“Self-Portrait as a God Who is Loved”

A Poem by Akwaeke Emezi

April 6, 2022  By Akwaeke Emezi

i no longer live alone
when the west sky bleeds gold
it spills on his jaw, under my hand
i am the most quiet masquerade
rope around my waist, silent raffia
shoulders dipped in chalk and fresh feathers
the first of all horrific things, the best
the river soaked in moonlight
the bloated body of a small child
a monster, a monster
sweating under a galloping drum
i am no longer alone
our compound’s ancestral dust
chokes the air, see the second,
my love with a ropebound hand
bloodtrails on his wrist, a red voice
the one i met before i met
the face from the other side
when the gong sounds, i turn
the world turns with me
the people fall to the ground


  Content Warning: Everything Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi’s debut poetry collectionContent Warning: Everything is forthcoming in 2022 through Copper Canyon Press.

Akwaeke Emezi
Akwaeke Emezi
Akwaeke Emezi (they/them) is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Death of Vivek Oji, which was a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the PEN/Jean Stein Award; Pet, a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, a Walter Honor Book and a Stonewall Honor Book; Freshwater, which was named a New York Times Notable Book and shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize; and most recently, Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir. Selected as a 5 Under 35 honoree by the National Book Foundation, they are based in liminal spaces.

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