Ridwan Tijani


on kitchen ceiling
I thought ants
Hylomorphic ants—the image of thought
For Trakl thought is suffused with the idea
of death & the freckled
bananas on the counter stinking like Formica; it’s true
bananas smell like a million
things & the old
box fan drum of doom
& my phronetic pacing   tapping
a hesitant tune & I cannot articulate
horripilation & don’t
have grammar
for plasticity. I keep dropping things

How Nigeria situates you on it’s coming
in perpetual subtraction
It takes everything I have
to think of the future & if
you believe it sha I’m aware of my restlessness
& tbh I’d like to be merry as John Skelton but
I lumber awake & weep for a flare of memory
I watch episodes of a reality
show about finding bigfoot & the nostalgic
quality of a lightbulb in the evening sun
I don’t know why but an image
of the bubble boy glints in my head & all
the “American” tabloids my dad used to collect that
had photos of the bubble boy & the Diana crash, ufologists
with filthy beards   eyes sunken & disappearing
planes in the Bermuda triangle & reincarnated
(white) WW2 heroes, crepuscular
photos of people with tree-like arms & Marathi gurus
with lucky rings for exams & blood
gleaming white walls, serial killers in
America like dust mites

I lift rotting plywood & exile a country of ants
I use a rusting shovel for weed lined like rice plants
I rinse dishes slowly & place them face down on a red towel
Lumpy proletariat—the lump in my throat tastes like frozen oranges
I read Walt Benjamin on Mickey Mouse & shut the window
that had Tarkovsky’s Mirror & laptop sleep   bend down
to scrub up cat puke spray Febreze    steam
The image in the mirror is not real
even though we are in an image world
deeper than our glassy intentionality
The world locked
in an endlessly refracting box
of its own representations
                                                                                 Bacon’s “mind of man”—an enchanted glass
& burn  incense     vibrating
phone   pentaprism. I cling to shards
of emotional certainties & alright, no question that
at times—not every time okay? —I’m afraid
to be alone with my thoughts & knives of light
checkered on the bed tinnitus like inside forest & every day
I fail against cliché, repetition; morning to mourning
karo aaojire so wetin to do with days; for morrow
& morrow, death creeps
in with petty haze & all our yesterdays shaded
in blurry light, smudge untimely
despite our candle
wicked nostalgia
I’m a poor player in this game of chancery
mouth open & speech cracked pebbles
I annihilate self in the presence of objects   idiot boy
full of sound & fury, cellular fury & I fall deep
into sciosophy    prognostic patterning
I no go lie say horoscope no dey scope me o & deep
in the cushion I peer out of my head. Do I even exist
behind this mask & birthday
flowers wilting in the sitting room & out of earshot geese echo
I was already old when I woke to find myself
with gloom, shunted far from light & all I saw
were hues, simulacra of the real
kaleidoscopic thing & ants dripping
off the plywood & I thought the falling man
& notches on wood like runes
& weep for a flare of memory, Mariana in the moated grange
sinking into dream

                                              Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest

In the textured skullfog of catarrh I trudge
the wet streets of Ikorodu
lonely as a cloud & early evening
pleroma of yabbing—I’m ducking curses right & left
I duck koni ye e as I whirl
into another side of koodu oga   gaunt
Yoruba-Brazilian structures shaded by the hold
of time  rapidly disappearing
due to BANKITECTURE & ballasts of shit eateries                     
past narrow desiccated streets
streetlights        merely ornament
Duchampian entropy
All my homies hate flux & chaos
All of us doubly enfolded in the problematic of shadows
I am a walking shadow on windshield of an old Peugeot
I love big clouds & I no fit lie
How clouds can be anything you want if
you put your mind to work
on the alethic logic of Èṣù Láàlú
in the late sun   fire-streaked clouds. Yes, forms
come in so many gods & there
is a limit to formalization I know  so
forgive me lord, your name is not (y)ours & your voice is slivery
I see on my palm instead        the physics of ruination
a bus conductor perched atop a slowly moving bus & eating, crying
Gbawalowo Iblisi oluwa mi Èṣù
grant unto me balance
to always resist
the urge to overshalaye        my soul
especially to fascists

Ridwan Tijani is from Lagos, Nigeria. His work has appeared in
The Stinging Fly, Protean Magazine, Changes Review, and other journals