A Ghost in the Living Room & Other Poems

Abdulkareem Abdulkareem

A Ghost in the Living Room

A husky voice unwinds from the wall
matching with Pa’s – the one I heard
from the cassette which defines my father in motion.

                                                                    I have been faith-ing in dreams – the unnamed
                                                                    reality. A polluted fantasy reeking of mirages. 

The contrail knows the thread of my history was woven
by the fingers of the sky & I’m here shoplifting meek verbs
to motion my father – transporting aggressive imageries
in my poems. 

                                                                      On days like this when I’m weightless as a feather,
                                                                      I’m also witless, the sun could pass for the eye
                                                                      of a god. But it burns itself by bestowing my world
                                                                      with light & it photosynthesises my mother’s plants.

It is midnight, something wakes me with a tap
on my shoulder. A stray rat or a frosty hallucination
that surmounted my thoughts? Feet drumming on the tile.
Unseen. Footsteps. 

                                                                      I sponge the fear crippling my feet by enhancing
                                                                      the kinetic energy in my body – to uncover the
                                                                      loose apparition returning home for family. 

Pa, it is uneasy to depart from your home with your shed
uncovered & the rainstorm brewing from the brow
of the sky. 

                                                                       But exit is too probable for everything that is
                                                                       defined by breath. Pa, if you can hear me: I’m loose
                                                                       at the edge of everything anguish. I’m still cradling
                                                                       the grief of your death, & a monolith fossil stills
                                                                       in the nook of my chest.

Learning the Anatomy of Sound, Silence, & Noise

Music pulls me into the silent places in my mind.
My grandfather calls it the kind of noise placed with rhythm. 

When my head is a mud house dipping deep into the
sludge – I pull with an orchestra of songs & maybe a concerto.

On some days, a cacophony of babel upholds in the ruffled dawn
of my tongue & I become a boy heading into ruin. A dissonance

ripping the stillness of this gulf. I have been learning every
silent thing the loud way – I tarry on my wavelengths. 

My phonic delusions are louder than a proper decibel.
& with this – every incessant hurly-burly is like a raft keeping

me afloat on the waters of discord. & for decades, I’ve been an
offspring of chaos – shoplifting the ultrasound from chasms.

hoard a massive tranquillity in my scarce quietude – seeking
the soundproof in my environs to restrain the noise. I sit by 

the balcony sifting through the light years – with a bottle of vodka,
unlearning the rumpus. My father accepted the stillness that 

dying envelopes into the throat – the unmoving tendons,
& now he is an empty song on the mouth of a bystander –

& I grieve in loud ways. On a dark night, I hoarded a silence,
too still for the tongue & I almost ran into a cessation

of my pronoun. The almost discontinuation of my name.
*I have no silent way to say depressed even though *I have forgotten 

the lyrics to a song of my own body & the concerto. My grief is
audible to deaf ears. I have been looking for the most quiet way

to begin a poem. Maybe I could begin with the flight
of a robin, & the breeze spreading through the willow.

*Borrowed and altered a line each from Michael Akuchie & Lee Herrick poems

Self-portrait as Shards of Glass

after I.S. Jones

First      it was the moon       bright as spring water
                    falling down from my sky like splinters of glass,     & then my birds
a cacophony          of distorted sounds              from wounded parrots.
If the night could sing                  it’d sing of glasses – a reflection.
The moon  stretches into the alley                with the memory of the glasses I’ve
stared into    & here,
you talk about recollection in a way                that shakes a placid sky.
Today I grin with a whiskey mouth &
tomorrow – a mouth wrecked with gin.
I pull my skin        & there is glass       painted with my blood
on the underside         reflecting the faces of all the people I have lost.
The wind could have been           a catastrophe for the contrail,
but my God                    took the contrail    like a saviour.
The glass could make a red sea of your body & this boy as glass – holds three things like sons
as a mirror: a reflection            as a glass: a refraction       as shards: a renaming of scars.
Nobody wishes to break     not even the boy whose memory is made of fragile things
I’m loving my reflection into a mirror     in a broken way           .
I stare into the mirror & it reflects another mirror as shards
A boy broken from too many falls

Abdulkareem Abdulkareem (he/him) Frontier III, is a Nigerian writer and linguist. He is a recipient of the Hill Top Creative Writing Award for Excellence, 2023. He won the University of Ilorin S.U. Writers Competition (Poetry Category), shortlisted for the Vallum Poetry Award, 2022 and longlisted for the Palette Poetry Previously Published Poetry Prize, 2023. His works appear and are forthcoming on National Museum of Language, POETRY Magazine, Transition Magazine, Poetry Wales, SAND Journal, MIZNA, Qwerty Magazine, West Trade Review, Off Topic Publishing, Orion’s Belt, Aster Lit, Poetry Column-NND, The Shore, Afro Literary Magazine, Brittle Paper, Rulerless Magazine, and elsewhere. He is currently a poetry reader for Agbowó Magazine and Frontier Poetry.


*Image by Steven Thompson on Unsplash

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