“Only Will” by Richard Ali


There’s only will, and this old man
Sitting by a drain, saying he’s sorry
Passport beside him, dressed in rags
Dregs of stories come to haunt finally

There are no time towers in cities anymore.
There’s a clock still beneath the streets.
What does a road want? A Nairobi vagrant
Scarcely ten, had once spoken to him of love

There’s only will, this old man knows
All the road wants are walkers. Stamps
Stories and emphasis are coincidental. Men are
Sorry, always, when they write the story.


Richard Ali (@richardalijos) is a Nigerian novelist, poet and lawyer. He has participated in various writing workshops across the continent and in 2012, he co-founded Parresia Publishers Ltd, which went on to publish great African voices including Abubakar Adam Ibrahim and Helon Habila. He was former Editor of Sardauna Magazine and of the Sentinel Nigeria Magazine. He currently serves on the EXCO of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) and on the Board of the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation. He is a member of the Jalada Writers Collective.