The things we try to catch

The things we try to grasp are fleeting. We see them as they fly by and chase them down the rabbit hole, never stopping for tea. We stay eyes opened waiting for one to pass by in the periphery, barely visible.

The things we try to catch are like the eye of the stepper to the roaming flanker, to notice without being noticed. To catch them without their knowledge of our presence, for their knowledge of our presence would fundamentally change their nature.

The things we try to catch unhappen, don’t happen, don’t exist – until they do.

The things we try to catch have been buried under years of repetitive action – look away, look away look away. The things we try to catch do not understand the language of being seen.

The things we try to catch float somewhere between the known and the felt. Somewhere between the image and the abstract. Somewhere between what is apparent and what we shall never known.

The things we try to catch are like time crystals, in constant oscillation around ourselves yet not powered by us.

The things we try to catch will never fully be within our grasp.

Still, we chase the things we try to catch, for all we know is how to try.


(for Nyawira Nderitu 1943 – 2017)


Taflase* Taflase Taflase taflase seven times

in this moment of mourning

on this day of memory,

I stand a trembling tongue

without the language

to echo across the void.


I must begin with those who died opposed,

towards a notion yet to be clear

who threw themselves back after watching their friends die.

Who left doors open at risk of murder.

Who left notes under mats.

Who bit down their history towards a future.

Who sacrificed, resented, repented, sacrificed.

And again.


I am still but an idea that I am yet to grasp,

And so I stand here,

on behalf of the half tongued

cut from the source

and without the language

to echo across the void.


And so Taflase, Taflase, Taflase again,

in this moment of mourning,

on this day of memory

I re-member

Those who began with others,

Who destroyed their (selves),

Who lived under consistent micro aggression,

Who checked their locks eight times a night,

Who apologized “they don’t mean it,”

Who raged silently into the night.


I call from the docks to a boatman.

I am but a weary traveler who searched for this place

through myth, legend and intuition –

chasing traces of it in half conversations.

Now I stand here, but the dock is empty,

the sea calm and the place in ruins.

I stand on the shore calling to a boatman,

I have heard only of Katsumi

who spoke to a prophet.

But I know there are more.

And so I call out

in the language I know

to the endless sea.

Taflase Taflase, Taflase seven times,

Please hear me.


I ask to be heard by those who were afraid,

Who acted out of fear and lived to regret their actions,

who betrayed, backstabbed, stole, manipulated, lied,

who Chased redemption, who further withdrew,

who folded themselves to fit into spaces that were designed for their expulsion,

who took advantage,

who settled for what they could get out of the situation.


In this moment of mourning

on this day of memory,

I call that a boatman may ferry those who now leave,

Who listened and misunderstood,

Who have marked distance,

Who watched as the dock was destroyed,

Who have mourned their own deaths,

Who stood, defiant even when the world wanted to erase them.

Who fought beyond amnesia – and only need re-memberance.

Bless the docks once more and take them.

Take them that they may know peace.


Taflase: is a polite preface to a serious, possibly unpleasant or even offensive statement. May be especially appropriate from a younger spaker addressing elders. The expression is found not only in Ewe but also Akan and Ga.

Amabe: Kisii word meaning to mourn

Face Down

It became ‘take as little as possible from the other” and because the other before you had learned this lesson they overcompensated, giving you more than you deserved.

The product of two unhealthy situations is not a healthy situation.

Rather it is a balance of two violences. Steady ground so fragile that the touch of your feet can break it. So you learn to walk lightly. you learn to make it so that your footsteps are barely noticeable. Learn to erase every trace of your presence.

So it makes sense that being seen is new to you.

a dance, how did it go,
it takes, two to tango?

guilty feet have got no rhythm 


I always walk staring at the ground,
face down face down

little  known poet

You put one foot gingerly forward.

Towards Soon

“First, spread dissatisfaction. Nothing is working, nothing anywhere is working. Ensure that it looks like there is a fundamental crisis. This is simple enough if there actually is a number of fundamental crisis to pick from. And, while the people might understand that things are as they always have been, it will always be easy enough to make it look like things are particularly bad.”

