Poetry

Homecoming

Your walls will go up again.

And this time you will swear it.

You will swear to keep them standing.

You will swear to protect yourself.

You won’t break like tired wood.

You won’t fall.

Your bridges won’t burn

because there will be none – no crossing to the other side.

No marching against yourself.

You will surrender to yourself.

You will belong to you.

Not to the promises.

Not to the waiting.

Not to the wishing.

Not to the lonely nights,

or the dying lights.

Not to self-destructing habits.

Not to people who aren’t or things that aren’t.

Not to what you’ve lost

or what you will never gain.

You will be yours now.

Yours to guard.

Yours to defend.

Yours to secure.

You will come home, to rebuild.

 

 

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Poetry

For A, and the many times you have burnt my body

Lies.

Like adrenaline pump life. Make us woke.

In just enough time to do foolish things.

Because one-night stands are stories we swear to never repeat

Until our bodies catch feelings and we attempt to burn evidence of it

In several wild sexcapades.

 

Truth.

There is something about a person needing several shots of it.

Before sanity scrapes the folly off their eyes.

You’re alone in this bubble and it’s going to burst. Run.

But you can’t.

The last of it hits you.

As if you’re anesthetized and time contains you.

You’re cold.

In a room that feels that like it’s just been torched.

Your stomach turns. And crumples. And kneads

Like the diarrhea it announces when you’re anxious or too nervous.

Only this time there’s less physical awkwardness

And the pain coming is from a place beyond the soul.

 

Pain.

On its own it triggers bearable harm.

What makes it insufferable is the thought that we ourselves, might have been guilty of giving it all the venom it needed to destroy us.

Like when I thought I could love you enough for the two of us.

To balance out this rollercoaster relationship.

This, fucking love.

Literally.

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Poetry

What It Takes To Be a Writer

Fears.

It is mostly these that creep up on you.

Fears of never making enough sense to keep an audience.

Fears of never making it to the shelves.

Of waking up someday and realizing this thing you have with words is.

Gone.

Stale.

 

It is being broke.

And damned.

And condemned.

To social invisibility, internal confusion, nervous tension, mental strain.

And all the words and phrases used to describe a lunatic proud of her paltry creations.

 

It is private shame.

Not being able to reach inside your own dreams.

And the damn clock keeps ticking.

And the sun rises and sets.

Every. Other. Day.

And yet nothing changes about when?

 

It is a slow slow kind of life

In a fast fast moving world

Where nobody sees you,

Hears your shy hellos,

Or bothers to ask about the nonsense you’re writing.

Until you are dead.

And your letters are discovered buried in some old wooden box.

In some ramshackle apartment.

 

Suddenly you’re a genius.

The whole world knows you.

They talk about you on TV.

You even have a name.

You’re Jack. James. Pablo. Susanne, with two ‘n’s.

Or whatever you want it to be.

 

You’re no longer the creep that moves in the shadows with a pile of papers.

You’re no longer the creep that lives around the block with a receding hairline or the bad clothes.

Your once forlorn life jumps on fame lane.

Without warning you’re an epitome of true talent

And every one sentence you’ve written is quoted with so much pride.

It is only now you know what it takes to be a writer.

All of your damn fears and all of your damn dreams combined.

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Poetry

A single emotion of fear

You pretend they don’t care

so you can also stop caring.

Have reason to hate.

Reason to shut yourself out.

Reason to be bitter.

Reason to spite.

Reason to have all the reasons

to justify your overthinking

of things.

 

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Prose

I won “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi and I read the heaven out of it!

I have not read a mountain of books, but I’ve read a lot of the ones I have come across. I’ve never won anything before, I think. So I was pretty excited when BrunchoverBooks informed me that I had won a copy of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

I instantly fell in love with the book when it got to me last Sunday afternoon and paraded it all over my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Yeah, I’m that vain.

First, I thought the bag it came in was super cute. And the book! It was such a happy color. img_20161120_144406

My first impression was that a lot of work must have gone into it. When I began to flip the pages, it was as if the words were jumping and screaming into my face read me read me. I’m not even laying it on thick. I immediately knew I was going to love it. It was going to be food. I was going to savor every sentence. Every phrase. Every word. To the last letter.

