Poetry

Marriage (To Ade, David, Malen and Mariam)

Young men will say:

It’s the best to paddle a boat by yourself,

Why not have an oar and canoe?

Deans of the faculty will say:

It lacks the gum of love

But enveloped with patience and acquaintance.

 

The Archaic Should Leave our Kraal

Yesterday, we saw a row of cattle silhouetted on the horizon,

A kraal with a great bloom of frizz,

Smiling faces,

Children dancing in the streets,

Women braiding at the bantaba, laughing,

Others tattooing their lips and chins,

Grandpa smoking his pipe,

And grandma making mbodakeh.

But today we see the women crying;

Babies thrown to jail;

A proliferation of tangled kangaroo courts;

Grandpa being flogged in the streets;

Grandma’s mbodakeh being kicked away;

And the archaic firing insults,

Blaming folks for the inabilities to keep the kraal neat.

Folks, tell the archaic to see:

Our thwarted huts and silos;

Abandoned streets and beaches;

Decaying kiosks;

Deserted farms;

Pudgy bodies from famine;

Devoid mums and children;

And savage kwashiorkor on our cattle.

Folks, the archaic should leave the kraal

For the coop needs a fresh blood.

 

Our Nation

I have a dream

Of winning the devil in our midst,

Abash him to a solitary ditch.

Then we will breathe in fresh air

And not to be saluting the fear he polluted us with

Death or alive,

Our nation will always be

But the stench in us will once erode

And we will finally breathe like others.

 

Dilemma of Sanyang Beach

Where are the trees that stood between us?

The horizon is unending,

The sun never sets,

And the blue waters shimmer my eyes.

This sight I never expected,

I had visited for 30 years,

But it was never nude like this.

Now I can see the sea from afar

The trees that stood between us,

The trees that canopied the once beautiful sand dunes,

Forcefully melted away

And the sand dunes too disappeared

Leaving behind trenches that we can never refill

And the heavy mining machines wailing across the coast;

Stealing the dunes,

Deafening us, disintegrating us, and

The trees that stood between us

Left nothing but denuded vast lands.

Where are the trees and sands that disappeared?

What have we from them?

Where are the promises of a better paradise?

They left us with nothing

But naked land staring at the embers of the sun;

A rusty beach overpowered by

The stench of rotten fish, decayed seaweeds,

Over grown razor-sharp boulders,

A dwindling coastline, and

Roaring waters.

They left us with nothing but tears

Streaming from Batokunku to Kartong

Night Workers

On the urine-plagued concrete floors,

Pale, sleepless faces,

Covered with clotted blood,

Smeared with hatred,

Swollen heads from the batons and iron-boots;

From the bolts of men in black hoods

Men who took reckless turns,

Algophilia,

In piercing hot, razor-sharp blades

Into the nude bodies;

Blood suckers, hungry,

Intoxicated with rotten rum;

Men who celebrate the transfer of innocent creeds

From room to room, hands to hands

Batons to batons, electrocutions, water-boarding

They take turns, over years

In condominiums, harboring night tortures;

Men in khaki, fathers, husbands

Leave their houses, innocent,

To fetch food for their families;

Night workers, gathering blood-money

And by the day, shine their teeth on us

Share cola-nuts with us at the bantaba.

They ignore the throe of other fathers who squirrel

Distinctive expressions of blatant pain.

Tell the night workers

That the wind will soon come;

The call of dawn will come

Not from the roosters this time

But from the countless widows and fatherless.

Major-domos

Upon god’s grace!

What           for

Malefactors;

Malevolent;

Malfeasance;

Malformed;

Melee;

Matador;

Or on one’s

 

Mettle?

Sandeng

Sandeng

Coaxing truth ashore:

See the meandering blood

Yet flaunted by gnawing pigs.

 

A Luta Continua

The rooms are empty

The furniture pulverized

No food on the bamboo mats

But the inks of the Avant-garde

Spill the beans.

Epitaph: For the Avant-garde.

The charlatans

Innocently on their last legs;

Tomb less

But ebbed the

Ruthless fear and tears.

Oh see their last,

A wild gyre at Westfield.

Here lies your shadows.

Tears won’t bring you back.

But this epitaph will remain.

