Two Poems - “Aubade” and “Joy was Duty”

By Olaitan Humble



first a girl becomes a quantum particle doing

jumping jacks in Balmer series/ then we say


the girl is invisible because a rivulet

of benediction flows in her umbworld


she tries fitting herself into a model of utopia

mornings pour into the day like molten gold


suckled from the sun/ like klein bottles

denuded from their disorientation


she is driven/ driven by her therapist's

addiction to alprazolam & times


she plant a boll of torment

in her own garden


driven/ driven by her friend's ability

to swim while she drowns


drowning in tears of yesteryear

& the gas that fills the air


when her mother cuts onions

now she is stuck/ stuck in a limbo


& an endless perambulation

of penrose stairs/ like vectors


in hilbert space she is trapped as

a placeholder/ driven by the days of yore



a staccato of sonic booms forces the girl

out of utopia then we say amen to living


in seclusion/ we say: dear lord if we are

to die let it be on our birthday


& should our body be cut to pieces

open a breach & thrust us into afterlife


as if to save Alfonsina Storni from drowning

or to say: fender-bender cannot kill doppelgangers



Joy was Duty


Ghosts plague this house

& tonight, it's time to party.


Calisthenics on the penthouse,

birds perch over the rooftop


gathering information

as the sun sinks


below the horizon.

Birds as ghosts.


Ghosts with avocado

hand, & joy was duty.


Father sipping

coconut milk,


he breaks a nut

open, then chants



He mounts a bird


on the back of a cauldron—

shedding its skin


feather by feather.

He catches the moon



in a stainless steel spoon

& dips it in his mouth.


Once, he peeped the world

from a skyscraper


& the only sane scene

was from a cumulonimbus


cloud collapsing

into his mouth


& on his tongue

were ghosts


jumping in & out

of an electromagnetic field,


& joy was duty. When

he weekends far away


from home, he stays true

to this house's insignia.


Once, he caught the sun

in a ladle, then dipped it


in a furnace before carrying it

in his pocket, & joy was duty.