Ezekiel saw a wheel a-turning,
Way in the middle of the air,
A wheel within a wheel a-turning…

The gangly televangelist suffered
the insults of schoolmates,
but promises no rancour in the afterlife.

He still looks the geek – clumsy, heavy-headed,
bloated chin and a way of talking
with an auctioneer’s impatience and alarm.

He longs to dream the vision of beasts
with double wings, one set outstretched,
the other folded over their groins;

the spirit of the beasts caught in the centrifuge
of wheels interlocking, wheels turning and turning,
the spark of roaming eyes caught in the rims.

This is how God used to fill the sky:
touch red embers to the lips of prophets
and teach the naysayer penitence.

The televangelist is waiting, his body stiff
beside his snoring wife, the pale cilia on his skin,
alert antennae to catch every errant wind of faith.

from Wheels (Peepal Tree Press, 2011), © Kwame Dawes 2011, used by permission of the author and the publisher.


Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes Reading from his Poems

1Thelmas Precious Cargo

2Alado Seanadra


4Progeny of Air


6Psalm 36




10Land Ho

11Some Tentative Definitions I

12Shook Foil 13Your Hands 14Impossible Flying 15Found 16In the Bone 17Prognosis


19Rituals Before the Poem

20African Postman 21Mother of Mothers 22A Complex Ageless Longing 23Upon our 14th Anniversary