The Fourth River

A journal of nature and place-based writing, published by Chatham University's MFA in Creative Writing Programs


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Tributaries, The New Nature: “Death Means Beautyful”

By on February 21, 2018

By Akpa Arinzechukwu


Patched pavements — broken lamps and shards of bottles that once knew comfort
In the hands of heavy drinkers —
All the things that string life together spiral away — you weren’t a spectator
You were once there yourself — Kalakuta Republic — you listened to Fela giving life
To his sax —

You once smoked your life gently at Freedom Park &
Blew out ashes of it in the restrooms of the pubs you frequented —
Where your hands scavenged your pleasure pot & the voice kept saying

SAFE the way a dying man would     that was the closest thing you could do for sex —
Not because you ran out of songs       not naïveté       not the words strung like cancer in your
Oesophagus     which is to say you knew when to lie to a boy           when to fake love
And pretended you liked the smell oozing from their second hand clothes on second hand skins    skins that were stung                   hit by hurricanes of lust — which is to say you could
Make love to the sky and burn the wind —

They said a man that swam in oceans of beers knew not what cloth the world wore at night
When he was immersed in lust — in this state, be careful, they said.

In the days before you stopped living             I made a movie about you
In the first scene          you were making out with a guy who knew not your first name
In the second               a familiar face liked the smell of your skin that he jerked you
All night to brand his name on yours             the third started with an action

The man who feigned love     only to deliver you up to the bouncers           claiming he was
Groped by you                                    the montages showed you once stood on this land
This land that is now desolate with seven headed beasts and disasters

If you looked              you’d see through your burnt soul that wherever you are
Smells better than here           the inhabitants of this land carry prayer beads when
They should be living             vivis et ragnas in secula seculorum     I always
Thought the world belonged to us before the sentence was gifted to me —



Akpa Arinzechukwu is a Nigerian photographer and writer. His work has appeared in Litro, Sou’wester, New Contrast, Packingtown Review, The Flash Fiction Press, ITCH, Brittle paper, Kalahari Review, Poetry Pacific, Eastlit, and elsewhere. He is a finalist for the 2017 Inaugural Sophiamay Poetry Online Contest and longlisted for Koffi Addo Prize for Creative Nonfiction.

Tributaries, The New Nature: “From this Sharp Place”

By on February 14, 2018

Selected by Ira Sukrungruang   By Alani Hicks-Bartlett   Despite our vantage point / from this sharp place, / there is such an expansive and gaping silence / to the left, / where the low, smooth valley / boasts the

Tributaries: “Emperor”

By on February 7, 2018

image by Christopher Michel   By Justin Herrmann   Pipes Froze. The bathroom at the ice runway near McMurdo was covered with inches of black water. Samantha suggested we clean in our bunny boots to keep our feet dry. In

Tributaries, The New Nature: “After the Gayborhood is Gone”

By on January 31, 2018

Selected by Ira Sukrungruang By Barrie Jean Borich   When the lingerie and sex toy store with sharp-dressed mannequins moved in around the corner, Linnea and I had high hopes for the neighborhood. The second story storefront had a show

Tributaries, The New Nature: “Outlanders”

By on January 24, 2018

Selected by Ira Sukrungruang   By Dheepa Maturi   I remember a mangled mallard, a blotch of emerald, a blur of brown on the dirt road, and though I’d been told never to touch a bird because they carry diseases,