Rumpus Original Poetry: Four Poems by Pamilerin Jacob






Unfortunately, I enjoy blasphemy.
My nightmares will kill me before God does.

       What is a nightmare but what God does
       to the trees, hiding paper in their pith?

Were I a tree with paper in my pith
I would not miss my chance to be useful.

       Elegant as a plume, my chance to be useful
       is no bigger than my need to be dead.

Though God is bigger than my need to be dead
I am, in all, the scratch he cannot reach.

       I am, in all, the scratch I cannot reach
       Because the ache is wider than my life.

Lord, your grace is wider than my life—
Unfortunately, I enjoy blasphemy.


Golden Shovel: O Honey
—after Danez Smith’s little prayer

I am still, at best, a seared thing: let
us kiss, nonetheless. Somehow we will evade the ruin
& its tendrils. The days, devoted to end-
ing the oft-repeated malediction, throbbing here

in our wounds. Instead of a force, let
us be an admonition. We will never kneel to him,
true, & this large blue vessel sailing the heart will find
other ways to be loved. O honey,
a father is not the safest saddle. Where
is your dread, your glare? I am standing in there—
where his curses used to bounce off your shoulder blade. He was
a terror & I am trying my best, for once
not to be one. I haven’t, you see, always been a 
student of kindness—I used to seek my slaughter

until someone stuffed me with Zoloft, & your kisses let
me into ecstasy. I hope no one looks him
in the eye ever again, I often say, as I enter
my wishes into God’s big, black, invisible ears—the
gist being, the only prey I’m willing to be is a lion’s.


Portrait as Jacob Shifting God’s Hip

Insurrection, you say — I say, intimacy.
Stubborn splinter, I am collecting dust

right here, in the scuffle: 
a loyal thing.         In my little way
I dismantle my God, pleat myself

into him. Yes, the spear entered the side
and came out glistening. I am proud
to be an addition to the legend.

My limp is the clearest evidence
I was touched

I just want to say I am thankful
   & jealous 
of the disciple who kissed 
his cheek

though, thinking again
I do not envy his end.



a little boy, I sang to birds 
to have my nails painted with their droppings
I sang pulled my nails with pliers & piled 
them—bloody things—year after year by my window 
 waiting for a smidgen. this too is sweetness:
the lust for sheen    a child exchanging its proteins
for beauty. somewhere in the world    as I
write, gravity is tilting a body off a rooftop   a
dog is drowning in a pool   a garpike is gobbling plastic
the earth rotates into deficiency but you
with supple limbs    hold my neck in a chokehold
say, you want me to sing you songs as I once
did birds. I tell you, I am a man now & all I have
are grunts. You nod
tighten your grip…
in the world, a child is opening a book
for the first time mistaking q for p
& the mother     smiling at its first mistake
the way I smiled after our first kiss…


Author photo courtesy of author

Pamilerin Jacob is a poet & editor whose poems have appeared in Barren Magazine, Agbowó, Lit Quarterly, IceFloe Press, Palette, and elsewhere. He is the curator of PoetryColumn-NND, a poetry column in Nigerian NewsDirect, a national newspaper. More from this author →