Burns

Mood: To milk, sugar has always been a sign of turbulence to come. The violence of stainless still cutting through the surface tension and causing chaos. Unlike a tea bag, that often settles in slowly, infusing itself and absorbing culture – the violence of a teaspoon was the origin of the storm in a teacup (history they never teach us). It is hard to convince milk of the importance of sugar to a good cup of tea.

You know that
you carry their history.
But you also know
you don’t carry their scars.
And that, you hope,
will make all the difference.

You have no memory of ever being young. In your mind you have been consistent through all ages. As if somehow you have always been in there, knowing what is going on. Which is not to say that you have never listened to a story and thought “that was immature, wasn’t it?” Or that you have never seen pictures of yourself. In the inexact way of memory you remember all of these things – you just don’t ever remember being young.

In your mind, you have always been levelheaded.

Perhaps this is why this whole idea of youth is muddled to you. Like a place you know, in theory, but are still learning how to navigate. How to see yourself, not the way you are seen. Not to allow the way their eyes burn touch your skin and set you ablaze. After all, flames fan flames. And if you put two embers and fan the flame the result will always be ashes.

(no, there are no phoenixes in this story, only flames and wind)

Although you’d think one would remember fire.

Except if they’ve always been burning.

Except if they’ve always been burning.

Run

Mood: Monday morning. Coffee station at the office. Outside the window behind you outside calls with yearning. An eagerness that reminds you of last night. Of running barefoot singing your love to the moon. Sigh. Everyday shit.

And with his last breath he whispered, ‘run away, run as far and as fast as you can. Run, run and never look back.’ Then, nothing.

As if he were never there. As if the image of the man, grasping at the air, was nothing but a whisp of a borrowed imagination. Perhaps not borrowed but imposed. As if, if life were nothing but frequencies, a bump had you tuned into the wrong station for a while.

(run)

But you distinctly remember his voice. You hear him whisper to you in the evening as you do the dishes. In the moments of silence and still he is there. Sometimes, when you go for long walks at night, you catch a whiff of him in the alleys of town. And you could have sworn there was an image of him in a tunnel under a bankslave graffiti tag.

(run, as far and as fast as you can)

As clear as the faint construction sounds that you have now become accustomed to. Clear enough to exist. But hazy enough to create doubt.

(are you still running?)

Did he die? You remember it as his last breath but modern medicine has shown you that more often than not, death is curable. More a minor convenience than something that actually happens. Except of course when it does. And then we can come out in the competition of grief. Perhaps then, it was best for you to imagine that he was dead because you would like to hold on to the idea of sadness. To use his death to carry sentiment and to use this sentiment to give his words weight. His words, ‘run’ whispered with the distance of a man calling far from the shore, one hand on Katsumi’s shoulder, sailing into the sunset.

So you’re the one that needed him to die. For if it wasn’t his last breath then it could just be another thing that he said. A thing, in the delirious moment of near death. A thing deniable.

(do the dead run? How many countries participate in the Zombie Olympics? If you are dead, what are you afraid of? Run)

But, you know, you know because you know. Because you were there – until you weren’t. Even now, you wait. You wait for a resolution.

But only a whisper remains.
A whisper and a doubt.

They only noticed you because you were invisible.

You know how sometimes the only reason you get caught is because everything is so perfectly planned? Like how when every story adds up you begin to question whether that’s because it was though through deliberately? Or how you forget to put off the lights so often that your neighbours think you have a roommate? The problem with patterns then, becomes that they aren’t what we think that they are – are they?

But sometimes they are.

And because they sometimes are, then it’s difficult to ignore them. Does that person liking your posts mean they like you, or what you’re saying? Will united ever know what it is to be a mid table team again? Just how many times will billions of shillings be stolen before Kenya is a officially a corrupt state? Does the sun rise every morning on purpose, or does it snooze its alarm as often as I do? All valid questions to ask of a repeatedly occurring phenomenon. Which is to say we know for a fact that the person has been liking the posts. Or that united hasn’t had an idea of how to win a trophy since Ferguson left and so forth. What we don’t know is the possibilities that rise from these patterns. Which is to say, how these things manifest themselves is mostly mystery.