“History is storytelling…We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must always ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there, you begin to get a clear, yet still imperfect, picture.”

Homegoing is history merged with present day traced from the eighteenth-century with the story of Effia of Fanteland as the opening, followed by Esi of Asante. Effia and Esi are half-sisters, although they never get to meet. Effia marries an Englishman (the marriage is arranged) and goes to live in the Cape Coast Castle. Unknown to her, her half-sister Esi, is imprisoned in the women’s dungeon and is later sold into slavery.

The rest of the book trails the bloodline of both women; travelling through time while revealing, chapter by chapter, each descent until the story eventually converges back home.

The chapters in Homegoing are like standalone stories; each is somewhat conclusive, (because each chapter is built around a character and finishes its own story) yet in some way, not fully independent of the main story.

There are a lot of names, and they are not just passing through. Each has its own story trailed from either Effia or Esi, so you want to make sure you remember all of the names because you are going to build on them in subsequent chapters. It’ll be good to get some stick on pads or something to write on (I prefer stick on pads).

PLEASE. DO. NOT. WRITE. IN. THE. BOOK. I love it too much.

Homegoing leaves a lot of grim feelings. It has anger, violence, death, horrors, and fear. But it is also an incredible story; beautiful, sometimes haunting, but yes, expressively and captivatingly beautiful.

Being so richly told, I could put face to a lot of the characters and match them with history especially in the story of the Yaa Asantewaa War.

My favorite person in the book was/is Akua, aka Crazy Woman; haunted by a firewoman, ends up burning her two daughters to death, and leaving a horrid scar on her son’s face. Her story is disturbing, sad yet strong, and she moved me in many ways more than the others.

On the downside though, I would have liked to return to the stories of some of the characters in the book, but the structure makes it impossible because after each chapter, there’s only a building on so you’re kind of forced out of one storyline to the next.

Aside that, it is such great story-telling by Yaa Gyasi! Beautiful exploration of how slave trade affects one family and what it costs it. A lot of research must have gone into this book, obviously. I was in no hurry to finish it, yet I couldn’t put it down. I’m pretty much not getting over it anytime soon.

You really should read this in 2016 if you haven’t yet.

 

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Poetry

So full of soul

You’re a lot of sun.

A lot of wind.

A lot of rain.

And a lot of storm.

 

They’re afraid.

Afraid of your being.

Terrified even.

Of how one person.

Can be so full of.

Soul.

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Writing Tips

I Hate Clutter as a Writer and as a Human Being

The one thing I hate both as a writer and as a human being is clutter. I hate the sound of the word. That sound it makes when my tongue hits the roof of my mouth and pushes to the back of my teeth; clutter. It drives me nuts. And that is not the worst. It paralyzes me.

That is why I take the pain to clear my desk at the office at every given opportunity. I do this before I start work, and before I leave. It’s constant. I also do this in-between stuff. As soon as I begin to get that feeling of mess and confusion, something needs to go somewhere. Something needs to go back into its space. My mind and body cannot rest until my desk is free of junk.

When I come home it’s the same. Even though I take the pain to make sure my room is as tidy as it can be, I always find something to pick up.

The first thing I do when I wake up is to lay my bed. Note, not when I wake up in the morning, but when I wake up. So it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is. It’s been like this for years.  I do not go out of my room without straightening the sheets, and making sure the pillows, blankets, and other things are clean or neatly folded. I am always rearranging books; tearing them down and then rearranging them because I have to. They have to be orderly.

My shoes are not spared either. I want them sitting perfectly on the rack; left-right-left-right. In that order.

My wardrobe. The one place I don’t mess with. All of my girlfriends know this. I will do anything. I will give anything so they don’t do girl stuff in my wardrobe; like pick and drop. A couple even blackmailed me with that.

You’d be surprised I even hate it when the notes in my purse are jumbled. I want all of my money arranged in a particular order.

My friends think I am obsessed. I’m not. I just really hate clutter.

