Tenena

If your walls could talk they’d tell you it’s too late

  • Kendrick Lamar

There was a time when you knew.

When your drowning held itself with grace.

Grace; that rampant, violent riot that calls itself a form of love. You can only be calm when the outside is drowning if the inside is in the same state.

Balance was never meant to be peaceful.

 Now it is time

to create my own path

but the bush

refuses to yield

to my panga.

  • Something Quite Unlike Myself

But all you were doing was creating and occupying space. You spent so much time throwing your energy at beating out a path that you never looked back to the overgrowth slowly creeping back into place. Now you try to look back to the time you knew and find yourself toe to toe with all the questions you thought you had answered.

What were the answers?

The cheat sheet that you had in your pocket has long been drenched in sweat, large chunks of material erased by time and malice. All you have left is a few words, letters, written in the braille of memory. You try to read but your fingers are weary from all the manual labour – and the symbols are strange.

Inside, you continue your graceless fall. Outside you sit still. Occasionally stopping to listen to the sound of the mosquitoes.

It is here that she found you – waiting.

She came from a different direction altogether.

You never expected it.

Expected it.

Expectedit

Experdetit

Hesperdit

Hisperdit

Whispered it.

The wind just took the words out of your mind and blew them in her direction. Now she wills you to get up. To, once again, find the answers. You look to the walls for a response but all you see is the bush.

You reach for your panga.

The work has only begun.

Scene Four

You really want to know what is happening don’t you?

Somewhere between these lines you are looking for meaning, for something, for an explanation, a revelation, a glimpse.

Hope. That’s what you are looking for, isn’t it?

A reason – surrounded by the flames you only hope for a drop of water to place on your tongue.

But you didn’t know did you?

You didn’t know that there are places where, when the evening sets, and the roar begins to come – they are afraid. Unable to protect themselves – they run.

You didn’t know that there are people who can tell you stories of lifetimes and generations that lived in terror.

That water can drown you.

But you were consumed by the flames, and in being consumed by the waves you weren’t ready. And because you weren’t ready no one can blame you.

*

It takes about three to four minutes for the average human being to drown. The first immersion in water is often the most shocking – and the most refreshing. The first few seconds are a relief. Especially if the immersion comes from heat – and the drowning is unexpected. Water has a calming, floating, cooling effect.

Once the body begins to run out of oxygen a nerve ending will send a message to the brain which then tells the body to reach for oxygen. This takes about .008 seconds.

It is around this time that the panic sets in. As the body tries to get out of the water and is stopped the imminence of the lack of oxygen begins to set in. Eyes start darting, trying to find an exit. Hands flay, swish one way and another. The body begins to thrash.

A gasp.

The first gasp, one can imagine, is the beginning of the end.

The lungs give up and expel whatever carbon dioxide has built up from all the thrashing and, despite all alarms going off, still expect oxygen from the outside world. After all, this is what they know – and this is what they were designed to do.

Instead a mouthful of water finds its way there.

This, being not right, is rejected. And each cough up leads to another mouthful of water.

It is in the effort to undrown that we kill ourselves.

*

 

You had read it somewhere – or you knew about it. And, even if you didn’t read it you’d still have known. From how they spoke about water in whispers despite the flames.

From how, even as the world burned down they fanned the flames – a defiance of logic.

*

 

The thing is, there is only one way to reach the end – and that way starts at the beginning.

 

You have been trying to reach the beginning but all you could see was destruction. It’s like somewhere there was a point – and then there was chaos.

 

And no one has looked back since.

 

*

 I’m about to drive in the ocean

imma try to swim from something

bigger than me

kick off my shoes

and swim good

and swim good

 

  • Frank Ocean

 

*

 Except you, like a pillar of salt you stare back in defiance. A tribute to the violent nature of memory. To the defiance of memory. A testament to all that dare remember you stand there burning – oblivious to the violence of your flames.

*

In scene three there is a Mexican stand off. A dog holds a carrot, a sandwich maker holds 3 slices of forever and you stand there with nothing but your flames.

The world dares everyone to move.

The night comes and goes as you flicker.

*

Question: How many things do you know that can make the night go away?

Answer: I know only of the moon and its many descendants.

*

Do the children of the moon need the sun? Is it blessed to bask in the afterglow of a star? Or is it constantly pulling to remind us that it is on our side?

Are the waves the moon trying to end its pain?