What, however, is apparent, is that these things exist.

Patterns are a naturally occurring phenomenon in nature. And you know this because the only real evolutionary advantages you have as a human being is opposable thumbs and the ability to recognize patterns. And because there are so many in nature it became easy for you to quickly adapt and locate yourself according to the situation.

But this, this is not nature.

And adapting and co-opting are very different things. The ever shifting nature of your co-option made you invisible. In constantly reading the patterns and adjusting yourself accordingly you lost sight of who you are. You, in many ways, became the act of adapting. You existed in a temporal state. Only the version of you that was allowed to exist in any space at any time existed.

And this is why you never go home isn’t it?

Do they know? Do they know that when you go home and sit with your thoughts you have no idea who you are? Do they know that you are only systematically looking through them for traces of where you left yourself?

And of course this is a self fulfilling prophecy.

In constantly changing to fit a mould you are never really sure which one is you – and which one isn’t. Now there is a simple answer to this. They are all you, for you are all these things at different times to all these different people. But even this isn’t the truth. Because you remember. You remember being all these things in these different ways and being centered in yourself.

And not constantly adjusting yourself.

While still maintaining some level of anonymity. A way to disappear without becoming invisible.

Because you knew that’s when you’d get noticed.

When did you realise that you could work against pattern? That with the right questions and pauses in the right places your pattern could be less apparent? Did it make you feel powerful? It must have, at least the first time. How they didn’t quite see you. How their eyes held questions. You could see it. You could literally see them trying to find the words to ask you. But you had made sure to keep even those out of their reach.

 

Secrets,

real or imagined,

rule the world.

 

But, because you were doing it – and you knew you were. They knew you knew. It’s impossible to observe without being observe. And as you saw so you were unseen. Always a question mark. Always a question mark. And another day comes, and the sun stays on time, and they still look at you with questions.

Rugs Needed

“My Freedom and I, we were live to be together.

Men live and die,

But a dream can live forever”

  • Lindsey Abudei

“But what do you know of the freedom that you seek?”

Freedom interrogations

Here’s the thing. After minding his business for longer than he needed to it was no longer about minding his business. And no one was really sure where the change at happened. After all, they had only looked away for a second – hadn’t they? And it wasn’t like there was no other thing to turn to. It wasn’t like there was no other way to ensure that the search – futile from the beginning – was brought to a non violent close.

Which was all that they were trying to do – create a non-violent close.

The problem, of course, comes with trying to end the big bang by calling parapet cleaners. And no matter how many workers you employ you will never be able to sweep stardust under the rug. Especially not if the rug you plan to use is an already dusty five by six that was bought at an expat sale for “I have privilege and I don’t need the money from this sale” price. There’s just not enough room.

So of course it was a little cramped.

In fact, it was so cramped that it became almost impossible for him to mind his business. After catching glance blows from all the fights for space, it quickly became important to create space of their own. And, being part of them, participation became prudent.

And besides, it was a little cramped.

But glance blows are designed to only bruise bystanders – and his freedom was yet to experience a full frontal attack.

Still, it was no longer about minding his business. Surely, at the very least, things were about to get interesting.

In the distance

a man placed

a phone call

“Yes, send me all the cleaners you can get.

 

To Throw a Straw on a Camel’s Back

Clarity is what broke them.

The problem with time is that it doesn’t have a respite. It can’t be saved, banked, stored for future use, traded or even farmed. For all it’s infiniteness time itself is a finite, indefinite resource. With the rise then, of the control of time came the rise of clarity.

Which would be perfectly okay if clarity itself didn’t imply a deliberateness.

When the marketplace of the deliberate met – doubt was weakness.

 

We assure you

that this product

will be 100% everything

that you can imagine

it will be.

 

When clarity becomes currency then imagination, invariably, becomes a liability. To imagine is to open possibilities. To show what can be. To be clear is to know what is. To have control. Possibilities increase within themselves infinitely. Which is to say, to open up a possibility is not just to open one possibility – but to open a number of possibilities. Any number of which, by the way, can birth possibilities of their own.

