Deranged Sestina//or To outdress a Coffin & name it Self-harm, by Nnadi Samuel

I’m handpicked by a misphrase to where my person lies:
gash in a word pool of listlessness where grief & suture hold hands.

I— bandage held towards gloom in the night of my waking.
the blank page below, puddled with darkness.
each margin, rarified into dusk.

thumb, fondling a dead braille.
ghosts tiptoeing my palm in worship,
in actual hand shape— thieved from the behavior of a less consistent sign language.

from the handprints, I meet empathy tiling
the hour into grammar.

a slang missing my gum by a mile,
by all the possible ways we reinvent to educate our grief.

in the month of self-destruct, the hand slants in bold blood.
a corpse later, the coffin holds a body in italics
as we ache over the shape.

meaning: the body is capable of hurt,
the body at rest keeps sad design.
the body is unadorned in its vegetative state.
the body outdresses a coffin & names it self-harm.
praise to alphabet— the bruising of diphthongs.
see me strawing this body to a ligature
vowel-soft, wedging a protest.
see the cultured abecedary I am blessing my lips with, robust with rant.
see me word my loin with a heritage of glyphs.

a sneeze is a heavily punctuated afterthought.
pain & regret known in the same breath.

our most glaring proof of insanity is:
amounting up to nothing
in this modern craze for a word count that meets me backbent.

feet, stomping the undergrowth of remembrance,
arm shuffling a narrative.

what weariness leaves me undeserving of my clock,
than this word spree unbraiding my tongue?
jaw kicked open— you could read my lips,
& still not get the utterance to subdue my bestial want
to vowelize in cold-blooded adjective.

bestial, meaning this loin as a burden capable of death,
capable of putting coffins out of fashion.

unaware, grief tastes like painless killing— where impact
stains the ground with violent red,
& pain tones the body into a litany in this breathless minute.
anything can become prayer, if held to the ground.
each small death starts with an uproar on the lips,
knowing the mouth stomachs so many graves.

Nnadi Samuel (he/him/his)holds a B.A in English & literature from the University of Benin. His works have been previously published/forthcoming in Fantasy Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, Timber Ghost Press, Haven Spec Magazine, Star*Line Fiction & Poetry, Penumbric Speculative Poetry & Fiction Magazine & elsewhere. He is the author of “Reopening of Wounds” & “Subject Lessons” (forthcoming). He tweets @Samuelsamba10.

Return to Issue 15 | Support The Deadlands

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top