I have died hundreds of times
but it makes the news only when the police
was caught on camera slipping his gun
back into his pocket like a pilfered cigarette
from a homecoming party
I held the phone for my wife while she
sobs into a white handkerchief
my son danced in tiptoe along
the whispers from the vinyl box
my son will tell her mother to cry some more
because only that will secure her lead role
in the new super hero movie where a black woman
sings the world to a sleep that erased all our memories
outside, my neighbors are gathered nailing
scriptures on pink placards
my wife watched her friends in high school screamed
when hit by rubber bullets they stand
and move a step further, but dispersed when the sky go pink
every protest ended before the sun set
whether or not it rains




begin with how you don’t feel naked these days
even when you are stripped to the skin
how you think this nightmare about willets will continue,
imagine how a vulture knows when the horses are thirsty.
if you must tell stories of this war
you must have a scar of your own that only you
know to tell of the pains
the women did not flee Mosul because they became of wings
overnight. Mosul was evaded by stingers that do not vomit honey
it led the women through the black kitchen doors
to a snowfield, where they plough for a season.
because they do not flee in the same direction
they have turned wind; their lungs are a country.
the smell of ginger inside the tea, reminds them of
what name they had saved for centuries, just for a grandchild.
the people of Maiduguri did not flee their homes
each body, houses a pillar that made up each square meters
Maiduguri lives in the scalp of their hairs
locked with the clay from the river that flows only in August.
say nothing about the men and boys, they are either dead or
soon would be. do not flee because you know how to steer the wind vane,
every war has similar ending; many would be dead. the survivors will inherit
scars that never heals. the poets did not flee, but their voice boxes have become empty.
the children would rely on the wind to remind them of how it all started
one quiet morning

HUSSAIN AHMED is a Nigerian writer and environmentalist. He is a finalist for the Hyacinth Girl Press 2017 chapbook contest. His poems are featured or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Puerto Del Sol, Yemassee, Rise Up Review and elsewhere.