in conversation with Jara Abagada

Saaro Umar is an Oromo Poet.  Her work has appeared in Australian Poetry, Demos, Voiceworks, Expound, Scum, Alien She Zine, among others.  You can find her at @saaroumarr.


i don’t think
i made myself. the
hatred, fury. the
same way deep, deep
down our blood is
still. take up
a knife
consider digging eighteen
inches into a beast.
where does that leave you?
even worse than the nightmare—
the way
honey is bloody against the
right weapon. nobody is
dreaming about me. except as
something to wipe out.

let’s start with that and deal.
every wall
defines citizenship—
the body     a country
is a story of territory.
i agree
that our streets
exist by
barbed wire, black dirt, sameness.
i see everything outside
our family [african]
as the moon.
white, desire, radioactive.
it reminds me where
i belong     for now;
is right here,
on this planet.

i’ve got a mouthful of questions.
many have
lost God and
made the moon a
light in their midst.
how do we lead our
children into the future?
our mothers believe trauma
is deep-rooted, nostalgic.
the omnipresence of survival
forces us to ask—
what would you do?

the afterlife
was always
a [black] future.
schizophrenia loops
the alive,
sanitised     odourless.
your tally does not
give you a passport,
or freedom papers—
resilience is the
hand that
rewrites history.
death is our
fruit, air—
the most intimate.
when you meet
God beyond the
language will
leave you. then,
you will grieve.

(thank you to Solange, Beyonce, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Shereen & Tank)

© Saaro Umar, 2017