Again  

 

Look up. Step up. Meet the challenge. Get hit. Fall down. Look up. Step up. Get hit again. Doubt. Spiral. Try to start again. Falter. Reject. Fail. Wander. Dance. Get hit again. Look up. Walk. Stagger. Take a step. Fall. Get up. Fall. Get up. Fall. Wallow. Roll around in the mud. Get your clothes dirty. Learn to clean your clothes. Try not to look up. Tell yourself that up doesn’t exist. Resist the temptation. Look up anyway. Get up. Step up. Meet the challenge. Get knocked hard. Harder than you ever thought you could. Survive. Look around. Get up. Develop a god complex. Ride the wave. Grow expand. Take the hits. Get knocked down. Lose your god complex. Keep going. Keep getting hit. Fall down. Stumble. Develop impostor syndrome. Doubt yourself. Stay down. Watch others keep going. Wallow. Breath, Recuperate. Recover. Look up. Step up. Step down. Doubt. Step up; tentatively. Feel around. Look for solid ground. Falter. Doubt. Falter. Look up. Get up. Get hit. Fall. Get up. Get hit. Fall Get up. Get it. Stay up. Grimace. Smile. Get hit again. Stay up. Get hit. Take a step. Get hit. Step up. Meet the challenge. Make a breakthrough. Coast. Cruise. Get hit. Get hit. Get hit. Get hit. Get hit. Get hit. Get hit. Get hit. Fall. Grimace. Smile. Look up. Step up. You’ve been through this before.

Against Time

“It’s hard to stop rebels that time travel”

Janelle Monae

Dimensionally, time is a series of frames; A series of ideas.

“Cos we represent a truth son, that changes by the hour and, if you’re open to it, vulnerability is power.”

Saul Williams

If time was tangible, what shape would it take?

In between two rocks there is an ant. It seems isolated from the rest of the colony. As it oscillates between the two rocks searching for a scent that would show it the way home a stream of water comes by and washes away the rock, and the ant. Did it ever happen?

If that frame of time was held and looped like a gif would they show it on the intergalacticnet and laugh? Would it go viral?

If we find a way to capture healing into frames would we be able to share them? Would we be able to move from frame to frame in search of pieces of ourselves? In search of an image that looks familiar?

*

“these letters… correspond with something (I don’t know what) that you have written (perhaps as unapparently as that lemon corresponds to this piece of seaweed) and, in turn, some future poet will write something which corresponds to them. That is how we dead men write to each other.”

  • Jack Spicer

*

We, who have found ways to send little love notes across frames. We, who have scoured the images. We, the rebels that time travel. We, those who find ourselves caught between time, and ways of being. Oscilatting between one rock and another looking for a scent. We, who have seen the loop, wait for the flood.

“And when it is all over

We shall once more inherit

A generation of cracked souls

For whom we must erect new monuments

anthems of praise and the eternal Hope of Life

beyond the recurring stupidity of war heroes.”

Kofi Anyidoho

Post Note: My second chapbook, Time, is available from the Jeli here. This is not an excerpt from it. More like a bonus track. 

I don’t feel like naming this poem

We, who have decided to go on with living life or dying along the path.

We, who once walked on all fours to find nothing more than a sandwich and two pieces of ham.

We, who saw the wounded and had no way to ease the suffering other than platitudes, and love letters.

We, who have told and retold stories against the recurring stupidity of war heroes.

We, who gather in silence, by the sound of the evening, listening to echoes.

We, who hear.

We, hark, beckon, call.

We, learn, stumble, fall.

We, speak, are spoken to.

We, start again.

We, start again.

We start again.

 

We, who have decided to go on with living life or dying along the path.

We get up.

(Un)Knowing

“Perhaps the role of art, then, is to put us in complicity with things as they happen”

To know is to trap.

Which is to say that which is known has often been defined. We know this thing, and because this thing is known, it cannot be another thing. We know it as this thing. If this thing stops being this thing then it is no longer a thing we know. Or rather, we are less likely to recognize it as the thing we know.

