Portrait of a Liberian’s Boy & Other Poems

Jeremy T. Karn

Portrait of a Liberian’s Boy

about an anonymous boy

how do you hold another boy’s blood in your body?

it will only dissolve
into nothing 

you have had another boy
deep inside you,
this made your body a tunnel

pushing things within,
inch by inch until you grew flowers in your pores 

you’ve been walked too much into,
breaking your body
into a woman

this explains it
the softness that haunts your body
the song that sits in your silence

i remember the green ceiling light
bleaching your half naked body through the dark keyhole
your shirt rolled  above your belly like a map

it peeled out the hardness on your tongue
& made you a small god

2020, tonight your body burns with memories, it itches for his smell
mother thinks you’ve replaced the devil
by calling another boy’s name in your sleep

Sickle Cell Anaemia

for A. Sheriff II

from birth you have been trained by your father on how to die
now you’re bored of breathing
it makes you too perfect at dying

i have seen your fresh footprints over graves

it’s no secret you love the sea,  
the warmness  of your mother’s hands
on your bones, cracked
like the living room’s wall

 she, too, is praying for your death

you want to die your own death
from your own sickness
ingest songs that’ll plant seeds in your body for a rebirth

but how long will you keep lying in bed
practicing how to turn your bed into a coffin?

some day you will  weigh the pain  that carves
the smell of death  in your breath

some day you will pinch yourself into nothing,
begging your body to fall into an open grave

The Making of Grief

out of cries  i have made songs
i sometimes
hum in my sleep deep under my skin

i shovel out memories out of my body
plant silence in it
i have watched my silence grow into nothing
my mother says, it can move a mountain

there are things sadder than death,
like smoke that gains its existence
from a body on fire 

the way cigarettes burn in Monrovia
reminds me of you – dead & burning in the brown soil

it stripped your body into ashes
but a body on fire, is the origin of grief

the fumes from your burnt body,
i have lived with the scent long enough

Jeremy T. Karn is a poet from somewhere in Liberia. His poems have appeared and forthcoming in The Whale Road, African Writer Magazine, Praxis Magazine, Kalahari Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, River Birds & elsewhere.


*Image by Mòje Ikpeme

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