The Painting

Chika Onyenezi


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All these for my lover:
A rocket science
A map of Jupiter
And a lantern —
Burning from the lips

I love you and you know it 

A man soaring with time
On his waist
Swirling, dancing
Dangling from sky to sky
Jerking off
Thousands of feet above
Playing a dangerous game called: who cares?
And smoking thick clouds —
With rusted lungs

I know you’ve heard this story before 

It’s a painting
I bought for you
Which you never saw
Nor cared to see.
I will tell you what it is:
Yellow birds
Yellow cage
A black earth
A turning wind.
I wish you saw them.
I wish I gave them to you.


Chika Onyenezi

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

Chika Onyenezi is a Nigerian-born fiction writer. A recipient of the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award. He finished as a semi-finalist in the inaugural Jesmyn Ward Prize, and a finalist in the 2021 Tupelo Quarterly Prose Open Prize. His short story “Twenty Thousand Cedis” won the 4th Annual Scoundrel Time Editors’ Choice Award in Fiction. He is a semi-finalist in the Boston Review 2020 Aura Estrada Short Story Contest. Also, a 2018 Kimbilio Fellow, and a 2019 writer-in-residence at Craigarden. His short stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in TriQuarterly, Image Journal, Prairie Schooner, J Journal: New Writing on Justice, Chicago Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, Evergreen Review, and elsewhere. In addition to writing short stories, he has three novels in progress.


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