I command this body to lose luster,
for me to be tainted with wrath.
punishment that I am— dismantling empathy in vows, to harbor a lesser pain.
answerable to only the pleasure of my aching.
I am boundless with dark grief.
you’d know how my woe torches,
how my sorrow laps flame:
a reddish resistance towards whatever twirls supplication into sore throat,
dragging my mutant breath, till my ducts are slacked.
I bear my deadliest darkness like a reliquary.
a bright agony knives my collarbone.
in your spare time, say a prayer for this ruin,
this relic, this rare accident of mud & breath,
knocked down by the craze of living.
I too own my wound in the elegance of a long stain.
here, the stretchmark. here, the hurt shaped into a ligature—
the way ache cling onto the body, the body onto ache.
I tarnish my skin to mold blisters.
if this cost me damage, I consent to the torment that is my upbringing.
I’ve guarded this suffering my whole life.
this body shouldn’t be a yardstick for misfortune.
won’t you pardon me, if I say
I lack the fire to lamp my way through the next minute?
Nnadi Samuel (he/him/his) holds a B.A in English & literature from the University of Benin. Author of Nature knows a little about Slave Trade (Sundress Publication, 2022). His works have been previously published/forthcoming in Suburban Review, Seventh Wave Magazine, NativeSkin lit Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly, Quarterly West, Common Wealth Writers & elsewhere. Winner of the Canadian Open Drawer contest 2020, & the International Human Right Arts Festival Award(IHRAF) New York 2021. He got an honorable mention for the 2022 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Contest.