Does this mean freedom has no space for knowledge?

Or, particlularly, does this mean it is impossible to know freedom?

A man was seen seated on a chair at the end of a runway. As he watched the models walk towards him, then away, it became clearer that things he knew had lost their freedom a long time ago.

Where do ideas that have been chained go?

Do they get institutionalized? Is there an idea correctional facility somewhere where ideas are locked up? Do trapped ideas write poetry with freedom dreams? Do they have freestyles in corridors where they spit bars about what it would be to one day break away? Do idea gangs sit around marking territory and shooting bad looks at anyone who walks by?

Say a naïve idea walked out onto the lot and challenged the dominant member of the idea gang, would that idea have a short lifespan? Would they look for it during breaks with a hastily made shank? Would the guards look away? Is plausible deniability in the correctional facility?

If, as the idea bled out, it began to think of the past, would it remember the fashion show? Would it think fondly of the days when it was free? Or would it smile, finally having been known?

I once knew something, but I have since forgotten. Am I free? Or do I walk around oblivious of my trap? Things continue to happen. I write.

 

 

 

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Since I am about to tell you a story that is both truthful and without substance I might as well begin with a proverb. One day in the middle of nowhere there was nothing. Nothing to begin nothing to see, nothing to do.

Where were you?

The simple truth is that there is nothing more to do when you have found yourself lost and without a place to look. Sometimes instead of walking forward you might chose to do something simple, like sit down. Or maybe you might decide that buying a pair of shoes will help. But it can’t right? Because no matter how many times you throw yourself at a form of escape you must come back out into the world. Every time you try and hide they pull you out. Violently sometimes, sometimes even without telling you that it is time to come out. You find yourself, like many other places, without a name, or a thing that you can call your own. So somehow it makes send that you find yourself seated on the ground, waiting for an answer from the gods that you used to believe in, but now mock.

And they mock you back. They watch you and say “look at him now, wishing he had a god.” But gods without men are nothing more than empty ideas of power without anywhere to go to. And men without gods are like mumblings of the renegotiation of what forward might possibly mean – dangerous.

At some point you will have to go back to the real world. You will find yourself lost and yearning for some contact from the people cut off.

You know what lies for you there.

You know there is nothing more for you there.

But, like that musician, you are not sure if you want to be alone in desperado.

Musical Chairs

Somewhere a lost people send echoes of faded memory across the sea.

And they dance to the rhythm of the pain of time, fractured.

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

Step and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

Step

and

1.

The rain, you said, reminds you of a time when you were young. When the entire world conspired to keep you shielded from itself and things seemed simpler. The rain, then, was not the sound of the impending power cut or a possible leak in the roof. Instead, it was the sound of the earth quenching a great thirst. And nothing feels better than relief.

It is in this way that you empathise with the earth when it rains. Parched grounds often look starve of the world’s selfcare. As if somehow rain is the world congratulating itself for a job well done.

and

2.

These words that refuse to be written, or even thought of, were meant to be about something. However, this thing too, refuses to be written or thought of.

You wonder if this thing, like the parched ground, is in need of the attention of your selfcare.

(it’s still raining)

and

3.

If music is capsuled memory, is it possible to overdose? If I popped six pills of music less than 24 hours would I need to have my ears pumped by a specialist? Would they send me for months of therapy asking where everything went wrong? Wondering how, after all the things that were given to me, I would still want to touch that which is just outside reach?

and

4.

The rain, like music, only exists in cycles. The rain, like music, is nothing more but nature and history repeating itself. The rain, like music, has rhythm. The rain, like music, reminds you of a less complicated time. The rain, like music does not ask for permission.

and

Step.

This poem is not about rain.

Nor is it about music.

(Un)Breaking

We have seen.

We have seen six thousand two hundred and ninety six ways to break that which has already been broken. We have seen the plague spread itself. And we have done nothing. We have done nothing because we too are bothered by the plague. Because to erase the plague begins with erasing bits of ourselves. And we are not sure where to begin.

