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A Country of Bone and Medieval Rot

Nnadi Samuel

A country's banner swallows us whole,

& the wailing of a child tears through the border of language.

at a sacristy in Vietnam, a mother witnesses a wooden seraph

shapeshift under the dim light, & pandemonium ravages her loins

for this statue of the Colonists.


a Catechist in bloodied cassock, tongues a homily,

on a plundered field that spills into a wasteland.

a hand shreds my imagination & hollows out a  boat named Exile:


this phrase, washing my lineage ashore.

a floating corpse that renders us homeless.

tonight, the country's vagabonds—all blade scholars, press their lips

to the ground & howl into wetness

hoping the land softens at the mention of grief.


in the year of slavery & barracoons, palace guards lay in

plank pose reciting newer ways to die.

It's a cursed faith, the way one generation lives to enslave the next.

each household, growing without a male heir—

confitted by a conflict. city of bone & medieval rot.


a woman manipulates her offspring into a casket.

"this war won't outlive our lineage" she whispers.  

on the rough side that moulds the roundness of earth,

wailing carpet bombs our neighbourhood.

an uproar of dead relatives, tearing through dust. my father turns in his grave.

Lord, how many headstones make a cemetery?


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). A 3x Best of the Net, and 7x Pushcart Nominee. He won the River Heron Editor's Prize 2022, Bronze prize for the Creative Future Writer's Award 2022, UK London and the Virginia Tech Center for Refugee, Migrants & Displacement Studies Annual Award, 2023.


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