Three Poems by Stanley Princewill McDaniels

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Requisite for a Seething Malady

Again you ask: how do you define
             suffering? What is sorrow―what is sorrow without
the water, the sky, an airplane―something, anything―
crumbling, breaking, crashing; what is sorrow without pieces?
& if all we have are pieces,
                             shards of memory, memories we cannot
reclaim? Or just simply―as it may
seem―pieces of broken ceramic, or our bodies made of
ceramic so hard we think cannot be broken, cold & without
the warmth I was once told I possessed―isn’t that
       suffering? What if this is my last poem―
isn’t that
        death? At that point, what would I be? Not ashes,
not decomposition, not cold food when all the while dead
leaves fly in the wind because they are dead leaves & nothing
more, which is having to be weightless, at which point
everything is mistaken for freedom―but by then, as with
all the other times before, who would care? What would my suffering
matter then?

Winter dog

Having to spend its life―its entire life, I mean,
before now―in
                           perfect silence; having to witness how,
finally, peace becomes more & more
                                           distinguishable
from what we know of silence as
silence when refined & thought out like a plan; how
              silence carries a burden, & the burden feels like a bag, a heavy
bag laden in the chest of the kind of wild the animal in you should
never have been―now that you think of it―after which
              what next? What hope then for
redemption? How did you get here, having been all what they
wanted you to be; having been
              all what you could be, & being nothing else,
for no one else, not even
                for yourself―all for them, &
you do not know now how to remember whatever is left
to remember of whatever is left of you―what then now
that you’re mostly
                                chaff?

Dead Sea

It turns out mother that my life has been
an avalanche. Not so much as
                sheer disaster, really, the kind
that involves earthquakes & hurricanes & tsunamis,
airplanes falling & buildings collapsing & God sending down
his best armies–-no, not that kind.
I have been practicing life―
not enough to live―
                            not enough to write―
              not enough to be…chaff or
mannequin, it’s hard to tell the difference, but
when haven’t you been either one of them? When haven’t
something left you, left you towards
                                                      freedom?
& you, sloughed snakeskin, how is it not rescue?
How is it not salvation? Isn’t that
                            what they gave you?
On the tombstone it shall be written, he came & discovered living
was no different from fighting―but
                            when haven’t you tried,
when haven’t you been
                         judged?

 

 

 

Stanley Princewill McDaniels is a Nigeria poet & correspondent at Praxis Magazine, whose works have appeared, or are forthcoming, on The SHORE poetry, African Writer, Lunaris Review, Bakwa Review, Tuck Magazine, and amongst others.

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