One Poem by Calvin Walds

Our poetry editor, Wendy Xu, has selected one poem by Calvin Walds for her monthly series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed, “Touch” (2017), digital inkjet print (image courtesy Kameelah Janan Rasheed)


Adopting Persona
(of) An Ancestor


Insert your brown body into the negative space.
The space between four bodies.
Is the space closed if I touch you?
Black walled gallery.
I’ve been breathing my entire life.
Spilled cold water.
The house is outside. I’m in the house.
If you step outside, you are in the world.
Shatter glass. Steeped light. I’m allergic.
If air touches my lungs they fill.
I want empty lungs.
High beams. Sky walkers.
Who here can walk on air?
I can but eyes see space.
I ran through the door. It closed.
Can you unlock the door? I forgot my keys.
Rub mint into a shea bowl.
Moisture originates. Leaf darkens.
There is space between cell bars.
Sometimes I look through and walk outside.
Notice the use of black space.
Gravity pulls liquid onto floor.
The hallway. Watch, I can run fast.
You watching? I’m going to go.
Look, I ran and came back before you could notice.
Where did I run? Unlock the cell and I can show you.
Hold a deer by its throat.
Empty the contents of its mouth into your hands.
Coarse squares of crust and crystal.
You’d pick a square with a spit-wet finger.
Sit evenly on the chair. Don’t move.
Filtering bronchi. Fine rub seasoning.
Dust, it’s transportable.
I am already a cliché.
Can you close the window for some air?
The pores of our cells close open.
There is no breeze here.


*   *   *

Calvin Walds is a writer of poetry and nonfiction from Detroit. He has received fellowships from Callaloo and the Watering Hole, and has been published in Callaloo, Coldnoon: Travel Poetics, and The Felt. He is interested in sound, fugitivity, and geography and is currently pursuing a MFA in Cross-Genre Writing at the University of California, San Diego.


Readers are encouraged to submit 3–5 poems as a PDF to Wendy Xu for consideration at [email protected].

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