Back to Issue Forty-Six

Exit, Self



Moons fat in fields.
Odd matter, shrapnel, scrap the year
we walked the Ketu mile
through the ageing bridge into dust
markets. Posters of the last dictator
who, deposed, grew catatonic, bearded, littering walls.
We agreed the beard made his eyes look kind, near-paternal.
Each time I lit a match, you put the flame out in your mouth. Smoke coming
as the halogen rings of an unoccupied planet. You kept losing
scarves in street wells. At the beach we stood near the Atlantic,
ahistoric and mortal, made the cheap two-minute
photographs. Bones of a Ferris wheel so close to us.

A single horseman
pulled his horse through
the shoreline. Shells were brought to our feet
by water. Coconuts opened by their heads for us.
Year after year, I have taken, unpaid historian,
pictures of clouds. Rested my hands on bodies;
not the migrants washed ashore, but of dolphins. Dreamed you split
in multiples. Not like dead but sistering. A safe unicellular animal, capable of self exits.
Your face in boxed IG squares. You leaning against the ledge of a Quebecian house
among unfamiliar faces online, friends, and between the caryatids
of an unknown city. The moon fields and odd matter,
ours, forgotten, and you swimming in blue
tides toward them.


Guerilla’s Nocturne


for A


Blue sad light the morning after
we are estranged. I lose sleep.
In the haze and smouldering, I go back and forth:
a life with or without libidinous
organs? I wake with desire and a souring stomach. From habit
I check what is left of life: a nosebleed
and the shock of color confirms: The fear
of sickness is sickness. The fear of fear is fear.
He who is not busy living is busy dying.


Everything is subject
to Newtonian abstractions. A life with hands
is a life where my hands extend
to reach, finally, emptiness.

Absence is the known parabola—curve of field
mastered in childhood running the perimeters.

I sheave
new absence
to survive.

Make each one a pseudo-
cloud for future sleep.


I entered the fevered
dream once.

The river green with algae was no longer ours. In the killing
fields of repeated dreams, like a young Greek
god, I renounced stars. Asked them to stop spilling
their scintilla into the day. I lost my mind.


The night we found the deserted
church, we made a hideout.
The bad acapella of crickets around us.

Shadows played among the abandoned
priest’s chalice and gas lamps in low light, a study in longing: we learned

how a body asks to make sink-flesh or brief paradises
of another between night and day. I was alive.

The hours that passed between us were short-lived.

With a line paraphrased from Bob Dylan.

Kéchi Nne Nomu is a Warri-born Nigerian writer. She is a finalist in Narrative Magazine’s Fourteenth Annual Poetry Contest and a finalist for The Adroit Journal’s 2023 Gregory Djanikian Scholars in Poetry. Her work has been published or honorably mentioned in Best American Essays, 2020, The Sun Magazine, Narrative Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in poetry from New York University where she received support as a Stein/Brodey Fellow and teaches at the University of Virginia.

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