Who buys my thoughts Buys not a cup of honey That sweetens every taste; He buys the throb, Of Young Africa’s soul, The soul of teeming millions, Hungry, naked, sick, Yearning, pleading, waiting.
Buys not false pretence Of oracles and tin gods; He buys the thoughts Projected by the mass Of restless youths who are born Into deep and clashing cultures, Sorting, questioning, watching.
Who buys my thoughts Buys the spirit of the age, The unquenching fire that smoulders And smoulders In every living heart That’s true and noble or suffering; It burns all o’er the earth, Destroying, chastening, cleansing.
In the older photograph my eyes are two frowning pockets, and my chest only housed knots and clauses. I used fast shutter speeds to capture photographs before sadness spilled into the frame. I was never one to track progress, but today I did.
Before taking that selfie, I bent the sun toward my face and poured it into my void like cement filling the cracks of a wall. My troubled teenage years lingered in my throat like a shoplifter in a supermarket aisle.
What a difference 5 years makes, today my skin is no longer a carousel of masks. Praises be to a thick syrup of therapy, a puree of prayer, peelings of coping mechanisms, a cup of my mother’s honeyed voice.
In the second photograph the white space is filled with a safe noise. My shoulders are firm and upward, my eyes are two glowing pebbles. Not even an edit can smudge this moment.
I hear your call! I hear it far away; I hear it break the circle of these crouching hills.
I want to view your face again and feel your cold embrace; or at your brim to set myself and inhale your breath; or like the trees, to watch my mirrored self unfold and span my days with song from the lips of dawn. I hear your lapping call! I hear it coming through; invoking the ghost of a child listening, where river birds hail your silver-surfaced flow.
My river’s calling too! Its ceaseless flow impels my found’ring canoe down its inevitable course. And each dying year brings near the sea-bird call, the final call that stills the crested waves and breaks in two the curtain of silence of my upturned canoe. O incomprehensible God! Shall my pilot be my inborn stars to that final call to Thee. O my river’s complex course?
I see again and again in my eyes the smile flit over your cheekbones Reach like a tendril to caress your face in those lean days that startled do you rejoice that life does not slaughter our dreams our secret thoughts on its butcher bench of time that we gather to ourselves the scraps and bones our dismembered being hoard to nurse them that death may not out-stare us?
Before she pressed her wild dusky eyes the heightened sliced dust inside got out stroked her brows unadorned, unarmed naked face stripped to living ecstasy, her wisdoms open again and again wakening and awakening, penetrating the ears like gentle very fresh, cool sea water before she hugged the light of the unreal displayed like a freshly sharpened knife, piercing, loud truly, then the deep like a blade tore open her eyes, wild, yawning monsters: came out, raw, below hell, from the cluttered further down debility of the decay the first time, replanting her eyes she saw a little ornament between her limbs, ripening here the gentle unblemished shelter sat fresh faraway, deep at the open, new and green folding back her quiet door, wakes the relaxed tree, sparkling with eternal warmth passing on worlds, Passing on worlds on the world where worlds breathe not perishing self, not worldly worth not dry leaves, painted with mud Low down Unbending, engendered soundless berry flood with fog.
We present this work in honor of the 205th anniversary of the poet’s death.
Leave us alone with recalling what Father used to do… Leave us alone with relying on what Is practised in the east; These are grounds for those who Stayed astray from Sunnah Leave us with the idea that it is Practised at Medina Both Mecca and Medina are inferior to the Sunnah.
How I wish I could pigeon-hole myself and neatly fix a label on! But self-knowledge comes too late And by the time I’ve known myself I am no longer what I was.
I knew a woman once who had a delinquent child. She never had a moment’s peace of mind waiting in constant fear, listening for the dreaded knock and the cold tones of policeman: “Madam, you’re wanted at the station” I don’t know if the knock ever came but she feared on right till we moved away from the street. She used to say “It’s the uncertainty that worries me – if only I knew for certain…”
If I only knew for certain What my delinquent self would do… But I never know until the deed is done And I live on fearing, wondering which part of me will be supreme – the old and tested one, the present or the future unknown. Sometimes all three have equal power and then how I long for a pigeon-hole.
And the horn may now paw the air howling goodbye… For the Eagles are now in sight: Shadows in the horizon— The robbers are here in black sudden steps of showers, of caterpillars— The eagles have come again, The eagles rain down on us— Politicians are back in giant hidden steps of howitzers, of detonators— The eagles descend on us, Bayonets and cannons— The robbers descend on us to strip us of our laughter, of our thunder— The eagles have chosen their game, Taken our concubines— Politicians are here in this iron dance of mortars, of generators—
The eagles are suddenly there, New stars of iron dawn; So let the horn paw the air howling goodbye… O mother mother Earth, unbind me; let this be my last testament; let this be The ram’s hidden wish to the sword the sword’s secret prayer to the scabbard—
The robbers are back in black hidden steps of detonators— For beyond the blare of sirened afternoons, beyond the motorcades; Beyond the voices and days, the echoing highways; beyond the latescence Of our dissonant airs; through our curtained eyeballs, through our shuttered sleep, Onto our forgotten selves, onto our broken images; beyond the barricades Commandments and edicts, beyond the iron tables, beyond the elephant’s Legendary patience, beyond his inviolable bronze bust; beyond our crumbling towers— Beyond the iron path careering along the same beaten track— The glimpse of a dream lies smouldering in a cave, together with the mortally wounded birds. Earth, unbind me; let me be the prodigal; let this be the ram’s ultimate prayer to the tether…
An old star departs, leaves us here on the shore Gazing heavenward for a new star approaching; The new star appears, foreshadows its going Before a going and coming that goes on forever…