Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 1



Michael Akuchie


Atonement

God is low on mercy & each plea
produced is recycled into a scream.
For those whose names burden
the center of my tongue,
I swallow guilt to repair the wound.
I know how to excavate history
from the departure of lovers.
For each aggression, I propose a song
to keep emotion from migrating to a habit of terror.
Sometimes the universe trespasses
upon the landscape of my dreams
& I cannot manage the gloom it harvests.
How do I juxtapose prayer & an armor of faith?
How much of this body is trapped in divine hunger?




I, Too, Like Soul & Emotion

This world crams loneliness
into the tiny seeds of our hearts.
I could rebuke the smell of indoor air
by paddling my fears across a date’s uncertainties
but how do I begin to impress?
Having demanded fresh juices of strength
from the vineyard of your life,
I begin to manage this widening thirst
because there’s no ease without a finish.
Joy appears distant, each moment outweighs
the former’s agony, & I confess that sadness ages me.
Tell me, do I curate hope till it becomes a heirloom?
All the time I sleep & the skies pretend
not to eat up this cultivated lump of breath.
I do not own a body that dreams of God
but can that be rewritten into a great miracle?




Hollow

“Ay, I have a message from the Most High that says
‘This nigga kept his soul from the Devil’” —A$AP Rocky


No one sends flowers to those whose faith
lies trampled across acres of pasture
with mouths refusing to curl into a hymn.
In a moment where I desire rest, God draws close
but my heart is an unmade promise of devotion.
The holiest day is an even spread
of indifference to sinners.
Incense climbs the nostrils slowly
& still I extract discontent from the air.
What’s the shortest route to rebellion?
How does one request to bear a body
without the void it represents?
I recognize emptiness as an authority
on whose account I deposit the mould of my fears.




One Of Those Moments We Give Too Much To

“Warning: Black boys are in danger of becoming extinct” — trey anthony

A flower is placed atop the grave of a dead boy
whose parents bury him with a huddle of breaths.
Their utterance of sighs stocks the moment with
discontent in full bloom.
His death gathers the neighborhood, they pool
their strength to weep.
There is stillness in the air because the wind knows better
than to exhale now.
Silence claims territory & travels throughout
the life of this funeral.
This country is open season for black boys
& we watch them fall at the order of bullets.
Shots fired from men that shade
the light of mercy in their eyes.
We bless the names of our dead, offer dirges as gifts
& locate God with the scent of our deeds.
A mother lays her child to rest & that sight
is registered as an anomaly.
Someone jokes that we may never have men if we
keep feeding our boys into the earth’s bowel body-first.
Some smile because it is the lightest way to mourn.
The priest urges we celebrate ourselves & insists
death is paradise for black people.
He says that grief is enough to make us old.




Love Poem

“Feel me to do right” —May Swanson

Love, they say, is a honeycomb
that outlasts our appetite.
My hormones rage against the body’s hold
& lure me to plug into your ears with whispers.
My voice is a seed that I affix to the earth,
hoping it germinates into a tame song.
I mean to conjure up a moment wherein
we breathe with heads crowned by petals.
You murmur in ripples that lick up the silence
layered on the lawn of simple conversation.
Listen, I am tall with desire.
I offer a love that initiates a storm’s sequence
& think of my name as appropriate shelter.
I am a descendant of an urge to holiday in affection.



Michael Akuchie: "I am an Igbo-Esan born emerging poet currently studying English and Literature at the University of Benin, Nigeria. An Orison Anthology nominee, my poems have previously appeared on Collective Unrest, Impossible Task, Anomaly, TERSE and elsewhere. I am on Twitter as @Michael_Akuchie."




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