The Economics of Death, by Nnadi Samuel

                      for Japheth

Our deads cost a language to bring back.
& in Taiwan, mother lavish her speaking-in-tongues on empty sky.

not one deity moved
to translate our grief into oblivion.

a woman lifts a child,
and the price becomes too much to bear.
she empties her rib like a blank check.
says: to sex is human, the gendering is divine.

queer landlocks the nearby street,
and my loin gives off homosexuality.
I meet the burden halfway topless.

want tape measures me,
& I knit the longing into a breathless vest.
we’re all trying to outdress our wounds,
name it by its design.

When I run the tap of my tongue,
a dialect overflows.
surely, goodness & mercy burrows me.

mother digs a godly trench, blood the waters
& I miscarry death in backstrokes.
in a male-deprived town, I devoice my boyhood,
tone down its lavish and spend it quiet.

I empty my strength & call it poverty.
we fall back to the arms of our male pairs when the trench capsizes.
each of us, fragile with our kidney stones.

Japheth bites the dust.
rectum, unzipped like a wallet.
guts, spilled lifeless as a dead currency.

I motion my lips & name it grammar.
name the stream in between— a bright phrase.
my verb, boiled into a miracle.

there are no rich enough words to Lazarus our deads.
sadness too, can depend on social class.
the stars, wealthy on his shin guard.

we unroll a tissue of pounds,
& it became their first duet with our fingers.
how miserable it feels now, to rank deity before death,
before a godless currency.


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.

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