Scoundrel Time

Two Poems by Hussain Ahmed

Suppose it Rained in Harmattan

Suppose everything beneath this sky
wasn’t dying of loneliness – or hunger.

Suppose we sought a new God
that cannot stand the sight of blood.

Suppose there’s a new God in town,
and nothing edible goes on extinction.

Suppose we don’t have to sing so high
for our prayers to be heard above machine noises.

Suppose we are not refugees in the land that holds our umbilical,
maybe mama’s hair would grow into a grain field

and each strand would flicker, like a wet nocturnal beetle,
as we gather to pray for rain in harmattan.



Once, I looked forward to the time / when I will join the queue /
outside a booth / coins in hand / waiting for my time /
to talk to someone on the phone / the war came
and we tucked our coins away / the telephone poles resisted the ebb /
but they became sanctuary for pigeons / with nowhere else to go /
Mama told me all birds came from the deserts /
or they are the ghosts of pilgrims that didn’t make it home from hajj /
the desert is the fastest route to survival / and it has enough space
to bury the amulets that slows us down / she asked that we decide
if we want to return with our thirst / or be baptized
in the salt pool / she stepped on a nail the day she was to leave /
it was supposed to be an omen, but she’s excited /
she was packed to meet with God on an arid land / a wanderer
left home with a bag / packed with pepper and antibiotics /
and a tongue that can only pray in Yoruba.




Hussain Ahmed is a Nigerian poet and environmentalist. His poems are featured or forthcoming in Kenyon Review, POETRY, Transition Magazine and elsewhere. He is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Mississippi, his chapbook “Harp in a Fireplace” is forthcoming from Newfound (2021).





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