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Thursday, October 21, 2021


by Joseph Hope

Gunmen have killed at least 30 people in northwest Nigeria in the latest round of violence in which hundreds have been killed so far this year and thousands more displaced. —The Washington Post, October 18, 2021. Photo: Some members of the Nigerian Armed Forces Sniper Unit. Stefan Heunis/AFP via Getty Images via The Conversation, October 18, 2021

What it takes to live here.
                 Numb. Wait for the news:
unknown gun men killed an 
             unknown number of people, 
go to bed and hope there is 
             tomorrow, of course there is 
always tomorrow 
                       and aways bad news, 
a man named Naira 
                       fell from it high horse 
and broke more than a neck. 
                         The president said shoot 
the protesters, No, 
                      the Army chief did, No, 
an unknown fraternity bigger 
than the government gave the command, 
we don't know who fired 
                                 but we know who died. 

Pretend. Pretend you're happy 
and unhurt, riddled with holes and alive. 

Try to live on unpaid  
                               salaries for months 
and save enough to buy a house 
                          from unpaid pensions. 
Understand to plan your future  
                           on nothing but prayer, a lot of it 
that the church overflows and spill
into the street                         like chemical waste. 
                  Understand ghost walking, 
understand the rhythm of bullets, 
                          understand the many ways you could 
die gradually until blood              looks like red paint, 
                  until bodies piled like groundnut 
pyramid appear 
              as a necessity.
                       It would take more than 
the blood of children drooling from the altar 
                       of terrorism to 
inflate your already               deflated emotion. 
The superpower           of being a Nigerian 
is that you can              make comic of death, 
dance in anger,             and swallow grief 
like your daily                  vitamin supplement.

Joseph Hope is a student of Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, Nigeria. He is currently studying applied chemistry. His works are forthcoming or already published in Reckoning Press, Evening Street Press, Zoetic Press, The New Verse News, Praxis Magazine, AfroPoetry, Gemini Spice Magazine, Spillwords, SprinNG, Writers Space Africa, Nthanda Magazine, 5th Chinua Achebe Anthology, Ariel Chart, Best "New" African Poets 2019 Anthology, and more. He's a reader for Reckoning Press. He was a fellow in the 2021 SprinNG Writing Fellowship. He tweets @ItzJoe9 & IG: _hope_joseph