REVIEW: Broken Keys Duel


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Poem 1, On Loving A Stranger, is written by Wisdom Otikor while Poem 2, How To Paint A Frozen Muse, is written by Pelumi Salako.

Both titles, in my opinion are too explicit, in the process taking away the surprise factor. ‘On loving a stranger’ would eventually throw you off track when you start reading but ‘how to paint a frozen muse’ is an unmasked indication of the subject at hand. However, Poem 2 still have the slight edge with the creativity of painting a muse albeit a frozen one.

Both poets presented their works in simple diction devoid of errors. While Wisdom towed the spiritual path and took on the persona of a god and lover, Salako preferred to explore nature while silently observing a bard struggling with inspiration. Their words were easy to relate with and aptly paints a clear picture of what is intended.

Structurally, Poem 1 flows like an escalator, systematically going from being a frustrated lover to a struggling god and finally to a bard who abhors silence. Then the remaining verses weave the three persona into one strand. Poem 2 seems more straight forward and there seem to be no effort at any elaborate structure. The first verse could have been broken into two; the introduction (of caged birds and memories) should have been allowed to breathe with a break of verse before introducing the writer staring at empty lines.

The opening lines of poem 2 got me at the third reading “caged birds visit their memories of freedom and merry”. I believe this to be the best part of the poem – the symbolism is ecstatic! There has been a handicap, the muse has disappeared but the writer reminisces on those times when he enjoyed the bliss of thoughts and the freedom of expression. Yet the opening lines of Poem 1 is as well metaphorically rich. He sets a table for his lover, his muse but absence greets him at the door. Both poems evoke emotions that are real. The poets employ vivid imagery through out their verses.

The beauty of Poem 1 is in its abstract nature. He speaks of a conjuring…offering and resurrection. He did not for once speak of a muse or inspiration. Yes, he speaks of a lover who is a stranger; he seems to be familiar with the epileptic nature of his source of inspiration. (Sometimes it is like an ocean). His closing line perfectly completes a story he started with his opening line; he is still seated alone at a table meant for two!

Poem 2 did not bother to mask the subject of his work. He sees a confident writer who is familiar with the temporary set back of a missing muse. It’s like a mother hen waiting for the eggs to hatch…she patiently sits because she knows they would hatch! The muse is asleep he says, and exploring the dream land; it is bound to wake with pregnant tales.

Kudos to both poets. It was an interesting duel. We drank from deep gourds. Keep the ink flowing.

The winner (strictly from the votes) is Pelumi Salako with Poem 2. He takes 7 votes out of the total 11 votes (9 votes on Facebook and 2 in the comment section of the blog). Thanks to all who voted. If I wasn’t moderating, I would have gone for Poem 1 but it still wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

You can read the two poems here

Jide Badmus

Merchant of Hell


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Picture Credit: IG @inkstasy

I hold in my hands

Dust and death.

I walk the streets, a fiery brand

Reaping unripe breaths.

My soul, locked in darkness,

Seeks to usurp your light;

Embrace you as bones disintegrate into ashes.

Yes, we ride in flaming chariots – farewell to earth.


I hold in my heart, a hole,

A hell for those who mock God –

Redemption for we are all flawed!

I’m broken but my faith is whole.

I hold in my hands

A trigger, the key to death’s door.

I’m conductor to that fiery band;

When I rock you to sleep you won’t snore…

Jide Badmus


The American


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The man with the wire-rimmed glasses – the one in front of me – slurs when he speaks. From his accent I deduce he is an American with a protruding navel that jingles as he talks. His little office has that smell of tobacco; an ashtray of stubbed sticks in it. God knows how many sticks he smokes a day. I peek at his tired eyes through the glasses and try to assume his age, he looks older than my poor ailed father, but this man is strong – strong enough to make a whore scream.

