by Michael Akuchie

t”I am here but I am not much of anything at all”
 —Camille Rankine

What’s left of this skin is a moment
of fleeting beauty, of a loneliness
woven into distinct kingdoms of breath.
I share room with a sea of nightmares
that manifests in lapping waves.
I possess two languages but cannot thread
a word past thickets of growing uncertainty.
All I’m blessed with is a name
unable to articulate its own history.
Sometimes I think of an immeasurable stretch
of villages from which I excavated this journey.
How do I dissolve into a voice that weeps Igbo?
I am afraid to starve myself
for the raw energy of my father’s language.
To stand afar from the land of one’s birth
is a wound that is not dressed with sympathy. 


Michael Akuchie is an Igbo-Esan born emerging poet currently studying English and Literature at the University of Benin, Nigeria. An Orison Anthology nominee, his poems have previously appeared on Collective Unrest, The Mantle, Willawaw, Impossible Task, Anomaly, TERSE, and elsewhere. He is on Twitter as @Michael_Akuchie. He is the author of the micro-chap “Calling out Grief” recently published by Ghost City Press.


Hemorrhage won the 2020 Roadrunner Poetry Prize. Guest judge Sara Borjas said, “This poem took the immense risk to acknowledge the limit of sympathy towards a self that is not responsible for its own erasure. The poem knows what the speaker cannot ever know fully, and that’s what beautiful poems grant us—a tiny liberation that we might never be afforded in our lived lives. In this way, it’s both emotionally constrained and as spiritually broad as humanity can get before breaking.”

Image: Man’s Tunic/Robe, possibly 1750-1799. Niger or Nigeria, Hausa or Nupe peoples, possibly mid to late 1800s. Cotton, silk; overall: 120 x 226 cm (47 1/4 x 89 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Alma Kroeger Fund 2013.6.

The Roadrunner Review nominated “Hemorrhage” for the 2020 Best of the Net and for a 2021 Pushcart Prize.