Chapter One-The Nightmare

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The room was filled with balloons and the floor was carpeted with bubble wrap. The balloons looked like normal balloons but seemed to bob strangely in the air, as if filled with something. A small child is huddled in the corner of the room, fearfully facing the only exit to the room; a large red door. The door begins slowly begins to open, creaking loudly in the process but  no one but the small boy seems to notice. The door then shuts and the balloons and dancing guests part as an invisible force makes it’s way towards the young boy, the bubble wrap crackling with each step. The small boy whimpers and his lips can be seen mouthing “Stay strong my boy, Stay strong my boy”.

His lips quiver as he keeps muttering the mantra under his breath, eyes fastened fearfully on the advancing force. Then clenching his fist, he resolutely faces the creature as if determined to face whatever challenge comes his way. Suddenly the balloons start exploding violently, spewing puffs of color into the room. POP! POP! POP! Each pop shattering the silence like a shotgun blast. The colored fog that billows from the balloons eats up the air in the room and transforms it into a mystical shadow land, the chairs, tables and people acquiring almost ethereal qualities as they are consumed by the fog.

In the fog that is created, a silhouette can be seen. A blank area where the fog can con penetrate, and it is advancing on the young child who is now standing, fist clenched and face scrunched in concentration. The crowd, oblivious to the action bursts into song “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear Kevin…” The happy joyous song striking a sour chord, each burst of merriment underscoring the young child’s advancing death. The irony of a celebration of life on the eve of his death seemed to register on the young child’s mind. He glances fearfully at the incoming  menace and then with a shout charges into the mist hoping to get lost in the crowd and make his escape through the door. He moves faster than he has ever moved before, running as if he has gained wings, but before he can even reach the edge of the crowd the shadow is upon him. He can feel the cold clammy hands gripping his neck and drawing him back as if by sheer force of will. He struggles, his legs pistoning and arms flailing but it’s as if the very air is against him and he is drawn back inexorably to his doom.

His flailing starts to slow and his body begins to grow limp. There seems to be no escape. Then from the resounding silence that had come after the balloon explosion and songs, a voice booms out, filling the room with sound.

“Boy! The whistle, blow the whistle boy! Remember what your father said, when facing death, blow the whistle!!”

The boy, moving as if through thick jello reaches for his chest where the whistle hangs. His hand rests on his heart for a moment and he can feel his heart trying to rips it’s way out of his chest. Grabbing the whistle and struggling to bring it to his lips even as the invisible hand crushes is throat, he blows with all the air left in him. The whistle’s piercing scream fills the air and the room is consumed by it. Time stops and the room is silent it the midst of the sound, each person frozen as they were. Then the aura of death, darkness and confusion is shattered and so is the room and everything else in it.

Still screaming, the echo of the whistle still ringing in his head, Kevin lurches upright, hitting his head on the top bunk. Panicked he looks around, eyes darting from place to place, thoughts running rampart in his head like stampeding buffalo. Where am I? What’s going on? Who…?

The realization hits him as he look around and sees the walls of his room and the scrunched up sheets laying in disarray and his bed that looked as if it was the victim of an aggravated assault. Sweat drips from his face and he rolls over and wipes it on his pillow in disgust and whispers “Why does this keep happening?”

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Beauty (Revisited)

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There is an infinite beauty in living

Breathing and listening

To the rhythm of the earth

 

Artists merely tap into this haunting melody

And make vacuous shadows of the real

Beat that echoes

 

And heats the blood of men and women

And sounds through the dreams of kings

The symphony

 

Of a sunset, the staccato beat of the heart

As the body warms from a kiss

The music that roars

 

Soundlessly through the universe

The scale the world revolves in

With moans

 

Of the seasons, typhoons and dust bowls

Of the worlds pain and joy

The rumbles

 

Of a stampeding group of elephants

Charging the nearby store for bargain prices

And the percussion

 

Of the incessant tapping in class as the teachers

Drone on endlessly, the rhythm monotonous and

Overbearingly slow

 

Like the heartbeat of a great whale as it groans

Its sad song to the world, the sound vibrating through

The ocean wide, sonorous

 

The cry of a parent that outlived their child

Wild and aching, a piercing pain, sharper than the

Shriek of

 

Of pain as a tooth is uprooted and tossed

 

In it all.

There is beauty.

 

The Answer is Only Half the Journey

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You demand clarity,

each heart beat pumps desire

for knowledge to your brain

 

Your eyes strain

searching endlessly, relentlessly

for the answer to your question

 

You dread the answer

but you cannot unloose the hounds

of information from ripping through

 

You celebrate

as the answer appears before you

but you find its only half the problem

 

Now you know

what you wanted to know

Now that you “understand”

what will you do?

The Silver Wind

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The leaf shivers in the silver wind

the life green color swimming through the breeze

weeping branches swaying lightly

and bowing softly as they whisper into the silence

the stream of air is thoughtful and slow

taking as it passes only the deepest secrets 

as the trees rustle sing them from the depths

a silent whisper of promise that echoes

and resounds from the roots of life and birth of potential

pregnant with secrets so potent the air is heavy

but also light as a feather of curiosity

dancing and flitting from branch to flower

to root to revive a dead brown leaf and teach it to dance

it is a laughing wind that knows enough

to know not to take anything too seriously

it smells of wisdom, birth and apple cinnamon

scent stolen from an unsuspecting girl

a bright wind, invisible silver in the midday sun

it murmurs and giggles and steals voices to tell stories

as it dances with the trees and sings with the leaves

and then leaves to steal more secret scents

but before it goes it circles the tree and whispers clearly

Be Free 

I Found Myself

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I strike the first blow and the mirror cracks

A small lie, like a drop of food dye 

the lie coloring the crystal waters of my life

like a stain clouding the waters

I strike back, a counter of self hate 

punishing myself for failing myself 

and hurting myself with the hating of myself

The battle rages and the battle field of my heart 

is splattered with mud and misery and a

choking smoke of confusion hangs like a damp 

curtain coating everything 

I circle myself, my body a mirror wreathed in smoke

baptized in hate and sweating bitter failure

I wield words like a sword master, hacking with a lie

and feinting with an ego booster only to sink my sword deep

and twist with hypocrite. 

