A monologue with my grandmother’s portrait
When death sneaked into our home, and tightened his teeth on your body, eating your yam flour
which softens through the ladle that beats it into pulp becomes a wish for me. When I say you
wore my father’s face on your body like a damask embedded with cowrie shells, like the tiny
gourds on the flappets of a masquerade. When I say the photographs now hold your presence in
our home, I mean when I stare at the photograph hung on our wall, I see you hobbling on the
staircase of our home. When the earth gulped you like a wine out of the bottle into its brown
body, I see myself losing the mirror which mirrors my father’s body. How you plummet on my
body; a rain of panegyrics which swells my head like the cassava flake I drink in your home. All
lost when death looked you in the face.
Communal vesselAfter Martins Deep
The day your body became
a communal vessel where the milk
of a mad man was spilled,
It was as if God had walked out
of your body, as if your sacred flesh
was dipped into a sewer,
everyday, I shake my head & I
pretend it is you, while you take the
brocade bed-sheet, & the round neck
you wore that day which says “God
loves you” convinced the mad man’s
spilled milk still lies on them,
you rewash, rewash, and rewash
till you drain my little strength
then you spread them on a line.
When you tried returning to life,
to live like the former you, you see a
plethora of men wearing the mad man’s face,
& you scurry into a corner whispering
to me, “he is coming again” shivering— with
your hands clasped over your body, &
you began to weep while I also weep with you.
His ugly voice reverberates in your head
everyday like a gong or the beats of a bẹ̀mbẹ́ drum.
This new life of concealing your self inside your fears
is spun over you like a web, & melancholy is enmeshed
with your soul, and it covers you like a robe.
I stand by the door where you stand watching
the broken glass in your hands, the glass the
mad man stepped on the day he lit your cotton on fire.
Beyond farmlandWith eyes trailing the sunset,
I sit on a heap of sand
my feet— stained with dark
humus, my eyes now drifting,
watching the world, turning like a
merry-go-round, I, becoming
a vagabond inside my body
out of my bones, into my blood,
out of my muscles, into the
nothingness of my body.
Abdulkareem Abdulkareem is a Nigerian writer, linguist, who wants his voice to go beyond the thatched roof of his mother’s house. He studies Linguistics and Nigerian Languages at the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria. Besides writing poetry, he cherishes the historical fiction and crime fiction genres. His friends calls him Pānini. He writes from the ancient city of Ilorin. When he isn’t writing, he’s either listening to JuiceWRLD or Drake. His works have appeared on Poetrykit online anthology, ARTmosterrific, Naija Buffett Readers, The Kalahari Review, The Shallow Tales Review,. Nnoko stories, and Nanty greens. He tweets @Panini500bc Instagram: panini_500bc
Banner: Geometric Collage, Green a VISPO by Robert Frede Kenter (c) 2021. Twitter: @frede_kenter