Westfield

Nothing is appeasing

About Westfield:

It’s not the heavy-handed atrocities

Or the uprisings it hosted;

It’s not the fall of the students’ union,

Or the silencing of Sandeng Darboe;

Nor even a backlash on the fallen innocents

That had bullet-notched-backs, broken bones,

Maimed for life, been arm less, harmless,

Retreating, chanting for their rights, everyone’s;

Not even the loss by some families,

An incremental increase of widows.

Remember Westfield:

Peaceful protests to be marred by cold brutalities;

Because Westfield edifies

An end to fear;

An end to the cunning brutalities;

A raised voice for freedom

An end to dictatorship.

The Last Secret

Your tears streaming down quench my heart.

Feel the stagnation of my pulses:

My breath I can’t control anymore

My blood runs numb, but immortal in loving you.

But you wished your tears never dropped, so do I;

For I know that your heart is drenched in a witty sorrow

But I know, you can imagine, from my wail,

How hard it is for me to cast such a gruesome look to your face.

How I wish I could have broken the silence kept in me,

How I wish I could have told you about that unfounded secret.

How I wish you could have escaped such a sorrow caused.

The oozing tears, the line they draw on your tender cheeks,

The serenity in the hidden smiles behind that face,

Renders me mute: my mouth can’t address the beauty behind it.

But in your timid eyes, I see the gushing pain

And this pain, I will strive to carry forever

For there will be no more secrets to keep

Because there is no more of them in me again.

I can assure you, my muse that all that boil in me

Are the thousand thoughts about you.

The love I had always wanted from you;

The love I had always yearned to safeguard for eternity:

That glistening emerald bulging in your eyes.

Those tears, I promise to clean for the last time,

And will forever besiege love’s bounty,

And will never let even an air between us,

For I will hold onto you,

Hold onto you till death:

And on that day, the day of my last breath,

I will succumb to nothing

But a wish of not owing you any form of secret.

To Virginia Howe: Revisiting the Anthem

The land, our land

Lives blind to our tumultuous strives

The iron bars barricade our workshops

And the gods of forgery cast spells on our orchestrated prayer

Yet you asked us to sing:

For The Gambia, our homeland

We strive and work and pray.

Perilous dreams ransack our hope for unity

With a many hypocrites only singing to Napoleon

When the songs should have been for our homeland:

Some of our men, our eyes and hope, confuse loyalty for the land to a brute;

They misappropriate our security:

In the open streets, in broad daylight, they suffocate their siblings;

The pungent odor of fired bullets traumatize the innocent;

The poisoned irons pierce through their bodies;

And like a vagabond in a forest,  kick and trample on the corpses;

As if we, the innocent masses aren’t worth a thing.

Where is the freedom we devote our lives to;

When our land is transposed to Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’?

But we will still insist:

That all may live in unity,

Freedom and peace each day.

Together we will keep mourning:

To the Lord of the flies, we spread our arms and ask for the undesired justice;

To the peeper, we ask for equality towards the common good;

For our diverse people have lost the brotherhood;

All but to a greed for power by the varmint.

Tell us, to our land or to the mutant:

Where should we pledge our allegiance when our daily songs

Are still hanging in the firmament?

Yet they ask us to pledge our firm allegiance, renew our promise,

And remain ever true.

The Cycle of Lust

A promise to stay forever

But sorry that I couldn’t hold it.

The water and the wind;

The breathe and perfume;

Molded a wrath around my bleeding heart

For it’s never easy to part

So was the endless moments I spent singing to let me in

But love I never knew is a cunning journey

It spills like water in a desert.

The water, wind, breathe and perfume

Drenched me in a broth of confusion.

But I wish I could have held the pail forever;

Clench to it like a fetus to the womb

But this, my dear I can’t anymore,

For us, men are like storm.

Seems I was never told how it grows or dies

This ire of lust;

For I never thought there is ever an end to the disillusion

Until I came across its sepulcher;

Her perfume maimed me;

Her breath intoxicated my blood;

The milky skin blinded me;

And my days and nights listen to her meandering tides.

Guess what?

It’s the cycle, gains momentum,

And this time, it’s hers, like the youth of your days.

I wish I could have clenched my fist

To not let her in

And safeguard your mourning breathe

But the waves are unceasing

To garnish me to another peacock.

I wish I can clench my fist this time

And never leave her like you,

But we are a fluffy feather

We leave by the wind

And never know how grey the nights will be,

So is our love lives.

Seems there is no truth in the cycle

We only get used to the other side of the coin

And when it’s flicked, our pulses change phase

And we live in utmost denials;

We recycle whenever the wind turns;

And we drill a callous hole,

But blindfolded to the pain in the downside of the coin.

