Now Out: My New Book, Stranger in the Mirror of My Life, is now out!

Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS

Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS

Yes, finally, ahead of World Aids Day on December 1 this year, my new collection of poems – Stranger in the Mirror of My Life – predominantly centred on HIV/AIDS is now out!

Below is a brief description of the book in my online bookstore:

Stranger in the Mirror of My Life contains poems for everyone affected by HIV/AIDS around the world. In this collection, you will hear your own voice, feel your own tears. But beyond these, HIV positive or negative, you will discover that mirror, helping you rediscover life, hope and dreams in ways profound.

Senator Ihenyen holds the view that with regards to the HIV/AIDS scourge, the cure that the world seeks is hidden in the heart of mankind and that cure is love. Stranger in the Mirror of My Life is a clarion call to the human race for compassion and empathy in dealing with the epidemic facing humanity.
History, the contemporary reality and the vision of an HIV-free generation is the overriding interest of this collection. Stranger in the Mirror of My Life can be described as a moving compendium and a companion for all people living with HIV and the rest of the world.”

To buy the ePub format of the collection of poems, simply click here! It’s $3.75

The ebook is now also available to readers locally at YSG ebookstore in Nigeria for the list price of 500 naira only (but now selling 474 naira 5% slash!)

This book is specially dedicated to all the people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa and around the world.


In Whose Name?

Safe sex
Saves not the soul
Says the moralist.

We let a million condom bloom
No one knows if it ends up in the right hands
Trash cans, backs of drawers,
Balloons blown in Kindergarten.

In a time of crises
Between rightness and safety
The world lives in two extremes

Unleashed from the God of justice
Deaths from this dreadful disease
They say, are destined for us all

And in the deific worship
of the god of tube of rubber,
Man scampers for safety…

damn the soul

This poem, “In Whose Name?” is selected from my unpublished work, “Stranger in the Mirror of My Life & Other Pieces”, predominantly centered on HIV/AIDS

Man in the Mirror

Cigarette burning in the ashtray
empty bottles before a belching belly

down the street
he finds a bed beside a gutter
and when he finds his feet,

a punching bag in the sleepless face
of a woman waiting by the window

fear in the face, screams from the scene,
tears in the eyes, blood in the nose, body on the floor


his face falls on the mirror
away from the lifeless-looking face:
Tell me it’s not true
Tell me it’s not true
Or just let me die
let me die!

Make me live like this


I’ll kill the man in the mirror

(culled from a collection of poems in progress, Ripples Across Lives: Poetry against HIV/AIDS).

HIV/AIDS Poems from ‘Ripples Across Lives’

UPDATED: November 19, 2013:

I had started a special poetry against HIV/AIDS project in 2005. The dream was to start and complete a collection of HIV/AIDS poems that is predominantly centred on the virus and disease.

Being a work in progress, the proposed collection had been tentatively titled “Ripples Across Lives: Poetry against HIV/AIDS.

Eight years later, after generations of many drafts and redrafts mainly informed by the significant change in perspective on HIV/AIDS as death-knells to the human race to HIV/AIDS as medical conditions that can be controlled and conquered, I am happy to let you all know that my collection of poems on HIV/AIDS, Stranger in the Mirror of My Life: Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS! is now ready for release this month of November 2013, ahead of World Aids Day!

To be one of the first to know as soon as the ebook is available, simply click this linkclick this link or subscribe to this blog!

…Some of the Poems

Stranger in the Mirror of My Life

Before me is a mirror
A mirror beside my bed
Away from the sun burning brightly
Outside the window’s blinds in my darksome room

For a moment
Before the mirror
I stand to see the face of the victim
Whose result returned a death sentence
After a test
And another test and yet another
But they kept coming back
One and the same
Like the torrent of tears that keep returning to your eyes
When the heart remains wet with worries

Wavering worries of one’s life walking away from the door,
As the wall clock ticks unrestrained,
Untouched, unconcerned,
Like the footsteps of the world around you moving on,
Unaffected, unmoved, unstirred.

In the mirror
I found a face
A certain face too afraid to look at me.
The face of a stranger –
A strange face sketched in the shadows of my unlit room
Against the fiery fingers of the sun
Flicking the window’s blinds on a fateful morning
To irradiate my day

I know this face hiding in the mirror isn’t me –
It couldn’t be me!
I look straight into her eyes,
It was then she looked back at me –
Petrified, she crept back into the closet of her life.

I walk slowly and gently towards her,
Suddenly the stranger steps closer and closer towards me.
And when my feet froze on the floor
Upon the freezing fear that gripped me,
The stranger in the mirror startles –
Faint-hearted, intimidated

This stranger is not me
No, not me!
She is just a shadow –
The shadow of someone too locked-up in her closet to open up to me.
She is a stranger too steeped in shame to stand up to herself
And say:

“I’m Hannah,
I’m HIV positive –
How beautiful life could be
When I open the window’s blinds in my heart
And let the rays of the sun
Overshadow the stranger in the mirror of my life.”


That dark night
I’d screamed when his hands pinned me to the wall,
Pushed me to the ground,
Shuddering and struggling under his climbing shadow,
Screaming aloud as my shrill voice pierced the night
But my cries only unleashed his terror on me.

Under muffled breath
His thrust tore into me
Leaving behind
A broken hymen!

Just yesterday
After several seasons of sickness unending
He died of AIDS –
How could I’ve known
He only cared for a virgin cure,
Not my heart?

Still fourteen
Two-year-old baby left with grandma down the alley
The streetlights of Harare beam with little hope
Just like every other night

(c)senatorihenyen2013Culled from the forthcoming collection, Stranger in the Mirror of My Life: Poems for Everyone Affected by HIV/AIDS!, these poems are subject to copyright protection. Author’s permission is to be sought where the use of any of the poems printed here or anywhere on this blog is intended. You’re always welcome to contact the author here.