Poetry by Nnadi Samuel



Praise for the Inner Lining of my Morphing Apparel


Some countries give new meaning to dress codes, not only dictating what their citizens wear, but also enforcing strict measures with fines and imprisonment— Fashion Police(s). 

Satin worn past twelve is buttoned satire. 
all that glam spent, unstarching uniform grains. 
low-waist silk & the sagging yarn, both heavy with polymer sweat. 

mother sow cotton by criminal luck, 
practise woolgathering in our distraction. 
her snore: a staunch uprising. 

what language picks offence at a lady  
unwillingly to wear her country to numbness? 

on no occasion has it been me,  
to purchase a fabric unplagued by grief. 
even the bugs rock denims to levitation. 

I— asphalt glory. 
color riot, in ways that puts coffin out of fashion, 
snithe the threading to come clean as shorelines. 

It's a question of what lingerie affords liberty in a different town, 
what vows held us back from the sea this long. 
I lose sparkle, each time I conceive being sentenced to a bristle sackcloth 
all my fragile life. 
my sternum aches for harmful collars, for tough cravats. 
each knit: a riffraff defying strangling. 

behold, my exit dress 
earned with stubborn currency. 

praise for the inner lining, ribboned as a door. 
what oath ordained escape to be one way?



Nature knows a little about Slave Trade


Troweling gypsum on detached bricks against deadlines, 
Pa's sandbathed yell finds me leaping across fence to where the sound catches. 

until now, it takes no cement cheek of his, 
kidney stone and saliva to blare my concrete noun: 
a rowdy belch of alphabet plastering his pewed gums 
like mouth slaves dodging the bleeding rule to consonant cluster. 

each row, giving a soothing round of a tongue on soaked fonts. 
the ache stretches, as wound glorifies an hour. 

atop the scaffold, all muscle flex from him commands a harsh paste. 
they grieve. it's obvious, on my jaded lip, 
the howness of skin, they filter through pores: bright napalms. 

at final touch, Pa lamps his way towards a small stream to rid them off his lush beards. 
the coarseness of it, vulgar than neon. 

the next hour speaks us into a distant town, 
as dusk came, repatching every leakage of light. 
such thoughtful blindness fat-fingering nocturne on our shadows. 

memories haunt the glassless frame. 
I peer at it long enough to sculpt Pa towelling the piled bricks. 
each whack, a violence rummaging where beauty would later touch. 
the not enough-ness of dust, surrounding us like cruel jinns. 
we sort our residence from the blind alley— ankle-red and intimate with cramp, 
as neon sky leaks raw portions of light. 

Pa deadens the last bit of civilization from his walkie-talkie, 
& twiced his walk steps. 
the motioned calm, swaying the grasses. 

a decorum next to slavery—  
It demands your negro hands. 



Nnadi Samuel (he/him/his) holds a BA in English & literature from the University of Benin. His works have been previously published or are forthcoming in The Suburban Review, The Seventh Wave, Native Skin, North Dakota Quarterly, Quarterly West, FIYAH, Fantasy Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, The Capilano Review, Contemporary Verse 2, Gutter Magazine, carte blanche, Agbowó, The Blue Route, Gordon Square Review, Rough Cut Press, trampset, beestung, Elephant Magazine, and elsewhere. He is the winner of the Miracle Monocle‘s Award for Ambitious Student Writers, the Lakefly Poetry Contest in 2021, the International Human Right Arts Festival Award in 2021, the Open Drawer Poetry Contest in 2020, and he received an honorable mention for the 2021 Betty L. Yu and Jin C. Yu Creative Writing Prize (College Category). He is the author of Reopening of Wounds and Subject Lessons (forthcoming). He reads for U-Rights Magazine. He tweets @Samuelsamba10.