Surface Tension

“The surface tension of water is 72 dynes/cm at 25°C . It would take a force of 72 dynes to break a surface film of water 1 cm long.”

Sometimes the fear in creating is the fear of destruction and that, in and of itself, is a very difficult fear to overcome.  And, more importantly, the idea that it needs to be overcome must surely be a weird one. The power to create having been misappropriated can, and often has been used to bring about mass emotional and physical damage. And, in understanding this we understand that this fear, while crippling, might be necessary. So we hang onto out fear and search the world for ways to be free of it. We free ourselves of everything but ourselves.

Then even when we use this power we realize that we are slowly erasing ourselves; becoming smaller as the words leave the space that they used to occupy inside ourselves. A math problem presents itself: If Tap A can empty a container at a speed 17 gallons per introspection and Tap B can fill the same container and the rate of 6 drops per abstraction, how many iterations of Top B need to exist for the container to maintain perfect balance on the pin; which is 0.00000000000000001% of the total surface area of the base?

But math has never been a poet’s strength. And, even when it is, it is somehow convoluted. As if somehow following the path of some numbers just as a path is not something that comes naturally to the numbers themselves.

You find yourself becoming less.

And lesser still.

It is only decided as something that you can see in fleeting moments. It is not something that you like and a thing that you know as if somehow knowing is admitting power. As if knowing that you are drowning adds fuel to the waves.

The ocean rages hard around.

Louder than itself but, somehow smaller than you.

(Master, they were heard crying, the tempest is raging, the billows are tossing high, this is the beginning of the end of the beginning of the end of the beginning of the end of the end of the beginning)

Peace refuses to be still. Still peace becomes a thing that is chased further than it can be found. Running away from the peace that we seek we are instead lost inside ideas of peaceful imposition. Wars birth wars birth wars birth wars.

Janelle Monae asks “do you know who you’re fighting for?”

Still your sword remains stuck in its sheath. Your eyes are bloody. Afraid to brandish and fight.

Afraid to fight – what an interesting thought to admit.

The world seems daunting. Everybody is growing into a hard cold adult and you just seem to be getting more fragile.

(you watch yourself becoming less)

As if you’re a mysterious version of the curious case of Benjamin Button.

(Benjamin Button is a mysterious version of the curious case of Benjamin Button)

So you then find yourself hanging onto words that make this seem like something that is cool. “they say I’m going crazy but I’ve been here before, but I’m going pretty good as far as geniuses go” – Kanye. You’ve been taught against vanity though you’re not sure what vanity exists in claiming intelligence. There is a thin line between intelligence and claiming different capacity. To imagine yourself as more capable would be weird because capacity is equally divided.

But even with singularity of capacity is the question of whether capacity is singularly applied (both voluntarily and involuntarily). But you’re tired of thinking of this question. You need more taps to have the capacity to keep pouring until an answer reveals itself but the weight is pressing upon the pin and the head of the pin is slowly penetrating your base.

Pain is only real if you can feel it.


The big black Kenyan man.

The big black Kenyan man is

The big black Kenyan man is invincible.

The big black Kenyanmanis invincible .


And then a word

and then a cut

and then another.

And then pain.

And display of pain.

Still, it’s okay. It’s a big black Kenyan man.

A big black Kenyan man.

And the big black Kenyan man is…


(c) Michael Onsando

Na hiyo ndio maendeleo…

It would have been a different story if you were this dedicated/obsessed by something more acceptable. Something with a larger promise of stability. Stability, you have been told, is an illusion.  Still it becomes an illusion that makes sense. If we create liveable spaces it must be comforting to know that they will exist forever.

Even if forever is nothing but a sigh and a cold cup of coffee.

So it makes sense that the thing you now find yourself actively pursuing is met with questions and doubting eyes.


A story that begins somewhere in the centre of the earth and expands at the rate of V=H0D. Having increased the distance between this galaxy and other stars you had expected your velocity to increase exponentially. What you didn’t know is that Hubble’s constant is only available to card carrying exceptions.

(How can you expect access if you don’t swipe?)

In your mind though you had built up the momentum hadn’t you?

And now it’s racing through time and space in ways that you couldn’t imagine. Still, an overstatement is only something that is made to sell an emptiness. In real sense time continues to move in the same chaotic way that it always has. Outside your head exists a world – but you’ve explored. And you’re bored. Something that needs to be hidden behind a fleeting paragraph because some truths are better left to wander their way into the world.

But creating liveable spaces demands attention.

And, if we give our attention to creating liveable spaces, it must be comforting to know that they will exist forever. It becomes important that we build a stable foundation and use sustainable methods. Stability, you have been told…


These are words written to fill a blank space.

The old boda boda guy rides slowly, his left hand twitching on the handle bars as he considers changing gears. He speaks slower still, weighing the Swahili in his mind before he lets it leave.

I imagine he tells better stories in Kisii.

These are words written to fill a blank space.

The brown eyed boy is bleeding. The notes from his past are spilling from the space between his nose and the tip of his upper lip. They say he had pulled too hard on a reefer and the flame caught his beard. That story seems suspicious, more likely it was an accident of untold proportion that no one tells because no one can.

