Poetry: Schadenfreude by Habeebullahi Muhammed Yunusa (Baṣọ̀run)

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this poem premieres linguistic prizefighting / at the
commonwealth games. referee’s opener: like this
contest, life is a labyrinth; you, minotaur; this match,
jigsaw/sudoku—the more gordian; present puzzle
piece, schadenfreude. tell me, how does the tongue
wrestle such word without knocking out the ancestors
siestaing in the brain? this is how i unwind an other’s
tongue onto mine: i dictionary the heavyweights in
their lexical arsenal. in this round, say schadenfreude
drops heavily from the mouth of an english fist,
is german in etymology, iii. synonymises with epic-
aricacy—via old greek. but i’m a yorùbá nigerian. epi-
phany clicks when i mould the cacophony into the
yorùbá aphoristic prayer: ọ̀tá ò ní yọ̀ wá o—may our
enemy not delight in our misery. the mother i carry
on my tongue mouths a proud amen, asks why
an anglicised african must be tortured tutored with
a mumbo jumbo of english, german, greek, french…
all in the name of holding on to a foreign tongue
of human gods. they say the fastest road to the mind
is the native tongue: i wonder how this lost black
child with a forked tongue prays his way home/ to his
ancestors. despite this lingual confusion, this mental
fatigue, i’m perfecting how to smackdown inferiority
complex / to outpunch superiority complex. that’s to
say in the postamble of this poem, i’m icarus flying
out of this linguistic maze with adamantine wings.

Bio: Habeebullahi Muhammed Yunusa (Baṣọ̀run), FrontierXV, is many person(a)s rolled into one: one is a poet in love with the shape and sound of words. Longlisted for 2022 Spectrum International Poetry Competition and shortlisted in July 2019 BPPC Anthology, Habeebullahi has poems published/forthcoming in A Body You Talk To Anthology, Lumiere Review, Turnpike Magazine and elsewhere. Currently an English postgraduate, he writes from Shàárẹ́, Kwara, Nigeria and tweets @the_sirbash.


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