Which, of course, would be fine if it wasn’t for time. Because with the happening of time comes the compounding of possibilities and there is little time(HA!) to comb through them all. (Time happens realtime). The only thing, then, to do is lock the possibilities in place. To be clear – and to be clear now. It is in this way that with the rise in control of time came the rise of clarity.

Clarity is what broke them.

See, a Man.

See a man stand, his left hand rests on the nape of its neck, his right hand tugs at its strings. His lips kiss the mesh.

His truth a whisper and a pulse.

A whisper and a pulse.

A whisper and a pulse.

 

See a man, see him call to the past – and feel it respond.  Feel the sway as it carries the illusion of sound and time to your bones.

As it carries the illusion of sound,

the illusion of sound and time,

into your bones.

 

See a man, see him smile.

See his eyes light with answers, his tongue dance with questions

See his heart in and his mind out

See his mind in and his heart out

 

See a man, see him see you

See you, see him, see himself, seeing you.

And the lights call for you to play, something sweet and slow

something sweet and slow.

 

The Wander’s Dilemma

But suppose you were given the key to begin a desuggestion of evolution. A dream, a whisper, a love note – blown away in a dustball kicked up by a screeching matatu and caught in the wheels of a passing bodaboda. Would the cycle disrupt its message? Perhaps it would break some sort of spell. Unwinding the careful whisperings of the witch who refused to be burned.

Did rebel witches travel in groups? Or did they hover above cities alone, marking their territory with piss every five meters? I digress.

Suppose you were the one who rescued this note. Which is more dramatic than to say – suppose a paper oddly lodged in the spikes of a parked boda caught your attention. And that at the moment they caught your attention you had time to kill. Which is to say that perhaps you were seated on the curb with half a burger in your hand, waiting. And so you are bored enough to chase after a curiosity as trivial as a paper lodged in the spikes of a parked boda.

Now, just because we’re making this up as we go along, let’s assume that the symbols were in a language that you did not recognize – but bore some form of familiarity. A different form of alphabet, you told yourself.

By this time, of course, the wait is over. Would you put the note in your pocket? Would you notice as the words ceased to become part of the note and part of yourself? Would you be there to catch the words as the formed themselves and began to leave your own mouth? Would you be cognizant enough to realise the silent obsession with the code? The “I’m just keeping it so I read it later.” The “I’m laminating it because I really want to get round to giving it a good read.”

Would you begin to see the whispers drive another? Another? Would the whispers begin to appear? Or would the words have slowly etched their way into your being, shifting just the perfect number of strands in your DNA to present the change.

It’s a simple enough change really.

But whispers know nothing of simplicity. And the problem isn’t in the drop – it’s in the ripples. How one simple, meets another, meets another – and how these simples add on themselves and have impact on things that were not even part of anything to begin with. A long sentence to say that the universe has not yet decided whether it is a form of order or of chaos yet. Either that or we are yet to decide what works best for us. Generally, we agreed that some form of ordered chaos is going on. But now that scientists figured out that things happen different when they are being watched the observable universe feels more like a wierded out game of cat and mouse. Or like the universe has been showing us what it would like us to see.

So even if you eventually noticed the words when one too many slipped. And even if the process of ink becoming skin startled you out of yourself. Even if the note itself revealed itself and its significance to you – how would you be able to know it’s authenticity. After all, the need to understand the universe is steeped in the need to control which, often, is driven by fear. To be afraid, then, is to be driven to find out more. Which makes this a zero sum game, right?

But whispers know nothing of simplicity.

And even when they do they are travelled through too many media to maintain their original truth. And because truth is relative – which is to say that no two memories are alike. And knowing that memory distances itself from pain, then the search for an original truth is like trying to say there is a beginning. Which is then a trap of form – a trap of a way of thinking. It is to be trapped by the idea that there is a beginning and not a continuum. And that there are multiple phenomena at play in any given situation at any time. But at the same time that you are part of that phenomena. But even further that this phenomena is not actually real. Because it is a series of calculated actions and response. A series of ‘others,’ equally observing and equally observed.

And so knowing that even the uncalculated is to be read as calculated then it makes sense that you would try to distance yourself from this paper. And besides, it was burning a hole in the side of your pants. What would you do with it?

