ODE TO BREATHLESS CITIZENS

December 10, 2021

by Zaynab Bobi

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in this poem

if you hear of me dying

in my sleep

know that i have lost count 

of the times i choose silence

for a cultured voice

but if i die on the street

then i'm no different from the people

that misheard the sarcasm 

in police is your friend

i swear

i can sleep with my eyes closed

even when i'm born black again

but i won't blink 

in a                   

                    / police cell /

                    / police car /

                    / or when a cop pass by /

because i've heard of how people 

disappear when they sleep 

with their eyes closed—

when the questions come afterwards 

when the gun spills the questions backwards.

& if nothing

i want to see how my last

breath will wave my body off

how it will waft with the furor air

that cinch citizens are liable to die young

how my white garment will remain stainless 

how my mother will tell the neighbours that I died wearing my smile

i don't fear death

but i despite the look on my mother's face—

the fear that my body might return one day clothed in the past tense.

 

ZAYNAB BOBI

Zaynab Bobi, Frontier I, is a Nigerian poet, digital artist and photographer from Bobi. She is a finalist of the voice of peace anthology, member of Hilltop Creative Art Abuja, Poetry Club Udus, Frontier Collective, and a Medical Laboratory Science student of Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto. Her poems are published and forthcoming in Kalahari Review, Sledgehammer Lit, PraxisMag, Paddler Press, WRR, Melbourne Culture Corner, Ice Floe Press, Lunaris Review, Rigorous Magazine, Olit Magazine, The Shallow Tales Review, and more. She tweets @ZainabBobi.