Is This How We Learn Your Names?


For Dapchi

Is this how we learn your names?
Soaked in blood and tears
drenched in the stench of a nation’s fears.
Would I ever know
Buni Yadi, Chibok, Dapchi
places so pretty
stained by tragedy
bent by the weight of wails ?
My feet have not kissed your dust
but my heart beats for your loss
I long to gather you in my arms
kiss away this pain that keeps growing
a gluttonous cavern, an abyss
which never goes away. Will you
ever get past this to become what you could have been before the war?
what can we call it when our daughters are stolen sons slaughtered
homes set ablaze mercy lost.
Innocents made casualties in a matter
they know nothing about. My arms are too small, my feet feeble but my voice will scream your pain to the heavens
my pen will record your groans, my books will carry your grief, my lens will collect your tears And one day
when pain and war are no more
we will lift an altar to your sacrifice
And at its base will be inscribed
No more death, no more pain, no more loss.


234 taken,
Swept off their beds to a den of demons

91 slain,
Felled as they studied to be better Nigerians,

50 bombed,
As they made their daily bread,

Thousands displaced, scared, hurt, wounded, broken,

Known by numbers
Not by name,
Not by their particular pain.

A scattering of dots on a statistician’s page,

No one listens,
No one fights their cause.

Yet the papers announce the numbers,
The dozens,
The thousands and
The scores,

Weeping like pus from our festering national sore.