When the Dead Are Living Too Brief to Die.

March 22, 2023


On the first day of the apocalypse, we swallowed one-quarter the amount of grief our father’s

fathers bred                   Everything we did felt justified in the rain



Every day the calendar read December 14th, a strange woman would come into my head

And this is the only way I know the dead don’t really die     The dead just become a group of strange

voices in time



Every day  we traced my brother’s body [white chalk] on our mother’s body [black board]

The rain hits the floor in perfect harmony and this is how we make beautiful music of our loneliness



When the scientists in Berlin discovered a time portal, while experimenting on catastrophe

As a medium to end the wild ghosts   The wild voices      My uncle now  spoke  to some unknown

hummingbird   in  his sleep   &        We never found this strange



On a windy day, before we let the dogs in our street go hunting    For birds & rabbits & freedom

& anything that clothes itself as worthy,

My brother called  the first shot & this was how the wind found straight targets  in the chests of lost

children       This was how we discovered the art of breathing and resuscitation



When we mouth all our sadnesses      This is not how we count our blessings

Water and salmon in a cup

My brother is unable to eat    &     This only makes my father a symbol for everything in the void

For everything that is not an appetizer


When we hit the roads,   I wonder if someday the technology would make the speedometer of cars

Read up to 360°       & wonder      Would we move in circles or would we pause at light speed



Inside a corner closer to the sunrise than to the shore     Boys are learning to swim

My brother feels more comfortable in his convalescent body than in water    So everyone in my

family never learned to swim



On the day I left home for the wilderness      My mother cautioned me to never drown in the Nile

The next day    On the news    Six boys poured into the Nile and my mother’s name is six characters

long    Call me lucky    Call me Hannah   Call me flower



In the wilderness, I prefer garri to curry        The former is closer to home

The latter  is closer to the  loneliness          This is me   Saying I would not drown

And I would not be poured      I’m my own flower and pollen    I’m the sapling of light too brief to

be quantified in quantum mechanics


Abdulrazaq Salihu is a Nigerian award winning poet. He has his works published/forthcoming in Brittle Paper, Masks Lit Mag, Kalahari Review, Pine Cone Review, Rogue, and elsewhere. He won the Masks Lit Mag poetry award, BPKW poetry contest, Nigerian prize for teen authors, Splendors of Dawn poetry contest, and more. He is a member of the Hilltop Creative Arts Foundation and has been living for too long inside his head.

Featured image by Anthony Lee on Unsplash