Poetic Koi

The Symbolic Tempo of Kahelia Smellie

Photos by Yanni de Melo  |  Poetry by Kahelia Smellie

Kahelia describes her poetic journey as “living vicariously” through her work. Just as the Koi, Smellie’s literary cadence symbolizes the struggles one has to confront and overcome in their own lives, society, and culture.

When catechized about her inspirational artistry, “Images flutter across my mind like butterfly wings. A few of them simplistic in nature and others are complicated and nuanced. These images tell a story of character and object, personification, and how the emotions are being expressed. Once the images and emotions become enounced, I can clearly articulate the emotion and write it down before the frame fleets from my mind.”

The prominence of Smellie’s opus is defined by her cultural heritage. “My identity as a Black woman, most importantly as an Afro-Caribbean woman, is how I navigate the world and compass my experiences.” Kahelia is also influenced by family and friends-The intricacies of their relationships, mannerisms, and tribulations of life. Her poesy tapestry is like a dream-weaver that invokes compassion, with an intense yearning for hope and optimism. “Isn’t that what we all dream and grasp for?”


Who are we to defy the reconciliation of humanity?
As we spew hatred from mouths enraged
Backs turned against each other in anger
Despair and restlessness colours the air
No sun shall set in a city
While it is drenched in darkness and fear
A child sits in the corner of the unknown
Eyes glazed in wonder
As the world she birthed into
Prefers agony over joy
Division over unity
No more are we listening to our neighbor
But dancing in the desperation
Of others who cry out in mercy.

How do we turn the tides to reconciliation?
From marred bruised flesh
To streams of golden glory
Of descending suns
From ancestors who fought for freedoms
For our liberation
Rendering it our birthright
To be free.

We navigate the complexities of humanity
To fashion a world of continuous growth
Tailored to each and every mankind
Who dares to exist infinitely
Steeping in the knowledge and truth
In which we are all but one
So, we walk in the direction of the path laid before us
Uncertain of the twist turns of the unexpected futures
The past our lessons
A guide for our land
Where we not only see the similarities in our brother
But the beauty of differences in our sister.

Who are we if not humanity joining hands?
Clenched and grasped
Standing shoulder to shoulder
Laughing joyously and profoundly
In the daring wonder of humanity
Rendering our mere land
Brilliant in the blazing light of healing
Unifying all who dares to hope
Who dreams in the descending sunsets
And rise together in the morning sunrise.

Untaught Lessons

No one warned us of the transformation from girl to womanhood
From frilled white socks to needle thin heels gliding over polished wood
Oh! How the days and years past by relentlessly
Scraped bloodied knees in sand filled boxes transitioned into lonely heartbreaks
Of tear stained eyes searching for the comfort of our youths
Wishing of simpler times of unbridled and untamed innocence.

Oh! Why our mother failed to warn us
Of the world’s cruel intentions awaiting for us
How willingly we traded goodnight kisses for scarlet bruises
From assured love to complicated situationships
From boy cooties to one-night stands in a stranger’s bed
From early nights to late nights of anxiety.

No one warned us of the lessons and pains we had to bear
Of the fake smiles plastered masking intense insecurity
And while we sit sipping delicately pinkies up under starlight
We fear the walk to our cars and into our homes
Because there awaiting us in the shadows
Are the monsters which we were never told.

And whilst the years relentlessly passes us by
We evolve tirelessly but profoundly
Clutching our girl-childhood fantasies
And holding steadfastly of wisdom aged old pearls.

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