Self-portrait as Black Martyr
—for George Floyd & the others.
The chubby dark layers of your face
are histories sunk too deep
and drooping. You much too gross for
You a fetus resisting abortion. You a
from gunshot. You Lamar Smith, the
too bright noon his
body dropped dead on a courthouse lawn.
Or the eyes that saw & saw nothing.
History is what fats you up.
Go to the mirror,
see yourself for yourself. You who is
& plumpfaced & beautiful too. Alabama
River holds your belly-folds.
Your calories empty into fluid space. Or
drown on arrival,
like Willie Edwards Jr forced to jump those
Let us accept that martyrdom is only a
kind word for casualty.
In which case your stretch marks open
backwards into a gun’s mouth &
the hangman's noose & Martin Luther King &
ain’t that a nigger lying over there?
Still, you hold a record for making gods.
Even in recent history,
o glorious plumpface, the men who kill you
do so with their knees bowed to the
The line "Too gross for corsage" was taken from a poem by Kemi Alabi.
Chiwenite Onyekwelu: “I am a Nigerian poet and essayist. My poetry has appeared on America Media, Rough Cut, Isele, and elsewhere. I was a finalist for the 2021 New York Encounter Poetry Contest, winner of Jack Grapes Poetry Prize 2020, as well as runner up for the Foley Poetry Prize 2020. I serve as Associate Editor at the School of Pharmacy Agulu, where I'm an undergraduate.”