Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 2



Flourish Joshua


Lullabies for Grief

nightly/my fingers comb through my grief's backbone like a hunter in search of forest games, rocking it to bed in-between mouthfuls of lullabies / like a toddler & a nursing mother's love chant. / i say, "grief", / because, / i have numbered my weaknesses one-by-one, & have chosen to name it "grief".
so, i lay me & my grief in a sofa in-between somnolence & spiritedness, chanting lullabies brewed from the lord's prayer like a magician. / i am my grief's game, / but i am the game that is smarter than its hunter. / "...thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven..." is the first line to give my grief away to dizziness. / "...lead me not into temptation, / but deliver me from all evil...", shreds my grief's agility, but only for as long as the sun hasn't risen.

& it had always been a meeting between my grief & I,
with the walls & louvers as guests of honor,
gulping the night like a drunkard,
staring impatiently at us,
not suggesting a thing,
waiting for the beginning of an end.

o ancient of days, will my grief
ever beg life to teach it how to die?
or will you keep watching me sing it
lullabies till it writes me an elegy?




A Beggar's Playlist

when at break of day at a market side, / beggars congregating for morning devotion, / gibbering with sour tongues & cruel teeth on mats of servitude, / the jazz of low self-esteem ranks the most-played on their playlist. / then passers-by adds to their playlist, an afro single of dejection, snubbing their dry palms the umpteenth time. / stomaching it, they stretch their arms to coordinate an acapella of toilet flies / rehearsing choruses around their bruised feet. / but how can a beggar wear his pride again? / — beggars, thinking aloud. / killing their devotion, / a woman drops fifty cents, but looks richer. / that's it! / an opera of curses melancholically climbs their playlist, / but only for as long as their anger lets them display their folly to the universe. / what's the square root of giving grudgingly? / soliloquizing. / bottling their anger for their next victim. / a boy parades, obviously sheltering his nose to survive the smothering fragrance from the beggars’ bosom. / now hell is let loose. / they remix the opera of curses & sing the boy some verses. / then come i, wearing neither life nor grave clothes, / greeting them with hundreds of cents. / the volume of the hip-hop of hope deafens the market, topping their playlist now. / but only for as long as distance hasn't swallowed me / & time hasn't ebbed away with the good, yet.




grieving for a boy

to paint a picture of a broken boy,
point me his society.

on days when the sun catches cold,
it takes warmth beside

this grief that builds a boy. reminds me of
how i can’t forget to remember

that remembering is forgetting that
the earth is being spoon-fed with

a boy’s voice. a boy’s pain. a boy’s grief.
& six feats down the earth’s throat, too.

a boy’s fingers learns to analyze, at seven,
the geometry of tits. aunty aramide teaches him,

but should a boy voice such a thing?
perhaps, his society wouldn’t listen to him–

it may, if vice versa.

no one stops breathing
except death is safer.



Flourish Joshua: “I am a Nigerian Poet & Satirist. I’ve been published/forthcoming in East French Press, Praxis Magazine, African Writers, Beloit Poetry Journal, Press 53, amongst others. I am Poetry Editor for NRB, and Poetry Reader for Frontier Poetry Journal. I tweet @fjspeaks.”




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