Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

The Bandits Would Never Feel This Communal Empathy By Abdulrazaq Salihu

the bandits came to collect us from Sarkin Pawa,
with machine-guns, like they kept us there, and

so we’d not attempt to run.The bandits burnt a
police station at the entrance Of sarkin pawa, and

washed their sins off the smoke and the ashes.
the bandits didn’t wear masks—faces in swamp, something

only a mud can do. They would bring down a home
and its inhabitants and stay quiet for a while,

like they owned the silence and the wrath—
like we thought they didn’t —but we knew— and they did.

bandits sometimes cook their own meal and
on some nights, they’d make our mothers cook,

they’d make our sisters dance to the sadness, they’d make
us the rhythm of the sadness, they’d make us the lost and the findings

—we’d sing so much that sometimes we’d secretly enjoy the songs,
we’d allow our brown broken bodies dance sometimes —

the bandits would later drown into the night.
the bandits would walk us from Sarkin Pawa, through Abuja, through

nasarawa, through Maiduguri, all through the bushes,
across the bushes, in the bushes, we would later become a forest.

some of us would be made to weed, some of us would later be weed-ed.
the bandits get food supplies and weapons from the other bandits,

the ones with fancy clothes and magnificent umbrellas even on days
we knew would never rain, the bandits are always the bandits,

head to toe, everything from the Genesis. the bandits would never

feel this communal empathy, this slow, natural mystic, this beautiful song,
slowly leaving our lips to flourish before the gaping quiet of the town.


Abdulrazaq Salihu, TPC I, is a Nigerian poet and hilltop creative arts foundation member. He won the Splendours of Dawn poetry contest, BPKW poetry contest, Poetry Archive poetry contest, Masks literary magazine poetry award, Nigerian prize for teen authors(poetry), Hilltop creative writing award, and others. His works are published/forthcoming in Bracken, Poetry Quarter(ly), Rogue, B*k, Jupiter Review, black moon magazine, Angime, Grub Street Mag and elsewhere. He tweets @Arazaqsalihu; instagram: Abdulrazaq._salihu. He’s the author of Constellations (poetry) and Hiccups (Prose).

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