The 2020 Award for New Poets, 3rd Place Winner: The Body Walks Through Grief Towards God by Nome Emeka Patrick

We’re all very excited to share with you the winners of the 2020 Award for New Poets, selected by the stellar emerging poets Jake Skeets, Camonghne Felix, and Paige Lewis. Today, we have “The Body Walks Through Grief Towards God” by Nome Emeka Patrick. Stay tuned for our second place poem by Samantha Samakande next Wednesday, and our winner Taylor Byas’s poetry on the January 20th. Thank you to everyone who submitted this year!

The Body Walks Through Grief Towards God

In a dark room/ where the skirl of an angel’s hosanna/ heaved
inside the walls like the shadows of a myth/ I pulled out my heart/

& searched for the knoll of grief/ the paralytic mound of an ache/
that widens into a dark nill/ I’ve been trudging the trails of my life/

On my voyage/ magpies praising the bedlam of my body/ & every
other night/ I set my bed ablaze to keep my family warm/ the lie

is that: no one hurts/ the truth is: even the sky mourns a loss/ the
boon is: I am a dove nestled behind God’s hands/ holy percussion/

o/ what is grief if not the mortician that travels through the body?/
Sometimes/ I am a dent closer to happiness/ wolf licking the moon

off a dark/ Truly I say unto you/ life whets everything but why
are our bones this responsive to loss?/ I am sorting out the apples

from the appendage/ I am cutting my Aprils off the Appendix/
that’s it/ that is the closest my fingers ever came close to purpose/

To be honest/ there’s sometimes a silence where the sheep/ seeks
a shepherd/ sometimes wail coats its body where there should be

wool/ & the fact remains: guillotine would often be an omen/ & the
arrow lurched into distance/ would sometimes split the wrong ribs/

*I sabi say even awa eden fit be sabotage/ & awa hands no go fit/ be
paddle enough for all the katakata wey the world don heap ontop

awa bodi/ But no one should climb this high to healing/ & watch it
slip away/ Brethren/ the closest my eyes came to God was in the blur/

*Nigerian pidgin




Nome Emeka Patrick

Nome Emeka Patrick is a Nigerian poet. His work has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Narrative Magazine, Granta, AGNI, TriQuarterly, West Branch, Waxwing, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poet Lore, Beloit Poetry Journal, Black Warrior Review, A Long House, and elsewhere. A Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and Pushcart prize nominee, he emerged third place in the Frontier Poetry Award for New Poets, 2020. His manuscript We Need New Moses. Or New Luther King was a finalist for the 2019 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. He writes from Providence, RI where he is currently an MFA candidate in Poetry at Brown University.

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