In the Name of My Mother

soonest nathaniel


I did not want to be asked the riddle of a lion and honey,

nor be told the tale of the prophet who loved the harlot;

No! I did not want that great controversy.

No infidel or lost girl feeling unworthy

in the presence of her father,

no eyes peering into her soul, no elders rebuking

demons that will not compromise, 

no witch, tied to a stake and burnt with the fire of hypocrisy,

no prophet seeing the end of our forever

no deacon measuring our lives on the standards of stewardship;

no tithes of our privacy, we have nothing to confess to you.


I did not want her to be forced to cover her hair in prayers,

nor to take off the ‘strange gods’ of her earrings,

neck chains and bangles; no sermons of a golden calf

and an irate prophet breaking two tablets of stones,

she is not ill, so no hard sponges and hyssop

to erase the tattoos on her back,

her scars are beautiful, she is adorable in her sin.

No fasting to regain lost virginity, the world is too cruel

and even the savior will not agree to be reborn.


I did not want her to grow thin

from feasting on the junk of father’s borrowed doctrines,

but I knew no better, I had no one wise enough to teach me

how to prepare tastefully  the tart repasts of compromise,

nor the ambrosia to be offered the gods at the crossroads.

So I muddled it all up, having pork & spiked-vodka for sacrament,

pouring libations on wet earth, chanting psalms at the nodal,

walking the sacred path with shod feet, 

my boots trampling upon the faces of the ancestors.

Oh! Who offers Ifa praises by reciting canticles with a rosary?

Our father has refused to answer my prayers

because I prayed in the name of my mother.






Soonest Nathaniel is a Poet and spoken word artist. He is the author of “Teaching My Father How To Impregnate Women,” selected as winner of the 2017 RL Poetry Award. He was poet Laureate for 2014 Korea Nigeria Poetry Festival. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Rattle, Silver Blade, The Pedestal Magazine, FIYAH, Silver Blade Poetry, Northridge Review, Praxis Mag, Raven Chronicles, Wiki Column, Saraba, Loudthotz, Northridge Review, Reverbnation, Elsewhere, Scintilla, Erbacce UK, Kalahari Review, Sentinel Nigeria, and Many more.