This Desire to Flee From
People I Cherish to a Strange
World Is a Form of Brain
Disease I’d Be Lying to Say I

A battle is going on between my īmān

& the voices in my head. I try to make


sense of it, but my therapist told me 

not everything has to make sense 


to make sense. I locked myself in the 

room because this horniness is 


threatening to throw my soul in the

fire of jahannam. I asked my friend 


what being bipolar feels like, & he

told me it renders him numb—like a                                                                                                


cadaver. An acquaintance informed

me she self-harms to feel alive. Because 


when the demons sneak in, her body 

feels lifeless, she craves for a proof 


that she, too, like other humans, has

blood streaming in her veins. Tell 


me, will I swim in the waters of 

hellfire if this insanity has a hand 


in me putting a full stop to my life? 

My Mu’allim said the ink is lifted off 


a man living on the mat of madness. 

There is a body in my body telling


me suicide is selfish; had our

lives belong to us alone, Allaah


wouldn’t intertwine our hearts with

others’. I’d be lying


to say I comprehend my desire

to flee the people I love


& enter a strange world. There 

is a hole in my brain that devours 


every single atom of happiness that 

falls on my body. But anguish, loss,


trauma, torment & everything devoid

of joy feasts between my breasts. 


A critic asked why every poem I craft

walks through the gates of grief. & I 


said: because my poems are a haven

where men like me—whose headspace 


are never free of noise—come to enjoy 

the therapy in knowing they aren’t alone.

Abduljalal Musa Aliyu is a school teacher and poet. He writes from Zaria, Nigeria. He is the author of Encyclopedia of Dolour (Chestnut Review, 2024). His work appears or is forthcoming in Chestnut Review, Vast Chasm Magazine, Brittle Paper, adda, Efiko, 3 of Cups anthology and elsewhere. He was a co-winner of the Sevhage-Agema Founder’s Prize for Poetry and the third prize winner of the inaugural Writing Ukraine Prize. He rants on Twitter @AbduljalaalMusa.



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