my body isn’t mine dawn and dusk
it belongs to the restlessness
the tomorrow never comes
only the in betweens are mine to control
my imperfections are mountains
i am climbing myself
rain is boring into my back
water is filling me up
i am too heavy
the slippery stones give
but the ground doesn’t want me
i attempt to fly
i am at the edge looking into the stomach of time
i don’t see wings but i have faith?
i imagine flapping
i take a leap
the ground doesn’t want me
my soul is a stagnant water
i have a whole room to myself.
yet, this is me crouching in one corner.
square rooms are prison cells.
they end everywhere.
can you smell the loneliness on my tired clothes?
sweat-drenched XXL Lacoste
made bed. too made to be lain in.
my mind is a gutter. all the waste gathers here.
it is a filthy, filthy place.
my memories are rats.
big ass rats gnawing into my brain.
last night was a rodent parade.
when the sound of my own breathing reaches my ears
and my skin is warm
and time attaches itself to my brain
vulnerable, i am my most, here
now, inside sheets reeking of aging dreams and dying hope
there’s too much valley here
when do i start climbing?
Sometime last August, I was contacted by a colleague writer to share my art process and the importance of the narrative with a group of students, as part of the Nkabom Literary Festival 2017. Knowing myself and how lowkey I am/try to be, the first word that came to mind was FLEE. The second word that came to mind was WHY. Then HOW. And then WHAT. The questions kept rushing into my head and I started to think up all excuses so the cup could pass me over. I thought, “how can I share something I haven’t mastered?” No, I haven’t mastered the art of writing, I’m not sure I ever will. I continue to learn and practice every day. But then I also thought, maybe I don’t have to master the art before I can share with others. We can learn together. We can all learn to be lit at this writing distin.
I woke up that Saturday thinking of what I was going to say and how I was going to say it. I said to a friend, “I want you to go with me, but I don’t want you to be there”. It sounded pretty stupid, I know.
When I was asked what materials I needed for my session, I simply said, “Well, it’s just going to be a discussion, nothing formal”.
That was exactly what it was – a very constructive 2 hours (?) of my Saturday morning with art lovers talking various forms of creative art and the industry in Ghana.
In the end, I was grateful I made it.
Now, here’s why I feel it is imperative that we tell our stories.
- Storytelling is identity. Just as what you say can reflect who you are inside, what you write reflects who you are on the page. It is self. One’s own distinctiveness.
- Storytelling is continuity. Anything that has an identity needs to be etched into history. Without you, your story won’t be told. Your voice matters, and by telling your stories, you are giving them longevity.
- Storytelling is activism. It is involvement. When we write poetry, or whatever, we are taking an action, a stand. We are telling people about something they didn’t know about, or reiterating something they didn’t quite understand or grasp before, or something that has been there all this while but they’ve been failing to notice, we may even be telling people about the little things happening all around them – the joy, the anger, the injustice, the love, the cultures and traditions.
- Storytelling is your truth. Tell your truth how you want it to be told. How it actually is.
- Storytelling is the memory and the mirror. It is history and the future, present in whatever art form you take on. Be it poetry, fiction, painting, photography or music.
Do you agree?
your first love’s
tattooed on your heart
and it burns, still burns
like it was just yesterday
they decided to be fire
instead of water.
How many more scars
do you need on your body
to remind you of the existence
of some dark place?
To remind you to not
stray too far
To not bring along people
whose hands cannot build home
or hold one down?
While you’re painting survival
with your blood and tears,
do not forget that this war you fight
began with your permission
and will end only when you decide
that you have seen enough
of your own blood being collected.
“Our minds love sound. Our minds remember sound. Our minds recreate sound.”
Nothing you want will ever come easy. Why don’t you go back into time, think, was there anything you really wanted, truly wanted, badly wanted, that was just handed over to you – that was just uprooted from its pre-designed space in this world and planted in your hands like a gift, just like that? No.
You ought to know, by now, that things do not work this way. Things do not arrange themselves or shift themselves or package themselves in this manner. Something has to move them. Something has to touch them. Something has to brush against them that will cause an alteration, a change in position, belonging, and ownership.
Things don’t just happen, you have to make them happen, and if you think you cannot make them happen because you lack the expertise, or that you are undeserving of the re-positioning of things, then you have to create an atmosphere for you to deserve it. You have to create an existence of the want and tell your mind about it. You have to tell your mind that you deserve it. That you want it. That you’ve been waiting for it. You have to make your mind hear you speak.
There’s something about sound. Our minds love sound. Our minds remember sound. Our minds recreate sound. Take the sounding of a bell for instance. It rings and rings and rings so that even when it’s no longer ringing you can hear it. You think you can hear it. Or even the buzzing of a mosquito or a large green disgusting housefly. It whizzes past your ear; makes that irritating sound that makes you bend your head sideways. Still, seconds and minutes after it’s gone, you can hear the buzz, even feel it such that you want to fan your ear.
The mind is an interesting thing. Perhaps we should encourage people to speak more to themselves instead of leaving that aspect to be explored only by those roaming naked on our streets. But of course, it actually depends on what you’re telling yourself.
there’s a way you hang on to words
even after the last letter has escaped the lips
even after the last pause
even after the last exhale
that is you being expectant
that somehow the lie will be given up
and the truth will, for once, make an appearance
and when it doesn’t
when it dawns on you
how much you’ve always known this person
there’s also this way you look at them
some i-told-myself-so jumps up from within you
your insides are on fire
you begin to think of the many definitions of a fool
beginning with you.