DRY RUN

Since tomorrow lies

Beyond the horizon,

Let this be a dry run.

When we hit a rut,

We’d abandon this joke.

 

Entwined hands,

And lives,

Just for a spell,

Let’s call it everything

But love.

Anything more

And we are dancing blindfolded

In a field sown with Claymores.

 

Better the truth

However bitter

Than a shameless parody.

Victims of circumstance

And base passion

That’s what we are.

 

Love is a crown too heavy

For such unworthy heads

Shoes too many sizes

Bigger

Than our clay feet.

 

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DRY RUN

A WARNING

The day draws near
When sympathy will become
A shrivelled, brown nothing
And listening ears, impervious.

They who worshipped
At your shrine,
Will find more glittering gods.
No one wants to forever salaam
Your fiery, maleficient idols.

Don’t you know?
Pain demands privacy,
Pain demands bravery.
Else she will perch on
Your shoulders
And run you aground.

Else, a day beckons
When your shrine
Will be defiled
And the scales
Will fall from your eyes.

You made guests
Lord over the house,
And chose bitter springs
Over pleasant veldts.

You, high priest,
Have served false gods.

A WARNING

HUSK

For Jeph and N.

The man in
Flashy clothes
With a swagger
That would melt
The coldest heart
Can’t remember
His own name.

His smile
Can make
A woman swoon
But his eyes
Are blank
His laughter is
Loud and unrestrained
Reeks of disdain
And conceit

He’s at every party
And has something
To say about everything
Done by others,
But his mouth
Is full of air and sand
When he talks
About his achievements.

In his pursuit of glory
He seeks shortcuts
And parodies.
Hard work is abomination
Discipline is a white lion.

When he is gone
There’s nothing
To linger.

HUSK

DRIFTWOOD

Currents on which we were borne
Carried us far out to open sea
Where we, driftwood that we were,
Bobbed and went this way
And that way, and that way.

The tongues of the wind
Ever lashing, in cacophonous cruelty.
And what of the rain?
Beating and washing; taking!
Yes, stripping away who
We thought we were
With the deluge of images
And words and opinions,
And movements of these our times

We watch ourselves
Change faces so oft
We become strangers
To ourselves

Driftwood, worn and made brittle
When real storms come
Won’t we be broken?
And scattered?

I, I need me a sail.
And a rudder.
A compass too.
Clear skies, or not,
I will find my way home.

DRIFTWOOD

HUNTED

They lied
Telling me
Words spoken
Proffer freedom.

I love
The idea of you,
I said
I love you,
You heard.

Then began
The enslavement
That has
Me fleeing
And you reeling

When I took away
The soft landing.

If my words were
A hook and bait,
How come
I am the hunted?

HUNTED

STONES

The first stone hit her in the back.
She had heard, and ignored the street kids chanting at her. Gaunt, filthy and clothed in rags, they looked like a herd of sheep without a shepherd, and she pitied them. So she had strode on, tuning out their abusive words and catcalls. She was not the first person to wear a short and tight skirt, and she wouldn’t be the last.
And so when the first stone hit her, she thought it was her kidney stones, and she paused to take a deep breath. She was exhaling when the second stone hit her left calf. The pain, white hot, shot through her whole leg to her brain, and she turned around.
The third stone caught her in the face.
She saw it coming and it was too late to dodge it, but she tried anyway. She couldn’t tell where it hit her, for the pain was everywhere. Her vision clouded, and the ground looked like it was spinning. The bright sunlight gave way, all of a sudden, to an unnatural greyness.
The fourth stone hit her, and then the fifth, and then she couldn’t keep count. The urchins’ chants became louder and frenzied. She tried to protect herself, but the projectiles were too many. Like a swarm of bees, they stung her. She cried out, beseeching them to stop, and a stone found its way to her mouth.
Blood mixed with tears in her mouth. A taste she knew well from the many times Obi had split her lips when he beat her.
Obi, her Obi. The man she had worn the skirt for. She didn’t care for short skirts but for the fire in his eyes when he laid eyes on her unblemished, smooth fair legs.
Her body was a sea of pain. The missiles stung her, planting islands of pains on her limbs, chest and stomach. Breathing was excruciating.
Another stone hit her head, and colour burst across her eyes, and their chants, and the pain, began to seem far away. Maybe she was dreaming. Maybe it was someone else being stoned.
She found herself seeing an image of herself in her mirror. Her full lips layered in matte lipstick, and her Brazilian attachment let down, the way he would like it.
Another stone hit her head, and she drifted into blackness.

