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25 April 2022

If you read this backwards blood becomes wine by Jordan Hamel

Wasafiri is proud to publish the shortlisted works of the 2021 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize. These poems, essays, and short stories detail a range of emotions and experiences, produced by skilled new writers from all over the globe. In this complex and moving poem, Jordan Hamel interrogates the body, religion, and depression. The 2022 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize is open until 30 June. You can enter the prize and read more about it here.
If you read this backwards blood becomes wine   The only difference between depression  and baptism is who gives the body,  trust me I’ve worn both, stiff like fixed form.   I need to keep some skin in the game,   I need to explain feeling nothing  but there’s no parable for absence,  just a dead language carving itself  into the architecture of eternity.   Rule one is only communal sorrow  can fertilise the garden, but I’m a recreant  botanist built from stolen parts, the loneliest   green thumb and ribs to spare. So I collect  small miseries for every sacrament,   I steal them off your plate when you’re   in the bathroom, I grow them inside me,   I play them classical music, I regurgitate   bread for nutritional purposes, I fish them out   with an old rod from the shed, I weigh them   for science, I take a picture for my miserable  trophy cabinet then sell them back to you!  When I’m ready to bear fruit  it will be less… transubstantiation   more…  Initial Public Offering   Can you really afford not to? I’m bullish  on all things confession and rule two is  never short the economy of sadness.  Rule three is take the seven moments   of your life that define you, let them fight   over the right to be forgotten, anoint  what remains and bury the rest.  I used to whisper last rites to myself  and pray I’d never wake up, I used to  pack my mouth with dirt to see what grew. 
Image of Jordan HamelJordan Hamel is a Pōneke-based writer, poet and performer. He was the 2018 NZ Poetry Slam champion and represented NZ at the World Poetry Slam Champs in the USA in 2019. He is the co-editor of Stasis Journal with Sinead Overbye and co-editor of a forthcoming NZ Climate Change Poetry Anthology from Auckland University Press. He is a 2021 Michael King Emerging Writer-in-Residence and has recent words in The Spinoff, Landfall, Newsroom, Re:, Poetry NZ Yearbook and elsewhere.  Photo by Jon Eric Marababol on Unsplash
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