I was there for an interview- my friend said he is the only one still hiring. The truth is that we’re in hard time with a lot of companies downsizing and retrenched workers multiplying the number on the streets of Lagos.  With even our president seeking asylum in a white man’s land,

He looks at me when he is done perusing my CV, his two tired eyes pierce through me like beta-particles. Why is he looking at me? I thought, before I could snap myself out of it.  He lights another stick and blows smoke at my face.  I recoil and make a face. He is trying to muck up my lung with smoke?  I fan off the smoke and adjust my itchy yansh in the chair. He laughs

“You can’t work with me without f*cking the smoke”, he says getting up and adjusts his over-sized trousers on his jingling waist. He walks to the window and perches outside at the men in coverall working. That heavy clang of metal against metal, coupled with tobacco stench in the room increase my hunger. Inhaling a smoke on an empty stomach gives me a kind of tormenting ravenousness

He walks back to his seat and sits, “you smoke?” he asks glancing through my CV again.

“No sah”, I answer and burst out coughing – that dried hard cigarettey kind of cough.

He bursts out laughing. I feel choked, but I manage to control myself.  I undergo mitosis- with another apart of me begging me to be manly and not let mere cigarette smoke to deprive me of an opportunity.

“You’ve got a good resume, but I can’t have you as my driver because I smoke non-stop”, he says pushing my credentials to me.

“I am strong sah, I can stand it”, I argue on.

In Lagos you’ve to admit almost to anything to get a job. If you don’t, hunger will come at night like a thief and wage war – and you don’t want to writhe in bed all night or have your landlord throw your things outside.

I lift up my nose and draw in the smoke, it fills up my chest. I feel like throwing up but I put I-am-strong- enough face and he stares at me and smiles.

“Nigeria, you still have a long way to go” he mutters to himself but I hear it clearly.

I couldn’t defend my country because I was helpless. The man is damn right. We’ve sold out our resources to foreigners, but I am not a part of it. I bear no hand in that evil.

“Are you a Christian?” his question startles me back to reality.

“Yes sah” I nod like agama lizard.

He fixes his atheistic eyes on me for a long time and then.

“Well I am not, I am an atheist”, he says getting up to the same window, then turns over his shoulder and looks at me.

I feel tormented. A part of me says get up and leave but I couldn’t. I need a job to take care of my family. I am the first child with many responsibilities on my shoulders. My brother school fees in the university stare hauntingly at me in the face.

Of what benefit is defending a country that takes everything away from you – a country that thrives on crushing its citizens to make way for foreigners. No.  I need this job. Working for an American is better. They don’t owe like Nigerians. You work for a Nigerian and at the end of the month; he tells you the company isn’t making money. But every night he throws money at strippers in top-notch Lagos clubs. His children school abroad. But every day you hear him cuss about.

“There is no money; your salary will be little delayed”

That is their anthem. That month passes- another month comes without any money. By then, Iya Onome , selling foodstuff down the road has already started pestering the heaven out of you for her money.  Then you stop working and decide to f**k the Indian or Lebanese. They don’t owe but they treat humans like animals.

My mind reverts back to this my- soon- to- be- employer.  He is an American- yes an American. They understand the law; perhaps the one that governs labor.

“I am sorry my friend I can’t hire you, I am more concerned about your health. This smoke isn’t good for you” he says walking back to me this time with no sticks in his hand. I guess he might have thrown it outside the window.

“I can stand it sah, I smoke too sah” I beg reaching out for the pack on his table- take a stick  and tuck it inside my mouth, it tastes sour, but I refuse to spit it out. He stands staring at me with folding arms. I snatch a lighter on the desk, light the stick and take a long uncontrollable drag. I break out coughing and almost knocking things down on the table.

He hurries up to me and snatches the stick from me.

“Enough, man I know you’re vulnerable- Nigeria is full of vulnerables. But you don’t have to kill yourself here”, his accent very sharp this time.

I rush to a water dispenser at the corner, take the plastic cup. I almost press the hot button, but stop half-way.

He stands watching me as I quench my burning throat with water.

“If only your leaders will learn how to make good use of the richness of this country – the oil wells in Delta” he says with a concerned voice – maybe concerned for my predicament.

“I am sorry sah”, I manage to voice out avoiding eyes contact with him.

“I can’t make you my driver because I am addicted to smoking, but I can help you” he pretends to be looking for something new or interesting in my credentials this time around.

My eyes are aglow with expectation.

“You can work here in the site….believe if you’re good enough you’ll make yourself a good engineer”, he utters tucking my credentials inside his drawer.

