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Like Every Black Mother

I also lure my son to sleep
by offering him candies,
by pretending to embrace the unsure
safety that comes with the voice of the
broadcaster on the radio, on the TV set.
I also stroke his hand and kiss his brow,
his eyes and soft lips, his black skin
that reminds me of bullets
shrouding the sky in Minnesota,
bullets on the body of a dead
black boy in Ferguson, bullets
on the walls of a house occupied
by a black family, bullets on the
coffin of Amadou Diallo, bullets
bearing the names of black boys
searching for survival in countries
filled with rage, brutality, anger.
I also learn to teach him how to
hide his skin whenever he walks,
how to veil his face whenever he
attends the masjid, how to flee
whenever he sees a gun in the
hand of white police, in the
hand of a man who sees
blackness as a threat, as a
suicide letter, as a bomb
wrapped in a black veil.
I also whisper love into
his ears whenever he
dreads to leave home
for school, whenever
he watches the TV
and sees the photo
of a murdered black boy,
whenever he says, Mummy,
how do I survive without
getting killed?



Rasaq Malik is a graduate of the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals, including Michigan Quaterly Review, Poet Lore, Spillway, Rattle, Juked, Connotation Press, Heart Online Journal, Grey sparrow, and Jalada. He is a two-time nominee for Best of the Net Nominations. Recently, Rattle Magazine and Poet Lore nominated his poems for the 2017 Pushcart Prize.