BRAVE (a poem) by Iwuese T. Tilley-Gyado

Here, a story to tell.

Do not pity, do not cry,

Let it strengthen you.

Let it be accepted and used.


A happy being born to two,

A blessing after a time of trials.

Cuddled and fed,

Never to be left out of sight or hand.


Being grown to a child with a beloved name,

And as such loved by many around.

Open and jovial, always ready to play.

Ready to dance and to sing

A friend to many.


The child grows a little more,

A face that shows the beauty to bloom later in life.

Still open and free but with knowledge of the serious life to be.

“Oh Mama to be a Doctor” she exclaimed,

“to be able to help the young ones become well.”


A few more years have passed, the child more a girl

Ready to cross another huddle.

Away from her family to build character.

Days spent in a blur and nights spent in remembrance of a warm embrace.

Friendships forged but some left behind broken.

Five years passed and one more to go.

“Soon a Doctor is what I’ll become,

the young ones still in need.”

She wakes up with a start,

The lights are on and she sees it then

The chaos erupting all around her.

Girls, her friends, running as hooded creatures chase after.

She tries to hide away but is found and given a slap for her efforts.

Dragged by the hair she comes face to eyes with her tormentor.

“You can’t escape even if you try

This is your punishment!”


Sometime later they sit huddled together on the damp forest floor.

Each given a change of clothes,

A black shapeless sack of a gown, and an accompanying hijab.

They are told to behave or suffer the consequences and led to where they would lay their heads.

That night a few tried to escape but were gunned down,

Their bodies brought back so the others may gaze upon them and learn.


The days run together,

the only thing keeping her company are the screams of the girls.

Either that or the grunts and groans of the men who visit her.

Just one at first, but as time passes many more that come at different times.

Slowly that bright light that shone in her eyes dims away

and she becomes an empty husk of what she once was.

No more a child with a dream to help the young

but a being seeking escape.


Chance or fate works out and a visitor has left a gun.


As she collapses I am the first to reach her.

She had been an ally, a friend in this never ending nightmare,

Gained and lost to the terror that hunted us daily.

I stare down at the beauty that would never bloom

Gaze into the emptiness of her dead eyes.

I realise then that she was both a hero and a coward.

A hero to grab the opportunity offered for escape and a coward for living us behind.
I reach out and grabbed the gun that had fallen to the floor,

Putting it to my head.

The last thing I hear is the chaos that erupts around us,

The last things I see are the eyes of the girl beaconing me to safety away from the pains of the world.


Listen to the story, to the pain.

Understand the terrors facing us after that day.

Do not let our kidnapping, our rapes and our deaths be in vain,

Protect our sisters still with you, save them from the horrors of fear.


Here, a story heard.

Do not pity, do not cry,

Let it strengthen you.

Let it be accepted and used.





Iwuese T. Tilley-Gyado, is a Nigerian poet and prose writer. She is widely published online and she hopes to make a difference with her art as one of Nigeria’s emerging literary voices.












4 thoughts on “BRAVE (a poem) by Iwuese T. Tilley-Gyado

  1. I walked slowly, allowing the poem lead me. This turned out a journey worth it. Iwuese, this is deep.
    There was just that small error of ‘living’ for ‘leaving’.
    I think we can strengthen the poem by taking out a few words. Maybe working on stanzas…
    But overall, I love this. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more from you.

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