#THROWBACK- “THE NEW RELIGION” BY CHRIS ABANI

The body is a nation I have not known.
The pure joy of air: the moment between leaping
from a cliff into the wall of blue below. Like that.
Or to feel the rub of tired lungs against skin covered bone,
like a hand against the rough of bark. Like that.
“The body is a savage,” I said. For years I said that: the body is a savage.
As if this safety of the mind were virtue not cowardice.
For years I have snubbed the dark rub of it,
said, “I am better, Lord,I am better,”
but sometimes, in an unguarded moment of sun,
I remember the cow dung-‐scent of my childhood skin
thick with dirt and sweat and the screaming grass.
But this distance I keep is not divine,
for what was Christ if not God’s desire to smell his own armpit?
And when I see him, I know he will smile,
fingers glued to his nose, and say,
“Next time I will send you down as a dog
to taste this pure hunger

Poet, novelist, jazz musician, university professor with studies in Nigeria, Great Britain and the United States.He was born to an English mother and an Ibo-Nigerian father, in the middle of the war in 1966, Afikpo, and began writing very early. His first novel Master of the board, in which he, at age 16, placed the Fourth Reich in Nigeria, had dire consequences for the young writer. Two years after its publication, he was sentenced to three years in prison for the revolutionary nature of his texts. Between the bars he suffered torture and complete isolation for periods, until he was released in 1991. Poetic work: Kalakuta Republic, 2001; Daphne’s Lot, 2003; Dog Woman, 2004; Hands Washing Water, 2006; There Are No Names for Red, 2010; Feed Me The Sun, 2010; Sanctificum, 2010. Narrative work: Masters of the Board, 1985; Grace Land, 2004; Becoming Abigail, 2006; Song for Night, 2007; The Virgin of Flames, 2007. He has received, among others,
The United States Pen Club Award for Freedom to Write, the Prince Claus Award, the California Book Award and the Guggenheim Prize.

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