– the anarchist’s guide to anarchy, for dummies (yet to be written)


Dear Jack,

I’d like to make art that is in charge of how it is perceived. Art that holds the person and directs their attention. Art that moves from pattern to pattern, with the points in the pattern shifting in relation to each other, but to nothing in the outside world. Such that if one were to look at a fixed point in the space of the art it would not make sense – for the art does not move in relation to the space. And that if one were to pick at a particle in it to track, they would eventually find themselves led back to the pattern.

It is in the pattern that I would like to make my point.


Nature has only one rule: again.


How many iterations of the same experiment does it take for proof?

Nothing is working – nothing anywhere is ever working.


Perhaps the role of art is to put is complicity with life.

  • Lyn Hejenian

Perhaps the role of magic is to show us the wonder in the banal. A rabbit pulled out of a hat makes you wary of all hats everywhere – even though you know it’s really just a well placed lever and fingers that have learned how to lie.


“It’s not that I’m angry, I’ve lost my anger – or at least what you thought it was. Perhaps then it is that my anger has lost its face. I’d go get it but I’m afraid of Koh.”


“I mean, to stick to the metaphor, how do I react if they all lose their faces? My happiness, my sorrow, my everything?”

“But isn’t that what you were working towards? Being faceless? Being invisible?”



An angry rabbit is pulled out of a hat in the middle of the show. It’s hands are crossed, it’s right foot rests on the left and a scowl sits squarely under its whiskers. They pass it the mic.

“Nothing is working, nothing is ever working.”


There is much work to be done.



Desert Storm

(A Response)

Mood: It’s that one dream. The one they keep showing in the movies. You are walking down a road, everything seems okay and then suddenly the road disappears, and you’re falling.

(Perhaps it is important to begin with a dedication, to you – the one who threw themselves into the depths of the impossible. For you who has read every poem about not calling the impossible impossible and thought – fuck your poetry. For you, who has fallen seventeen times, gotten up eighteen and, somehow, is still falling. For you who found out the light at the end of the tunnel was nothing but an optical illusion. For you who has believed, perceived, conceived but is yet to achieve. For you who hasn’t died, got stronger, hasn’t died, got stronger, hasn’t died, got stronger, and is battling death once more. For you who thinks you are strong enough, but still aren’t. For the broken clocks who are never present when they are right. For those who have chased their dreams down back alleys and office halls. For their blistered feet and how they keep running. A poem for those who have sat in despair and frustration – it can’t be done, it can’t be done, it can’t be done. A poem for those who give up, let go, walk away. A poem for those who refused to be burned by their own flame any longer.)


Thank you

for your service.

Picture Perfect

Mood: In an old story a father of great means spends 17 years trying to find his daughter a ping pong ball with pink spots (in the world of the story they don’t exist – and it doesn’t make sense for the father to just get one made because logic). She dies at 18, unsatisfied. Desire is cruel.

Welcome to the mind of the one who whispered in parseltongue at the conductor who refused to give him change for his 50 bob note. Here, in these lines, reside the vengeance of a godless prophet, a prophtetless god and a people who have forgotten what it is to believe. If you take a closer look at the sentences you will begin to see yourself take form. As the words mesh themselves on the page – an image. A capsule of memory disintegrates in a time crystal, the image here,

then not,


then not.

In constant oscillation causing you to question whether the image is really there. It is.

You know it is because you have seen it. You know you have seen it because there it is again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

You are no longer aware of whether it is the image that keeps disappearing or whether your lack of belief creates alternative realities for you – only to be consistently shattered by the relentless factual nature of the image.

It does not exist.

It does not exist.

It does not exist.

There it is.

It’s hiding.

Right there in the space that does not exist between letters of a single word. The space that is as undefined as it is definitive. Squeezing its form through the cracks to somehow create a visible image. Just outside reach of the page the image sits. As if it is afraid its appearance will be its own downfall. The harder you grasp for it the further it goes. And the second you tell yourself it really isn’t there – it shows itself.