They have brought him a serviette. It doesn’t help. But they can’t do anything else. The past cannot be locked inside like some secret in a treasure chest. Dead men would be more occupied with collecting the scars of broken women – but even that might be a metaphor with too much force.

These are words written to fill a blank space.

Seasoned players will tell you, when the moment comes, no one will have to tell you. You will be running down the field, wind in your hair thinking of nothing except the next move and you will find yourself on the inside of the second centre. You will have cut back in, right between opposing defenders. No one will know what a lock is doing there; no one will know what to tell you, so no one will tell you anything.

Seasoned players will also tell you that, sometimes, the moment has come, and you have taken the perfect angles, but a stray defender had their antenna up.

Sometimes you are someone’s moment.

These are words written to fill a blank space.

The difference between love and lasagna is the seasoning. If you add a little beef to anything it becomes a filling meal. The problem with filling meals is that you get full.

These are words written to fill a blank space.

How much of the blankness can we fill before we are full?

Still, the old bodaboda guy continues to ride, the scar on his upper lip trembling in the wind.


Having sat and worshiped at the feet of a black goddess I find myself in the position to begin to listen to the words that are said and hear what they mean. Having listened to the teachings of histories teachers I find myself upon the beginning of a breath that might be warmth in the blood that pumps the muscles that drive the mind to begin to consider taking a step.

Even before the beginning, there was a start. Even before it began you had heard the voices that were whispering behind old forgotten presences. Their message had been misinterpreted as music and so bodies, inclined to act on the energy that they received from this message, began to move. Their feet pounded on the ground in smoky rooms and open fields. Their heads swayed like palm trees calling to the ocean “come, come, come.”

Bodies seeing bodies, becoming bodies, hearing bodies. What does it mean to commune? What is the community in a release, and what is release but a sharing of the self. How do we begin to imagine that the things we are saying are not the things that are being heard? How is it that we find the mystery behind the ghost that covered my face with several version of herself and a small part of earthenware found somewhere in the misty jungles that we walked through for several years before finally finding ourselves lying dead and distraught on the side of the road to hell? When did we become another set of good intentions?

Still their heads have been seen swaying to the pulse of his soul. The steady beating of the drum, like the heart of the universe has continued to show their power over others. As if somehow caught by the magic of the idea behind a descending octave and two beat break.

Still the release gets louder.

In science there is talking about a law that basically states that the more you do something the faster you can do it.

Still the release gets louder.

It’s called the law of accelerating returns. The human mind gets more efficient at doing things the more times it does it.

Still the release gets louder.

The beat beckons. The heart replies.

And she has been there. Her form becoming more a presence than a physical being. Her body itself transfixed, lost somewhere between space and time. Between here and now. Between what is and what could be. Between her and I.

Her and I


Her eye

meets mine. And for a second there is everything.

And for a second there is nothing.

Still the release gets louder.

And then she is gone. And then I am gone.

And still, the beat goes on.


Kairos (noun)

The perfect, delicate, crucial moment; the fleeting rightness of time and place that creates the opportune atmosphere for action, words or movement.


The idea of kintsukuroi is one that’s held onto you for a very long time. Somehow you imagined that if you held onto it hard enough you’d have enough gold. And they have seen the gold, they long for the gold, but they do not want to talk about the cracks. About the number of times that you have shattered yourself against the wall to start again.

(but even then you remember that others have been shattered against the walls themselves)

Misery loves company.

Misery knows no company.

Adabu ya kaburi aijuaye ni maiti.

Even in the graves they have turned over to listen to the pumping that has kept you alive for longer than they expected. Somehow you were set up to run into walls, and somehow you keep running into them, and somehow they keep breaking. This is not through any super power of your own, you just ran into enough walls to realise that eventually they break – and that’s long after you’ve broken.

You just ran into enough walls to break.

And learned the art of kintsukuroi.

Still there is something romanticizing about this. Still a friend reminds me that everyone must, at least, be allowed to romanticize their situation; the world is cruel.

What’s wrong with imagining better?

what’s better?

I don’t know, I’m still trying to figure it out – but not this.

But I like this

But I don’t

So what now?

I don’t know

You must





You Will See Me

One wonders what happens when black bodies continue to refuse to be unseen. What does it mean to demand visibility in a world that goes out of its way to keep you silent? What does it mean to have your visibility taken away?

(What, I wonder, does black excellence mean?)

A story is told of David Rudisha going in for the world record in the 800M finals. The wording changes from tongue to tongue but the story remains the same. One version has Rudisha telling Kitum “Timothy, I am going to give some simple advice to a fellow Kenyan: do not follow me if you want to win a medal.”

One wonders what it is to go into a race knowing that you are going to win.

I like to imagine a version of a story where Injera puts the marker in his socks before the game knowing what’s going to happen. I like to imagine a version where he only puts the marker in his socks in this one game. Where he cuts and the marker scratches his calf muscle; a reminder. Where every single stride is pushed by, “it’s time now. They will see me, I will be known.”

