A Review of When I’m Eighteen by Victor Ugwu

Title:When I’m Eighteen.

Author: David Ishaya Osu

Love is when you drink a sour orange and still call it orange.”  

When I’m Eighteen is a collection of free consciousness, unrestricted movements and unpatented craft; a crossroads of meanings wearing shades of abstractions (and dreams). We are offered a world of gold embroidered with recurring enjambments. David exquisitely prompts us to pick papers on the floor, build ourselves airplanes and load them with our dreams.

Everything here is a dream.

In his world, dreaming is survival. These dreams are scattered collections of colours, abstractions, nostalgia, and defiance. He invites us to a “Breakfast Table”, an insignia for beginning. There, his mother’s appetite for dreams—the urge to dream and relish them like food, opens us to more and more.

Mama serves us coffee

at night. Not because

she wants us to stay awake.

Everyone brings a dream

to the breakfast table…

…enough to lessen your body

—and ends with his mother. The last poem “Done” carries his mother’s blessings; to dream as much as he breathes.

she peeled

a pear, placed it

on my silver tongue

twice & said: your

bed is not a mistake

The eighteen poems therein centre on youth; its blessings, swings and innocence. David paints people as colours, objects, and even fruits. And like a true artist, he creates symbols that unlike words (but are words), cling like smiling hooks, stirring curiously. They evolve, become pictures, and then puzzles, thus achieving artistic finesse as in the poems, “Hobby”, and “Mama Said”:

I started painting at nine

a girl who still loves

sky blue and lemon



make books

with plum

a pie



The penchant for colours and symbols is glaring all through. While a girl is sky blue, a boy is plum–a symbol for rainbow tea. The poet likens his deepness to not knowing where a door is. In his lost state, memory is a fine shade of pink. This is beauty (maybe a misdirection but beauty nonetheless) as you imagine picking it from his rainbow tea of a boy so we get drawstrings(his definition for openings).

David delivers his abstractions in fine details. “Innocent” depicts innocence as sunflower, sunshine, yellow, and a mother’s simple touch; a fragile object, temporal and beautiful, swiftly losing its perseverance in the greenness of time. In “All AboutYou”, there’s a universe of wet dreams and colour sex.

something pink, something juice

all about you

something you—dark room, wet

dreams, thunder song, rain

—something you: close

to the centre is

a cry, a beam, a team

of rising roses: but blades

find friendship, deep

deep, in the style of silence

entering wine—something pink   

The two “Dream” poems are two sides of a coin. One side is a longing, a crest of nostalgia. The other is an undefined love; an excuse, an escape, and maybe, denial.

— love is when you drink a sour orange and

still call it orange.     

Dreams are everywhere and nowhere. David personifies his dreams, for instance, as biblical legion in the poem “Presence”, declaring its omnipresence and magnitude.

we were free chores

we were coming back

we were on paper

we were not in love…

…we were breaking mirrors…

we were keeping eyes

we were hungry alright…

we were taking noses

we were staying in pictures

we were in time

we were from questions…

In “Hallucinogen”, he uses the colour of a girl to form another body, another song, another art, another nothing and then stops, leading us safely to where we build our own image until…

there was nothing

but birds inside

their eyes     

“Family Question” points out the irregularities, imperfections, and fixation a family possesses; how having too many complexities does not erase the essence of family. Sometimes we dream of an escape; to shut the door and yell at responsibilities we didn’t ask for but have to accept.

A family of

four: an ex secret, a doll to share

new moons with, a sky-blue diary and a door

—nobody does the sign

of the cross during sex; …

…can I go out of this life,

you ask  

Reading this collection is like sipping red wine. The feeling is raw and beautiful. I forget my migraine and abandon the search for meaning. This intoxication is boundless. For some profound delight, why not fit your dreams into these poems.

When I’m Eighteen, David Ishaya Osu
Published by Words Rhymes & Rhythm Limited,
Review by Victor Ugwu

The reviewer, Victor Ugwu has his bio in the members’ profile section.

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