*

 

Let’s assume that a dog and the moon met in an alley. In this exchange, that may or may not have happened, the moon might or might not have given the dog a carrot.

Now let’s assume, since we are assuming things, that the dog had previously received a picture of a sandwich maker in the mail.

Would the evidence be circumstantial? Or would the sun sentence the dog to burn?

*

You lost your first slice of forever somewhere in the fast paced streets of the city. No one had warned you of the thieves that lurked in the evening. That the period when matatu fares went up and the shadows came out to play was where you’d be at your most vulnerable.

Your second slice of forever went missing when you went on holiday. You suspect that you dropped it running between terminals at the airport but it’s more likely that you forgot it in your hotel room.

The third slice of forever was taken from you. You know exactly where it went. You were there, you watched. Not a night goes by where you don’t remember the violence. But life happens as it does and sentimentality only gets in the way of production – or so you’ve been told.

Sometimes you try to listen. Most times you’re a pillar of salt.

You don’t remember how long you’ve been trying to find the pieces you lost.

*

How many times must we die before we live?

*

In scene five there is blood, plastic and ash.

*

And when the night came back the third time a bark was heard. At first they thought it was the howl of a wolf, calling to the moon to raise water and put the sun out once and for all. Calling once more on a power that was both insufficient and unlistening. Perhaps not insufficient but without listening power is just sporadic flashes.

And then a blast.

And then a blast.

So when then night came back and the barks filled the hollow of the night they paid no attention. Not even when the howl came with the best minds destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets.

When the night came back they weren’t ready. And because they weren’t ready no one can blame them.

*

How much water would it take to extinguish the sun?

Your lungs burn as the moon tries to force feeds you.

Changing the Wind

If you’re far away enough from the violence for it to not to hurt you – does it exist?

It’s almost as if, anesthesia is an art and one that you have not only perfected, but have done so well it is now a part of you. From the onset you are dulled. You have retreated further inwards than you ever have, hoping that somehow burrowing into yourself will keep you from coming out.

You remember.

You remember the ways which is began. The ways in which you were unloved.

Then another.

Then another.

Is it possible that, perhaps, it might be happening again? You know why you never wanted this. You know why you never wanted this. It is as simple as knowing who you are. Knowing how it destroys and becomes you. Knowing the ways in which you are a tortured – dragged kicking and screaming along by time. You know all these things and yet, somehow, you keep coming back.

Again, you are here.

Again, you are here.

Writing it twice didn’t help. Ignoring it won’t either.

Even in the silence – chaos reigns.

Chaos is especially good at dominating silences. The madness filling up every corner of the room. The whispers – barely audible – keep shouting. You have heard them.

Who are you?

Who are you?

They demand an identity. They demand a list of phrases. A repertoire of sorts. Anything.

They ask repeatedly in that patient, impatient way. In that no pressure – but you have to do this right now or a million horrible things will happen to you and all the people you love way. In that soft, smiling, caring, I have no time for your bullshit, way.

Who are you?

 

I Am…

 

I Am…

 

Words are symptoms of emotions.

You don’t know what you feel anymore. Only that you once knew things and forgot.

Only that there were many ways to follow through on your swing – but only one to end the fight.Afraid to end the chaos you continue to drown in a self that neither exists – nor has ever existed. It is in this sea of nothingness that you come across your drowning self. Do you:

  1. Offer a hand of assistance,
  2. Call someone else to help,
  3. Let yourself die, or
  4. Grab some popcorn

If you’re far enough away from the violence do you drown or watch as you drown?

Sail with caution, you navigate troubled waters.

Ideological half lives

“Came back with flags on coffins screaming ‘we won! We won!’”

  • Fallout boy

What’s the half life of ideology? How long does it take for the whispers to slowly gather themselves into the collective force of thousands of voices? How many times is the chain of truth distorted. Does the ideology, like any whisper, continue to dilute itself as it travels?

“I hear the whispers, getting louder in the streets of the inner city”

Tarrus Riley

How many generations does it take to dilute an ideology? Will it simply disappear somewhere into the night? Or will it slowly become the essence of life. A frame so defined, and engrained, that it is invisible. A thing that happens because it has happened for so long that no one considers unhappening it.