This tussle.

This endless searching and unsearching has you caught in a vortex. You wish to prove that the image exists that you may destroy it. And so the nature of the image itself seems like a taunt. Like a giving and taking. As if it somehow knows to hold, right there, right at the edge – and no amount of scrutiny allows you to distance yourself from the serpent tongue of the ungrateful. No amount of searching gives you reason not to be – gives you the clarity you seek, or the closure you need.

(There it is again)

And so the tussle will continue,

and the poet will rage,

and, somewhere in these lines,

you will find the image.

And lose it.

And find it.

And lose it.



Mood: You’re always working, they said. Come out with us – let’s have some fun.

Rain drop.

I am just a moment that has been suspended in freefall for so long that I have lost all concept of time, motion and circumstance. All that I know is I was, is and currently am – as I always have been.


Is god euphoria? Her shrieks can be heard by those who would listen, said the preacher. Her diaper is wet, said the teacher. Her fury is pure, said the mother. She doesn’t exist, said the searcher. I kept dancing to the music.

Growing the collective concious is harder than it looks. The ground rarely takes to the seed properly and a great deal of the crop is often lost. Many have blamed it on parched land – since the invasion the land has been void of affect. A vital mineral for the growth of consciousness. The diapers, a particular part on the leaf, get wet. This is the first sign of a degrading crop. Other signs are harder to tell. The shrieks of a dying concious can only be heard by a keen ear.

This has been so hard to do that many have begun to say that it is impossible to grow – that pure fury demands too much from the unyielding ground. For many years, this was impossible to solve – until a small team of scientists decided to dig deep – increase the nutrients in the ground.

I stumbled accross their hole and I fell.

I am still falling.

Drop top.

X Marked the Spot

Mood: You have an old dvd somewhere  – you’re sure you do. So you spend the entire day cleaning your dvd collection to find it (it was in the wrong case) (you have a large dvd collection). It’s a movie you loved back in the day, but you loved the DVD most because it had the director’s cut and deleted scenes and everything. You make yourself a good meal and pop it into the player. It plays the first three seconds of the movie and freezes. You take it out wipe it and play it again. Still doesn’t work. So now you have all this evening left.


Any fool who knows that killing a dream is a delicate affair – and horribly violent. So there are two options:

  1. Don’t kill your dream.
  2. If you must kill your dream, make sure it dies.

Burying dreams under the fence behind the shop has never been a good idea. Once you’ve waited for the neighbour’s children discovering that their privates can actually be semi public, you’ll have to deal with simba. Still, even if you wait out teen lust and a barkless bite, you still won’t be done with the dream forever.

You might try and forget about it, but as long as the dream remains buried you will have a path out of the omelas. And as long as you have a way out you will never be able to settle in – because you never wanted to be there in the first place.

And you know this.

You know this because you buried your fucking dream. Now, like a hearbeat in quantam entanglement with your own, it beats.


Do teenage dreams rebel?

(I write dreams but I am actually asking about dreams)

Does a dream, on achieving a loose grasp of the mechanisms that affect its survival, decide that it can navigate on its own?

Have you seen dreams wandering the streets, culture shocked and hungry? What does a fully grown dream look like?




Perhaps, she said, the problem is not that there is a problem but there’s the lingering persistence of a problem that once was. You were not okay, but now you are but because you are used to not being okay you navigate the world like you’re not okay but you are – but because of how you navigate it confirms your truth which is that you are not okay. Which is okay, except it’s not.


That’s how she said it too – and with as little punctuation.

By the time you were piecing it together you had already taken advice from every fool.

And there’s very little ways to be okay (or not) when two wounded hearts are pounding blood through your ears.



You remember when their parents started complaining. They had heard whispers of an alley in the neighbourhood where the teens went when they wanted to understand each other better. It was not going to last that long anyway. It’s hard for an ambiguous group of teens to keep a secret. And besides, everyone could smell what they were smoking – so it was silly both ways.