When I was in senior year (level 400) at the university, I had this friend. Matter of fact, I was sleeping over at her place one-time because we needed to work on our thesis. We agreed to take turns sleeping so that one of us would wake the other.

That night before she slept, I watched her arrange all of her stuff around her, on the bed, leaving just some small space for her body. She told me she could never sleep unless there was stuff on her bed. Stuff like clothes, books, whatever. I was shocked.

I was shocked because it was the exact opposite for me.

I cannot, under any circumstance, sleep with stuff on my bed. It takes my breath away. And it’s not the good kind of taking breath away. I will choke to death. My body will be restless. My mind too. And I will start to itch all over. That happens to me when I am very uncomfortable. That’s why I hate to be out in the rain, especially when it’s mud-spattered. I tend to itch.

Clutter is not my friend. Perhaps it’s even my worst enemy. It doesn’t only affect my life negatively, but my writing too.

Sometimes I tear sheets out of my journal or workbook just so I can start afresh. I’m not afraid of starting afresh because I produce better when I do. When I get ideas for a poem and I start writing something down and I try and try and it just doesn’t make any sense, I let it go. I cancel it. Tear it up. Throw the sheet away. I put it in my past and tape it there. Then forget about it. I don’t like the past haunting me. I don’t like the what ifs. I want it gone. I want a clear mind to move forward.

It doesn’t necessarily mean I forget the idea I had for the poem, no. The idea is still there. The foundation is still there. It is the construction and the structure that changes. And for the better. It’s almost 100% guaranteed for me. I produce better.

It’s maybe why I keep a lot of journals. Because I need new pages every now and then. I’m a diarist. I recently found my diaries of 10 and 15 years ago with all sorts of things in them.

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Maybe I’ll talk about that some other day.

But clutter, of any form, does not make me productive. It kills my creativity. I cannot write when my desk is a hot mess. I can’t concentrate. I feel like there’re lots of creepy little things standing on me.

It has the same effect on my life, as a person. Some years back, I deleted almost all of my contacts because I wanted to start afresh. That didn’t necessarily stop people from calling me, but it did stop me from calling people who were, more or less, not adding any kind of value to my life. It gave me a lot of space to breathe and allowed me to invest more of my time into profitable things and people.

I intend to do this often.

Another thing I do to declutter my life is that, once in a while, I turn my room around. I change the position of stuff. Like I shove the bed to the other end. I’ve been doing this for years. It leaves a feeling of newness, fresh start, and I like it. Sometimes my situations change for the better when I do this. It’s almost like my whole life turns around too, for the better.

I can’t imagine going through life without decluttering. I have learned, so far, in my life that things have to go. People have to go. To make room for others. To make room for all the better stuff.

It doesn’t mean I don’t care. It just means I care a lot about where my life is headed. People and things that make me a better person and a better writer get to come with me. Otherwise, they are left behind. They become part of a past. Part of all the things I appreciated, but had to let go to become a better person.

Opportunity cost.

 

 

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Prose

This legally thrilling, but ultimately vexing 468-page book that got me all grumpy!

Discovering an old novel I was yet to read languishing around the house was a pleasant surprise which tickled and roused all my reading buds. Since I’ve been pushed, somewhat, into a lot of ‘me’ time lately, I can use all of such ‘lost and found’ books, and every so often movies too. In fact, I’ve been alternating between the two for a while now.  So yeah, whiles social media has been bustling with US Elections and the Trump effect, I’ve been busy on the yellow pages. Let me remind you again that my favorite kind of books are the ones with the yellow pages.

Honestly, I did a little dance when I found John Grisham’s The Partner. I was happy I had found something ‘new’ to read.

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Lost and Found Book! Yay! 😀 😀

This is the first book I have read from him, and I can promise that if John pulls another stunt like that on me again, I will head straight to his website or wherever I can find him and spell my rage in caps and exclamation marks with all the swear words I can find.

Alright. That settled, let me give you a synopsis of this legally thrilling, but ultimately vexing 468-page book that got me all grumpy last night.

Patrick Lanigan, a young lawyer and newly made partner of a law firm, gets in an accident and dies, leaving behind a wife and a daughter.

Well, so it seems until he comes back to life as Danilo Silva.