I go on my knees, “thank you sah, God bless you”

The mention of that name seems to pique him. He stops abruptly and stares at me and smiles.

Then I remember he is an atheist, I quickly subtract God out of the equation.

“Thank you sah, I am very happy sah” I say with it my heart beating fast against my chest.


Idongesit Franklin is a screen writer and satirist. He writes from Lagos. He is in love with food

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CHALLENGE: Write a poem describing a writer’s block and all the feelings borne of the experience. The poem should not be more than 16 lines.
Find below the works of  two poets who would only be referred to by their works Poem 1 and Poem 2.

Leave your critiques and analysis in the comment section and give your verdict (I vote Poem 1 or I vote Poem 2). Vote only once. A vote without a review/critique or at least a reason will be void.


Again, I prepare a table for two

And have absence greet me at the door


I try to conjure you to form

Like God, breathe life into your loin


But silence makes home of a bard soul

And I awake counting on till resurrection day

How does one love a stranger?


Some days you are an ocean

Bringing to me the semiotics of mystery

As creation morning, ‘let there be…’


But today

I bring offerings to your feet

And watch this drought

Make a spectacle of my burning

Where are you?


on nights like today,
caged birds visit their memories
of freedom and merry
you stare at the empty lines
of your work sheet
you are a mother hen
singing the songs of freedom
to the egg shell
you count the lines of your palms
It’s been t h i r t y days

What is a sleeping muse worth?
a bard says a sleeping muse domiciles
in the dream land,
when he wakes he will tell an awesome tale



Let the voting begin!



A view from my balcony: Somewhere in Puchong


Your rejection

is a violent blow

to the face of my affection.

It stops the flow

of compassion’s blood

And dries the flood

of my burning passion.

I will continue to feed

this innocent attraction.

I will continue to breed

this stainless love

until its muscles grow tough.


Jide Badmus


Palm Wine


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I crave your ancient taste;

Oh sweet white water.

My tongue aches for your palm;

Please come slaughter this fiery thirst.

Straight from nature’s brewery,

You soothe like the morning dew.

Pure harmless poison, please come kill this sober!!


Jide Badmus


Get a copy of THERE IS A STORM IN MY HEAD  on Amazon, Kindle and Okadabooks




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I would be an unrepentant flirt

If money is a lady in short skirt

‘Cos I’ll constantly play in my head

The things I’d do to her in bed.


I would be a seduction hero

Luring her with several zero(s)

Surely I would defy the bees

Just to taste the honey in her kiss.


What can stop this active volcanic lust

Erupting from my heart crust?

What else can cure my thirst

Like the milk from her breasts?


I would be a habitual flirt

If money is a lady in short skirt.

Once I get between her thighs,

There I’ll remain till I die!


(Page 74, There Is A Storm In My Head – Jide Badmus)

Paper back copies on

E-copies on Kindle and



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Picture Credit: John Afolabi (IG @john_afolabi)

Uneasy can’t quite explain the ambience around the dinner table. The smiles across the table were plastic, enduring elastic limit. Feelings are frail, the bond has cracks; lust has eaten deep into the love that once bloomed, now trust has withered. Even the aroma of chicken delicacies and the bubbles of sparkling wine could not mask the rot beneath the surface. The two families used to be very close and happy together.

My husband was sleeping with his wife. And they wouldn’t even look at each other across the table. Pathetic! Once, both of them touched as they went for the wine bottle at the same time; the speed with which the bitch removed her hand, you would think she was about to be electrocuted. What in hell did he see in her? Her hairline had receded almost up to her temples, her legs were fat and hairy; I wonder what you would find down there…

Her husband was sleeping with my teenage daughter. I couldn’t help but notice those biceps breathing under the folded sleeves of his flowery shirt and the taut muscles of his hairy chest peeping through the unbuttoned collar. Perhaps it was the well kept beards that attracted my little baby to the mean beast…she was his daughter too. Bastard!  Perhaps his childlessness over the years has made him heartless enough to seduce his own best friend’s only daughter.