Would you burn it? How many years of bad sex would one get from burning a paper that held one of its deepest secrets? Is there any mythology around flushing a flyer down the toilet? Would you be fundamentally considered a bad person if you slipped it in a friend’s bag while they told you (again) about how important it is to floss and proceeded to show you their entire mouthful of teeth?

Or, it could just be a flyer – right?

For the artist formerly known as Alice.

Did you listen when they heard you speak? Or were you caught up in chasing the every elusive thought down the rabbit hole? Not seeing any reason to identify with alice, it made no sense to you to say no when the mad hatter offered you some tea.

As a matter of principle it is bad behavior to say no to a cup of tea. And who is to have tea with a stranger without at least asking their name? They always said that bad behavior can get you in trouble – no one told you that good behavior could do the same. And that there is nothing like bad or good – there is more a grey area of behavior and perception.

Were they shocked when you told them that this was your home?

Did it hit them harder than they thought? When those that heard stories of hurt glory shook their fists to the moon – were you there? Did you hear them whisper in corridors and scribble on the walls? Did you attend their meetings? Did you see the fire in their eyes as they recited their chants? Were you there, in the middle of the night, as they swore on gods that have long lost their lustre?

Or is it because, acutely aware that they were listening, you found yourself doing their dance? Right foot, left foot, shuffle – right foot, left foot, shuffle. A simple enough pattern – or so you thought.

Do you ever wonder why the first dancer moved? What the first beat was?

Or were most people born dancing to the rhythm of their mother’s hearts?  What does this mean of those who have irregular rhythm? Do we dance because we were born out of tune and are always just trying to catch the beat? Or do out feet learn to move because they are not allowed to stay still? When we dance, then – we are not still. But still, we dance.

Still.

What does it mean to claim still when the elusive thought continues to be dangled right in front of us? Did you notice it was dangled – by some mad hatter closely watching his brew? Or were you distracted by the scent of tea? Perhaps it had more to do with the nature of rabbit holes. After all – didn’t the prophecy say something about the path being less lit, less traveled?

Had you found out how many rabbits had been down the hole before Alice? After? Or were the discarded wrappers too many to count?

Would you do it again?

A dilemma crosses your mind as you read this letter and the waft of fresh tea drifts into the room. Even before the wind whispers its question you already know your answer.

“Black, two sugars.”

Signed,

A Dependent Observer

These Hands

When it comes down to it we must demand – demand – that the spaces that we end up creating make room for us. Which is to say that we need to be very conscious that our needs are takeninto account when spaces are created. After all, it is only when we create spaces for ourselves that we can really make room for others like us. It is only when we expand where our bodies are allowed to occupy that we can make room for other bodies, like ours, to step into those same spaces.

Baldwin speaks of intent – and how we were not intended to be. And it is seen in the design itself that these spaces were not designed with you in mind. They were neither made for you, nor to make room for you. Rather, they were designed to destroy you. To kill that very thing inside you that allows you to be free. To kill that very illusion that you have convinced yourself that you are chasing.

So it is no simple feat to demand that spaces make room for us. After all, the imagination can only be informed by that which is around it. And so capitalist minds continue to reproduce capitalist spaces. In creating spaces for ourselves we continue to propel this same culture of extraction, appropriation, and exploitation. Even in the spaces we create we eliminate ourselves.

But bodies with a stubbornness that cannot be ignored.

And breaking bodies speak loudest.

So even as we fight to erase ourselves our bodies demand. Our bodies demand that the spaces we create create space for us. Our bodies demand that the spaces we create allow us to live. And it is just the complicated nature of this task that kills spaces as soon as they are created.

The complexity that demands that spaces be self sustainable, and imagined differently that pushes us right to the edge of delirium. We look for different everywhere. Instead we find the same poorly imagined spaces. What then remains, but for us to look, demand and create?

Perhaps to support and imagine with. To let go of the idea that we, and we ourselves must be the sole proprietors of such spaces. And, if the goal, as it has always been, is carefree black bodies – then black bodies must be allowed to be carefree. And to imagine carefree – that’s a tall order. It makes more sense to allow for carefree and adjust oneself in relation to the shape that carefree takes.

To demand that we, like others, must be free.

