A Glossary of Artillery Terms

Nnadi Samuel

Iowa tenderizes our immigrant flesh into the havoc of a rifle,
                                                    stale on a woman’s lip.
language pulls me to where a female rips her lungs— dragging
                         black alphabet that mourns her passing away.
she mouthwashes an adjective, trims her nail till its red tip takes
                         the form of a loud verb. to cherish where I’m
is to add guns to our part of speech, It is to be at peace with the
                          waltzing hotness of a missile. the cloud— a white
sheet, pierced by a loaded projectile that isn’t firework.
                         I wish to account for this place, & not lose my tongue
to a death-plague that shapes like this
country— stabbed onto a pie chart. this year, violence preserved
delicate life. In the next, I want to have more crime in my name.
                         Minnesota’s temper veining through my wrist.
I love it for its other half mirroring my loss.
                         lady, dulling her skin to die at her own pace:
too bright to keep up with this town. each darkness finds me falling
                         in love with this body alive, but for a while.
rib cage of females I’ve known crosshatching as countries at loggerheads.
                         you cherish where I’m from by loving it sideways,
without the tip of a gun pointing at your heartbeat. in our palm: a warfare.
                         in our thoughts: a woman derailing a stray bullet with
prayer beads.
the way she pleads “the blood,” as though we haven’t shed more of that lately,
                         as if this red-faced object isn’t me bullet bright, dashing my
loin to the
                         ground— if that’s the softest way to call this body quit. I wish
to amplify my
bones, to make a loud statement. I’m wounded by the consonance of ‘Iowa’ mud-
                         breaking through my lips, as a cannon hawking a well-dressed
echo. I sustain the entirety of grammar in a verse looted at gunpoint. you survive
this country only by dodging the voiced
                         bilabial plosive— that goes boom! everywhere your feet touches.

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 Suburban Review, Seventh Wave Magazine, NativeSkin lit Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly, Quarterly West, FIYAH, Fantasy Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, Common Wealth Writers, Foglifter, The Capilano Review, Contemporary Verse 2, Gutter Magazine, Carte Blanche, Dgëku, TrampsetThe Elephant Magazine & elsewhere. Winner of the Miracle Monocle Award for Ambitious Student Writers 2021 (University of Louisville). He is the author of “Reopening of Wounds” & “Subject Lessons” (forthcoming). He reads for U-Right Magazine. He tweets @Samuelsamba10.

© Variant Literature Inc 2021