Be inspired by Caleb Femi

In the lead up to Issue VI’s submission deadline, our Editor is sharing six poems which she believes speak to the themes of courage and the symbolic serpent, as well as being linked to Li Ji’s heroism. In preparing your submission (whether it be poetry, prose, photography or art), feel free to be inspired by these pieces.

Patrilineal by Caleb Femi

my father lives with his head inside a blood orange

he, unassuming in frame, would tell me

of the fathers who came before me

how his father died     after he touched his father’s beard

this is one of two things I know of my forefathers

when he would beat me I would study him in action, belt

swinging like a skipping rope from his shoulder to my arm

or back or buttocks     belly     he would beat the part of

himself in me        beating some unhatched omen away

away       away & I performed 

sobbing to appease his urge to exorcise


my mother & siblings are Arsenal fans     it is only I

who choose Man Utd    my father’s club    I hoped that he

would see me the way a teammate sees another on the grass

at dinner it is always a winter night & we serve portions

of our faces      our brown eyes        prickly & gorgeous

we speak only of matches & the Word

once when there was not football        to survive

the silence        I told him I dreamt a prophet

& a began to prophesy every unescaped thing in his throat

things that made him afraid of him     & me for knowing &

speaking it all out into the world when I no longer knew

what to say     I coughed up a half-eaten eyeball & told him it

was just my hay fever     playing up again. 

Less than two weeks remain to submit to Issue VI: Li Ji (courage and the serpent).

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