(What does it mean to want to be known?)

I’m wondering what demands for humility entail. Love, Deray reminds us,  is never a request for silence.

I’m confused about what a request for silence is.

A story is told of Okwiri Oduor winning the caine prize and Binyavanga immediately beginning to delegitimize it. Kwani nini?

(What, I wonder, does black excellence mean?)

Still, Elani and H_Art the Band continue to pack rooms to the thousands.

Somewhere inside the idea of humility lies a construct that reminds us that we are not enough. Somewhere inside the idea of humility lies a need to remind people that they are not enough. Something inside the need for silence demands silencing.

(Checkmate beats a drum, the pulse of a city reverberates “hakuna kujificha tena kwa giza ukimess up – put everything on the table, face facts.”)

A violin speaks, a violin replies.

And then a dance. And then a dance.

Still we continue creating, putting markers in our socks to remind us, it’s time.


A coin drops, rolling it begins to gather dust, spinning through behind an old newspaper. The one that you read last night that had the story about the person who did something to get attention and fail. It was a stupid ass thing.  You like stupid ass stories, they remind you that you are not crazy. Still, it becomes strange to imagine that somehow you would be consoled by a story about a person from years ago. As if somehow remembering that things have broken in the past will help you navigate the cracks that have formed themselves on the soles of your feet.

The world, you have been told, will cut you. Protect your soul

It continues to roll until it settles under the old rocking chair that your father bought but never used. The rocking chair that has always been a symbol of a possible future as opposed to a presence. In your mind you see your grandfather in that chair. He has been away for so long that you have begun to forget what he sounded like. You are afraid of that, that if that voice disappears there’s something that you need to let go of but won’t.

Pain brings you back to the present.

A rocking chair rocks against fingers that were never meant to be where they were – a coin remains lost.

A Beginner’s Guide to Walking in the Rain

It will be around 6pm and you’ll be at work. You’ll convince yourself that it’s not going to rain and, even if it does, that it can’t happen before you get home.

It will be 6pm you will want to walk because walking is fun – and the rain is far.

It will be 7pm, it has begun to drizzle. Around your feet little puddles have began to form. As you criss cross through the traffic find small things to fascinate you. Sing to yourself, sometimes in a small voice, sometimes in a large one. Sing cheesy songs, feel the rain on your skin – no one else can feel it for you – only you can let it in.

Count the distance between thunder and lightning. What was the formula 3 seconds, 5 seconds? Think about googling the formula – remember it’s raining. Start making puzzles in your mind to figure it out, think about whether you are walking into the storm or walking out of the storm.  Realise that you are getting wetter – you’re probably walking into the storm. Laugh at yourself for being silly.

Remind yourself at every step that it’s okay.

Walk on the edge of the pavement to avoid stepping in a puddle of water, as if there are different forms of wet. Stumble, almost fall – don’t fall. Imagine the world as you audience and the pavement as a tightrope, don’t fall. Stumble, almost fall, don’t fall – make it.


Look back.

Congratulate yourself.

Keep walking, encourage the people you meet on the way. A firm grunt will work, a firm grunt might not work. At least you tried.

Check the wet level – still pretty wet.

Cross the road, cross back. Cross the road again.

Remind yourself why you are walking in the rain – find the reason silly, look for further reason. Imagine yourself as unstoppable, tell you the things that you need to hear.

Keep going.

Pass by people who have umbrellas – notice they are as wet as you. Congratulate yourself for not having an umbrella as if it was a premeditated thought.

Keep walking

It’s still sucky, but that’s fine.

Keep walking.

You are more wet than you are dry now, and the rain has increased to a steady fall. Go through a period of self hate. Begin the lecture in your head.

Stop it.

Start it again.

Stop it.

The tussle is unproductive.

Begin to calculate the half-life of the journey. Estimate it in minutes, then in kilometres, then in songs. Eventually you will find yourself measuring things in crickets per burn-hole squared. You don’t even know what that means but it’s okay, no one does, and you need to pass the time.

Notice that cars are stuck in traffic – congratulate yourself for being unable to buy a car. You always knew walking would get you home faster (you never knew walking would get you home faster, You really just want to be dry)

10 minutes left

It gets harder, the fatigue has began to set in. The strain on your calves is probably more than you would normally settle for, the rain has fallen into your mouth so often it feels like you are swimming. Your jacket has absorbed so much water it has become another weight and you honestly just want to sit down and cry.

5 minutes left.

At this point life is probably crap. Nothing makes sense, but that’s okay because nothing ever makes sense. Keep walking. Johnny walked, so should you. Johnny, there is some at home. Feel the warmth of a stiff drink go down your throat, warming you in a welcoming violence.

2 minutes

You are in familiar territory now, you should buy food from the shop – but that involves stopping, and stopping is not a good idea. The thought of whiskey led to hot shower fantasies and every step you take adds an element to the meal that you want to prepare. In your head, you are home.

In your heart you’re home.

Look up.

Open the gate.