Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016



in Africa/Culture by

Kora, great mystic
in thrashes of the world,
holding a lineage,

the sound from a river is not a weapon,
but it could be. The kora
is not a weapon, but
it could be. Our stories, songs persist, armor
against time.

Once while stroking
my head with her fingers,
grandmother played
strands of my hair, said time
is everything we cannot understand,
said music is prayer the dead
can dance to, keening
towards us. I ask,

why hew into bits
this serene god
of sound, why
destroy the maker
of music?

It must have been
morning when Ballaké
found his kora. He must
have streamed his hand
over the case before
opening to see his
handcrafted instrument
without neck, lying,
stripped of resonance.

He must have skipped
breakfast to pray in
ways of his father.
His sorrow noiseless,
festering, a caged
animal inside his chest
when he found the note:
Smart security saves time.


Saddiq Dzukogi is the author of Inside the Flower Room. His recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Kenyon Review, Poetry Society of America, Gulf Coast, African American Review, Crab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, and Verse Daily.


Renowned West African musician says TSA destroyed his one-of-a-kind instrument during a search
[Washington Post]

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