• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 03

Taxonomy of Identity

I. Kingdom

I am a cadet of earned identities,
to say I am never myself for myself
but a pseudonym for the riddles
of belonging I lodge in the casket
of my leathered flesh. What we all
wear is an apparel of privilege and I,
careless seamstress, weave broken
pastiche into the fabric of my soul.
Everything has a face, but behind
every weft is a loose fray.

II. Phylum

The flag flung its wings like a ready
predator, its sharp fangs teething at
us with a solemn sneer. Countries
paying royalties to the slavery of
independence. We term what will
cage and not kill us freedom. That’s
the only way we can adulterate this
war song that it may taste like an
anthem of conquered peace. The truth
is this, the battle still lingers in our
throats like a racing bullet.

III. Class

Around a burnt steak, hunters herd,
hands clasped in the hinges of another.


Taxonomy of Identity

We learn to hold the ghost of ourselves
and hear them speak the dialect of quietude.
Silence, so heavy, its gravity falls on
the weight of our deaf eyes. We listen
with raptness, the melody of a song
that dyes its solfa with the satin paint
of Beethovenian sonatas.

IV. Order

Tribes congregate in front of the firing
squad, our borders confluence in the
terrain of death. I walk into the pity of
a similar mourning Hausa girl and we
share a common death.

V. Family

Hierarchy is in the numbers
and here we do not count ghosts.
Bodies illuminated by absence. I
was told you arrived in seraph’s
wings, Son of Zion. Do you pity
me ? Is your sympathy a testament
of the body I carry. I mean, do you
die for generic humans like me, unsure
of their mortality. Lord, I am not
cherubic, I think myself an offspring
of a god. I think myself a god.

VI. Genus

The world is a room stacked with
imprisoning rights. We girdle the fetters
of our language around our tongues
and our utterances suddenly become
opinions. At the Fifth National Congress,
a woman stood like a dagger above
masculine seats, and they plunge her
blade into the scabbard of her silverware.
Say our bodies undo us when it pleases.

VII. Species

I am the last of my generation
at the end of everything seeking oblivion.