At Elmina Castle, I Bleed & Other Poems

Sarpong Osei Asamoah

At Elmina Castle, I Bleed

I climb like sea salt
Up bedrock bigger than the moon, I swear.
My feet clomping upon the sacred grey.
I want them to hear my coming, my dead.
I lift my head and concrete is not discreet.
I am a boy in front of his titan
in his own father’s house.

Ferrous manacles clank
Like hyena chuckles, if hyenas were rotten bells.
I weep as I begin to understand
the salvation in exiting these unlit days
into the lie light at the tunnel’s end,
into the bad beginning of the Atlantic.
I touch the walls to feel their skin,
This is not a church, but it is close.

There’s something about the static
Of this dark well and the sound of our blood.
How name lost its meaning
and not its music.
This place has a name, my fathers have none,
Except the symbols on the dead wall.
I put my index finger in the trenches of their symbols
and beg for translation,

I press till I lose feeling in my finger,
Blood, my only remittance.
They call to me,
Say Bleed with us.
On the shore, I hold out my finger
And let my blood fall onto God’s tongue.

sailing into dust

The shadows crowd on the shore,
pressing their lips against the bosom of the sea.
— Kwesi Brew

we’re all dust in a dust
country. how much dirt

makes a country a home?
my mother says not this

much. her Obuasi Adinkra
heirlooms are an exit strategy

to not needing to shapeshift
from staying to running

into a postcolonial sky
to find nothing but

disappeared markings, a
vanishing shape on a map

on the back of my exercise books.
every day a border shapeshifts

somewhere. some line crossed,
ink becomes towers

towers become blame
blame becomes profit

profit becomes God
God becomes dust,

or sails flying
for the gold coast.

I wanted to write of wonder

but, here’s something about a Gold Coast ghost
I’d have swallowed the bird swelled air to be.
Manliness cures the sudden sweetness of blood.
I, six, witness, as my father lays a red fire
into the bright screen of my mother’s eyes;
This is how she tells it.
When I, six, ask her about her tears?
I’m putting out his flames, she says,
Euphrates fall into the valley of her breasts.
My mother’s eye, a red apple,
Fruit of the knowledge of [his] evil,
devoured by every Adam of Eden.
Her sudden blood, naked, rattled,
Sugary-edible to every son of Adam.
When my father’s arson ended,
We put him in our eyes, and set him on fire.

Sarpong Osei Asamoah is a Ghanaian Postcolonial Pundit. His work has appeared and is forthcoming in The Hellebore Press, Icefloe Press, Write Ghana, Gumbo Press, Lunaris Review, Writers Space Africa, and elsewhere. He is a founding member of the Contemporary Ghanaian Writers Series.


*Image by Ted

Sign up for our newsletter

Sign up to get our latest stories, poems and essays!