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,

here,

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.

And

Fertilizer

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.

Now.

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.

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.