Joe McDaniel

On Holding My Sister in A Department Store Aisle

a sun
a wound
a melon.
Yellow is you
when I scoop joy in my palm
and offer light, glow.
Yellow is me,
when you say my name,
come, see about me.
Yellow is us
enfolded in each other.
Squeezing tight
bursting illumination
bright energy.
…and the whole world rotates around us, still.
Cuz, ain’t that sistahood?
Ain’t that Black girls?
Ain’t that us, always?

sanctuary for kinfolk

making sanctuary for kinfolk
calls the ancestors to dance,
knowing there is permission for praise, for pain.
making sanctuary for kinfolk
is smudge smoke and sage,
burning trauma and forgiveness
an altar of exhales and full bellies.
to hold home for kindred lovers
massage intimate memories with laughter,
weep and sway to the tremble of spirits’ feet
beating the ground in circles ’round here.
all who dare, pray to the ones we lost,
gripping the ones we have.
making sanctuary for kinfolk
seeps worship through bones,
unity in God as marrow.
no need for language
grace eases across the air
breathe that kin in.
hold them, release yourself
this is how blood flows.
where chosen and gifted run for reprieve
to catch ghosts and breaths
safety to shrink and expand,
with visibility, always.
gripping waists, palms
elevated. anchored.
tea as scripture
spoonfed warmth ‘gainst culture shock and frostbite
making sanctuary for kinfolk
thaws a universe within.
moves ecosystems and galaxies
to conjure fresh goodness
explosions of energy
freedom, finally
make sanctuary for yo’ kinfolk.
draw all yo’ deities home.

Out of the Mouth a Mountain

A maverick at critiquing crack to gap
til it all splits and caves in canyon
now he is on the other side
looking down, proud of his mark
feeling made of his own mouth
i look up, and hear echoes
of disappointments flow
let them spray my face
taste the saltiness of his bruises
brought by his momma dem
he like it when I look like he feel.
when his lightening claps
back to rolls of thunder
bowled against his ribs by first loves
but today ain’t about mountain men
or the momma’s that excavate them
it’s about how i learned to love
the cool of the valley
grab the horns of wildebeest
and ride stampedes
how in the shade of his hand to hip
I found the sun
and God if I didn’t swallow it down,
get on all fours and drink the sweat
of his brown-eyed broken
let it all simmer into glow
from under my shadow parts,
two-finger kiss rich redemption
now, I am too tall to look up
a ripe mountain in my own
and God, if it doesn’t take a matriarch
to stand in the gap
to raise the crevice river
soak drought in promised land
to make lush the absent ashiness
of his momma dem devastation
to swallow the sun
and give it back tenfold
to show a molehill his reflection
and say, “rise, and face your sun.”


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