a muezzin howls
in a broken voice. a nearby tree bows
to worship Allah

dry coughs stop the calls to prayer
the nearby tree breaks its waist

the breeze blows dust and rust
the nasal taste of lorry smoke
is also a must
the rain-beaten terrain spoke
of my country

you know slavery
not by bleeding chains and branded initials
but when bravery
slips through the drains and blinded genitals

this was what I thought, seeing what democracy wrought,
knowing what Azikwe taught,
the Independence struggle brought to naught,

you know a prison
not by bars or fermenting pee or lack of freedom
but by scars on the faces of the free, and wisdom
like a deficient nutrient in the body of the government.

the streetlights
were shining like electric stars
half-past-nine nights
and murmurs from impatient cars

but I know joy not by amenities people enjoy
not by the electricity in the city or the water screaming from the tap,

but by the laughter of the streets, the flapping of the flag,
like a ship sail to the future
not like a rotten rag tossed by stormy wind

a rooster retches a greeting, perched regally on a brick fence,
the governor stretches a meeting, promising in impossible tense

before the driver turns the radio off,
the Oxford english ends with his loud scoff.

I know my country,
not by the new news or the old rumour with untold humour
but by the inflation of goods, the scarcity of foods
the rocket-rise of price, the high cost of rice, the complain in the market,
and the INEC results that never come plain.

as the taxi parks
a dog barks

but I hear tax, companies cutting salaries with axe
the sound of strikes, riots, compatriots going on hikes across jammed
federal highways to Calvary
carrying placard like cross,
police beating people like talking drums,
supermarkets raided by hoodlums…

I know I am home now.











Photo by Ayoola Salako on Unsplash