Unclaimed Bodies

for scores of Nigerian Youths murdered by policemen in Awkuzu


featured in SEASON OF SORROW


in this dream, i pluck the bullet from the body,

collect the coins left in his eyes by shutting them with my palm

i plant the coins in a garden where a flower grows from

the dried skull of someone’s missing child. i weep as

the gunshot is fired backward into the gun before the

policeman shot his target— he was walking out of his house

to buy dinner for his grandmother.

beneath the dying breath of the sun, another woman’s son

is carted away. & for days, his unclaimed body dances

to the slow tunes of rage. outside the prison walls, everyone

here is missing, their pictures flying on twitter, their family

trembling from root. a boy whose father had just died sings

of his home as empty as january sky, his hopes bleak like

december morning. often i picture myself there, in those

prisons, pressing my anguish into the wall as a fist, wishing

someone would dream & see me begging for release, saying

i didn’t do anything, i swear, i didn’t do anything

tell me what metaphor for son or daughter will comfort

a father made to search a river of dead children for his

own son? 

every city in this country is a death sentence. we wake

with prayers nesting a bird in our throats. perhaps, 

the morning will tell if today be the day the bullet of

an officer would make a body as soft as wool. the metaphor

for home is a red rope guided arrogantly into a girl’s neck. 

the metaphor for home is unsafe,

is if you are looking for your brother, check the police station,

is dear lord, can you see where your shadow is now that your sons

need its wings? 

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