3 poems by Rasaq Malik


In another world I want to be a father without
passing through the eternal insanity of mourning
my children, without experiencing the ritual
of watching my children return home as bodies
folded like a prayer mat, without spending my
nights telling them the stories of a hometown
where natives become aliens searching for

a shelter. I want my children to spread a mat
outside my house and play without the walls
of houses ripped by rifles. I want to watch my children
grow to recite the name of their homeland like Lord’s
Prayer, to frolic in the streets without being hunted like
animals in the bush, without being mobbed to death.
In another world I want my children to tame grasshoppers
in the field, to play with their dolls in the living room,
to inhale the fragrance of flowers waving as wind blows,
to see the birds measure the sky with their wings.


After the massacre perpetrated by Al-Shabaab terrorists at the Garissa University College, Kenya

It could be you. It could be your
sister saying Subhanallah as she
sees the gory scenes of this massacre
in a newspaper.

It could be your brother saying
Jesus Christ on a Thursday morning
in Garissa. It could be his headless
body. It could be his broken leg,
his bullet-ridden chest. It could be
his blood-stained shirt. It could be
your lover sending her last message
to you at the College.

It could be your friend dusting his
bicycle on a Saturday morning in
Baga. It could be your own dream
buried by those beasts. It could be
your voice screaming help in a cube
blown by bombs, in a dormitory
full of students caught in the horror,
molded into things for earth to devour.
It could be your body wheeled
to the morgue.

It could be someone you know,
someone you love. Someone like
your father who kisses your brow
every night. Someone like your
mother waiting to embrace you.

It could be your country,
fading in your presence.
It could be your bones
blasting in the fire.


Among what we will become the earth
comes first. Then the things that occupy it:
stones scattered in the field, leaves burrowed
by beetles, dust poured like grains inside
a shovel, worms weaving their way
through the soil, wastes eroded by flood,
layers of peeled oranges, horns of dead animals,
burnt tyres, withered grass, dunes, rocks cracked
by the storm.

We will become memories beneath unidentified graves,
weedy gardens, woods piled in the creek, ashes left in the
rain, the silence in desolate houses, the lost moments,
forgotten biographies.

Rasaq Malik is a graduate of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals

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