But My Spirit Holds by Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi – Issue #3



Who and What Manner of Man Is This?


She was a public prostitute not a private courtesan

She was an adulterous woman not a faithful wife

She was a porn star and not a reverend sister

A woman of ill repute and despised, she was everything they were not

Dirty unkempt and a sinner, God forbid I can never be her

Who and what manner of woman is this?


Her dress was too short some said too long

Her colours were too bright some said too unusual

Her hair was uncovered some said not rightly covered

Those lovely eyes should be veiled that sultry voice should be silent unheard

O this temptress must not mix with regular normal folks

Who and what manner of woman is this?


Innocent or guilty she was judged and condemned

Beautiful or ugly she was hated and despised

Rich or deprived, she was envied and rejected

Tamed or wild, she was the outcast of the town

Her story was as wretched heartbroken as she was

Who and what manner of woman is this?


This day everything was soon changed and reformed

A death should have happened, overruled it was dismissed

Ready stones were casted down, abandoned with haste

Me, yes you, are forgiven and set free

Where judgment should have stood, His mercy said no

Who and what manner of man is this?


For the law is the law and life must bow to law

But here I stand saved released from debts I could not pay

Take my tears and my oil and my hair and my kisses, my love and all that I am

For my heart has felt an unconditional love, my thanksgiving I bring to you

Who and what manner of man is this that can love a manner of woman like me?






But My Spirit Holds


Born woman in a crazy country, discriminated by traditions of men

Born second in a family of 10, with all the challenges of kith and kin

Born Christian not knowing Christ until Christ introduced himself to me

Born and steeped in the relics of religiosity, held back by inhibitions of conventions

But my spirit held


Born in an impossible country, where the act of faith is a feat of its own kind

Bombed with sweet colours and flavours of multi-ethnic conflation

Buttered with the biliousness of religious and military severity

Bested, blamed biased and held by a bootlace of hope and affection

Brazenly my spirit held


Balderdash swirling like clouds above me, denied a place of residence within me

Bucolic lovers have become bucolic slayers of men, women and children

Bodies of unacknowledged past corpses dug out of nationhood navigated in bloody murky waters of past wars

Brave victims and warriors of all manner of historical injustices still crying out for compensations that may never come

Brazenly my spirit held


Baffled by the offensive basic instincts of a deformed mind of blind supremacy

Banshee wailings of the spirit of an orphaned nation gives warning of a demise that can be prevented

But the belligerence of barbaric domination will not heed the sense and sounds of times and reason

Bottlenecks of ethnic, religious, regional and vested attachments obstructing the flow of life to a wheezing nation

But tenaciously, my spirit held


Beaten, battered, wounded, trampled and crushed

Bold valiant audacious Nigeria

Bestowed with the beauty of nature of mind and of resilient people

Bitter braving odds, unrelenting breed of children who will not bow or yield

But our spirit holds.



The Shadows of Time


I was told by those who did the telling to do, so I did

I was taught by those who did the teaching to learn, so I learned

To do, to feel, to be the likes of ancient shapes and patterns.

In time, I was the doer who had learned to be

For time had stood with what had been for aeons ago


My teachings were right

For blue skies retained its bluey shade

Magic nights never chased away starry compatriots

After the night, always came the morning

And that was as it should be


But now I see something’s amiss and know not why or when

I pray my friends, don’t get me wrong

The cock which crowed in ancient times, still crows with shrill and spunk

I fear, not for the beast on fours but for the beast on twos.


In time, I was the thinker who had thought

That what had been would be

For what had been, like aeons ago

Now stands the test of time.


That all the world is not the same

That what was round is now a square

The pattern now is gone by ‘morrow

For the beast on twos cannot be filled

The beast no longer is at ease with truth



To each his own, to each her own

For what they want, they all must have

Twisted, unfitting, though it is

For no one gives a damn you see

For ancient shapes and patterns

The few that do are cast away and called the shadows of time.



Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi is a Nigerian whose short story fiction, titled, Kokosikoko, was recently published by Kalahari Review. An MBA graduate from the University of Hull, UK, she runs her own small business in corporate event facilitation while pursuing her passion for writing. She grapples often with the question of diversity, often exploring the strength of diverse influences in her multi-ethnic Nigerian nation.


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