“Aubade” & “Joy Was Duty” by Olaitan Humble

Illustration in blue, orange and yellow of a person underwater up to their nose


first a girl becomes a quantum particle doing
jumping jacks in Balmer series/ then we say

the girl is invisible because a rivulet
of benediction flows in her umbworld

she tries fitting herself into a model of utopia
mornings pour into the day like molten gold

suckled from the sun/ like klein bottles
denuded from their disorientation

she is driven/ driven by her therapist's
addiction to alprazolam & times

she plant a boll of torment
in her own garden

driven/ driven by her friend's ability
to swim while she drowns

drowning in tears of yesteryear
& the gas that fills the air

when her mother cuts onions
now she is stuck/ stuck in a limbo

& an endless perambulation
of penrose stairs/ like vectors

in hilbert space she is trapped as
a placeholder/ driven by the days of yore

a staccato of sonic booms forces the girl
out of utopia then we say amen to living

in seclusion/ we say: dear lord if we are
to die let it be on our birthday

& should our body be cut to pieces
open a breach & thrust us into afterlife

as if to save Alfonsina Storni from drowning
or to say: fender-bender cannot kill doppelgangers

Joy Was Duty

Ghosts plague this house
& tonight, it's time to party.

Calisthenics on the penthouse,
birds perch over the rooftop

gathering information
as the sun sinks

below the horizon.
Birds as ghosts.

Ghosts with avocado
hand, & joy was duty.

Father sipping
coconut milk,

he breaks a nut
open, then chants

He mounts a bird

on the back of a cauldron—
shedding its skin

feather by feather.
He catches the moon

in a stainless steel spoon
& dips it in his mouth.

Once, he peeped the world
from a skyscraper

& the only sane scene
was from a cumulonimbus

cloud collapsing
into his mouth

& on his tongue
were ghosts

jumping in & out
of an electromagnetic field,

& joy was duty. When
he weekends far away

from home, he stays true
to this house's insignia.

Once, he caught the sun
in a ladle, then dipped it

in a furnace before carrying it
in his pocket, & joy was duty.

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Olaitan Humble is a writer and editor. He has been nominated for the Rhysling Award, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Award. His writing appears in North Dakota Quarterly, FIYAH, HOBART, HOAX, Chiron Review and Superstition Review, among others. Twitter: @olaitanhumble.

Chris Carreon is a jack of alright trades with an interest in music, drawing, taking photos, and petting dogs. He considers himself the Jackson Pollock of latte art. Follow what he’s been drawing and seeing on instagram @cereal_death / @cerealdebt.