Jeremy T. Karn


for an aunt,

this morning on the phone with ma, you said you are tired of life. & there’s darkness maturing inside your pores.

she shouldn’t just give up on life,” ma said as she ended the call with you.

which way my aunt’s life goes, now depends on
how her depression treats her.

ma says depression has a root in the many secret deaths of women happening in homes.

because when we are tired of life, the body turns to depression.
ma has seen a cavity in my aunt’s voice, there’s fear floating through it.

study war no more
after Ejiro Elizabeth Edward

on the east side of the yard, we found the other bodies that were forgotten from being buried with the dust in the wind. this was after the war had ended.

& that morning our wet knuckles rained down sweats from digging in the dirt & beneath mango trees in search of the remaining bones.

& with swollen bellies that got too large to be covered with shirts,
we were eager to clear the mass grave from around the house the same way
this country tried to clear us out of it.

believe me, it was no child job to dig
for bones with soft hands.

sometimes i think of these bodies and their smiles before charles taylor’s invasion.

i have considered my hands to be a blessing;
seeing the last phase of bones before becoming soil.

Jeremy T. Karn writes from somewhere in Liberia. His works appeared & forthcoming in the 20.35: Contemporary African Poets Anthology, Hoxie Gorge Review, Vagabond City Poetry, Ghost Heart Literary Journal, Whale Road, IceFloe Press, Lolwe, FERAL Poetry, Kissing Dynamite, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Olongo Africa, Liminal Transit Review, Auto Focus Lit, Eremite Poetry, and elsewhere. He is the 2020 winner of the ARTmosterrific editor choice award. His chapbook, Miryam Magdalit, was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani, (The African Poetry Book Fund), in collaboration with Akashic Books, for the 2021 New-Generation African Poets chapbook box set. He tweets @jeremy_karn96