigéry rocks I know I shouldn’t do it but
do it     but
do it     but
do it     but
do it     but
do it     but
with hushed breasts slide
clippers through my TWA while
what’s up? blasts, hair falls, hearts frail
on my wooden floor
our voices are getting raspy
and we drink red wine but I don’t like red wine
which reminds me of my mom
bumping against a train chair on our way back
spilling grape juice
yelling ẹ̀jẹ̀ẹ Jésù!
while I walk through the door
my sister says it’s giving
on a spiritual journey
I’m not as usual as usual
a man working
for the tax authorities, therefore
cannot give me his
phone number, therefore
asks mine
to go out for a drink sometime

not today

one of those     friends howls
like a wolf when his strap-on won’t
and calls his mom
I don’t tell him it’s anonymous
men after complimenting ask
if they could come on my face
all this was way easier as a pre-adolescent
I just had to open
and shut my mouth
charlotte adigéry sings but sometimes
I’m judy, penelope (no home, no phone, no car, no bed)
or sandy on a sunday (no home)
way back when
on stardoll I got advised to go a few tints lighter
if I wanted to gain more friends
well at least this is my true face
when I write it’s not to leave
a footprint, nor for the next generation
they’d laugh at me, is2g
wherever after

I pass by the attenuation well

and a shiver            
   a breath
      a spirit
runs through
my spine
and arrives
at the tip
of my tongue

as though my body

this is how I learned
to speak

to get on the kano
the frog in the pit
of my stomach
commands me
but I get seasick

I feel him bob
as I do on my way
to the land
of no beginnings
of no return

where does meaning root
my frog asks
in language
in sound
in movement
in the rhythm between

all oceans have a connection
but mine


by Dandelion Eghosa

Pelumi Adejumo is a runaway pastor child, writer, (vocal) artist and lucid dreamer living in the Netherlands. Writing on/with migratory grief, African/Black Pentecostal music and alienation. She uses glossolalia, unintelligibility and linguistic plurality to open up disruptive and rhythmical possibilities. She wrote soms ik voel mij zombie, a text exploring multilingualism in grammar. She has a BA in Creative Writing and is enrolled for an MA in Fine Arts. Her thesis explores the relationship between Yoruba praise poetry and the concept of àṣẹ; how these influence the understanding of language and the role of a poet in creating and archiving cultural identity. 

She has written essays on visual art, language and artist books for Mister Motley and Metropolis M. She has written for nY, de Gids, het Nationale Theater, deBuren, Nationale Opera & Ballet, Sonsbeek Biennale 20-24, Tent, and performed at festivals such as Into The Great Wide Open, Transpoesie and Read My World. She lectured and speaks to students on poetry, identity and transdisciplinary methodologies at LUCA school of arts, ArtEZ, Rietveld and Sandberg. This year she joined the programming team of international literature festival Read My World in Amsterdam. Her most recent publication was a letter exchange in response to the Dutch translation of Sick Woman Theory for publishing house Chaos x Das Mag. And the album Public Relations with a collective of musicians and writers. 




I.S. Jones

Weather for Two

To love is to undress our names
—Octavio Paz

Lover, tonight I baptize you with my mouth.
Trace the velvet & sandpaper of your skin

with my lips. Dip into the honeyed bouquet
of you. Fill myself with your every flavor.

Touch you until your sins & your ghosts
have nowhere left to haunt. Tonight,

let me relearn your wounds. Put on
soft music. Light candles. All your hauntings

know how to undress your sadness. But
when I undress you, I fill myself

with a bountiful harvest. Here, we make
our own Wet Season.

I too know the wild ache of want. I stand
in awe of such a blessing. Knowing fire

comes from the root stem of ‘yes’
‘again’ ‘please’ ‘more,’ my thighs

these hands, are sugar to salvation.
I am greedy heaven, hungry

to make you a shivering night. Sing:
god of gripped sheets, of the curious tongue.

How you learn to twist & pull,
loosen & partition me.

How I have taught your hands to build me
into a nation of hungry mouths,

to make me speak in tongues
until I am a pool of myself.

To be possessed by the wet gallop
of flesh thrumming your labor.

Even after we come apart,
there’s a way in which you open

me & I stay that way.

Originally published in Spells of My Name

How to Spell Infinity

The sun—red and singular with longing. Outside, cold once gathered the dream of snow.
Now it’s spring. Who I once was is gone, one self out of another. Season into season.
The fields return to green. Let me be brave like the wildflowers who challenge
the completion of death. Your human problems are irrelevant to me, says the wildflower,
My job is to populate the fields with beauty. To die back to the earth then return. It’s true:
I survived my father and now I am endless—the bullet sung back into the barrel,
the arrow unsung, the brute hand at last out of reach. In this land, there was no sleep,
just longing with my eyes closed. Now, I can kneel my body back to the soil.
I’m opening the blinds. I’m setting the table, taking out the good silverware.
I’m preparing a great banquet to celebrate with everyone I love. It was no one’s birthday
yet we sing anyways. Pass me the rice and stew; I haven’t eaten this good in so long.
I’ve come to understand a person’s wounds by the joy they resist. I say of my selves:
I was whole before my father made me. The peace that comes not from his absence but
despite his echo through the forest. Light filling my cup. As if by miracle there are new days ahead
and I am on my way to be kissed by them. Field of Tenderness, open.
The world made gentle beneath my hooves. I am made infinite by love
and such love makes my hair grow long. A sweetness only the body could make.
When I was a child, I planted heads in the garden in hopes of growing better fathers.
I mixed up percussion and concussive, but both are music. I say of myself: I am worthy
of every gallop towards salvation. I toast with my selves, and sunlight goes down glowing.
Believing his harm spellbound my legs, I ran and ran until the earth fathers me a song.
I look up and can hear it. I didn’t know the hummingbirds knew my name.

Originally published in Spells of My Name


I.S. Jones is an American / Nigerian poet and essayist. She has received support in the form of fellowships, retreats, and residencies from Hedgebrook, Callaloo and Brooklyn Poets. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Guernica, LA Review of Books, The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. For the last three years, she served as the Director of the Watershed Reading Series with Art + Literature Laboratory. She is currently an instructor with Brooklyn Poets. Her chapbook Spells of Name was selected by Newfound for their Emerging Poets Series. She is at work on her debut full-length collection of poems.




Dandelion Eghosa

Excerpts from the series “Is this a Woman?”

Wearing My Love II

Is This Sex, Is This Poetry?


Dandelion Eghosa is a 28 year old non-binary and queer visual artist whose work explores home, the identities of Afro-lgbtq+ people and human expressions in everyday life. By presenting the personal stories of their community through diverse visual mediums and storytelling, their work offers a fresh interpretation of queer imagery. In the last two years their practice has focused on researching the role of performance in African queer archival practices. They have a passion for experimenting with mediums that encourage the development of the human thought, beliefs, and feelings.




Daniel Obasi

Excerpt from “Corridors of Power”


Daniel Obasi is a multifaceted artist. Attracted to old cinema and Afro-Futurism, this Nigerian born Artist is deeply concerned with advancing the scope of African narratives. Consistently working and drawing inspiration from his city Lagos, Nigeria, Daniel is famous for exploring subject matters like sexuality, masculinity, beauty, cultural symbolism, Afrocentric fantasy and human relations. Daniel Obasi’s works birth a certain idealism to Afrocentric concepts; whimsical, soft yet powerfully contrasting with sharp silhouettes, colors and stories. Today, Daniel Obasi is based between Lagos and Paris working internationally as a photographer and director.