 

Letter to Breivik

My Dear Breivik,

My imprisonment, isn’t news worthy like yours,

Because my cell is a shadow away from public access;

You don’t know me because my country is hard to trace on the globe;

You don’t know me but our electronic zoos have their own story to tell.

But before I start, I would like to ask how cushy is Skien prison?

Because I learn that your gallows vie for the title of the world’s “nicest” or “most humane” prison;

How cushy are they, when inmates at Bastoey are free to walk around in a village-style setting, tend to farm animals, ski, cook, play tennis, and play cards;

They have their own beach, and even run the ferry taking people to and from the island.

And in the afternoon when most prison staff go home, only a handful of guards are left to watch the 115 prisoners?

Breivik, I wish I could have the rusty beach at Sanyang all by me for a second;

Or to ferry Kanilai across the bank of Barra for a minute;

Or cook Penda Mbye all by myself,

I would add bale leaves, bitter tomatoes, cabbage and a big catfish head

And will prepare Roselle flower juice as my after meal.

Your cells I heard have steel cutlery in the kitchen; well-equipped workshop with saws, pliers and metal files; music studios with guitars, keyboards, drums and a mixing deck.

Breivik, our cell, our kitchen, has nothing to celebrate

Other than the squeaking mice and stinking roaches;

The rattling of the wooden batons on our nakedness; the brambles of the gong for our daily stale meals;

And the buzzing mosquitoes to suffice the music for our day.

Breivik, I learn that you have your world:

Three cells – for sleeping, studying, and exercising, plus daily access to exercise yard;

You can play video games, watch TV and read newspapers;

Has a computer; and

Can prepare your own food and do your own washing;

Has phone conversations with a “female friend”;

Contact with prison staff, lawyers, a priest, and health professionals;

And has declined to play chess with volunteers,

But built a gingerbread house as part of a prison competition.

Yet you argue that the utopia violates your human rights:

That you were held in isolation since arrest;

Been prevented from sending letters to the Aryan Brotherhood and a jailed Russian neo-Nazi;

Not allowed to receive letters from sympathizers;

Subjected to numerous strip searches;

Frequently handcuffed;

And separated from visitors by glass screen – except your mother, before her death.

Breivik, my Dear, how cushy are your gallows?

Our cells have their own stories to share:

We get dipped and incarcerated in human waste;

We get imprisoned for crimes not committed;

And convictions are only obtained after blatant mistrials;

We have open faces, lean physiques and become old and infirm before our time;

We crumple through lack of human contact; brutal forced labor, sexual slavery and the daily turmoil of battering;

We become potted plants with no will to live anymore;

We become shells of our former selves;

And we sing nothing but gobbledygook from our pungent mouths;

Others, when talking slip sometimes and their ears are hard like rock;

The hourly beatings, the 23 hours a day-solitary confinements with an hour to walk along the cells’ tier become excessive;

The tortures: lack of exercise with restrictions on personal property, reading materials, access to legal resources, work, and visitation rights, harden us;

We live in a box, a cell not much bigger than a king-sized bed;

But we manage to weather them, we never allow prison to get in us

We live in pain; agony; but sometimes, we appear to be somewhat more resilient;

Because we know, we are assured that this is where we belong.

Daily, we become increasingly depressed, enveloped by a sense of hopelessness.

And self-harming is a common practice;

Mates with no pre-existing mental illness develop them in isolation;

The lack of physical activity, interaction with the natural world, sunlight, other human beings, visual stimulation, touching other beings, all dramatically change our brains

The emptiness and idleness that pervade our units are profound and enveloping.

Some hurt themselves; they use a makeshift needle and thread from pillowcases to sew their mouth completely shut;

Remaining mute is preferred to the brute of the onerous incarceration.

Our reeking cells, are dry, and razor-sharp;

A place of banishment were punctuated by a period as a leper colony.

There was no end and no beginning to our stay here;

There is only one’s own mind, which can begin to play tricks but our lives, after knowing its worth, settles into a pattern.

Our life is a routine: each day like the one before; each week like the one before it, so that the months and years blend into each other.

My Dear Breivik, at least you are known by the world

But no one knows that we are here, we are nothing but zero.

Our rooms have no bed or a toilet.

The sole feature are small, high windows to let a wan light through.

