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gut-shot soldiers take half a day to die. I’ve seen them, walking around with their bowels in their arms like dirty-washing.—Arthur Shelby (Peaky Blinders)

May flattens into vegetation. I plow the hour. unearth cassava
stalks. the fuming starch, imploding at chest-level—
they strain the elasticity binding my lung.
breath, spilt with gunpowder.

I walk the cyborgs to their slaughterhouse:
alien, gunning them to a killed posture—in poisoned surrender.

the heat solves their core into chemistry.
I dust the formula off the tough ground,
& science rewards me with black temper.
I dare death to harbor me.

a boy is at best—a harmless fricative; than a movable gerund.
grief only italicizes the suffering, to match skin.
styles the bone into font, where blood warms up to longing.
rib, throbbing towards light.

the cyborgs damage my person.
calls me: sin in jumpsuit, escorting a nanobot to hang.
plastic accomplice—short circuited.

I dress the humming corpse. body, pulsing ambergris.
we’re flammable with each passing breath.

when my heart skips a beat, It doubles over with loss:
force, acting on impulse—to erase nuclear force.

I bend the law. crack the spine of cactus & passerine birds.
stir stamina into stamen. flaws, toned to flora.

I wish to drag my loin past the wrath of lightning.
my arm—electrocuted in the belief.

I awake, full of shouting.
unfurl into an orchard of failed sciences.
I, lab rat: puppet for self-discovery.
I—evolutionary biology, going nowhere.



[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from Elizabeth R. McClellan during our annual Kickstarter.]

Nnadi Samuel (he/him/his) holds a B.A. in English and literature from the University of Benin. He is the author of the chapbook Nature knows a little about Slave Trade, selected by Tate N. Oquendo (Sundress Publication, 2023). His works have been previously published or are forthcoming in FIYAH, Fantasy Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, The Deadlands, Timber Ghost Press, Haven Spec Magazine, Utopian Science Fiction, Penumbric Speculative Poetry & Fiction Magazine, and elsewhere. He is a three-time Best of the Net and six-time Pushcart Nominee. He tweets @Samuelsamba10.
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13 May 2024

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