“You’ve not been hanging out behind that shop have you?”

Some questions are like riddles with their answers not being in the answer themselves but in how one formulates their answer. You answered wrong – but you only knew about it because you had researched extensively before you buried your dream. Not that you had no interest in the other activities but there were more discreet ways to find out. Or that’s what you told yourself.

But it did make for an excellent hiding point. Two points of entry, so options if cornered. A lot of undergrowth, which meant healthy enough ground. And a sewer right round the bend. This was important because adults are a lot less likely to be found around dirt than children. And, if one must bury a dream, it is best to do so away from an adult.

But you only remember them as complaining.

So you’re not necessarily shocked that they took down the shop – but it does bother you. Especially now as you stand there looking at the shiny new house that stands where the shop once stood. Off to its left a beautiful garden blocks of what use to be the entrance to the alley.

Only a child could think a shop can last forever – even landscapes are transient.



Years later a child finds a strange object buried in the garden.

They feel a heartbeat linger.  

For my Next Trick

Mood: We all know that magic is not real. The Rambo bamboo boom boom guy on KBC had us convinced for a while, but as soon as we figured out you can tie handkerchiefs together, we were done. Still we kept watching. Not because we thought it was true – because we know it isn’t. But because the things we don’t know manifest in unexpected ways. And that’s exciting. Because we just want to chant Rambo, bambo boom and watch the impossible possible.

Take a sample group. Any group will do. The group I happened to find involved three geese, a professor of marine botany, two pencils, a bucket of water and oil extract of the milky way (125 ml, I hear it’s really cheap if you know where to look). Gather them around the idle wounds of history. Watch as they stew around where they are placed in the larger scheme of things. As the scars open their own scars. As the coal burns fires into their soul, further into themselves. Watch as they react differently to the same stimuli. Watch where they look, what they look for, how they find it and where they find it.

This, you think, means knowing more than the sample group. Perhaps a warning, as I came to learn, you will not be the least knowledgeable – but you won’t be the most either. But, being the gatherer, you will have spent more time around fire. As science has shown, one cannot observe without changing the experiment in certain ways. And even as we gather around the embers, we stoke them. And even as we gather around the embers we stoke them.

(who wins in the game of depth? The Marriana trench is 10,994 metres deep – many still call it home.)

After an adequate amount of time send the sample into the world. Watch as the excesses of their open histories burn those around them. Watch this burning stabilize the flame.

(brightest wicks burn fastest they always say – but surely everyone is just trying to make it to the end)

Watch as those they burn open their own wounds.

Watch as they wander in search of a good gathering.

Take a sample group.

Still Looking

Mood: The mess in the room is spectacular. Weeks, maybe even months of accumulated filth lie everywhere. Dishes have grown mould. Curtains are stained everywhere. Clothes are strewn on the floor. Pictures, once hung, now broken on the floor. Pictures, still hang, with broken frames and missing faces. In the middle of the room there is a chair, where a perfectly poised pinky finger sips tea from a cup, ‘lovely, just lovely.’

They first time you told them you never loved yourself they gave you a list. It was a strange list written on a small parchment. The items seemed strange to your person. But they seemed to know things. And you wanted to learn to listen.

The second time, they told you a story of time traveller. In the story the traveller was given a seed that would slowly birth into a traveller like them. The task, it seemed, was to find whether the dimension of time had an end. Carrying the seed, the traveller was to travel into the future as quickly as possible. As the seed got heavier it would begin to feed on the traveller’s energy. At critical mass traveller was to give the new traveller a seed and, with one final push, fling them into the future that the search might continue.

You were not sure if you were the traveller, the seed or time.

The third time they sent you to the forest. There, they said, you would have to look for the bark of the mugumo that refused to fall when struck. Legend has it that it was there that the spirit came from the shadows and boomed, ‘you shall not take what is not yours.’ The tree, that grew weaker over the years because of neocolonialisation, still had a few branches left. But it was buried deep in the forest. And no one was really sure how to get there or whether it could really be found.

You’ve been walking ever since.