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Love Bleeding Through: Poetry by Chijioke Umunnakwe


Love Bleeding Through

you were projecting:
the trees had your restless hands
titian-colored sky-drapes
wearing idle mask of your face

and i wanted you to haunt me
for all time

i asked-
is everyone around us really alive
or just in line
each waiting their turn to die?

that night i put nitrile gloves over my head
painted red gaping holes over the spots
where my eyes and mouth where hid
jagged ovals for my nostrils
and black strips for my tiny ears

night before

you had attached your cut off arms
to my gaping sockets

painted my skin kaolin

showed me how to make shapes
with my chimeric hands
shapes that could
hold things of innumerable sizes

showed me how to cup my hybrid palms
into a deep calabash

strangers formed lines stretching far into the mist
each waiting their turn to select some timeless item
from my hand-urn

a girl on a father’s shoulder picks an ear-to-ear-grin
puts it on
her mother’s face

and you had to run away briefly
to smile in solitude

but that was not enough for me

you knew i was only interested in destroying things – memories mostly
and ghosts
(we cannot afford to forget the lovely ghosts)

so you took your shirt off
showed me where
someone had stitched an upsidedown tree onto your back
how the roots exploded into birds – burst of downy

flapping of feathers on your shoulders
when you kissed me

and you let me click each of your shattered wings back in place
lick the jagged spots that had turned yellow and raw

and even though we were shy
and the boats had already been tilted
and shot full of holes,
even though there was water pouring in
such that there was no hope of steadying

we still spent the night bent over
clad in loincloths and fingernails painted red
dripping in laughter
scooping out bucket upon bucket
and smiling through pain

Poem (c) Chijioke Umunnakwe


Chijioke Umunnakwe
Chijioke Umunnakwe
Chijioke Umunnakwe is a Bioinformatics Graduate Student at Iowa State University. He is originally from Imo State, Nigeria. He covertly writes poems in the lab when no one is looking.


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