Six thousand, two hundred and ninety seven.

Time, insufferable as always, continues to assault us with unrelenting force. And even though we try to forget – we remember, we remember, we are reminded. We are reminded by the sound of the birds in the morning.

What birds you ask? Exactly.

We are reminded by the silent

whoosh

whoosh

whooshing

as we speed away.

Carry us

Carry us

Carry us.

We are here to be taken by you. This is not a drill. It is a task that was given to you by those who give tasks. They are not interested in you completing the task. Still, you hold a duty to task as you hold a fact to light. This is nothing more than method. Method by which things are achieved.

Six thousand two hundred and ninety eight.

 

And we now know that somehow, when all is said and done, there will be a question to be asked.

 

And there will be no answers.

Not because the answers do not exist but because there will be shame and guilt. You remember, like you have once told yourself, that the beginning of yourself is somewhere between here and the end of eternity. You do not know that you have never begun and thus you shall never end. They say you are eternity but you aren’t. You are a point that has been touched and is yet to be sharpened.

You are infinite.

Yet somehow you insist on keeping yourself confined to the distance between the bed and the coffee shop. A form of self imposed imprisonment.

These, you insist, are nothing more than the wandering thoughts of a lesser king. Still, even the lord of the rings was a lord of some sorts at the end of the day, wasn’t he? So clearly something is known by those who rule over the few. Just as there is something that is known by those who rule over the many.

I wonder if it is the same thing?

I suppose it would be easier to decide that this is not something worth bothering with. Furthermore no one would bother around with what you call magic. Not when kingdoms are at stake. Magic was a toy left to be played the young and naïve. And even then to be treated with the utmost disdain.

Six thousand two hundred and ninety nine.

But kingdoms were at stake and, somehow, action needed to be taken.

As you turned the pieces fell.

You didn’t know.

And now we have seen.

We have seen six thousand three hundred ways to break that which has already been broken.

Just Once

“And when we dance,

when we dance

we dance to remember

that our feet

are still trying

and our hearts

are still breaking.”

Dance with me. Let us remind ourselves that our feet still carry the memories of a time when care came easily and laughter flowed freely. When to love ourselves was not just to listen and nod but to empathise, understand and feel together.

Come, dance with me.

Show me that, when the sun takes its leave and the moon basks us in her glow, you come alive.

CITIZENS OF THE NIGHT

A poet cries into the void.

SHOW US YOUR IDENTIFICATION.

Show me your pass to the evening. When all else is lost to the sound of a speaker pumping therapy into the still of the night, will you be there? Will you dance? Or, like an black man at immigration, will you cower away? Tell me.

Come. Let your body tell me the story of that one time. For it was only once, really. When you forgot to lock the door properly and he came in storming, kicking and screaming. You never knew you were that fragile, you never knew you were that fragile. Show me. Show me how he knocked everything down without even caring to look back at the trail of damage he left in his wake. Come out with me. Beneath a cloud of cigarette smoke and evaporating regrets tell me the story of the battle.

Tell me how you won.

And how you now keep the key safely locked away where no one can reach it. No one. Not even yourself.

Look around.

They are all broken.

The dj continues to play their sorrow away and you? You sit there, with this look in your eyes, as if not sure. As if, to release yourself, to drop your guard, for one second, is to destroy a millennia of work.

But what is music but millenia of emotion captured and dispersed?

And why else are we here but to feel and to be felt?

On the road to Kenyatta market there’s a man who cuts keys. This is what he does for a living. I once took him a copy of my key and now there are numerous duplicates everywhere in the city. Every single time I open my eyes another person has been here and left a mess. I have learned how to clean. How to keep still. How to tread softly. How to replace broken bulbs and make sure last night leftovers are in the right compartment in the fridge.

You hear this as me asking for your key.

 I am not.

I am asking that, for a few moments, you may stand on the balcony and look out at the vast expanse.

Come, dance.

The moon looks like heaven tonight.

Broken Metaphors

She spoke in the wrong metaphors.