“there is nothing more powerful as an idea whose time has come”

  • Proverb

What about an idea whose time is done? Is an idea out of its time more vulnerable? Or an idea that, while still a whisper – isn’t sure if it is situated in the future or in the past. Do ideas get late? Do they try, as hard they can, to find themselves in the right place at the right time? Or are they, as we all are, at the mercy of time, fate a circumstance?

Do they panic?

Do they run around, frantic, unable to understand?

Do they get complacent as time wears itself on them?

Do they stop bothering? Discard the detail?

Perhaps it is the 11 year cycle. Controlled by the volatility of the sun they find themselves gathered. Ideas spread, become ideology and slowly seep into the people.

With each whisper ideology gets stronger.

With each whisper ideology gets weaker.

We keep listening.

Misappropriation of a Moment

Alternatively, you could spend the next few minutes following a path that starts in the middle. At first you will seem confused, lose your way as you try and figure out where to go. This, defining of frames, will be a struggle. And, as with all struggles, it shall pass. The problem might arise when you begin to believe that all you had to do was figure out which frames will show you where to go.

You might think you’ve peaked the scene;

you haven’t, the real one’s far to mean.

The watered down one, the one you know,

was made up centuries ago.

  • Kanye West (Nicky Minaj)

My beautiful dark twisted fantasy.

It is in this space of in betweenness that you will probably spend most of your time. Oscillating between now and forever and thinking about the past. Given, by now, you picked this alternative, it would be prudent to find out where the beginning is. So you start looking backwards. You hear Kanye, You hear Anyidoho

And The Drums

The Drums guide our feet

In this backwards-forwards dance

This forwards-backwards dance

This Husago Dance

This Misego Dance

The Dance into a Future

That ends in the Past.

  • Prelude

 

And time, that ever elusive patron of capacity, continues to elude you. Continues to elude you. Still, you think, you are still here.  And you keep going forwards, to go backwards. And, since you are already on this path, you find yourself in the oscillation to the point of not knowing where the past lies. If you can’t see the past either you are so far in the future that you have lost sight, or you are so grounded in it that it has completely blinded you.

Of course, neither of these are situations you want to be in if you have, as you did, decided to go down such a badly lit path.

If you are to make any real headway you will need to be firmly rooted in the present Or, at least that’s what you thought right? That the present was spontaneous? That there would be no other way to have now except to have now, right?

How have those frames worked for you?

Stop.

Look around.

 

Have they?

 

The present continues to be a culmination of the past steadily making its way into itself. You hear Anyidoho. You hear Hill.

 

Everything is everything

What will be will be

After winter, must come spring,

Change, it comes eventually.

  • Lauryn Hill

 

Still, somehow, you feel like you should, at the very least, be able to speed up its progress. Progress. This is what it has come to. Words that carry such weight but yet could mean anything. The past continues to become the present to become the past. Which seems moot in many ways. But, on the bright side, you just burned a couple of minutes – and found the end of a path.

 

Do Mammals Breath Underwater?

We are, in the end, only asked to carry every ounce that we can – and then some more. This is somehow supposed to make one feel better. The weight of dreams is evenly distributed – and equally unjust. It is almost as if to revel must include a shared misery. A togetherness that is neither with joy nor desirable.

Neither with joy nor desirable.

So many wrong metaphors for all the right things.

But what more can be asked of one if not that whatever solution that whoever it is that comes up with solutions picks – is equally unbearable. If to drown is the result – and it often is – then at least it will make sense if there is some company along the way. If everyone else is equally grappling with breathing then are you really drowning? Or has drowning just become a natural way of life?

And, if everyone is drowning, then the act of saving oneself can be seen as both selfish and exclusive.

Who, they ask, who are you to undrown?

Who are you to inhale anything else but water.

Even if the benefit of air has been vastly documented. Even if you spent hours and hours of your life trying to explain that air, unlike water, doesn’t choke as often – and doesn’t hurt as much to breath. The hours on end you spent communicating, explaining – re explaining. The hours and hours that you spent meant nothing. Yes, you may have learned the water – but you were born to fly.

Still, you remain attached to the water. The water, having strangled you for so long, was also a way of breathing and a way of being. The water – with no enemies – became an extension of yourself. Your lungs, comfortable in air, but at their best in water. Grasping, searching, looking and trying to extract more from a resource that gives so little.

A resource that gives so little.

You sigh, reach for all your hands can carry, and dive.

 

The Uninvention of the Dream

The uninvention of the dream began with a song. The lyric was heard echoing in the most unexpected places. Here, there, somewhere.

