Why I End up in the Mouth of Gun and other poems

Why I End up in the Mouth of Gun

I end up in the mouth of gun 
because my country says I have grown
lips outside its border.
The police say my skin is tattooed 
with sins and my chain is a burden of proof.

On this side of the city, 
I am the lamb
I am the sacrifice.

I have walked for decades 
with my fear tucked underneath my soles 
while the sun licks the rest of me. 
The gun hounds me here every time 
because my country says I am too young
to be a lake of happiness  
and I must drink from  grief.

I try to follow this geography 
that leads up to the edge of Niger 
for  new dream, new salvation,
but to the north and south of my country 
there is also a long cartography of sorrow.

Attention at the City’s Gate – 20/10/20

There is no honor for the dead here, 
but blood-stained flags and more 
bodies to bless the company of the ghosts.

Here is a city and a metal  wilderness
a sky, red rain, and
 an underworld of gods with no glory.

I live in a country with no honor 
to its name. My tongue
is filled with dead cells, too heavy
to call my land a home. 

What do we call this land?
A country or a graveyard ?

E Be Things 

For street, boys no dey smile
even the breeze wey dey blow 
hot so tey the blood for my body
dey boil. Na so so commotion 
everywhere, and peace dey for higher
purchase for those who fit buy.
To waka for area na dream wey get cost. 

E be things because
the wereys in disguise  fit rope you and
say your body no clean, but nobody
holy pass. E be things because you
fit go missing in this country
wey you call home and na houseflies
go write your obituary. 
E be things because rain wey dey fall here dey
tear my skin. 

Everybody don become eagle wey carry 
panic button inside skull, since 
the siren of hope don turn that of horror.
Na by miracle me too never get lost.

Cover photograph by the photographer Nengi Nelson

Salawu Olajide

Salawu Olajide is the author of Preface for Leaving Homeland published under African Poetry Book Fund series and edited by Kwame Dawes. He lives in Ile-Ife, Nigeria.