Self Portrait As a Printing Press

Galatians 6:11


see what inkjet I make of my deft paws,

concealing a switchblade—cupid hung,

to serve as restraint when I word overboard with love.

my long breath, drawing the heat for print.


the jammed teeth of wastepaper.


I fill the cartridge that is my guts,

sum all saliva to one thick blot spilt with good stink,

doubling as a period.


thirst brings the fashion to my lip,

thrills me through the rainy font

& lost sizes of glyph molten, as I vent things I learnt by heart, rote

& impulse because everything needs a crimson reminder.


like me, alarming myself in red when I spell incorrect,

or punctuate my wrong thoughts.


I’m an actual clown when you let me,

humoured beyond what I can contain.


answerable to all I crack up,

without fisting the pothole new beside sandpapered hands

polishing the manuscript of mud,

as if a cement for test-run.


the margin weighs more, now.

I untuck my hand,

brand my spine—a brochure of lean possibility

groomed to measure up to your frail love.


the ovation boots the arteries of this poem

& I consider opting out of this blood task,

if all it takes to write you is mold my lever arms

& feed off the mechanical benefits for the time pressure stays.



Nnadi Samuel

Nnadi Samuel (he/him/his) holds a B.A in English & literature from the University of Benin. His works have been previously published/forthcoming in Suburban Review, Seventh Wave Magazine, NativeSkin lit Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly, Quarterly West, FIYAH, Fantasy Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, The Capilano Review, Contemporary Verse 2, Gutter Magazine, Carte Blanche, Dgëku, Agbówo, Gordon Square Review, Trampset, Beestung Magazine, The Elephant Magazine, & elsewhere. Winner of the Miracle Monocle Award for Ambitious Student Writers 2021 (University of Louisville), Penrose Poetry Prize 2021, Lakefly Poetry Contest 2021 (Wisconsin), the International Human Right Arts Festival Award 2021, and Canadian Open Drawer contest 2020. He got 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” & “Subject Lessons” (forthcoming). He reads for U-Right Magazine. He tweets @Samuelsamba10.

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