Or that others, like us, must be free.

Because when it comes down to it, we must demand – demand – that we are creating our own freedom. For what is the point of breaking free if we’re only fashioning newer, tighter, cages? In the end our freedom will be the work of our hands. And that work – that work is all we have.

 

Undreaming

I went

in search of dreams.

Instead I found nightmares

masquerading through the streets.

No one asked me to join the party.

 

What is this of the freedom that I seek? What is it, you ask, of the demons that I know, that I don’t know. That they too must also be seen as the emotional equivalents of 17 cycles, a sore throat and two drops of lemonade? Which is not, of course, to say that lemonade is the work of freedom but perhaps to imagine that art, like all things is about turning nightmares into dreams.

Turning nightmares into dreams.

It sounds like the thing of dreams, until nightmares. Which is sensible right? That nightmares, inevitably, are the stuff of dreams? That the very things that we work so hard to figure out are just evolutionary waves, washing away at the sands of time. Often as silently and soothingly as waves themselves do – if you give yourself a large enough perspective.

The problem, then becomes opening up a perspective large enough to diminish the problem at hand. But how big is the problem? And how large is the solution?

The problem with writing, it seems, is that everything that is written comes out sounding so crisp. So neat and tidy. Organised, neatly hidden between the words of any pages are often years of any real life. But are they worth digging into? I say this not because I think that many of the words above would be worth digging into but rather to ask – what does real life look like?

What does real life look like?

That’s what you’ve come looking for in the lines of a poem isn’t it?

A taste of something real.

Hejinian says that perhaps the work of art is to put us in complicity with things as they happen. I guess its anyone’s guess what we’re doing here really. Turning nightmares into dreams, putting us into complicity with reality, there are many theories. Generally, however, we agree that we are fucked. Artists, non artists, dancers, typists, singers, accountants, everybody agrees that we’re generally fucked.

In fact, we’re so royally fucked it’s kind of laughable isn’t it?

Like, no one’s even arguing about it anymore. Used to be there were some “we’re gonna be okay” guys. You know, the kind of guys who just felt like they had to say we’d be okay otherwise we’d not only be completely royally fucked, we’d also not know whether or not we’re going to be okay in this soon to come state of being fucked right? So now, beyond being royally fucked you have to sit and consider this douchebag’s behavior around how royally fucked you are and whether or not you are okay. Which you aren’t right?

Because you’re royally fucked. 

Sometimes we think

about coming up to breathe

and we hear the crash.

But that’s just the waves.

The waves don’t die.

 

But at the same time, you’re not. And that’s the thing. You’re another wave. And yes, you are going to crash. Hopelessly, probably and with reckless abandon, probably, and drop.

And even as you drop, you get smaller.

And the top gets farther.

Always allow yourself to fall

further.

 

Further.

 

Further.

 

Further.

 

Further.

 

Further.

 

At first, touch will be pain. Of course, to be experienced after the experience of having oneself to yourself will be a mess.

Allow the pain to seep in – it too has its purpose. It will stretch you as thin as you think you can ever be stretched.

Then comes the explosion. A pulse really. You can feel it now. The birth of a moment in space time.

You watch it spread

As it spreads it becomes everything that is in its path. At first you think this pulse is engulfing, destroying and there’s panic. But, in the end, it is only becoming what it isn’t. Slowly changing to fit the spaces that are being accorded to it.

And then another, behind you this time. Again it spreads.

And another.

And another.

As the pulses increase so do the waves. They violently crash into each other and the waters get more disturbed.

 

You’re frantic now. Having become accustomed to the stillness of solitude the pulses are an unwelcome disturbance. Worse still is that you can’t seem to figure out what is causing them and thus you have no idea how to stop them – the further you stretch yourself in search of stillness, the worse it gets.

 

The thing is, you too are a pulse – and you too are a wave. The more you become, the more the waves become you. Which means that a crash is not only a possibility – it is inevitable. So you reach back, inhale and head for the shore. And with each crash you dislodge more sand. With each crash more of the shore becomes the sea and more of the sea becomes the shore.

And so the dance between time and memory continues. And the dreamers keep crashing and remembering. Remembering that nightmares are only moments before the next…

crash.