Okoli Stephen Nonso

Blaise pascal's principle of pressure; a theory for explaining rape

Okoli Stephen Nonso

Okoli Stephen Nonso

Ókólí Stephen Nonso is a Nigerian writer whose poems have previously appeared in Feral Journal, Ebedi Review, Ngiga Review, Praxis Magazine, African writer, Adelaide Literary Magazine New York, Tuck magazine, and elsewhere. His short story has appeared in Best of African literary magazine. He has contributed in both national and international pages and anthologies. A joint winner of the May 2020 Poets in Nigeria (PIN) 10 day poetry challenge, and also a first runner-up in the fresh voice foundation Poetry contest. He is currently working on his Poetry manuscript. You can say hello to him onTwitter @OkoliStephen7

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Artwork By Teresa Kutala Firmino

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Narrated by Okoli Stephen


Blaise pascal's principle of pressure; a theory for explaining rape

Narrated by Okoli Stephen

Blaise pascal’s principle of pressure; a theory for explaining rape

A change in pressure at any point in an enclosed fluid

at rest is transmitted undiminished at all points in the


  •  Blaise Pascal.

Suppose I sat in a room, fingers brushed

against cool metal — cuffs or something

as I listened to the detective's questions.

Say I'm asked—                how do you learn fear?

Sighs, raises blouse to eye level  & whisper

 by growing a female body.

 My body                  a living bread—

take it            break it   

do these things in memory of me.

Last week I was pressed against a wall,

dress pulled down in fast motion, thrust 

over & over— an equation P = F/A

Where P is the nail driving its way into wood.

Or perhaps P is the pressure of a piston, two times 

the size of the fluid a man plunges into.

Say F is the force applied by the [      ], say my hy—

men          breaks & orgasm feels like a hurricane.

Take A to be the total area,

or call it my body

My body, yet a well where men draw strength

again I'm asked—what happened yesterday?

face flush with anger, another officer walks in,

fear creeps in. I – I – I then say;

I cross the road to talk to God         


I sit in the front pew of the sanctuary,

footsteps thud from behind, rough calloused

hands gripped me, seized my breath,

& made me suck my bones. 

I stabbed him three times, 

& sent him to hell. Even God couldn't save him.

Tell me why you took a knife to [       ]?

I smile politely then say;

It's night & a girl can't take a walk          



Too often, our cries for help are silent 

ones. Unheard. Unheeded— Emily

Believe it or not—

 depression is a dice rolling  into our lives. 

If you've walked through the long night of grief,

you'll meet the ghost that lives in your head. You will

see shadows hiding in your walls, and hear taunting whispers:

 "take another capsule and lay             rest."

on this road, a boy made his body, 

 a pendulum, swinging freely from side to side

My therapist walked through this road. She watered 

weeds till they grew wild and ate her up. Her therapy couldn't

save her— anymore. Even the therapist needs a therapist. Now,

I'm on the road between dying, and

wanting to sleep— again. Granny said the shadows I see are dying

flowers.  I admire the dying ones, whenever she tends her roses.

Take it:

a withered flower will not wither— again.

Yesterday, a poet walked into the night with pain and pills. 

He never came out. I wish I found out if he found peace.

Inside my head is a sad film— movie reels grayscale & fade to black. 

Peering at Freud's sadistic theories, my superego

drives my ego to end it. To be an athletic god.


My English language instructor once passed this path. He said:

life is like a semicolon; we can end it. We chose  

not too       Listen: I decide never to do it—again.

Ever. Won't you celebrate with me, that every day, 

something has tried to kill me, and has failed,

and has failed, and will fail?

 Lines riffing off Lucille Clifton’s “won’t you celebrate with me” poem from Book of Light. Copyright © 1993.


Suppose our bones are brick walls,  weak and ready to crumble.

or call them broken cartilage, waiting to be stitched.

Yesterday, under the withered guava tree where my umbilical cord is buried,

My grandmother spent the night counting the stars,

till the night swallowed her up.

Depression is the rope, woven to hang us, like a portrait.

this thing sits like a stone in a woman's abdomen,

but when the ache becomes too much for the woman to carry,

where does she go?

Isn't home what her body yearns for?

A man who longs for departure, sees water as a means,

wraps his body with verses of melancholy, then

leaves it swaying like a capsizing ship,

till his body finds its way into the banks of the Nile

Depression comes quietly like sun rays,

& peeps through the dark corners of our rooms, scorch our backs, then       vanish

But is darkness not synonymous with night? 

Is night not meant to keep the body at rest?

Is water not for baptism?

I know this feeling, It lurks around us in creepy places, 

then drain us to the last drop.

till water becomes the only corridor to follow

 I know all these truths because I've once longed for water before

because dark once meant home,

because pain knows every inch of my body,

because I'm still there now