Various Forms of Doubt Rehearsing How to Dance in My Sister’s Head
we take off our clothes
your skin turns
the approach of my fingers.
fright cloaks you
your skeletal frame is upholstered
in fear –
how can you fuck
when a tired
bullet has found
that would have been me –
my infant sister died in the
of a lot of things – her mood:
the minute hand of the clock my parents
got as a wedding gift collides with the
at the muteness between 1 & 2 in 12.
my father is serving multiple sentences,
the third, voluntary manslaughter.
I stand on the
that separates her eyes
from the rest of substance –
I mean to say even everlastingness is mortal,
3 sons, a stillbirth, and lockdown
mother returns home with great grandmother
in my sister’s body so much newness I gave
tongue that implied she should not have come.
arrival of a newborn smoke signals
the departure of all that has been
a favorite book. it is unfair
the absence of nostalgia – a hunger
that tastes like spotlight and pristine
repatriation. to bring back a buried
name is to create a threshold
for the return of forgotten relatives.
An Advanced Form of Eavesdropping
my mother buried ear on my
tongue. she plucks pwol tiyang ngo before it
falls unripe from my mouth.
In her grinding mill, she
hears the names of all the girls I taste
like Simmanan tastes
like Simi tastes
like Simdiga tastes
like salt and sun.
Jos throws daggers as frostbites while
coffee burns language off tongues.
my tongue is rope in a tug of cold-war.
ngo! I am tongueless
or my mother tongue survived arson
ngo! in remembering your pinna inhumed
without a gravestone on my tongue
I have forgotten the names of all the girls I loved that were not your tribe.
I burned my tongue to burn your ear to burn you.
my mother is ear buried everywhere.
to burn her is an attempt at burning the world—
knows the sound of fire, she tells
me that a crackle
is a dead lover seeking to say I love you in her mother tongue while drowning.
A Failed Attempt at Shape Shifting My Best Friend’s Grief.
“Seven—grandma: a word that means you,
me for you and you for me always…” – Lardo
runs on paper. from the murmurings of
nurses and your organs. a drop of silence
ushers crispy whispers—I hear your stomach gossip
you in your presence.
barter. an equal exchange. something.
just to see you try somersaulting into laughter.
I bought pepper, your hand moist from
the steam of grandma’s last breath— I pour,
you lick. you lick. you lick/ your palm is healing.
I try to sing a hymn book into your bedsides
but your blanket dances
into a dirge every time I break into song.
you pretend nothing is wrong with you/ but your name
echoes across every prong holding chef.
they draw a blind over her face. exchange. barter
whatever leaves brings space. void. song.
Younglan Talyoung is a poet who loves butterflies, ladybirds, spiders and flowers, but is scared of closed spaces. He has poems on Okadabooks, EB Arts Organization, Plateau Tourism Magazine, Kalahari Review and elsewhere.
He writes from Tudun Wada, Jos, with his two cats, Molly and Zoe.
Find him on Twitter and IG @czar_younglan