Behind the Man with the Butternut Squash head

Is it true that when you found your father they sat back and watched, waiting to hear what words would first make their way out of your vault? Tales only find their way across the world when they are true(or at least, part truth), is  what I’d like to believe. That somehow truth catches itself on the wings of a butterfly and causes tornados of magic that are further reported as mysterious.

But what’s mystery but that which has not yet been fully observed? And what’s to observe but to become for a moment? To look for that moment of comprehension, or perhaps that moment of curiosity. No one tells us about what happened to the cat post mortem. Was it cremated? Or did they hold a ceremony? More importantly, did they keep asking the question that was important enough for the cat to lose its life? Or was the question buried deep inside the recedes of the cat’s family, struggling to find an answer and instead learning a lyric that promised to, at least, provide a way to navigate the mess that is a world of stories, facts and art?

Art.

I’ve used the word. As if it would carry a weight behind it that can only be whispered in dark rooms. As if weights can only be carried by those who listen by the light of the moon. Does the moon wake you up at night with its pull? Do your thoughts rise and fall like the waves of the ocean? Do you stand at the edge of your boat, looking out to the seas and think “peace, be still?” Does it work?

I’m reminded of a street in the middle of the city. On one side of this street there is a line of men. The cracks underfoot have recently filled by the philosophies of forgotten poets. On the other side there is the world, lovers lost longing for a moment. There are little girls playing brikicho to the sound of bi Kidude. There is a lake by which stories are told. The line of men on one side of the street are basking under 1 million watts of lighting. The world continues to recharge by the waves of the moon.

Does the moon wake you up at night?

Kipling says the strength of the wolf is in the pack, and the pack in the wolf, but the moon still stands – no matter how many times the wolf tries to scare it away. Do you think the moon is afraid, or is it secure in knowing that no matter how hard it pulls the waves will not wet its highest peaks?

I ask about the moon as a metaphor to ask about the moon.

Do your metaphors give birth? Create cycles that come back in many forms, asking the same question again and again until it finds itself somehow warped into an answer? Does the beauty of truth still surprise you, or do you go to bed waiting for the moon to call that you may bless the earth with the waves once again?

 To the Jagged Edged Woman

To the person who arrives with the sun in her eyes that we are the universe is no surprise. There is loneliness in eloquence. But even that over simplifies the things that they have kept lost inside the vortex between here and the edge of last night’s liquor.

You know this don’t you?

Someone told you about this on a bus going down Mombasa road but you didn’t take them seriously. Or maybe you took them so seriously that you couldn’t face it. But what truth exist in drunken whispers on a dark road?

No one’s sure.

Still, the search to be as close to the truth is one that began and ended with a question. A simple enough thing to do. The problem with questions though, is that some of them have answers. And some answers destroy. Some answers become the fire that consumes us and the stuff of our nightmares. The stuff that we see behind us. The metaphor becomes more vivid than I’d like it to.

The thing is, when an answer builds it lights a fire that can only be matched by the sun on a late afternoon waiting for the next performer at an open mic event – laughter. So it confuses them when you burn bright in the middle of the night as drunk men whisper odes into your ears.

Understandably, it burns their eyes. For how would you feel if you were just going around your business one night when there was a sunrise in your bedroom? Many people imagine that the sun is only a metaphor for light. If only the gh was as in laughter and the last t had another stroke. Life is only for the living, but what does it mean to be living where signs of life are quickly erased?

Questions, a currency that buys itself.

So what choice do we have left but to look for other people who burn with the life of the sun in their eyes? Hoping that somehow the collective force of sun searchers will lead to more. We are nothing but the products of our minds.

But all life needs the sun.

Even if only in small doses. Even though they don’t know how to bask in the garden on a warm afternoon. Even though they bask in gardens every day. And so you, like a plant, store the sun in your eyes, and give life.

Life.

But they have taken this life, piled it together and set a match. Using the energy from your embers to fuel their selves. You were okay with this at first but fire consumes. And the more they consumed the more they consumed. Soon they began to try and create their own sunlight. Which would have been ideal if they didn’t imagine sunlight as a finite resource. As opposed to searching for sunlight from the infinite they started looking for ways to get sunlight out of you even when you didn’t have much to give.

And now they say you have jagged edges.

Which is what that whisper on the bus had said all those years ago, but even he was not sure. And I see why. Being sure means knowing something, and what’s knowledge but a balance of several opinions? How do we know? We know, because we know. But what can that carry if now a burden to know more?

Know more?

Still, it’s easier to find the source of time than to quantify more. How do you hit a constantly moving target? With arrows that know what they are doing. The question then is, how do we create arrows that know what they are doing? By finding the sun.

To those that carry the sun in their eyes, that we are the universe is no surprise.

So, on some days, I take my favourite book and a chair, go sit on as close to the sun as possible, and bask, hoping to gather enough sunlight that I may share as much as you have.

But you continue to shine.

And I continue to bask.

We grow.

Thank you.

Signed

A dependent observer

For the madman at Kilifi  

And when they ask you why you sit in the middle of all the madness bleeding into your laptop you will smile. You will smile that smile that echoes histories of lost poets, searching for answers in questions that have been asked since the beginning. Many words, but not something that they know will happen, the apparent becomes a pattern that we try to decipher.

We know though, because things are known, that what is seen is only a fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum. But perhaps a fraction is all that we need. Perhaps the things that you know, and have put out are echoing back?

Maybe we are just talking as poets should. Putting words together in search of meaning even though we both now (as we do) that meaning is nothing more than a beer, a laugh and a pat on the back.

But the working man’s coat can only be worn by men who work. And the faces that our faces remind ourselves of have been seen. Do you understand me? Probably not, but this would lead to the idea that I understand myself. That understanding is something worth looking for as opposed to finding.

When you are done reading this will you carry meaning? Or will you let the meaning slowly find its way to you. Poetry, I have been reminded, exists for those who scream in a vacuum. Still my lungs continue to insist that I force air through my throat and my ears report failure.

Why do we do this?

Is it because it is cathartic? Should they give us keyboards and lock us in a room. That’s how to replicate Shakespeare isn’t it? Did Shakespeare lock himself in rooms writing letters? Was Hamlet secretly a letter to his past lover? Or perhaps, a drop of insight into the lives of a history that we have been forced to consider as if it was our own.

People can no more speak in spaces of silence than magic can be produced by the end of a twig that fell off the mwarubaini.

But you seem to have found a way – and that’s why they call you a madman isn’t it?

You have screamed for so long that they have begun to hear you. That can be a little bit daunting because there was a safety in being unheard – a freedom. So it leads to a situation where we strive to be heard and end up finding new ways to be unheard.

But what’s the point of speaking if not to be heard? (or, why do trees fall in the forest?)

In the end, I’m asking questions that lead to more questions. A currency, I have been told, that only buys more currency. I point this out to take away some of the gravity of the questions, but I ask them anyway.

You know what’s funny?

There is no vacuum. Sound travels just fine, but ears don’t seem to have learned the art of listening. Do we listen with our ears or do we have to align our entire being to the subject matter at hand? A simple quandary solved by dividing the square root of the subject matter of the universe by the vibrations of our souls.

42.

The magic number.

You, of course, have been listening for a long time. You have listened to sound, and closer still to echoes. You have searched for pieces of listening beyond the recurring stupidity of heroes.

And that’s why you’re mad. That madness becomes a breath of sanity in a world that we would rather imagine.

I have heard you

and will continue to hear you.

Signed,

A Dependent Observer