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Glory be to the improper plot: this acre of hand tilled hibiscus
& the dying raven that slants midway, in collapsed grace.
I am thankful for everything that lays chaotic. jagged landmass.
raked mess of depression, inversely proportional to climate change—
the way I discolor in summer. measuring tape laid to waste because,
this is a farm dispute where everyone wants to outcount the other.
when Ma questions me on how I’d love to manage my existence,
I tell her I wish to identify as a desert, barren with opportunity.
ridges laid haphazardly—I find my loin tumbleweeding from its root.
the shower head, gone haywire. all of my dirty-washings, heaping in
the ugly fold of a mountain. It’s barely summer & I have bled past two moons,
dressed my blood, midair—hacking at the tough ground that spoils into green.
hoping, my grief looks gorgeous in the face of harm. & say it doesn’t, it still would
remain mine to keep. sorrow knew me in the early hours of my birth. here, look how I
wear the stench. even rain leaves petrichor as aftertaste, in the mouth of the world.
in the chewed minute, I observe night waste in plastic silence. branches shedding from
their trunk. cloth, roasting in the unforgiving heat of summer. all creature here adores
pain. It is one way to worship how we make something of it. even the blank page
adores anguish. still, I choose joy. choose to wrap my head in the moment, scream a
purple song, mow the lawn at the balcony. I joked around the blisters in my palm.
thank the edges for being jagged & improper, thank the blade’s music for making a
mohawk of the grasses & the past that is a bunch of weed—ready for a haircut.
I hope to make sense of my future someday. as of now, I identify as a prairie.

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.
Current Issue
25 Sep 2023

People who live in glass houses are surrounded by dirt birds
After a century, the first colony / of bluebirds flew out of my mouth.
Over and over the virulent water / beat my flame down to ash
In this episode of  Critical Friends , the Strange Horizons SFF criticism podcast, Aisha and Dan talk to critic and poet Catherine Rockwood about how reviewing and criticism feed into creative practice. Also, pirates.
Writing authentic stories may require you to make the same sacrifice. This is not a question of whether or not you are ready to write indigenous literature, but whether you are willing to do so. Whatever your decision, continue to be kind to indigenous writers. Do not ask us why we are not famous or complain about why we are not getting support for our work. There can only be one answer to that: people are too busy to care. At least you care, and that should be enough to keep my culture alive.
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