32 portraits of a boy

Emmanuel Ojeikhodion

By Emmanuel Ojeikhodion

an armistice fails to reconcile the war-zones of
my body. there is a big war within that doesn’t die.

no one watches when I split like a burning house.
nobody listens to the grief rattling my bones. even

God sometimes goes into a deep slumber when I break.
the suburb of my tongue welcomes a war—breathing is

minimal & my throat sheds broken lances. I left the boy I
was for a cruel one. who knew coming as a boy means

faced with a task of quenching a wildfire in a room trapped
with an only sister. take me back to the mirth of days where

a boy is as tender as a primrose tended to from withering.
sometimes you wish for the gaze of the world to fixate on you.

a thousand screams lunge out of my mouth but the only thing
present amid the waning is the portrait of my shadow sprinkling

a stare back. a marsh of wounds shrouds the lawn of my
back morphing into bullet-holes. I wake to realise the teeth

of grief overtaking the border of my skin. I know of boys whose
bones break inside like twigs unable to hold the sea in their eyes.

soon, I’ll peer at these scars & a cathedral will launch forth. It’s
God’s way of quietening the chaos.


Emmanuel Ojeikhodion writes from Benin, Nigeria where he’s currently reading for a B.A (hons) in English and Literature. He typically writes about the dark. When he isn’t writing, he prefers listening to Blues & parading the street of Twitter reading stuff. He’s been published & forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Rigorous, The Augment Review, Capsule Stories, New Horizon Creatives, The Rising Phoenix Review, Pangolin Review, Ninshar Arts, African Writer & elsewhere. His micro-chap A Loss in September is forthcoming in Ghost City Press (Summer Series 2021).Say hello on Twitter @hermynuel & Instagram @itz_wordsworth.