Long days are passed in complete silence meted by the wailing of fellow prisoners being tortured; a sound that provides some comfort,

Since it was a confirmation of a world being shared with other people.

We spend our times staring at the steel doors and the rouged concrete walls;

Or to scrape filth to one end and designate the downhill corners for our pee to run.

We pick our nails with our own nails;

We scrape the rough and broken ends on the walls;

We put in every effort to try and retrieve our identity;

Our nights are spent talking or singing to ourselves to recapture a sense of physical presence;

Or we pick fights with guards;

It may be brutal, but at least it renders us human contact.

They cajole us into learned helplessness.

They break us by repeated searching, at least fifteen times a day.

But my Dear Breivik, going to the extremes is never an alternative;

We cannot be either very happy or distressed;

We try to smile and be happy,

We try not to be afraid of anybody,

For we have to keep ourselves in one piece.

If I had had a charcoal and a match box by me, I would construct haiku poems, at least three lines to perfectly capture my memory.

Or to become a priest.

But we, all we have is to get through the crude days,

Days that are never boring but full of surprises, tortures: physical wounds inflicted,

But they would not conquer our minds.

My Dear Breivik, you murdered 77 innocent souls,

Yet you said the state has tried to kill you through:

Your use of plastic cups and paper plates;

Having to eat microwaved meals, cold coffee;

And your penal system considered your plight against the state.

But do you know that can even be an offense if only we dream about it

Talk less of suing the brutal authorities for our human rights

Do you know that we have rusty tin plates to eat from?

With faded plastic jugs for our muddy waters;

And our ultra-controlled prisons are overcrowded;

And our convictions were only because we demanded our constitutional rights to demonstrate

Yet we can’t complain to any but to  bath in daily parades between our cells and the rouged courts;

And to embrace the handcuffs, shackles and the institutionalized brutality.

Today in Solace

Today in solace, but I don’t know what tomorrow might bring

There is a voice in me

A staunch voice, with a daunting task to break the dead silence

This voice, rattles, it yells and moans all day and night.

It whispers into me and my ears can no more take the brambles

The voice, the voices I can’t ignore for fear of the rotten gallows;

Because in my guts, I hear the tortured souls,

I hear the sounds of the prison doors banging behind them,

I hear the dusty boots cranking on their heads,

I hear drumming of batons on their innocent bodies,

And at night, the mosquitoes sing unending melodies to their severed nudity.

I hear the voices, their songs to raise the fallen pillars

These voices, the songs of the dejected mourn the death of democracy

But we, what have we to give back aside from ignoring their calls;

What have we in order to regain the lost emerald?

We think we are contended, we think that we are safe because none of our siblings have their voices raised to us;

We are today in solace but we never know the direction of the wind;

We give our backs to their cries

And we pretend that we don’t hear or care about the voices,

But we know not when the wind might turn around

And this time, we don’t know whether the whirlwind will wither our own flowers;

That moment when our bodies will in turn be baked by them,

And this time, who then will listen to our voices when we cared less of our fallen comrades?

We are today in solace, so let’s endeavor to listen to the innocent voices;

And together strive to erase the turmoil from our midst.

An Ode to Manneh

Am not sure if I should call your name: ‘Chief” again

For I don’t know whether I can recognize you any longer.

As it has taken years since I last saw or hear from you

And from then, you never contacted

But for what reason, am still eager to know,

Especially from those who feared the chieftaincy in your inklings.

Anyway, I will inform you that nothing has changed as expected

The concrete walls of our house have all dilapidated

And now all we can see are the mud holding the bricks

And this leaves me to wonder how long our house could last.

The house now lacks doors and windows;

The ceilings and roof are all gone

And the number of stars above us can be vividly counted;

Our heads are all pillowed with straws

And there is smoke everywhere in the room.

I will inform you that nothing has changed,

Don’t even bother to ask me why:

The streets you left behind are now crowded with beggars,

None of us can afford the staggering prices

And all the hands that can fill the pockets are tied to iron bars;

The little ones that used to play around the streets are no more there

They all moved to the North in torn boats

And most of them, you will never see again;

These ones, never said bye to us but left holes in our hearts,

All we can do to remember them is to share the pounded rice minced with sugar and water.

And for them, am not sure whether we call them: heroes or villains?