STONES

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Let love be

The elephant

In the room.

This thing

We will christen

Infatuation.

Let sacrifices be

Tagged as duty.

The hollow in me

When you aren’t around

Must be depression.

I’d rather be a psychiatric case;

Would you be my sickness?

 

Better that

Than settle for their love.

Of shoddy stereotypes

And six-packs

And perfect breasts and thighs.

Their perfidious mouths mouth

The hallowed words

In utter nonchalance:

I love you.

And make promises

Lighter than air.

 

I don’t love you.

I adore you,

And worship the very ground

You tread.

I am obsessed by you.

 

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

OF (SOME) CORNY SAYINGS

I don’t want to hear another corny saying again. Anything along the lines of ‘the way out is out’, or ‘to get love, give love’, or the one most of us know: no pain no gain. But they do often contain a lot of truth. An almost infallible way to get love is to give love, and without effort, which is many a time rather painful, we won’t obtain anything substantial.
So why don’t I want to hear them? Is it because they take have the power to simplify my convoluted issues? They proffer things to do when I want to feel helpless and wallow in self-pity, which comes so naturally. Also, they preclude my daydreams of a miraculous solution and tell instead of a journey of steps leading to an expected end. They kill my hopes for instant gratification, and tell me of hope instead. Water the seed in the ground, and one day a tree will stand.
The way out is in actually looking for a way out, not in lamenting.
Feel unloved? Love someone, feel the warmth of your heart coming alive. Love will find you.
You want to build anything worthwhile? Work, and disregard the pain.

OF (SOME) CORNY SAYINGS

MY DEMONS ARE BIGGER THAN YOURS

By all means, if you must, wear your pain on your sleeve. Don’t be shy about it. Hold your head high and forge on through the ups and downs of living, acknowledging your pains, dealing with them, and using them as springboards.
If no-one has ever hurt you, if untoward circumstances have never taken a bite out of you, there is a significant likelihood that you have hurt yourself. And on differing scales, you have hurt, or are still hurting. Agreed?
By differing scales I mean how a boy will say his father’s farm is the biggest until he goes to another person’s farm. Being the poorest student in a Covenant University is different from being the poorest student in Obafemi Awolowo University. But by no means am I belittling the pressure of being considered indigent by Covenant University standards. Pain is private, and exclusive.
We are shaped by a lot of things, and pain is not in any way the least of these altering forces. Take a contemplative look at your past and you will find trauma that made you bend in certain ways.
Leaving pain; how about mistakes, or outright acts that we knew led only towards jeopardy? They are part of the reason we are wherever we are, and who we are. But you know all this.
Festering pain, haunting actions, consequences of past misdeeds coalesce into the whispering voices of guilt, the crippling weight of depression, and paralysing fear. And much more. These things that weigh many a head at night, and soak pillows with tears, and steal sleep, and wither bodies. They make us go through our days listless, unfriendly, and often irascible. They drain the world of all its colours. They are our demons.
And so we often blame our lapses and flaws on the past and its baggage. We expect to be cut some slack because of what was done to us, or because of the fallout of certain disastrous mistakes we made. But for how long? When will people’s empathy become irritation? And do we get lost in the maze of self-pity and lose sight that other people are hurting too?
I daresay a lot of people live life as if they’ve had it the worst, or that they’re the worst people to ever walk this earth. Often, they wear a thick skin of bitterness, nonchalance and a twisted pride. My demons are bigger than yours, they seem to be saying. Are they actually bigger? Or are you focused on them so much that you see nothing else?
These demons are noise. Interference. Nothing more. If you listen to the noise you won’t hear the music. If you listen to the music the noise will fade.
Kill the demons. Therein lies the boast. That despite all the hail and wind, you have a genuine smile on your face, and the peal of laughter rocking you isn’t a façade. Be able to say you are where you are in spite of what you went through. Let the menacing voices that once cowed you become harmless whispers.

MY DEMONS ARE BIGGER THAN YOURS