“19 soldiers from Gabon are alleged
to have raped 67 people, including 36 children
between 2014 and 2015 in the Central African Republic.”

– Al Jazeera


  1. My body was colonized / in a language of silence. / Strands of my hair entrapped the ghosts
    in the wind, / they were not held prisoner / but the abrasions kept them warm—or stuck. /
  2. The sky was void of stars / or the smoke hid them from us. / We became satellites to each
    other, / our shadows orbited our bodies from distance, / until they became entangled. /
  3. We were planets of silences during the curfew, / the stones in the fireplace were all
    we had to fill up our wounds, / instead, we let houseflies sing around the openings.
  4. Father kept guard throughout those nights, with his knife / sharpened with grief.
  5. His body was a fireplace / or a mosque full of ashes. / We said our prayers silently—the
    soldiers slipped into the house / and stained the wall with semen. / All our children
    woke up with bloated stomachs. The wall was blue of a raging sea / threatening
    to wash out the whole town. / We plucked out sponges from our tongues / and scrubbed
    the house clean, / before we dressed our wounds with foreign flags.
  6. All we inherited from father was saved in an ambulance. / The siren was muted
    but its blue light flickered in the night. / We got stuck on ruts of bones, / now
    it’s our turn to unpack the street, / our turn to become the grave diggers. /
  7. A date tree grows from father’s grave, / we stand around it, but its shadow does not
    keep out the sun bites. / After the curfew, we got served shayi / to heal the sores
    in our mouths.
  8. These scars are the evidence / that we mistake silence for peace. /


Cover Art by Stephanie Broussard


Hussain Ahmed

Hussain Ahmed is a Nigerian writer and environmentalist. His poems are featured or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati Review, The Journal, Cream City Review, Magma and elsewhere.

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