Her words moved in directions she had neither planned nor imagined. As if by using the tools she had been given to build formed a structure whose shape was yet to reveal itself.

But it’s not that she had not come prepared. In fact, she obsessed for millennia in the confines of the shadows. Waiting, watching and planning. Mastering every move and countermove in every book. When it came, she told herself, when it came she would be ready. Fortified. Unbreakable.

These are the stories she told herself.

These are the stories they told her.

These are the dreams they sold her.

And now. She spoke in metaphors that moved in unrecognizable ways. Patterns that were once discernable, reliable and predictable now seemed to ripple away in every direction except the one that they were meant to.

And then a restructure

And then a resctructure.

(a writer intervenes: the following scenes may be disturbing to those who would rather not be disturbed and comforting to those who would try to seek solace in the perpetual passing of time).

What did she expect? That somehow half baked research by those who knew less about what they were doing than anyone else would help? Or maybe, as one tends to, it was the hope that killed her. That somehow, because of all the lives and patterns she had studied it would be easier; somehow lighter to deal with. That somehow, having knowledge would make it more palpable.

This, though, this was nothing like any story they had ever told her. There were no simple character patterns, not predictable moves. It was like a thousand butterflies were flapping their wings halfway across the world. And she was at the intersect of the tornadoes.

(look right, look left)

Any attempts to create a form of balance would all end in assault from all angles.

(look left again, dammit! Look left again!)

But hope, hope must be held on to. Hope refuses to be broken, even when it should be. Hope drives us up the wall in ways we couldn’t even imagine. We hope because we must, we hope because we want something to happen, we hope because we don’t know what else to do wehopebecausewewantto. Wehopebecausewemustwehopebecausewehaveforgottenhownottowehopebecuaseafterallthistime…

…even hope will fail us.

A lesson from somewhere, in the middle of the loosely bound internet pages from a dreamer who tried not to calm the storm, but to be the butterfly.

For the Poet in Running Shoes

When it is all over for the day and you sit, waiting for the onslaught of dawn, which poets keep you awake? Do you whisper in couplets to Gibran and hear echoes of Lorde as the night washes away the ills of the day?

There’s a spot on the roof. If you stand there at the right moment it is as if you can hear the collective dreaming of a drowning city. In many ways one begins to understand why all the superheroes have their moments of soliloquy above a sleeping city.

Where do you go to be alone with your thoughts?

Is there a special seat where you go to gather the fragments of yourself from the atmosphere?

Do they come flying back from around the world? Or do you just connect with all the versions of yourself that you have left nursing those who needed them the most?

*

Somewhere in the city there is an arboretum. In the arboretum stands a tree with golden flowers. Surrounded by a sea of dull this tree continues to flower, unashamed of putting the trees around it to shame.

*

I still find these letters increasingly difficult to write. I see the poets coming to read them like I once read poetry myself. Looking for traces of a self I wanted to possess but never seemed to summon in person. Did you ever read poetry like that? In whose lines have you found yourself? Which poets left fragments of themselves behind to fill the holes left by the pieces you no longer had?

*

Where do you go to be alone with your thoughts?

*

The art of healing is only useful for the broken. How many times have you watched as they continued to tell stories? How many times have you heard revised histories erase the very truths that define the present?

If I plucked a flower from the tree at the arboretum and ran halfway across town with it, would it die? What about if I made sure to store it safely in my clenched fist, holding it tight to ensure it doesn’t get lost? What about if, as I ran, I became more paranoid about losing the flower, so I held it tighter?

Have you ever performed CPR on a gold flower? It’s a very delicate procedure that involves gently holding the calyx between your forefingers and using your thumbs to separate the style from the stigma.

But stigma, once attached, is almost impossible to get rid of, isn’t it?

*

A poet sits under a tree reading a book, trying to find themselves in redacted histories.

A flower falls on their head.

Do they run? Or do they open their eyes, as another fragment holds space for pieces that are out holding space for someone else?

Signed,

A Dependent Observer