James Onyebuchi Nnaji

Waters in a Broken Pot

My only pot broke on the way to the stream
And smashed smithereens of hope
Seeping crumbled dreams
Through the smokescreen
Of the overwhelming deluge
That came after the thunder.

Wistful memories flared in the dark
Wisps of its smoke rose upwards above the skyline
Crumpling up the surging bodies of the duck pond
Once sopped wet with mosses and ferns.

Hereabouts, it thunders again
And I cannot hide from its claps
Sprinkling beads of gooseflesh
Dazzling on every pores.

In my earshot, cock crew at noon
My fears strained in its echoes.
Spider’s webs weaved in my hearing
Because night fell during the day
Suffused with mists of deep sorrows.

A world staved in my heart
World of seers among the soft-green hills.
Trickle of tears, hot and unsavory
Spluttered on the freckled leaves.
And the birds and their nestlings
Stampeded into the womb of the forest
At the fall of the Iroko.

My only earthenware pot of water
Slipped from my head and crumbled
In my twilight dream, frail and elusive
Its fountain lingering in my mind.


James Onyebụchi Nnaji comes from Ụmụerọ, Isiụzọ Local Government, Enugu State, Nigeria. He studied English in the University of Nigeria at Nsukka, where he also served as the Editor of The Muse: A Journal of English and Literary Studies, Number 39. His writings have appeared in Drumtide Magazine, New York City; USA, Sentinel Nigeria, The Muse, African Crayons Magazine, The Nasiona Magazine, The Curlew Magazine,Wales,UK,Ògèlè: An Anthology of Creative Literature Vol.2 and Sunday Nation. He was 2009 first and second Prize Winner, Pre-Literary Art Festival Poetry Competition, University of Nigeria, Runner-up, The Muse Poetry Prize 2010, First Prize Winner, University of Nigeria Literary Art Festival Poetry Prize 2011 and Emeka Anuforo/University of Nigeria Prize for the Best Literary Artist of the Year. He was 2019 joint third prize winner alongside Noorui Huda, a Pakistani writer, at Poetry Matters Project Literary Prize in Augusta, Georgia, USA. He lives in Enugu, Nigeria.