Apparently, Patrick was tired of his bad marriage to a superficial and cheating-from-day-one wife, with a daughter he knew wasn’t his. He was stuck in a job he hated and when he covertly discovered that he was going to be fired, faked his own death and bolted with ninety-million dollars of his firm’s money.

With such an amount of money to spend, life could be luxuriant. But it came at a cost; constantly being on the run and fearful of one’s own shadows.

As Patrick foresaw in his meticulous plan, the past finally catches up with him and he is brought home where everyone impatiently waits for a pound of his flesh. But not before the million-dollar question is asked, ‘where is the money’? There are other charges leveled against him; charges of capital murder because if Patrick is alive, then whose incinerated body was found in the car?

The trial is to be one helluva show, and the prosecutors in for one shocking ride!

Now skipping to the part of this book that got all sorts of angry chemicals released into my bloodstream, the end. No, I mean the end of the book. The part where we all want the happily ever after or at least, a satisfying twist. But dear John had something else planned for me.

Seriously John, where the hell did Eva disappear to?!

Such a cliffhanger! I can think of only one way this story could should have ended. That is, Patrick walks, gets reunited with Eva, they have a dozen babies and live happily ever after.

Mr. Grisham, how can you take away this moment in what could have been a perfect story? I mean how can you do this?  I strongly demand the end of this story be rewritten or I will write it myself. After all, there’s still two and a half blank pages left at the back. Humph!!!

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Rewrite the story. Please 😦

But folks, outside all this bamboozling, The Partner is quite interesting. Grab a copy if you haven’t read it yet. And when you get to that ‘unfortunate’ end, yeah, I thought so too!

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Random Thoughts

Coping Mechanisms: All the good fizz

Soda. Mine is soda.

Today I read a post from Tholakele Antamu about how many of us are ‘depending’ on all sorts of things to keep us together. I don’t know what yours is; what you’re doing to be above all this internal and external chaos. I do know mine isn’t wine, although I have been harboring a lot of wine thoughts lately. It isn’t coffee either; I am not that crazy about the black substance that keeps human beings awake. I am only now realizing how much I have depended on soda to get by these few months.

This is my truth. I am not drinking soda casually anymore. I am drinking to survive. I am drinking to somehow be above the stress. All this tiredness. This wooziness. This monotony. I am drinking it with so much need.

I am addicted to it. I crave it. And the craving is even worse after I have had an afternoon nap. I hate afternoon naps, especially if it goes past 4pm because I wake up feeling sick and cranky like I feel right now.

Growing up, my mom always woke us up before 4pm when we napped in the afternoons. She would say, “Napping after 4pm will make you sick.” I don’t know how true this is. But I know for sure my body doesn’t feel good if I nap past that time.

“Many, actually most, of us are taking something or another to cope, be it wine, sleeping pills, coffee, or any other substance.”

All I could think of while reading Tholakele’s post was the ‘life’ sitting next to me (yes, right next to me), and how I was going to indulge in its fizzy goodness.

 “We are all suffering in some way or another.”

Yes. But soda makes my suffering BEARABLE. I feel okay after I have had soda. I feel good to go.

“Why are we doing it to ourselves?”

Why am I doing this to myself? I don’t know. All I know is I am trying to survive. I need to get things done, and I cannot do them when all this sloppiness is getting in my way.

“Are we not the people who shape a society?”

I obviously cannot shape any kind of society if I’m not in good shape myself now can I?!

Deep down I feel guilty for how sweet it tastes. For how it soothes my throat and calms my stomach. I feel guilty for the relief it brings. For the new strength. I feel guilty because maybe I am not taking good care of my body. I mean with the calories and sugar bill attached?!

But how else do good things happen if not with some form of addiction, a craving, habit, compulsion? How else can we get all these…‘things’…inside to come out?!

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Poetry

Emotional Psychosis

For our rogue minds have a mind of their own.

And everything is right in the moments when they are for us.

Like when we won’t let go because we want to be ‘happiness’ for others at all cost,

—without permission,

even if it means a bad relationship.

Because convenience is staple and maybe lives longer than a broken heart.

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