Words like machine guns shatter the silence as they shatter

my bones; traitor, pretender, user, manipulator

I try to defend with searching, trying and hoping 

but they are torn away like paper houses in a typhoon

I scream my victory, the blood still pouring from the cuts of

worthless and No one loves you

consumed I stab and stab again with hypocrite

Hypocrite, hypocrite, hypocrite 

the blood fountains from the gaping wounds 

a blood mist consuming the air and leaving nothing

I laughed at myself, hysterically my eyes demonic

the blood pools underneath me and congeals but I 

just won’t die so I laugh, each convulsion shooting red failure 

into the air and coating me

I shake myself and scream at my laughing self

holding the mirror and crying at the eyes crying at me

and carving valleys of shame through the grime 

and falling upwards and splattering my face

I coughed and reached for myself, 

my small fingers reaching for me and hoping for me

my eyes begging, pleading and bleeding for love

needing me to love me and heal me

I look at myself and I see myself in myself 

my eyes are calling for me and I am just so tired

So tired of hating myself and hurting myself because 

I can’t be what they tell me and so I abuse myself 

to make up for not being able to be myself

But I am tired of not Loving myself

So hold myself and whisper to myself words

Healing words that mend the rending 

I whisper Poetry, and Sing and God and Love 

and Journey and Mercy and Live and Be free

and I hold myself and whisper in my ear 

I love You and I accept you and finally I die

and I become myself

My People

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I am surrounded by my people.

They are dark, and black like me,

And their ebon faces shine darkly at me

Wherever I go. The sullen pitch oft shattered

By a crescent of light as it strikes

the gleaming white ivory of their teeth

Their lips are full like mine, and ripe,

And lush. As I walk through

The streets of Nairobi, the heartbeat

Of my culture, my history, my people,

Thrums through me in the scents, the sounds, the colors

The wave of motion that sweeps me.

The matatus veering, the conductor jeering

The scents of shit, samosas and sweet sweat from a hard work

Filter through the dry air. The dance of death that is street crossing

And the cacophonous competition of the music shops.

The drone of millions of voices in a thousand tongues,

Rising and falling in a undulant wave of activity flowing

From the sea of faces and bodies of my people.

The color flashings from the window,

The red, red dust that smothers everything in a choking curtain

Of dust and dryness. The weak greens and the pale beauty of the

Plants and the vibrant yellows, greens, reds and the dull browns and

The illusive blacks of the clothing. The gleam of skyscrapers and the

Dull ochre of the shanty house made of rust, mud and shit.

There is love, hate, agony, lust, and trust and betrayal and dark, black rage.

They walk the streets and stalk the alleys and smile in matatus and sokos.

Rumors like black clouds float over the city, with nervous hands clutching

Pockets and passports and ids and college students stalking the city in prides.

Ambitions burn bright and hot like a forest fire in the brown eyes of the

Man hawking used Dvds and bubblegum.

This is all mine. The joy of abject poverty and the misery of ridiculous opulence.

The ambitions and the laziness. The sokos and the Uchumis

The matatus and the private drivers

The Ugali and the pizza.

These are my people and this is my culture. With its scents, colors and emotions

Doing me

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Solemn words, words so lame echo and re echo in my mind

Trying too hard to make something beautiful and inspirational

You know, to much of such and such and who and whom did that and this

Then and there but this poem is really going nowhere.

I write so much of such slushy like words that are mushy

That last line was just bad; in fact it was rather sad

That was me trying to be a poet, you know the kind that rhymes and sounds divine

And copies others who sound sublime in an attempt to catch that light of lime

But I am tired of doing them and not tapping into me and living my poetry

So I’ll take my own invitation and step into this and breathe,

The thick dark emotions constricting my throat like the ocean waves batter my soul

And I will sink into this and drown myself in myself and in my death find me

And resurrect me so that I can rise from my depths a new man, almost divine

Its good that I just learned to swim because now I can doggy paddle my way to discovery

And breast stroke my way to my nirvana each breathe sacred and holy

As the salt of my unshed tears sting my thirsty mouth and I drink the bitter waters

Of my Mara, the bitter waters of my failures and consume my own heart for courage

These words that pour out will be me more than I am me being me.

So I invite you into this journey of introspection, not the meditation preached by the silent monks

Or yoga postured by the crippled beggars, but the rocky journey of self discovery

Like when America was discovered by “Americans” because until you discover you, you don’t exist

So come and starve with me as you feast your face with tangible food but your soul hungers for the illusive desires

Come and burn with me in the hot sun fire of my emotions that are so bright I wear sunglasses inside my heart

Reach deep inside to the closets hidden within the closet where the darkness is so bright that you are blind

And can not comprehend what you are even hiding.

See me and you as worlds, entire universes because we are the sum total of our world

Reach and feel that power that you have shunned all your life, feel it there like a pool of lava

Powerful and incinerating everything so hot hot is hurts to touch.

But ignore the pain and reach in with me and sink your hands in down to your elbows and feel the exquisite release

As our world of lies and masks is burned away the lava eating through it all like an inexorable flood

Heating your blood and your bones and your clay self and making it into what it is

Come and mold and make yourself and stand forth in the sun your heart strong and sure

Your body glistening in the light of your ambition and your soul a lantern of hope

Walk into this adventure and stride out a God.