Blood And Water: Two Poems

[Image description: photograph of a rushing waterfall.]   Andy Armstrong / Creative Commons

[Image description: photograph of a rushing waterfall.]

 

Andy Armstrong / Creative Commons

NIGHT LIFE

the first foot leads the second
and the second
drives the many steps
that I take towards the aisle
to tell you that I have to stop to smoke.

my brothers and I robbed a blood bank.
on the news
they called us vampires
and I could not have been happier
that I had become popular
because I knew
that this one act
would save a child.

after many centuries
now is the era of break-age:
my heart is either breaking
aging
or on the verge of cracking in two.

my body is a wreck in need of renovation.
I walk against the traffic
but I fear I will get hit by the next truck
the driver will run away
and I will be asked about my blood group.

I will remember the child learning to walk
a month after the robbery.
I will die smiling
painfully.

this won’t make the news.

I was without a gun.

 

 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY INSIDE THE RAIN

inside
a room clustered with the memories of men
who had forgotten how the pages of books
get the wrinkled pattern around their edges.

outside
it’s cold.
a map on the wall painted in blue oil
makes you feel
as if you are inside a ship
and you can steer it to wherever you want.

I catch my brother’s eyes while we pray Subhi.
he stares eastward;
I dream of anywhere that borders the west
where I can listen to rap music
and say fuck when I hit my leg
or when it rains for too long

I want to say fuck
a hundred times a day
without feeling I have said too much.

our dreams come wet most often when it rains.
the room becomes a spring while we sleep
and I wake my brothers to rescue the books
wherein the histories of our fathers are painted.

we watch the riven door become a mouth
and the best I can do is hiss
when I should say fuck.

you don’t need an alarm clock
in a room full of bugs.
they wake you every hour
until you find a pen to write.

the night frees my wings
and I wander amongst the ghosts of my many uncles
whose names I can’t recall.

they visit me often
their shadows lurking around at night
when the wind rattles the window.
I wonder what they are trying to tell me.

our family photo does not fit inside an orchid frame.
I conceal it beneath my waistline
and hold it down with a belt made of a snake skin
but whenever my stomach bulges
the belt loosens
and the picture falls out.

then you ask me
what happened?
how did I find sleep when it rained?
did my clothes ever dry before morning?

I want to tell you something different:
I am one of the ghosts.

the last time it rained
the room was filled with the voices of men
praying for their dreams drowned beneath the water.

dewdrops roll down the cenotaph
and I tuck these memories away.


Hussain Ahmed is a Nigerian writer and environmentalist. His poems are forthcoming in Puerto del sol, Vinyl, and others. Find him on Twitter