Six Poems

To My Friend with the Blue Hijab

I love how you fall back on the bed laughing,
Press pillow against your face,
Just to break open in guffaws,
Tears streaming.

This, the third time you’re telling the story
Of the child, who curious to learn
If veiled women have breasts,

After bets with friends,
Followed you through each stall
In the market.

But because the veil never stopped you
From being mischievous,

You turned around,
Jiggled your breasts,
And growled like a lion.

You’re smiling now
As you pull the hijab
And shake loose your hair.

And I can’t stop thinking of the child
Who’ll return to her friends
And swear

“Muslim women are animals
Who run after children.

“They eat wood, crawl,
Jiggle their breasts,
And growl like lions.”

Smiling, you toss the hijab on the couch,
Stroll into the kitchen,
And return with a single glass.

We pour wine. Cut fruit.
And talk into the night.

In Bed with Cavafy

After pleasing each other,
We laid in bed a long time…

Curtains drawn,
Bolt fastened,

We’d been cautious,
Had made a show for others

We ordered meat and wine
From the local restaurant.

And, like other guys, we talked loud
About politics into the night,

But whispered about young men
We’d bent in the dark.

At midnight, when from the bars, drunks
Staggered onto the streets,

We shook hands the way they did,
Laughed their prolonged laughs,

And warned each other to steer clear
From loose girls and diseases

All the while knowing
He’ll circle round as planned,

Sit in the unused shack behind my house
Till my neighbors’ candles are blown out.

And, after his soft knock,
I’ll slowly release the latch
As I did last night.

The First Little Pig

Let’s preserve much in the story
And say it happened as told.
Let’s not bring in Freud.
And in estimation, relay

“The big bad Wolf,
Ragged and contumely,
Is the Fear of the poor pig.”

And as appendix,
“His repressed hate toward his mother
And authority.”

Let’s reenter the story, knowing
The spirit that led him to straws
Led the other to bricks.

That his quiet steady fitting of each bundle
Came from within.

How stubborn he must have been
Knowing in what degrees,
When summoned by the Wolf,
The wind thickens.

How foolish,
Yet courageous,
For him to sit
In his own frail construction

While the Wolf playfully taps
On his straw walls,
Summons all breath,
And blows down his door.

Just to turn around
And lift him off the floor
Wipe dirt from his face
Rinse from his hands
All bruises and scrapes

Before fanning coals
In the hearth for flame,
Where this little pig knows
He’ll be boiled.

As the Wolf contemplates
Which of his ears
He’ll tear off first.

Solomon’s Montessori School

The school is popular among children.
And upon their gathering,
Each swears of her own experience

“Yesterday, I saw ten golden gates
Standing without fences”

“Today, I saw god appoint Winds as sages”

“I’ve seen angels floating east”

To suppress these claims,
Wise men from town

Stand children against the wall
Without food, for hours

Until each confesses a change of heart
To the relief of parents
And the esteemed Council of The Wise

That Solomon’s school never existed
And is only seen by the mad.

Precisely at that moment,
A girl hears Solomon’s invisible call.

She pulls down her veil,
Listens to the hymns,

Then runs like one taken
To begin studies

“In how to climb god’s fences
And wrestle with Winds.”

Honesty is the Best Policy

For years he’s walked the towns,
Holy book in hand,
Speaking of the coming kingdom
And his blessed father.

“Afraid of the executioner?” He’d ask
“Better to tell the truth and die
Than suffer eternity under god’s wrath
In lakes of burning fire.”

So, I told him everything
When truth about his wife came out

How she grabbed me from behind.
How we ran around his house,
Drank several bottles of wine,
And rode each other for hours

I believed so fully in his mantra
And so feared god’s lake of burning fire
That I showed how I pinned her to the ground
Held her breasts and towered inside her.

Telling him, I felt full contrition.
Felt purged of all demons.
Thus, I expected him to say

“I forgive as my father does.
Go. Follow his words.”

But, he threw an uppercut
And broke my jaw.

Stomped on my face till I saw black
Where blue was.

I crawled out,
When he left to grab his gun.

“This Little Light Of Mine”

“I’m gonna let it shine”
So sings the born again,
Who, each Sunday after church,

Gives my door a light knock,
Invites herself in,
Sits across from me,
And shares “good news” about Jesus.

Today she’s wearing blue skirt
Loose around her thighs,
Black pantyhose,
And boots ankle-high.

Her shirt, firm against
The circumference of her chest,
Is held with buttons below her breasts.

Before we held hands,
Closed eyes, and knelt in prayer.
All I thought, while she spoke of God,
Christ, and hell fire

Was licking her buttons from their holds,
Unlatching her bra,
Lifting her skirt,
And ripping through the hose.

I said “Jehovah”, when
In prayer, she squeezed my hand.
Yelled “praise Jesus”,
When we hugged as friends
And I pulled her tight.

Thought “Christ”, as she walked out
And I gazed at her from behind.
This woman, who left just hours now
Thanking god for my salvation
Then singing again her chime.

ABAYOMI ANIMASHAUN is a Nigerian emigre, whose poems have appeared in African American Review, Southern Indiana Review, 5 A.M., and Diode. He is the winner of the 2008 Hudson Prize for his collection of poems, The Giving of Pears, which is available through Black Lawrence Press.