Poetry Break


by Chiagoziem Jideofor

from Poetry (February 2023)
when asked to describe myself
i start with the most auspicious things,
the ones the eyes see and label successful.
first i say i am Black. then Female.
before who’s asking?

the Queer only comes later. after knowing intent
and registering the different routes of escape.

the first rule to self-preservation is to do what is preordained.

to pick only what comes easily, remains
solvable on toes. an integral knowledge of hunting meat of the right texture
or poaching what grade of flesh sells.

to explain this theory of flight more, i start with installing lights in a bedroom.
simple as the owner always gets a say.
crucial in how shielding

—how fitted to custom.

the reflected beams agree.
with the shame of personal sins. with the sheen of my skin.
the agreement to leave no imprints once outside the door.

sometimes i describe my sadness.
a reversed picture of face and musty hands. how it only wants shoes that fit poorly.
parades for back ache and absent fathers. wears clothes that swallow.
that flaunt drowning confidence.

then, there is my madness. the strange attachment to chaos. my burnt part and what is set to work.
the infusion of genuine concern in every good morning, every sorry, every please.
total goodness that hasn’t saved me


sometimes i talk about the violence. lengthy and hurt-shaped like love
unrequited. the dream of a country or what nuance is to a struggling child.
feeble muscles and foils rooted within.
in me—                      is me. tragic container.

the fault to self-preservation lies in being born at all.

One thought on ““Self-Preservation”

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