Pillow

He always seemed eager. Even after they

became official, he loved her like love

was a bird that outgrew its cage.

She wondered why love deceived men.

 

But he always announced her. Even when they

were alone, he reached out to her as if silence

was a cliff-hanger. And this pleased her.

She wondered if love could be selfless. But

 

singularity introduced itself in their pleasure,

the sweetness of her surrender faded

and he became distant.

She felt love could be inconsistent.

 

I wish I could intervene. My arrows

sow seeds at birth and life is an old friend

that flowers with rhapsody. Give me time, it

will happen to you too.

 

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At Sea

I found a wish under a manchineel tree
and I asked that you
become bored of your immortality.
I prayed so that you come
with liveliness and wit.

These are the signs,
look at the romance we created above –
The eternal sway between
the sun, his ebony maiden and my fleshy earth. For
my love, you bring the sun.

Take me to Olympus
when we are done.
Take me to Olympus
at the break of dawn –
Take me to Olympus
on impulse and I promise not to get
bored of your familiar strangeness.

Her horse drew sly faces and
gossiped with the moon.
And as we ascended to where fate resides,
the wind returned with the scorn of
a stormy lover. In your haste,
you did not hear me fall.

We share a curse, bound in rue –
I call for you in waves, crashing at shores,
And you set with the sun at sea.

Valentina

                                  Valentina

 

Then one day, when the war began, people changed.

At first I thought the devil my fathers prematurely

conceived had sprung to life, but some of our neighbors

were already sharpening their machetes with rapture.

 

We had been here since midday, and despite Athanase’s

diffident prayers, we approached nighttime with confidence.

No one will be killed under the roof of God. When

the walls collapsed, I ran to the back

of the back of the church – mourn for those who would not

run,

 

upright as statues, brave. They came in chanting –

Slowly, slowly, slowly, we kill them like rats. I

waited. He would not look at me. I wondered how he got

so far without any blood on his blade, but he laughed. Loosen

 

my belt. It was Bagosora’s voice I heard.

My bowels opened in a ragged gape of fear.

He laughed again when it was replaced by a bitter tremble.

Under a corpse, a baby cried for

change and food, and he mocked it. He swung, silenced it

then snatched the fingers on my left hand.

 

I waited, on a perfect April evening while

they counted the bounty of their trade. By the time the

speculators came I learned to keep still

under dead bodies as they go about their work.

One day the world will turn in its sleep and

no longer return to its toys. Today, it gags.

Brother

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Brother

Do you miss it here? The noise you hear
and the tears you see is the joy we felt. All the fights I
planned but instead, it’s silence you return to.
I have some secrets to share, rules to fear and bruises to compare.
I know you miss it here.
The friends you could have made and the
girls you could have dated
so on restless nights I waste these thoughts
in a spiralling haze. These are trademarks related to you,
it rains frequently and now I have formed an unholy habit with
the sky to shy away any blue.

Report Card

Today we get our report card and everyone
is expected to do better than me.
Some of my classmates are busy working on
new ways to irritate the teacher.
After a year of lashing at paper planes
he simply ignores them.

Today, I am still and confident. I’m trying to
replicate my father’s placid confidence that
he chooses to hide when he speaks back to the police.
I’m sure he knows we share the same affliction,
the same desire to be accepted but superior.

I have the same ambition as the innovators
in my textbooks, but under the nature of my skin
it turns into greed. I have to confess I dislike maths.
It leaves no room for argument. If you make a mistake
that’s all there is to it and I am not fond
of things that lack subjectivity.

Today I feel like I’m the first of my kind to
buck the system without needing to clench my
fist or grab a gun. I’m inclined to believe
that this is a summation of my dreams but
everyone is either aggrieved or hushed – my teacher
says one of life’s first needs is for us to be realistic.

Heaven

I am in a place where destiny
and life’s rhythm is set –
yet the moon never rises.

I long to set sail but the
tides have no master. I came servant
to two wills – fire one day, ice another.

There is suffering in the land
of milk and honey; prodigal faces
wonder around gawkily and as night falls
a crowd huddles to plot an escape.

For forty years we wander wilderness,
tasting manna and quail. There are signs
that a sandstorm is building but in
that suspense I notice that the
juice in my eye has returned.

Exist

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Exist

Seasons will be new, and we must find ourselves
apart. Darling, you arrived bright
with warnings of danger and abridgement. On
the fourth day you dictated sacred tales
of cold caves and restless seas – pray
the wind be still, as I flounder lonely as a kite.

Pray these dark clouds be still as I hide
behind enemy lines. At the time your voice
was pure music, from moans of thunder to
stolen notes from songbirds. On nights
when my passions grew devout, I crowed
while you labored. Although we never

acknowledged the constant fragility of being,
I wonder if the earth had much to say. I am
drunk, swamped with leisurely truths and immediate lies.
With your knee on my chest and your fist at my
throat, I see plainly that the earth aches. Whenever
you shatter, I lament that I am the reason you exist.