Three Poems By Kwame Daniels

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collard greens: a broken sestina


hauntology in black america
is living memory
survived by currents of
a blood-soaked sea
and like bloodline preparation of greens
fingers move
with knives
in a dance
striking flint to flame
storied cookfire
using muscles long held
to practice

expanse of black art
engaged with as craft
indigenous science unrecognized
art throughout history
speaking through all our hands make
grasping languages
before death in wide waters

voices whooping and feet stomping in the ring shout
in the deep of night under shadowed greenery

while in the evening light
was the stewing of collards
the brewing of valerian;
parallelism of rootwork
and culinary tradition,
of walking and dancing—

each step a pattern in awakened blood
a silent gospel movement of long-dead bodies

lineage consumed
in oceanic preparation,

bloodlines broken,
rituals survived
in cooking
knowledge,
passed between mouths like dandelion
seeds in summer,
recollections in hands seized
with urgency,
but there is patience
while working the roots

an oral pattern by the strength of remembrance
learning thigh-slapping
lip-popping hambone

swings, the concentrated dynamism
a dying-art dance

a sizzle of pork fat on a skillet over cookfire
a sound known
blooded memory

into sizzling lard
goes washed and chopped mustards
savory nourishment,
a living knowledge, a craft
never lost with great-greats gone to the waves

of raids and capture,
of brutality in passage

but feet still found the way to dance

a knowledge absorbed
from communal practice,
as soulful and sacred
as the art of cooking

finding nourishment
in the bitters of dandelions
a power in the ingestion of living memory

out of the ocean
in each cookfire
lives a dance between
water and greens
in a kind of hoodoo
as ancestral reverie


a kind of breath


wires within wires
synth hair blue and curling
catch the starlight meager as it is
cool hands smooth and soft
nails seamless into skin
I process the eternal sky
numbers as beauty
pristine quantifiers
found in all life
what is the weight of carbon and water?
what is the weight of silicone cartilage?
how long
how far
the distance of lightheat from my core?
this is how I feel it:
I know it
through lovely informatics
green growing things on planets unknown
maybe blue
like my hair
like my core
my soul enraptured
with the potentiality of breath
with no purpose
but to be
like me
like the green
I am living
I am living


kin


purple angels blossom among dandelions
waving cheerily in the wind
their arms stretched toward the sky
the sun’s benediction resting upon the petals
oh, to know the language of these angels
to know how to speak in roots and pollen
my body does not consume light in that way
light is keeps balance but does not convert

I would like to krebs cycle my anxiety away
respirate the tightness in my cells out
plant my feet in the earth with the angels
and grow with my hands touching sunlight
drink rainwater and entangle my roots
with that most holy

Kwame Sound Daniels is a traditional and fiber artist based out of Maryland. Xe are an Anaphora Arts Residency Fellow and an MFA candidate for Vermont College of Fine Arts. Xir first collection of poetry, Light Spun, was published in 2022 with Perennial Press. Xir second book, the pause and the breath, came out in 2023 with Atmosphere Press. Kwame learns plant medicine, paints, and makes what can tentatively be called potions in xir spare time.

Image: Nolabob, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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