slimy & joy-wet. you're night's work of art, hatched from nothing into the belly of a jaw—softening the hard ground of language. your pronouns: ruffled between edges, as the heft threatens to refund your mother in past perfect tense. my tongue, raised towards your image—spills the purple consonant where a curve ends. say, I howl into wetness, shards of you grieve out in thanksgiving. you, scolding bronze into portrait. light waylays me, till I whiten & duplicate. whiten & play dead: remnant on God's own soil. when I was dirt, you litter me over a countertop. when I went missing, you cast the net of your palm into space—molding my worth. at the mention of grief, this poem bears loopholes: a landslide from where language leaks. I english my tongue. mouth verb by helping-verb, stitch you into a gowned paraphrase: whatever dresses up to grief. whatever aggrieves dying. your coral bleached eyes, blooded with light. the roundness carpet bombs earth's swollen surface, as wreck tiles the land into a shiver: an offshoot of ray—veining through cosmos. my blood labour over the current. I wear my name in reverse & go contrary to destiny, contrary to life's broken abecedary. the hereafter holds me by my initials. the gap between silence & the voiceless consonant, brightened as a knife. the clock as we know, is a gadget that color us wasteful. how tedious—the lavish. tongue, groomed to blend dizziness with a drowsy language, to witness the face soil bedsheets with multiple resemblance. your cracked curvature, unspooling pigments. say day lingers, you absorb the burden. say night lingers, you absorb the burden. say year lurks around, you absorb the bright burden. & when a decade lingers, the year splits apart and a boy from my past leaves, unpronounced.
Nnadi Samuel (he/him/his) is a black African writer & graduate of English & literature from the University of Benin. Author of Nature knows a little about Slave Trade selected by Tate.N.Oquendo (Sundress Publication, 2023). His works have been previously published/forthcoming in FIYAH, Fantasy Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, Timber Ghost Press, Haven Spec Magazine, Utopian Science Fiction, Penumbric Speculative Poetry & Fiction Magazine, SilverBlade Magazine, Liquid Imagination & elsewhere. A 3x Best of the Net, and 7x Pushcart Nominee. He tweets @Samuelsamba10.
yellow swallowtail on buttonbush
Jim Ross jumped into creative pursuits in 2015 after a rewarding career in public health research. With a graduate degree from Howard University, in seven years he’s published nonfiction, fiction, poetry, photography, hybrid, interviews, and plays in nearly 200 journals on five continents. Photo publications include Barnstorm, Bombay Gin, Burningword, Camas, Feral, Phoebe, Saw Palm, Stoneboat, Stonecoast, and Whitefish. Text-based photo-essays include Barren, DASH, Kestrel, Ilanot Review, Litro, NWW, Sweet, and Typehouse, with Pilgrimage Magazine forthcoming. He recently wrote/acted in a one-act play and appeared in a documentary limited series broadcast internationally. Jim and his family split their time between the city and the mountains.