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Isn’t affection a knife we hold sweetly to our throats?

Isn’t the night a shovel that digs and turns

up every layer of the moon between our eyes?

You stab my belly and darkness bleeds fondly

out of me. The edges of our years poniarded

by memories, pillows in their blades of quarrels,

two-crossed room scissoring the history

we once sprouted out of here. I bottle our memory

in a gourd of distance. In the vine of the night,

I uncork a hundred strides out of my limbs

to find you. You’re stoppered by trees, by oceans,

by the bottlecap of a continent. You’re corneous

like the beak of a cloud pecking the ground like rain.

Thrust a sword of whispering down the lawn,

let my ears grip it by its hilt, let a word tilt

itself like a weapon, let its blade mow and tow

the ire of grasses we still grow. If you slate

your presence before dusk, the sun would strum

the edges on the schedules of your breath.

But I need you like a belch, like a belly slicing

its hill of hereness to a valley of want. I want

you like a scratch, rubbing my skin with the feather

-edge of your elbow. Shear the mangroves

of my fears from top to root, from twig to you,


knifing through the torso of the night into a body

bulging swimmingly out of dawn.

Samuel Ugbechie has works published or forthcoming in Ruminate Magazine, Palette Poetry, Nottingham Review, and elsewhere. His poetry collection, Monologue of Fire, won the Many Voices Project Prize from the New Rivers Press. It will be published in book form in 2021. He’s the winner of the 2020 Aurora Poetry Winter Contest, the 2016 Frederick Holland Poetry Collection. His works have been recognized in awards like the Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize, the Into the Void Poetry Prize, and others. He tweets @sugbechie.

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