3 Poems | Hassan A. Usman


Self Portrait at 19

it’s 5:00 in the morning. I tiptoe towards
the room’s oldest mirror in my birthday
suit, examining what parts of my father’s
silhouette I have carried into myself. I
throw my body into several equations,
solving for the closest i would equal to
a rooster. & this poem? a rough sheet saying [ ]
1I have grown two inches taller, a line
that bloomed in the night, excluding my
third leg. 2I am still beardless &
unfit. 3my voice, stubborn, ever embracing
the antonyms of baritone. noon breaks on
my head. I wait, a pot of dandelions
on the table before me, on an altering,
one beyond the physicality of my portrait.
how I had imagined that on this day,
my heart would wear itself the fragrance of a marigold.
I wove, in the glass room of my mind, newness.
it’s midnight. I must remake to elegance, become
a flock of flamingos.
my palms are fetching for a cluster of stars.
my bones sparkle. I have unlearned the art of staying
[too long]in darkness—
there’s so much light to take into oneself.

Awakening (or poem in which the ocean, too, has a heart)

Love is a wild thing. & tonight,
we’re sauntering towards the ocean.

Its strong waves, throwing our
frail bodies into quicksand.

But the bank is too merciful
to be overwhelming us.

All the water is beating alongside us.
This is proof that the ocean, too, has a heart.

Like two lovers in a Telugu movie, your body
shawled around my arms, & our shadows far away

from the horizons—we attempted to arouse
the big sharks & dolphins from sleep.

While we picked up stones, target being the middle of
the ocean, we found each other to be the ones awakening.

Applying Nursery Rhymes to A Boy Splintered by His Mother’s Demise
for Ernest Ogunyemi

(i)Who is in the garden?

a boy,
twelve & terrified

(ii)Can I come & see him?

Maybe when he walks outside
the scattering of black roses

Twinkle, twinkle, little star

how a boy, broken, wanders
& wonders where you [his mother]are

Baa, baa, black sheep

two for the son, returning from a clubhouse,
high on molly his mother’s absence

Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?

[in Ernest’s voice]somewhere in a girl’s body
searching for milk my mother’s fragrance

There are two black birds sitting on
the tree

one is a poet, who chronicles loss as a home
contoured with candlelight

I [Ernest] see(s) the moon

the moon, half & lonely,
stares back at an empty road

Rain, rain, go away

here, a boy fetches more
& more darkness from the belly
of a rainbow.

Mary has a little lamb

tonight, a boy is learning how to manifest
in the form of a firefly,
how to beseech his mother’s ghost
& show her the way home.

Hassan A. Usman, pen-named Billiospeaks, is 2/4 of Next Generational Poets. He’s an emerging poet from Lagos, Nigeria. He studies Counselor Education at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. His work is/forthcoming in Paper Lanterns, SprinNG, Trampset, IceFloe Press, Olúmo Review, Five South, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Lunaris Review, The Shallow Tales Review, Arts Lounge, BANSI Demi-gods Anthology, and elsewhere. He’s on Twitter and Instagram @Billio_speaks.

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