The smile on my brother’s face ran away with
his hope &
he is searching through the rising sun, wishing to catch them
from the scattered rays.

Since the day the insurgency started, he became a walking corpse- digging for a sanctuary.

I stripped my ears naked to hear the whispers in his gut

they are asking why – when he crawls on his belly from school on hot coal tar &

when he shields himself with branches of leaves for camouflage.

I pour my eyes on the streets, I see the barbarity& blood spills
I, too, know what it means to live in fear.

I hear distant rifles instead of sounds kicking footballs &
victory songs.

I hear a father scream

they are looking for boys your age!

I ask the empyrean blue above my head

what kind of boys?

It says,

The ones hawking tiger nuts and biscuits on the streets of Maiduguri
The ones who, for lack of silver spoons shined shoes at a market.

The ones with deadlocks, dyed hair, overgrown beards on the streets of Lagos

The ones whose individuality became a weapon that hurts just the eye.

I fetch my fears into a prayer mat &
sat next to my brother

I ask God to restore the jingle in his heart &
watch over boys like him.

Even the air has become a bullet that can hit anyone
from a thousand paces.