"(telling)" by danilo machado

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June 4, 2021 

(telling)


danilo machado

Let’s thus shine these myths
to make apparent the spots
where arson is craved.
            —Ted Rees, Thanksgiving

origin myth: 
much before a further future elsewhere,
you met in a drawing class 

*

another legend is 
you were 
in labor 

almost twenty-four hours 
with me (who is 
indecisive) 

seven years later 
myth of a two-year visa 
tourist migration 

my grandmother’s house 
was waiting room, until we 
three joined my father 

              the door was always 
              open, overhead windows 
              cleared of everything

              but sun for hanging, 
              spilling leaves never yellowed
              here, the neighbor who 

              came for lunch every 
              afternoon is still alive, 
              so’s my grandmother 

              all her plants thriving 
              on soil always watered, 
              never fought over 

connecticut 
first winter 
hands in snow 

mythic 

legend was 
i didn’t even spend a year 
in esl 

              learned 
              the words 
              easy 

              drank 
              cold english 
              fast 

later, i’m living 
in the city, working to 
dissolve its myths on

trains and walks, where some
surroundings dull like nations
others shine, transform 

              look: our kitchen and 
              its table, legend has it 
              food is never cold 

              water boils quick 
              all our records flip themselves
              always enough chairs 

glasses always full 
with water or wine, 
just last night, photo 

              -graph of a hand 
              -written spell conjured layers 
              of potato, eggs, 

              sour cream for all 
              and, just this morning, our new
              one-eyed pup got scared 

bolted from the park 
crossed avenue traffic, still 
saw his way back home 

some myths are borders 
are administrations and 
for now return, too 

they just bought land in medellín 
soil to build new, for when 
(empty is myth—when is, too)

you stumbled into them 
mid video call one visit, 
blueprints on the table 

walking through the plot

*

Copyright © 2021 by danilo machado. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 4, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“These are some answers to the question of where I’m from, told in blurred exaggerations and in-between places and bodies. Here, little liberties with fact and form show the intimate and familial while exposing institutions as built from many stories untrue.”
danilo machado

danilo machado— a mustached brown person with round blue glasses and a denim shirt smiles in the sun. Behind them are trees, the city, two white clouds, and blue sky.
danilo machado is a poet, curator, and critic living on occupied land. A 2020-2021 Emerge-Surface-Be Fellow at the Poetry Project, danilo is the co-founder and co-curator of the reading series Maracuyá Peach, the chapbook/broadside fundraiser Already Felt: poems in revolt & bounty, and the performing artist residency Stream/line.

Already Felt cover
Already Felt
(Raptor Press, 2020)


“My Great-Grandmother’s Egg Thief” by Roy G. Guzmán
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“Bright Felon DVD Extra/Alternate Ending” by Kazim Ali
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Thanks to Anaïs Duplan, author of Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture (Black Ocean, 2020), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Read a Q&A about Duplan’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year
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