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My River: A Poem by Rukayat Ololade Aliyu

My River

I’m crying a river that runs over dead bodies and minds
Washing over a future ancestor
Lying above the current ones
Children sitting by the riverside watching, playing with sticks
That might dig something up
African people in European clothes
European state of mind
Oppressing themselves, ourselves
My river runs over leaking oil wells
And dilutes the crude
With the rape of the world
The rape of women who can no longer teach the children
The rape of children who can no longer learn
The rape of men who can no longer love women
The rape of men who can no longer fight
The rape of women who can no longer fight
The rape of children who can no longer fight
And over 1994 it runs
Over genocide, it runs
Over the miss order of things, it runs
Over beautiful African gods, goddesses who despise themselves, it runs
My river
And runs
It began A.D.
And will end A.D.N.W.O
The death of the “New World Order” is what my river runs to
Deep communication
In the Souls of Black Folks
That talk to one another
Seeing eye to eye
On matters of the Black heart
My river runs through the veins of foreign nationals
With foreign currency
Made from the blood of the dying
And the sweat of the toiling
And the despair of the hopeless
The pangs of the hungry
The rape of the mothering
The backs of Black Folk, African Folk
Bent over
Burning in the sun
Working to live
Living to die
Dying to live
Dying for a change
That you can not appreciate
Because you can afford to buy chemical manufactured matter to eat
Buy clothes made from the toil of poor people, blood stitched in the seams, despair in the holes of fabric made from the toil of poor people
There are people
Asking why
They are people
Are they not born of man and woman
Do they not breathe, need oxygen to live
Do they have not hearts and minds and souls and memories, families
Do their muscles not too get sore,
Do they not sweat in the heat,
Shiver in the cold,
Do they not cry when their child is dying and they have not a leaf to feed him
Not a cloth to wipe his tear
Not a pence to buy him satisfaction
Not a God to bring him peace
Do they not cry, weep?
Do they not cut, bleed?
Have they not hearts that beat like the drums we beat
Have they not needs
Do they not feel
Does the wind not whip them and the sand burn their eyes?
Does the rain not drench them and match their cries
Do they not love
A man, a woman
A child, a mother
A father
Do they not smile, do they not laugh
There are people
Do they not deserve to sleep and wake up, eat and drink, love and laugh?
Are they not entitled to some of the good in this life?
Are they human?
Do they not beckon the sun, the moon, the light of day
The light of life
Should they not smile
So that you and I might do things faster
Meaningless things that die once they are done
Are the reason
There are people
Asking why
There are people
Too strong to cry
That they are hungry
Not afraid to die
Because they are slowly
Losing the strength
To take a deep breath
And hope
To wake up tomorrow

Our fast life, fast car, fast food, fast lines
Make it easy
To do meaningless things
More quickly
But the murder we perpetrate in so doing
Is meaningful
To the childless mother
And the armless man
The three foot soldier
The sixty pound woman
And death is real
And my river runs through it


© 2007 Rukayat Aliyu

Rukayat Ololade Aliyu
Rukayat Ololade Aliyu
Rukayat Ololade Aliyu is a published poet and spoken word artist based in Brooklyn, NY.  Born in Ijesha, Lagos Island, her works deal passionately with the plight of our people and solutions to the problems we face.  Her blog.


  1. Well your poem sounds musical and long…. Guess you are political about it, but still I like the way your river flows through it all and your message is very obvious

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