Mukoma Wa Ngugi
 
 
IV
It’s a plunge to the bottom of the cliff - a fall with no respite
-falling - unnamed pain as flesh scrapes against sharp edges
of darkness - rocks and broken glass jutting out the walls
of my mind till I am at the bottom of the pit. Where do I look
to crawl outside myself?  Where are the stronger poisons?
Where are the fanged asps to heal my wrists? I crawl up- piecemeal
- fingernails broken to cuticles, hands and knees bleeding, skin
sanded in a million places till I get to the top to find one clean
metaphor that knows sometimes there is no climb after the fall. 
The curse of words  - to always be inside yourself - always
an open wound -  a slave to their wounds.  Carefully, I pocket
this perfect metaphor and tip-toe to our doorstep.  I am drunk
again you say when I lift it up to show you what I found this time
in the pit of my mind.
 
V
Yesterday was warm, a breeze with no past.  I felt so pampered.
The sun was lodged several inches into my skin. I even started
thawing! My jaws unlocked. Laughter once exiled traced
its way back as a song.  It was a lullaby.  I was so close
to being home.  Looking out the window, today is so brutal,
so cold, without memory.  The trees are naked. The clouds
rain their acid. Today is lovable, blessed only for yesterday.
Two cups of coffee and I find you armed with brush, canvass
and paint.  You pause to look outside. "Sometimes it’s easy
to create when you have something to work against" you say
between two sips of coffee.  Soon, it too will be cold.  Forgotten.
 
VI
Sharp tip of Shaka's assegai one inch into the flesh above my
heart - there is madness and fury in a river that does not know
its source - that destroys all that lies in its way -  even that which
it runs to feed. I never knew my grandfather though he knew
his - so sunrise or sunset - I end at the point where my eyes cease
to see.  Forge assegai into a pen and pen will write itself into a gun. 
Our children must have their source.
 
VII
Needs, true courage comes in the form of hunger.  We must
brave the outside. Your shoes on mush snow, my numb lips
tugging on a last cigarette. Middle East Restaurant, Mass. Ave.,
Boston, MA.  It's a quiet lunch till you speak of your dream -
paintings in blood.  "Isn't that always the case?” And then-
 "Whose?" "Whose what?" "The blood, whose was it?" 
"I don't know, probably yours" you say.  Then you lean
and rescue one solitary curry spiced cauliflower from
my perimeter-ed metal plate. "This plate, it’s like a prison's"
I say.  But I feel elated to have probably been in your dreams.
 
VIII
Any given word sometimes can be good-bye. What is a poet's last
thought?  Regret? Song? Must I hurry?  So I try not too look
too deep into rivers so inviting in their swift, wet and furious
madness or trains so heavily set in their ways.  Can we ever
truly own that which we cannot take with us?  Memories
too turn into ash, and a poem that graceless urn.  So what good
does it do that I refuse to bathe my feet in fast moving rivers?
IX
Warmth.  It starts with numb hands rubbing numb hands to kindle
a fire - paint peeling of your hands- mine your canvass – I scream –send
the sun back to its hell.  At times like these, who needs the world? 
 
X
To your question I say reason has been lost in rhyme - words skirting
of pavements like smooth pebbles that delight in living of a lake's
surface for the stay of their bounce- boxed sonnets that pretend
to a life but contain only dead secrets of alliteration. The adventure
always begins, always begins, always begins with the surprise of death.
And in New York, the torch with bound feet is still at sea, a beacon
amongst savage rocks to wreck ships for sweat, brain and blood
on board.   You, see plantations have mutated to coal mines but named
after the same god. So I left for New York again only to find it too had
mutated, spawned off-springs with new names.  What brought me here? 
Like a dog, I was only following my master home.
 
XI
It's Midnight.  We were here yesterday and yet today
has a new phrase.  We walk back to our beginning
flipping through memories as though photo albums.
Who remembers the sigh of the days when the sun
does not rise?   We have died in so many ways, our
urns graced so many homesteads and many more
unmarked graves. Who will name the world for us
if not me and you?  You smile. It's warm. The candle
throws flickers of light around our room.  In glimpses,
I see a portrait of my grandfather in Burma, then
at home armed with history.  Tonight, I will dream
of my blood feeding your paint brush.