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Striking the Chords of Sorrow in a Muharram Morning | SAI Sabouke

Striking the Chords of Sorrow in a Muharram Morning | SAI Sabouke

Striking the Chords of Sorrow in a Muharram Morning African Literary Magazine Agbowo aRT Sai Sabouke

(after rereading & with lines from Umar Abubakar Sidi’s What Bad Poets Do)


“Bad poets hear the cries of 

strangulated beasts, the whispers of djinns

and the cries of cats possessed by the demons of war”


A history pamphlet I read

in 2004 says Bornu & Borgu

are descendants of Kisra, an Arab king

wrung out of Arabia by the rise of Islam.

Today, Bornu is a bad poet

deafened by terror chants

by dark demons of a war god.

My father too, a bad poet

strangulated in his bed

by heavily-clawed fists of beasts of a nation

who whisper djinns of poverty

into his home in a Borgu town.


A poor old man’s son walked around a town

he looked into the faces of hungry children

& women waning in worn wrappers

& remembered a bad poet once

said that “poems do not end”

he looked into those faces again

& saw poverty stretching endlessly

like the ellipsis that hangs in continuum

on the tail of a bad poem of a bad poet

that chants the poetry of dust & all the spells

that send hearts on a path of transcendence 


Poetry of a bad poet does not end

so is the sorrow sowed by

the Muharram Mayhem of Zaria


Muharram is the mother of all haram”

Karbala too is a bad poet

accursed demonic emperors

have inked sorrow & hung them

as mu’allaqats of an endless pit of grief

on its Kaaba of love & nobility


I do not know if this is a bad poem

bad poems are hard to name

but these are grey buds of sorrow

blossoming in the heart of a poor man’s son

who lives in a broken home in a nation

suffocating under the grip of heartless beasts


A bad poem is sometimes a catharsis

a spring that makes joy blossom

some days, a bad poem is warm & soft

like the nipples of an untouched girl

between the innocent lips of a boy unlettered

in the sacred art of seduction


but this poem is winter-cold & hard

like the heart of Pharaoh at the sight of Moses

a bad poem sings in scented rhythms

but this is an ellipsis of damnation

epitaphed on the grave of an old beast


SAI Sabouke Agbowo Art African Literary Magazine ArtSAI Sabouke is a made-by-Nigeria poet living in New Bussa, Nigeria. He holds a BA in English from the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto. He finds Sufism, History and Language as fascinating tools for man and society regeneration. His writing has appeared in Praxis Magazine, Dugwe: Online Journal of Abuja Writers Forum, Synchronized Chaos Magazine, Peacock Journal, African Writer and elsewhere.

Twitter @SAsabuke





Photo by KML from Pexels

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