Well, time has come to iron out issues. The only justice we can do to this society is to weed out our cursed generation! Tonight we are seated to a sumptuous feast of malice and a deserved cup of retribution. Seated around this table are men (and women) who have perfected the art of deception; thus in the face of inner turmoil, stoic faces remained expressionless. I sat in front of them all with a half-smile spreading my lips at the edges. None of them knew what was coming!

It was my husband who first showed signs that the poison was getting to him. A short wince and then he regained his composure. I stretched my left arm and reached for my daughter placing my palm on the back of her hand, I gave her a loving squeeze. Then I picked up a spoon and a glass of wine; I hit the spoon on the glass three times. It was time for a toast and last prayers…



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I sip on silence

in the absence

of words.

I need a nurse

to unleash this caged muse

and replenish depleted lyrical juice.


I sip on silence

in search of eloquence.

I need a massage

to heal the broken ink.

Paint my thoughts in a vocal collage;

lure expressions with seductive winks!


I sip on silence

in pursuit of balance;

the contents of my meditations,

my convictions and contemplation(s).

I plead with patience…my fingers itch

to kiss the keys and weave lyrical stitches.


I sip on silence

no more…I served my sentence!

Words now flow with the fluency of the sea

and the nuance of butter and steel.

Inspiration broke its silence and mended broken keys

The god of ink has been appeased!


Jide Badmus




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The atmosphere in the Nigerian social media neighbourhood has been dense and tense for a couple of weeks now. A strong tide of awareness campaign for rape and sexual abuse has been sweeping over the land.

I have been gripped by a dark fear at the horror stories being shared by victims, friends of victims and creative writers. Though it has also reached a stage where the border between reality and fiction has thinned; exaggerated emotions have also been the highlight of the episodes especially for those who hope this would be the break they crave to become social media celebrities.

Anyone who dared make light of these effusive narratives was severely berated. How can anyone be that heartless! All the sympathy goes to the victims and all the rage to the rapists (and whoever tries to reason otherwise). It also turned into some mild tug of war on the gender turf. “How would anyone in his right frame of mind put male rape experiences and victims on the same pedestal with the female ordeals?” They argued. They loathe the logic of anything that is short of a sympathetic stance for the cause; they ask for nothing else but empathy for the victims.

However, truth, logic and reality are interwoven. A degree of aloofness is needed to analyze things and come out with reasons, submissions and resolutions. So I stripped off my emotional garment and sought mental solitude in an island of fear and confusion. I sought for clarity in the deep mist of darkness and madness surrounding humanity. I found a rare ray of light…

The truth is, nudity or indecent dressing is really not an excuse for the perpetrators of this evil…I think it is due to a deeper craving for a taste the normal mind cannot comprehend. The rapist is psychologically depraved. The monster is borne of a mental perversion.

Some mental conditions are as a result of some early experiences and the struggle to cope at that time and also deal with the scars left in the psyche. As humans, we have two basic ways of dealing with traumatic experiences and abuse; we either draw strength and tow the path of fighting for the cause or we become a slave to the evil we survived.

The questions we are not asking: could rapists be victims too? No, not victims of rape but  that of an unaware society; a negligent or non-evolving parenting method. You must be wondering how I could cook up such nonsense? How suspicious are we as parents of teenage girls hanging out with their female peers? We only raise eyebrows when we seem to see too much of that boy in the vicinity. Yet the rate at which sexuality is being rediscovered and twisted, an evolving parent would be wary of friends of same sex too!

Beasts are made not only from physical but emotional and social maltreatment. I wonder how many of these celebrated rape victims have turned tormentors themselves, dishing out their unique flavours of evil; should their evils be excused due to their history? We can never solve a problem if we do not treat it holistically. Victims and culprits of this social menace need psychological surgery. Perception of the society need to drastically change. We should encourage victims of sexual assault to embrace therapy. The punishment for rapists should also encompass rehabilitation (in addition to facility seclusion); psychiatric assessment sessions and periodic mental evaluation should be used to determine when they are human enough to be reintegrated into the society.

On a lighter note, has anyone actually thought about the effects this rape awareness crusade could bring back on the society and future relationships? How can men be spontaneous and romantic these days when an attempt at a kiss at the spur of an emotional moment could be taken too far? Before someone shouts rape and burning tyres start flying in from all angles…

Jide Badmus