And then another

and then another.

The uninvention of the dream neither happened where they wanted it to happen, nor where they thought it might happen. The uninvention of the dream, thus, was expected – and unexpected.

The uninvention of the dream was a story that they told again and again. In bars, on the street, in their houses, to theirselves, their family, their friends, their enemies.

The uninvention of the dream was a whisper.

The uninvention of the dream was passed from generation to generation – like a broken telephone, it was received in all the wrong ways.

But the uninvention of the dream refused to die.

The uninvention of the dream  lasted, and will continue to last, as long as there are dreams to be uninvented.

The uninvention of the dream was a dream uninvented – and so the uninvention of the dream lay unseen.

Still the uninvention of the dream has been sighted by the lost ones, the confused ones, the wanderers, those who hope, those who pray, those who (mis)understand, the lovers, the dreamers, the dreamers.

The uninvention of the dream has always been in the hands of the dreamers.

 

The uninvention of the dream has always been in the hands of dreamers.

 

And dreamers have been heard singing from the most unexpected places. Here, there, somewhere.

And then another.

And then another.

The uninvention of the dream began with a dream.

Echoes of Everything

Like the thunder that came from the east, scattering seeds of the future in our minds, the news spread. It gathered minds as it grew, becoming more, gaining momentum. Like thunder, it was heard by many, feared by few and understood by even fewer still.

Things have histories.

Many times they go even further back than minds can fathom. To unravel deeds to their inception is maybe to say, at some point it wasn’t – then it was. And the becoming from not to it may or may not have been documented. Which, to a people who seek to understand, means that – at the end of the day – there are only questions, answers and everything else.

It is, of course, everything else that we are interested in.

It is of course, from everything else that the news came.

Heard by many, feared by few and understood by even fewer still.

The problem became when life, being a cycle, began to grow. From everything else spurred news, gathering minds and going back to everything else – minds in tow. The mass exodus to everywhere else slowly erasing first the answers then, eventually, the questions.

The problems with history is that it is a creature of habit.

Not only has it happened – it happens again. As if in a bid to impose the timelessness of the present, the past keeps finding its way back to us. And so this husago with time continues.

And we become less.

And we become more.

And time, love and memory continue to organize everything else.

And time love and memory continue to organize everything else.

 

 

The Cloths of Earth

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

  • W. B. Yeats

 

Now that I have your dreams, what would you I do with them? Should I put them in a bag where I store the dreams of past lovers, and give them away to weary passersby? Would they take them? Would that offend you? Or maybe I should lock them up, watch over them. Make sure that, should you ever need a dream – I can give them back to you one by one.

Love, like memory, can be lost.

Sometimes, it begins with a whisper.

This is how we dead men talk to each other.

-Jack Spicer

 

Love, like memory, is a long term project

Sometimes, it begins with an idea.

 

Must I disappear for you to see me?

-A one line review of Lemonade

Love, like memory, is a habit

Sometimes, again.

 

I am not standing still

I am lying in wait.

-Hamilton

 

Now that I have your dreams, I stand here and wait – again.

Undying

Death resides in the lake.

But in order to understand this we must first begin by understanding the many ways that death resides. Like light, or any other great equalizer, death in its natural form has been known to exist in waves. A close reading of these waves can either show the beginning or the end.

The problem occurs, then, when the waves are misread. A reading that only shows partial beginnings, or partial endings can have far reaching consequences. And these consequences show themselves in many ways.

The art of reading waves has always been a science. And so, on that level, it becomes very easy for anyone to quickly understand how waves are read, translated and shared.

The only reason, really, that it has been understood as an art is that the trick is in finding translations that can both be understood and acted upon. This is a major problem because death is an inevitability. And acting upon or against that which will come is not only an exercise in futility. It’s also a complete waste of resources that could be turned towards translating, interpreting and reading more waves.

This is only a truth that is apparent to those who live by the lake. For the truth of a thing can only be seen by those closest to it. And hence it is only those close, aware and cognizant of this truth that can find the words to articulate it.

But the search for a new language has destroyed more people than it has built. And empires, like sandcastles, can be washed away by a sea of lemonade. It is easier to erase that which you know than to begin to find ways to remove things that you have no ways of touching and imagining.

 

When the whispers,

that spread both news

and the re imagination, of

ways we have failed to live,

may our hearts swell,

to remember –

we may have died,

but first; we lived.