I could write about how bodies are the most malleable things

I could fill a page with how pain leaves words hanging in your throat

I could write a poem about the way people soften up

when their lovers kiss the small of their back

I tried to write something musical about my city and I did not know where to start

When I walk through south of Labadi, the streets are bursting with an abundance of heritage;

I can tell from the way the dark-skinned woman with the y-shaped scar on her left leg

scrubs her baby, that she is a woman who believes in redemption.

Two boys are moving like they’ve got too much rhythm in their bodies

and not enough time to dance it out

A little girl sucks on a lollipop, spits in her hand and offers it

to her small sister who gleefully licks it up

They have a look on their face that tells that they know

what they’re doing is ridiculous and sweet and terrible;

they know wrong isn’t right, but they do it anyway

On the pavement, a porridge seller is giving out smiles

like they are Amens to needy requests

A man is telling a stranger that he doesn’t even like porridge,

but the way she throws her head back when she drinks it down, does things to him.

And her laughter tumbles down like the hollow echo of a djembe

What he doesn’t know is that this her first laugh in days.

Old Ms. Atta has a tight lipped smile as if

her mouth is holding on to sins yet to be forgotten

And when she sings Awaaba Ɔdo, she means it.

These people teach me,

that if you are from Accra and you placed anywhere in the world,

there’s no way you won’t know how to bloom




With a scream and spittle

The pastor stands in the trotro and condemns women

For sitting in church with hands clasped fervently

As if they didn’t bleed out a baby two weeks ago

When the passengers utter a feeble amen to his halleluiah

He tells them they can do better

than to offer God sick Amens.

I smile at him in pity.

He’s missed countless opportunities to meet God,

because he’s been too busy condemning her

in exchange for currency notes


Your happiness used to have a front seat in my life

I have stretched myself wide to make space

for you to have a smile that lasts

One day you’ll look back

and ask how you could’ve been so foolish

to let me slip away

and use me as a template

to teach your children how to be gold


After failed attempts to vomit your discomfort

You crawl back to yourself

and wait for your words to perform surgery on you

Something has been breaking off inside you

You are made of your mother’s resilience

and your father’s quiet sturdiness

You do not understand why your body cannot shake this off.

Savior complex tied up with fear of vulnerability

and a poor diet is another way of dying

There are no smart guides for dummies who

should know better than to try fixing themselves

You should know better

to make room for faith to be sang back to you

Everybody needs saving

even Jesus had God.


A love recipe hangs down my mother’s neck

She loves without needing to refer

Because muscle memory and regularity

has synced her heart with her mind

and made her a metaphor for softness.

Whenever pain blurs the shape of love

I look at her and remember to breathe


My parents love in sepia

A thing brewed from the slow decay of a new sprout

Seasoned and mature enough to have a feeling named after it;

Teaching me that decay is not always synonymous to rot –

Only a point on the growth curve.

Because this brown has seen tender and folded

This brown has been foolish and free

This brown has feigned sufficiency to make way for enough

This brown with its share of pain and scars,

Knows how to love the glow out of any sun



I have been fretting over things that God shakes his head at

Toying with faith as if it were a disappearing act;

One minute I’m full of it,

the next, I don’t exactly know the shape of it

I fret over now and tomorrow

Giving myself and God a headache.

Spoon feed myself faith,

And come up hungry again.

I have taken up all the space on my mother’s prayer sheet

And the happiness of those I love takes up all of mine.

At the end of day we’re both in God’s ears

Saying let it be

After every free speech