Departure by Hussain Ahmed



Sometimes,                      you would lose a friend          in an ambush.


You would fight off the fog                     that clouded the bank            of your eyes.


It’s not only of the dead         and their laughter            you had grown used to,

It is of the wives               that would call your number                             to confirm it was true,

And of their children              who knew you from the picture                              you took

         On the last Eid.

Their families are now yours                      and you are                   a galaxy

For wandering satellites                               torching the edge of the dark filed with match sticks.


In the picture,                 you pin a ram to the ground,             and smiled into what would

Hold your face in a full regalia                  outside of the heated atmosphere       one last time.


You may have removed the ram’s horns               after singeing,                to breath in the hot air,

         Baba said it cures epistaxis.     

No one we knew was healed                  but we believed

In the miracle of a ram’s horn.


Sometimes, you lose a comrade in a gun fight, but you continue to finger the AK’s trigger

         Like a prayer bead,              you won’t lower your gun,        you must live to mourn the departed.

Hussain Ahmed is Nigerian, poet, and environmentalist. He holds a master’s degree in Ecology and Environmental Control from Obafemi Awolowo University. His poems are featured or forthcoming from AGNI, Poetry Magazine, The Kenyon Review, Transition Magazine and elsewhere. He is a 2021 Semi-finalist Cave Canem Poetry Prize, 2022 Finalist for the University of Wisconsin Press’s Brittingham Prize and Felix Pollak Prize poetry competition, and several others. He is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Mississippi and the author of chapbook “Harp in a Fireplace” (Newfound, 2021) and debut collection Soliloquy with the Ghosts in Nile (Black Ocean, 2022).