In A Poem Where Every Pronoun is Fire
The sun is a molten ball dripping red magma upon the earth. The land is breathing hot air as waves of fury move through pores from the depths of Hades. A gaunt man with charcoal-black skin and a wrinkled face walks on the baked earth, in a grey, tattered cloth singed with burns. Fire is carrying a tray of chili peppers on the head, weaving through vehicles, calling to buyers. There is a traffic jam. Fire is a Hausa man trying to earn a living like everyone else. A woman in a golden sedan sees fire & begins to burn with lust for a foreign body. The woman beckons fire and buys some peppers, but does not pay. Instead, slender, nail-polished fingers shoot out through the car window, void of money & grab fire by the shirt, pull fire close. You wan do? Fire is shocked. Fire shakes. No, my money. Nobody seems to believe, but fire is a victim here. The touching does not stop. The woman is a snake slithering across a prey's body, measuring the girth of surrender. Fire smiles. Somewhere beneath fire, a kind of heat is scorching. But still, fire says No. All fire wants from this woman in the golden sedan is money. Money. But the world looks on. Nobody's business. Every passerby forgets that a whip rocks back and forth. Say, in this world, a whip only becomes a whip in a man's hand. Fire has a family, but to this woman, fire is a recluse only worthy of filling another body's hunger, a half being only worthy of baptism in a river no other woman carries. Every harassment begins with lust / a thought of dominance / ego. & every harassment ends with resistance or something broken, yearning for the tiny fingers of healing. This poem ends with fire demanding money for the peppers, begging to leave & the woman, ignoring the solemn cry, holding on, like kudzu vines snaked around a flower, Aboki, make we do na. Abi you no wan do?
What I Mean When I Say Age is Not A Measure Of [ ]
By Timi Sanni
"Bridger’s aunt posted the story shortly after he got home from the hospital, saying Bridger had taken the brunt of the dog’s attack and yelled for his sister to run." —Good News Network
i mean / in this poem / a little boy teaches me / what i thought i knew / of valour / the boy walks / down an idle boulevard / hand in hand / with a little girl —his sister / their faces like two moons / reflecting sunbeams / their feet / floating lightly over the ground / like helium-filled balloons / tied to the earth / manifesting an escape / these children / were blubbers of buttery joy within a body / unaware / that sometimes the earth / spits out terror from its depths / a rabid dog / runs across their path / from the bush / & with a vicious snarl / faces the children / the boy yells for her to run / & she runs / but he doesn't / he puts himself in the face of the dog / & meets its savage stare / as if to say / come for me, you beast! / you aren't gonna hurt my sister / the dog charges / the boy fights back / the dog sinks four canines / into his cheeks / into his head / pain surges through his body / burning like fire / his face takes so many bites that it would take / 90 stitches / to hold his wounds together / someone would ask / why he did what he did / & he would say / if someone had to die / I thought it should be me¹.
¹ - This final, italicized line belongs to Bridger
Timi Sanni is a writer, editor, and Muslim literature advocate. An NF2W scholar in poetry and fiction, his work appears or is forthcoming in Olongo Africa, Palette Poetry, Down River Road, Drinking Gourd Magazine, X-R-A-Y Literary, Cypress Press, IceFloe Press, Leavings lit and elsewhere. He is a reader for CRAFT Literary and Liminal Transit Review, and an editor at Kalopsia Literary.
He is the winner of the SprinNG Poetry Contest and the Fitrah Review Short Story Prize 2020. He was also nominated for the 2020 Young Writers and Creatives Award. Find him on Twitter: @timisanni.