Somewhere Between Language & Leash by Nnadi Samuel

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Narrated by Nnadi Samuel
Somewhere Between Language & Leash by Nnadi Samuel
Illustrated by Sue Babcock

We have language for what is within reach,
but not the mutable form behind it
— Jenny Xie

I roam within the earshots of a smallholding at Staffordshire:
a town, bemoaning a soft glow of rusty green—the way I am this lad,
engulfed by god’s failed attempt at a farm.

how the backs I’m faced with are genies
with talons pointed to my throat.

I meet the world halfway somewhere between language & leash:
the claws soldered to my feet are mere fingers & nothing more.

not the razored stain egging me toward
light: somewhere between language & leash

my limb over-bloats. I clinch the sign-languaging of a palm shaping ‘grief’
& bending this way—to re-echo the heavy sadness: between language & lease.

I debone the sound beneath my knuckles,
& feed my deaf relatives with howling.
the genies, flesh-hungry, wolf down my loin & the boy wearing it.

I whittle myself into a pathway,
tarnish whatever glow dresses me between language
& leash: where the skin is a kind of weapon,
& the raw form of me steps into the war—
to find your body wielded in defense.

BIO: 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’ selected by Tate.N.Oquendo (Sundress Publication, 2023). His works have been previously published/forthcoming in Suburban Review, Seventh Wave Magazine, NativeSkin lit Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly, Quarterly West, FIYAH, Fantasy Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, The Deadlands, Common Wealth Writers, Jaggery, Foglifter, The Capilano Review, Lolwe, The Spectacle Magazine, Maine Review, Gutter Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, Carte Blanche, Trampset & elsewhere. A 3x Best of the Net, and Pushcart Nominee. He won the Canadian Open Drawer contest 2020, Miracle Monocle Award for Ambitious Student Writers 2021(University of Louisville), the International Human Right Arts Festival Award(IHRAF) New York 2021 and Angela C Mankiewicz Poetry Contest. He tweets @Samuelsamba10.