Rumpus Original Poetry: Two Poems by Hussain Ahmed





Blood Moon

the sky widens its blood vessel           and the moon got stained.
we’ve lost so much blood here,          nothing else make the news.

instead, we give testimonies
about how the girl become rile on the face of the moon

and not an assembly of dust in the air we breathe.
the girl does not want her child to inherit any of her gowns

so she set herself on fire.
goats were slaughtered to intercede the sky               to hold onto the rain

until prayers could blockade the holes
on the roof of the house, where her freedom was exchanged for meat.

when she opens her mouth to laugh at the joke,
she spills her grief all over the tablecloth.

her stranger husband asked for her health record,
I hear whispers of how filled she could be with jinn

but no one says anything about the hot air balloons in her stomach,
or whether it could be digested          to make a glass of her body
we’ve lost so much blood here, nothing else makes the news.


How to Pray for a Bird in Flight

my father teaches me to talk to God,
I have to fold my arms around my body
to show how cold I stand in a burqa.

I’ve had the same shadow for too long
and it does not hide me from the sun.

the gravediggers lower another girl into the earth,
we thank them [again] and we give sadaqah,
that they may label the grave plate in bold languages.

my father teaches me to pray for my dead sisters,
they survived the war and the curfew, but they died

months after, in a labor room. I don’t keep date of any of my loss
even though my stomach is cold enough to preserve my griefs.

I pray that a gazebo will not be made of my bones.
the henna on my legs are enough evidence that I was born a cartographer.
this is the closest I am to a bird, and maybe to God.


Photograph of Hussain Ahmed by Adedigba Adedayo.

Hussain Ahmed is a Nigerian writer and environmentalist. His poems are featured or forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Cincinnati Review, The Journal, Cream City Review, and elsewhere. More from this author →