for Deborah & [ ]
when boys who attempted at joy, turned dust on earth’s lips.
the rumbling as we know here isn’t starvation.
just the belly of a toddler thundering in quiet war.
I’m well surnamed in this version of poem.
in the next, I do not wish to lose a strand of alphabet.
but, isn’t life too— a proposal for how much we let go?
when you snatch my pronouns, & palm aggressive on neon lamp
I swear I’d take the heat without a scratch— nameless in blood,
knowing the risk as how we identify.
knowing there are no dirge left for flattened bodies & lavender.
no ritual for lost consonants.
this parcelled grief, gifted to me by a sorry shape lying-in-state:
plank postured. decent in their dying.
I turn eight the way sorrow turns a corpse,
claiming: bodies are fodder for guns & machetes.
nowhere here points to a cop. except, whatever
triggers my lips holds an endless petition. a morgue of sighs.
a Shiite questions me about the afterlife.
except that I do not tone down my religion.
a child, discoloring right in the arms of his mother.
& by jove— I meet her loss halfway.
say, faith is quantified by what you hold onto,
while you let a next-of-kin languish in his slobber.
age filters through me: bright havoc.
a mourning, a bloodied chorus.
grief playlist, unspooling a dead rhythm.
a loin breathless with sound. a body, running out of grace.
an empty stare besieges a heap of flesh,
& grief is not the harbinger of this still life ruin.
just a healthy body tarnished into a last breath.
sometimes, loss festers: spilling like native bile along the heart.
like the carcass of a child, stone dead—
this grief that aggrieves.
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.