An Event of Sighs by Nnadi Samuel

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An Event of Sighs Nnadi Samuel
Illustration by Sue Babcock


Crooked shadows leaking landmines,
the breeze beneath is everything that pets a war.
nature winks at us unarmed & a pothole waylays her cheek.
we made every spray a yellow hit,
no cash crop escaped a bruise.

we have most of our cherished events this way,
in places where we bend our virgin bodies & trees into landmarks.
a branch calls me into space,
the chemistry here is badly behaved.

this is where we skydive into canary objects,
dripping bloodshot bitumen into farmlands.
where we dice the unnecessary acres of our body into blunt fonts.

where we perch so high,
the entire world becomes a spreadsheet for ants & live drawings.

on mud houses, snakes denied household chores & their silent hisses,
heaven felt so near, our stench damned rapture & scammed a god into them.
we unrolled a tissue of cloud in between our thighs,
& this became their first duet with our buttocks.
the moon limes our body into a native sour,
the vein behind my hip bone jerks uncontrollably.

there is a miracle here, science has yet to unravel.
we made every spray a yellow hit,
no cash crop escaped a bruise.

Crash Course in a Slaughterhouse

how easy you have it, forgetting so soon how your name works.
what your age means, when scale reveals your net worth,
weighs you to one chunk,
all aimless & meat.

I’ve known your kind into bits,
named their breath by how many times a knife short-changes them.
a sharpened tag.

i hold your hands to roast the bite,
& be it’s myth:
a tongue tale— finger, hands & teeth.

& slum; & specimen; & samples of grief;
& a counterfeit crippling the sales— your mother & her love for life things.

the trees are bent & rock-shut.
barley, laid in malt,
becoming a fume,
& that’s you dementing.

your nerve submitting to folds, to sink your next thought.
you who priced a meat,
the crumbs have purchased you,
& made you its subject.

you are now taught to kill bees,
& scare dogs from a butcher’s slab.
& spill blood, & it’s river skin.

things you lost in your sleep,
daring to hold hands
& name your dressed shack a slum,
a specimen beating your thoughts.

a hush,
a vein rush, writhing your pores.
a snapped finger.

a remembrance to live, & breathe,
maintain your grief.
& cut some slack so well
it wakes my skill.


it’s past eight, & i’m still running into doors,
marauding doors, with toothed gums where our roof lays bare,
studded as a tongue, a happening, busy cacophony.

it’s crazy how this labyrinth teethes hard on the dying fence
tracing my lawn to the crèche of a noble man killing bees for lunch,
whistling into his doorknobs,
till they shared the lyrics with his girl child.

& how aristo girls get pregnant these days,
in a sighing ambulance,
with a sighing boyfriend who knows jack about love,
or raising a heart to buy his way into doors.

the day i stopped barging into things,
the teenage girls stopped making babies,
& started rethinking suicide.

a cough,
& i imagine those thick-toothed gums,
bruised lips uncapping a bottle like the girl,
the aristo child who lost the cover of her womb to a boy ruthless in bed,
cupping a heavy flow in the crib of his mouth.
how doors find newer places to die.

once, a man harmed his wife with wild shrubs,
& cloned the corpse after the door marooned before me with blooded lips,
when lips is how i quench a hookah with two doors jammed to my teeth.
that one clean burn in a mouth that lays stone-cold in flames.

today, the doors here are full of vanishing
& inside of me is a thumping.
i am restraining the urge to soundproof my paws,
& thumb deaf ears to the girl in there whittling the dark.

Everyday Can’t Be April

A littlun guns his two fingers at me,
startling me to a killed posture.
he styles his wrist
& flashs a teaser to make his mania prank real.
this lad, with face like mine disremembering to be brother.
he tucks a finger to leave one poking at me,
shredding my skin,
a bizarre smile swelling on his lips.
he had a toy car with a siren gulping my first cry for breeze,
& softened his grip only when he knew i was limp.
his cheek sells the lies how he takes a near-death for leisure,
how he turns this to April Fool’s,
now, when his shrugs would scare the hell out of me.
i grope my wrist to find my watch stuck in March—a docile March.
a little white snails on his skin to jeer the thing he outdid—this negro priding as his kin.
i wouldn’t kneel on him to drown my message home,
no, his breath would go.
I’d make a prayer like this,
bringing back to my lips the news of the recent death,
restraining the urge to kill the white on his skin,
& repeating this phrase, “no one kills a boy with a stomach for mood swings.”


BIO: Nnadi Samuel is a graduate of English & literature from the University of Benin. His works have been previously published in Suburban Review, Seventh Wave Magazine, PORT Magazine, Gordon Square Review, Rough Cut press, Rigorous Magazine, Blue Nib journal, The Elephant Magazine, Lunaris Review, Inverse Journal, Canyon Voices, The Collidescope, Jams & Sand magazine, Journal Nine, & are forthcoming in The Quills, Eunoia Review & elsewhere. He won the Splendor of Dawn Poetry Contest April 2020, got shortlisted in the annual Poet’s Choice award & was the second-prize winner of the EOPP 2019 contest. His first chapbook “Reopening of Wounds” is forthcoming in the WRR publisher. He is a co-reader at U-Right Magazine. On Twitter he is @Samuelsamba10.