Billions of stars. So many years ago, at Barbara’s birthday party in the West Village, we painted pottery and drank champagne, laughing and spilling, so silly and trite we mocked each other, but it was fun.
This month, we offer nuance: rubies, beets, the book of the sun, no missed calls, a stain-less steel tree.
“Nuance I’d say means redefining the smallest of details, parts that elude our daily scrutiny of this world. It means spotting a gash from the seemingly obscure, making out a white stain from the blinding dark. Nuance tilts towards shapeshift. The slight difference between our lifestyles & all other entities.”
We are honored to be in conversation with Nnadi Samuel. You can read our full interview here.
If you would like to support our work, we would be grateful and humbled. You can do so here.
Next month’s theme is:
To allow (something) to move, act, or flow freely.
Submission guidelines can be found here.
in Conversation with Nnadi Samuel
“Hope to me is our stubborn crime. A borrowed morpheme. It is what’s held unlawfully in our mental grasp, till we own the physical form of it. It is all our choiceless thirst ram back to fend from. Hope is guts, by which I mean defying all odds to pitch those eager poems to the editor—aiming for acceptance or not. Hope is affirmative in every sense of that word.”
First, in my own kitchen, it was beets – roasted, warm, and hearty, but the effect is mesmerizing rubies and gold.
The Book of the Sun
the prompting is to give up your voice.
the weight of years imploding into the flight
of seconds. here, your teeth cower back
into your face & nothing greens except this
mushroom grief. but there is a subtleness
to grief— call it the language of eclipses.
i do not know how to make you forget, but beloved,
forgive yourself. for once, agree you matter
to this place. the road is also a blank page
torn from the book of the sun. & you will fill
this page to reach your home. forgive me—
i do not know how to say choose joy, but i can
show you in the space beyond walls a garden
of magnolia. good books & songs: seas
of infinite light where shadows lose their tongue.
staying is possible with courage. freedom is
the choice of wings. & no matter the number
of times you wear this numbness, stir & steer
again, until you master the wind.
Ayokunle Samuel Betiku writes from the city of Ondo, South West Nigeria. He is a Young Writers and Creatives’ Award Fellow. His works have appeared in journals and anthologies, including Kalahari Review, African Writer, Ngiga Review, Praxis, Libretto, Kreative Diadem, Lunaris Review, Pandemic Publications & elsewhere.
A bare expanse of paving at the Arboretum of Los Angeles County embedded with a drift of steel butterflies and flowers. A year later, these were prized up and taken, leaving only their imprints in the concrete.
no missed calls
“No Missed Calls” was selected as a finalist for Lumiere Review’s poetry contest.
Gillian Moore is a poet, musician, and amateur green-thumb from Rochester, NY, who can give you [fairly] accurate directions to a good diner in at least five states and recommend worthwhile detours in [most of] the rest of them. She is currently attending school in New York and anytime she’s not trying to beat a deadline for an essay, she would be happy to pull weeds for you.
Giant hunks of pink glass, backlit. I almost want to taste it.
since each pothole skews tidy as an approximant,
every vehicle rounds up to the nearest home number.
the street’s partitioning; only a somersault from my own address.
the billboard fits slyly for a dormant fence.
ads, like the bleached Kevin Hart erupting laughter that quakes this land,
to meet us at odd ends: half city/ half slum.
you’d tour for want of evidence to meet twin hairpin-turn across an abrupt bend.
one breached by gruesome touts imposing leg tariffs.
meaning, we devise a cripple’s means of transportation.
uptown has this wheelchair formula too for shortcuts.
It’s proven: time solves everything,
so the rougher breeds picked their jargon of life’s question & left slum
for all it’s algorithm & vein record we tagged as blood arithmetic, undoing generations.
for years, we weaved our grief.
my little hairline adding much complex to a theorem
like a risk of new maths, scaring art students from their seats.
the dread: a college trope, collating boarders like vectors, tailing a linear map
to have us at known borders— poaching & stalking numerals.
& stitching integers to our negative spots.
& inverting more question marks
& founding swift semi-colons;
swinged how they pendulum our acts— splicing a burnt phrase:
my deed of little verbs ragged across the
binary streets gulping acres of asphalt, arranged in roadkill aesthete.
we sample our rough patches too well, but who’s to bring our hurt to the nearest halt?
how come our griefs are still work-in-progress
Nnadi Samuel (he/him/his) holds a B.A. in English & literature from the University of Benin. His works have been previously published in Suburban Review, Seventh Wave Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly, Quarterly West, Blood Orange Review, Uncanny Magazine, PORT Magazine, The Cordite Poetry Review, Gordon Square Review, Trampset, Beestung Magazine, Rigorous Magazine, Blue Nib journal, Kaleidoscope Magazine, Stonecrop Review, The Elephant Magazine, Birmingham Arts Journal, Lunaris Review, Inverse Journal, Canyon Voices, Journal Nine, Liquid Imagination, Silver Blade Journal, Star*Line Science Fiction & Poetry, Zoetic Press, Subterranean blue poetry, The Quills, Eunoia Review & elsewhere. Winner of the Miracle Monocle Award for Ambitious Student Writers 2021, and Canadian Open Drawer contest 2020. He won the Splendor of Dawn Poetry Contest April 2020, won the Bkpw Poetry Workshop Contest 2021, got shortlisted in the annual Poet’s Choice award & was the second-prize winner of the EOPP 2019 contest. A finalist of the Lumiere Contest 2021, Quarterly West’s Inaugural Contest 2020, NSPP 2020 prize, Hollins University Literary Festival Awards, Zocalo Poetry Competition 2021 & Pushcart Nominee. He is the author of “Reopening of Wounds” & “Subject Lessons” (forthcoming). He reads for U-Right Magazine. He tweets @Samuelsamba10.
Meditation on the permanence of our fabrications. A stainless steel tree. Detail of “Split” by Roxy Paine, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle.
“I’ve been making photographs for more than 20 years. I have shot commissioned portraits, events, episodic video stills, interior design, architecture, and botanical rarities for scientific texts. This in addition to my own personal everyday wonder at the glory and misery that is our existence. I am compelled to photograph what catches my eye and my attention. Design, history, and intent inform my pictures to capture an instant of eloquence in balance, form, depth, and color. To look and to see.”