Then mirrors, then men

shadowed moonlight visions I heard

the familiar downpour

always a hollow, almost terrified

shower.

morphed for a thousand and one years of suppression

between rock and the softness

of one set free in an unknown yet shackled way.

i heard but never found the leaking source in time

to perhaps embrace in the way sadness marries hopelessness

giving birth to a single way

forward that at times

promises a thing like

peacefulness.

i was lost most times-

between

the vision and the slippery slopes.

It is now, somewhere between

a past unfinished and a new moon

that I saw the many men crouched, as though in

meditation.

their cries as a melody of shattered mirrors grappling for a reflection

a conclusion of self, a climax of revelations

laid waste but sprouting still

And then the gong-

And then the silence.

mirror became steel again

and all stood upright in a fortitifude that embroidered

silence

around pain.

grey

Listening now to the sound of the gong,

flowing through the membranes of loss,

of loss brought forward as a sacrifice to the gods,

to the gods of retribution who stand between the clear grey line of,

blackness meeting armed whiteness at the back of police vans,

of gunpowder and stolen voices– anchored unto the seams of the Atlantic,

of the Atlantic heavy with unborn child, clinging to the expanse of being and becoming,

of being and becoming in between the greyness of limitations that are both blinding as

they are obscure.

Listening now to the sound of the gong,

praying hope over the darkness of snatched nights, whispering mothers, walking over the edge,

over the edge of our dreams that lay beside us by day and haunt us as they lay beneath us, all too often.

All too often, do we find the greyness, unyielding,

but always

there

 

ImmiGrant Diaries: The 67 Bus

The 67 bus would be leaving in exactly 5 minutes, no, rather in 4 minutes and 50 seconds. Although my shift had ended over a half hour ago, I was expected to continue work until the second shift (a.ka. Bimpe) arrived. Bimpe was a joy to be with but never really caught on about the importance of punctuality. “Ore miiiiii, ma binu naaaa, you know that yeye boss of mine at my second job never allows me to leave on time. Only God will help us in this America o! Excuses and apologies were synonymous in Bimpe’s world. Of, course, she didn’t go by the name Olabimpe at work, but rather, Josephine Reynolds, her expensive and also illegal, “Government name” as they had been dubbed amongst the African immigrants. I suddenly found myself musing over what my own government name would be: Catherine or perhaps Katherine-with-a-K Smith? no, that seemed to scream “yes, I am working illegally” way too loudly. How about Alison Roberts? hmmm…maybe a little more believable. I often liked to play the game of conjuring the most hilarious combination of names that I might get once I had put enough money together to purchase a government card. The game was amusing until I remembered, I didn’t actually have a say in any of it. 3 minutes until the 67 Bus and still no sign of Bimpe. 

“Where on earth is Ms. Josephine Reynolds?!” “I…errr..sir..” “No excuse Ms. Ayodimeji! Always late! No more job for Josephine after tonight. No show, no job!” My manager, Mr. Ali, was perpetually angry. In my six years, mopping up and washing dishes at The Asia Food Palace, I had never seen the man smile. That’s not to say he was never in high spirits or dare say, happy, Mr. Ali was just angrily happy. However, I had decided a few years back that I liked Mr. Ali. He was in every literal sense of the word-a slave driver but the man was honest. He always paid wages and bills on time and in full, never once missing on monthly payments. The Asia Food Palace wasn’t much, a corner restaurant that served cheap inauthentic “Asian delicacies” which translated to oil-saturated spring rolls and diabetes-inducing sweet and sour chicken. But Mr. Ali had kept the business afloat for the last twenty-five years, and single-handedly for that matter. At one time, there were rumors that by night, The Asia Food Palace became an illegal drugs transaction point but I had waved off such comments as pure jealousy and the need to dismiss what could only be attributed to hard work and determination to succeed as a brown male in a white America.

30 seconds to go and still no Bimpe. Just as Mr. Ali stormed out of the kitchen still ranting, I caught a glimpse of the 67 bus, pulling into the bus stop by The Asian Food Palace. Shit, not again. Within seconds, the bus was on its way again. “Ore o!! I am here- if you know how bad traffic was ehn” a breathless and perspiring Bimpe rushed into the restaurant kitchen. “Bimpe, you’ve made me miss my bus, again. And Mr. Ali is seriously vexed” “Forget, Mr. Ali, isn’t he always vexed? abegi.” I shouldn’t have waited for an apology but I always did. “I’m off, Bimpe” “Thanks, ore! Let me get into this uniform before Mr. Ali kills me for my children”

Stepping out of The Asia Food Palace, I felt the cool but chilly breeze sweep my face. Winter was approaching. I pulled my Good Will-obtained H&M denim jacket closer to my body. The jacket was in great condition apart from the fact that it was missing a few buttons and had a visible hole by the right sleeve. “Holes are in fashion, jare!” was Bimpe’s response when I had complained about the visible wear and tear of the jacket. Without enough cash to call a taxi and having missed the last 67 bus, the only other option was to walk the 12 miles. I felt my phone ring and could only decipher that it was a call from home: Mama calling about Kola’s school fees again. There was no money and no prospects of me having any to send so the conversation would be fruitless. My fingers danced between the two options: “Decline” or “Answer”. I stuffed the phone back into my purse and headed down Lockford & 2nd Street. I would get back to them but just not now or tomorrow.

P.C: http://bit.ly/2uGKqOk

 

Kehinde

kennmackay-pair-of-yoruba-ibeji-figures-side

 

born of the illustrious ibeji, 

You have fallen between the two worlds.

Constructing a certain void that cushions reality-

taking the real from the unreal and creating

a melange of uncertainty,

of which you rest your mind

that once carried gourds of milk

to the ifa. 

Beautiful one, lagging behind the one-

Taiye –

who eagerly jets into the world.

Only to wish to return to the

womb and to re-begin the starting place

and to pause the finishing-

perhaps in order to erase

the chaos of being-

lifeless, life-filled, but yet

unformed, still.

But the metamorphosis,

is parallel in your eyes-

as you seek to delve deeper into the

thrusting waters of blank parchment, that sing:

bwerani, bwerani, bwerani kuno 

but yet, with one foot in

with the other unsure…unperturbed.

Kehinde, the lampost-

dimming with reflections of those forgotten

in the rebirth of timelessness.

 

pc: https://tfeanda.com/2015/09/02/tribal-art-fair/comment-page-1/

Fruit of love for Mine

The one that got away but returned to the troubled hearts waters,
stubborn one,
complex and
Mine.
My beautiful one- unborn,
rebirthed and evolving.
When shall this fruit ripen?
Let’s dance around the realities of
our becoming.
Were we only dreaming
when we lost
our paths
and forged
ahead to
the unknown?
Arms locked,
bodies in conversation,
praying mercy.
Mercy, mercy, mercy mercy mercy
I pour on your crown-
Solemnly in fervent wait
for the fruition of these waitings
and smooth endings.
My beautiful one- unborn,
rebirthed and evolving.
When shall this fruit ripen?

The women underwater

I speak for
The women underwater.
Those who have not drowned
But have adopted the art of sinking
Beneath.
Beneath themselves
And
Below the world.
They stand like unmoved pillars.
Waiting with no expectation.
Who are these women?
They that navigate the dark ocean depths,
with the familiarity of a well known story.

I speak for
The women who have studied the art of invisibility
and apologize their identities,
over their spread legs and wetness.
Who have learnt guilt to be synonymous with happiness.
They lurk between themselves
and around concrete walls.
Holding their breath
and wishing drops of joy
to fall above them.
On their way to nowhere,
They move silently.
These are the women underwater.