Hussain Ahmed

The Ghost on a Voyage



For now, breathing is all I do for a living

I am a ghost in a blue jacket that never was.


ignore the varying degrees of melanin on my skin

because you know you could blame it on river blindness.


all the languages boxed in your mouth will turn soluble—

do not call me sweet, unless you are ready to let go your tongue.


when did I become an alien, before or after

I had learned to say ‘thank you’ in my new tongue?


I did not regret learning to swim, regret is how

I re-imagine depression that comes with this voyage.


I learn to swim watching my friends get drowned. sometimes

they die, sometimes they survive only long enough to join the army.


HUSSAIN AHMED is a Nigerian writer and environmentalist. His poems are featured or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Nashville Review, The Cincinnati Review, Hobart, and elsewhere.