How a Twitter Stream of Consciousness Turns into a Personal Essay
May I ask, in honesty and peace, why you're so keen on controlling the reaction of strangers, on an individual basis, to your work? The vast majority of artists, regardless of form, purpose, temperament or any kind of demographic, understand and accept that this is both impossible and undesirable. Poetry seems an odd choice of medium for someone so apparently allergic to ambiguity. Perhaps switching to plainly worded reportage would result in fewer misunderstandings?
when you left
all the water started to weep.
the lands ate our feet.
africa had to keep
sky from jumping into her lap from grief.
when you left.
we got out the pots.
and put our laughter into our teeth.
prepared meals. so we could release you.
let you go.
we ground the seed.
blew the spice.
you into being gone. we ate flowers and sniffed cinnamon sticks to perfume your leaving our bodies.
devour your body.
smile while they plucked your eyes into
their pockets for later.
the time when they will make your name. a war against us.
what happened when you
broke. and kneeled over in pain. and sang. and threw ourselves against the walls, against each other, and hid, and opened, and tossed ourselves into work, and danced, and shrank, and closed, and ate, and bled, and held on, and ignored, and accepted, and lied, and created, and drank, and drugged, and loved something/someone/somewhere/ourselves fiercer, and rejected, and swam, and yearned, and distanced, and clawed, and touched, and some of us will disown you because you hurt too much. some of us will have to say your name for a year before we are able to sleep.
when you left madiba
the same thing that happened
when you came.
you lit life on fire.
so rest beloved
rest in ease.
we will continue to make the soft fire from our skin.
you showed us how.”
to a man that shook the world
here is my heart to place under yours.
you are slow breaths
all that strength you made fom your blood.
a whole nation of black pain.
you carried in your spine.
a jail cell. made from your mother’s island.
i return some to you.
are my legs.
ninety four years
is many bones to go through.
many walks through the sun.
many hearts to shed.
many stars of joy to comb through your hair.
a lot of time
let us hold you now.
let us warm the water for your skin.
let our youth be your comfort.
we have seen how your feet danced.
that we have commited
you. to memory.
all hope and fresh mourning.
we know what the ancestors sound like
when they come.
they are ready for you.
if you have done
you came to do.
are finished transcribing your soul into humanity.
have our cloth ready.
our flowers ready.
our songs in our mouths ready.
our feet and all the drums ready.
our fresh water.
this coating of skin, this extra epidermis
restlessness is a disease
causing me to itch and fidget
as if i could emerge from my entire skin
from this lumpy scab of a chrysalis
i’m fighting to get rid of cocoons
slowly healing wounds
while sweet, sweet slumber evades
because i don’t know which thought frightens me more:
sleeping away my talent or
peeling back congealed layers of myself
to reveal a painful new consciousness
painfully aware of everything i lack
my spine aches with the weight of
my own expectations
while the clock tick-tocks away the
relevance of self-imposed rules and limitations
dull excuses souring my tongue
and the restlessness eats at my skin
oh to be young, just to feel young, again
depression visits me at night
going to-and-fro over the possibility of immortality
the concept coats my finger tips in ink and light
glazing my eyes with holograms
lost in elusive reveries
while the restlessness eats the rest of me”