Abdulrazaq Salihu

Is There Shame in Belonging to an Unsafe Home?

(listen to the poem, read by the author)

In Sarkin Pawa, the entrance of a police station was knocked down—
Two tired buses resting in the yard were made to burn into void.
My body tells me we deserve peace.
Grandmother packs a few bags of grain, stuffing them into a hole
Close to the grove I used to weed pine when I come to visit.
These days, boys are born from bluff into smoke instead of
The rose-bosom water is always supposed to nurture.
I carry my faith and run into anything that smelled secured.
In sarkin pawa, my cousins took the first bus and left for Benin,
They called to let me know they were stranded in an endless
Traffic that fags your patience and led nobody home yet they
Felt peaceful knowing they had escaped insanity.
My body tells me we feel shame, tells me a broken home bode bad brothers,
Tells me here, when the sun runs into exile, bullets identify themselves as pelt
And sought home in boy’s chest. Home, large enough to name an open
Mind lonely, large enough to cover my mother’s mouth with fags.
Is there a place in between the sands soft enough to be named home?
Is it safe that I wish to know home as a piece of offering I mustn’t protect?
Mother swallows the smoke and tells me there is shame in belonging
To an unsafe home, my body tells me I feel shame.

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About the Author

Abdulrazaq Salihu is a Nigerian teen author. He is the author of Constellations (poetry 2022) and Hiccups (prose 2022). He is a member of the hilltop creative arts foundation, and is a poetry editor at teen lit journal, a poetry reader at OneBlackBoyLikeThatReview, a poetry reader at fiery scribe review, a poetry intern at Ebo Quills, and a member of the panel for The Nigerian Review. He won the 2022 Masks Literary Magazine poetry award, a BPKW poetry contest, the Nigerian prize for teen authors (poetry), and the Splendors of Dawn poetry foundation poetry and short story contest, and he was a two-time most valuable contestant at HIASFEST. His work is published or forthcoming in Brittle Paper, Nixes Mate Review, Icefloe, Kalahari Review, Masks Literary Magazine, Better than Starbucks, Pine Cone Review, Angel Rust, Rogue, Black Moon Magazine, Konya Shamrumi, and elsewhere. He tweets @Arazaqsalihu and can be found on Instagram as: abdulrazaq._salihu.