Pedalling to Heaven: The Poetry of Abu Bakr

Updated: Feb 17

by Abu Bakr

Graphic: Georgia Preece

Pedalling to Heaven for Self-isolation


After the night my grandma’s daughter was buffed

in earth. ‘Ma gave ears to walls and sowed her voice

in them. no one knows how long she wringed silence

by the neck until a dialect towered from its mouth


She wedges between the hugs of armchairs – her hands

flailing like cities where women bury grief between breastbones.

the color the sun undresses the sky with will always be dark

in her eyes & words to her ears run off like rain on hilltops


‘Ma speaks with her whole body without making a sound:

holding a fist to her mouth means stop speaking of the undead

her indexes tongue kissing says my near end smells like peace

she says every prayer with her middle fingers tickling the ground

her arms x-ed on her chest says I’m breaking into loneliness, again

she pedals an imaginary bicycle in the air to say I’m going to heaven for self-isolation


Ear pressed to a wooden door, I listen to the calmness

of her sobbing. My teeth dig my index to shroud

the betrayal of my tears. Holding her hand sometimes

is where I hear a memory calling her body home


Self-Portrait with Blindfolds


To every city serenity opens itself; I open with it in my head

The weight of the quietude I yearn leaves my body unlettered


In my thoughts, a boy asks for a poem to cloak his [ ]

I ask the night to cover my [ ] ; the sky closes its ears


To this, I gloss my lips with every prayer I’ve drowned in books

At night, silence hangs on street walls like bats on oak branches


Outside, faces behind vizards are darkening into cloudless night skies

I lay in bed all day like hugs from strangers will leave an RIP in my ribcage


This is the ninetieth time I’ve thought of stepping out today but didn’t

Here, the world feels less like a forest leaning into an inferno


On TV, an unmasked woman hugs the ground like it’s the ghost of her husband

Everyone clutches their mouth as if to stop the world from tumbling into its end


I pull a blindfold to my eyes and the world spins to this liberation

Through the blinds, the city’s eyes close into a dream; I sleep with it




Abu Bakr Sadiq is a Nigerian poet, studying at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He has work published/forthcoming in Lit Quarterly‚ Rockvale Review, Iskanchi Press & Magazine‚ Knight's Library Magazine, The Muslim Write and elsewhere. Find him on twitter @bakronline

The Radical Art Review is a print and digital magazine where art and culture meet activism. We tackle the politics of popular culture and provide a platform to emerging, marginalised, and disenfranchised artists.

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