I will inform you, oh I forgot, I should whisper it to you

You know why, don’t even ask:

Lay your hands on my chest and feel how my heart throbs

How hard it’s for me to even talk to you

This, you need not to ask me why:

The elephants can’t trumpet anymore; the trunks are being serrated;

And some, their eyes been unplucked.

Those who sustained only bruises from the encounters,

Have  moved to the North; but not assured of their return in winter.

Maybe soon, am still unsure how soon

We could see each other

Maybe this time not in Kachically

But somewhere around Kamalo;

And this time, I maybe sure to call your name: ‘Chief”

And here, we can narrate our sins to each other.

Burglar-proof

Is there any line between

To be

And

Not to be?

Yet, have patience and see the burglar-proofs around its waist

His names will serve all the airs alongside its way

And the country will pride for his success

His triumph to catching the eyes on it

Once more and firmer than ever.

Old dollies, stick to your names

Young starters, hold your running mouths and breathes;

Let it spell itself all through to the end of the margin

And let them know that

The burglar-proofs have weaned themselves.

The Poetic Stair

In vanity have I climbed the ladder

Up to a hill that my heart wishes

To slumber on than that virtue upon his soul.

As god is well aware of it

His bounty dwelling on my fingers

And my mind

To embrace or to settle.

Then have I spewed genuine thoughts

In lines and in stanzas

Yet, doth I never ventured on

The others, rhymes, rhymes of meters and rhythms;

In fear to misinterpret myself

In pronouncing the gifts caught alongside the stair;

Yet, don’t consider them

For what he manifested in his hearts

And not his beauty for the mouths and eyes.

The Truth in Poetry

It lies so vague to conclude the lane

The nimbleness forfeits the concrete

And the sovereignty

Without the self.

This is where both ends come in;

The craft of thinking, and,

The technique of thinking about thinking.

Thoughts about thinking show the

Might of the gaseous world.

The solid and liquid are peripherals of building a society;

Knowing the metaphysical streamlines the being and the world’s souls

Then there come that shaggy pace of duration;

And the other states of matter,

Halting to your command.

The Spell of being Black

Cast a gruesome eye into my satire

And see the leech draining my strength

For the spell of being black denies me a chance of earning

The desirable in life

Over time, I am the unluckiest or the undesirable element,

Who can’t fetch any life

Even with the number of papers swallowed along the way

Not because of negligence

Or being ignorant;

But of being black; that leech, the spell they always censor;

Any door knocked at, the blackness haunts

And daily, the thoughts about the spell traumatize my soul

And I keep wondering what kind of spell a color could be

When we both share the same red-colored blood and flesh.

Death by the Night

By the day, there was no query

But by the crescents of dawn

The owls’ hoots burst

And the hyenas came by their songs and took the

Meaning of them.

By the blossoms of the stars

They howled the airs around.

And there came the mother owl

Asking why they cried

And father hyena:

“The village’s tombs are to be increased

And no need for the qualms”.

Then by the cowries

Stood the fortune teller:

“The night is dead”

And the night shall cry

And the darkness to be torn by touch lights

And the stars still twinkling

Far cries of the valleys yell

Death by the night!

Complex versions

Night burial, night songs

And night stories:

‘Mushiba! Death singers!

Let their eyes burst

And their feathers break

And their furs swell.

Mushiba! Death signatories!

Kanjeleng

Now that the sun is black:

The womb too is in an array of disgust

And her face never shines beneath his footsteps

But a lion upon a weak intruder

Four have seized breathing

Earthed beneath the baobab forests

And for the last two, males.

Their cheeks tattooed with silver earrings.

Now that the sun is still black:

Her body drenched in an estuary

And her eternity, re-birthed and

Renamed Chaaalo

The laughing stock has been found

In her dressing, walking, dancing, singing and talking

The shameless creed has been broth to earth

That eats even in broken calabashes at the bantaba

The toiling slave has been picked up from the ditch

That labors all day in their ceremonies

But patience is her sure name

Till the nakedness of the sun arise,

And the loopholes of the ants

Brightened than mid-day in the tropics

Then they odd in appearance

So that he [she] will not return

Back to the spirits of the old.

The Lonely Flower

Here I am a wandering style

And you the bee waggling yonder

Beyond me:

There are the harmattan winds a blowing

The cool breezes of dusk fading

And the turmoil of noon a braising

Do you know the health the hearth brings close my brows?

Whose embroideries yearn too bountiful

But there aren’t the need being coy or shy

What health will there thrive in you

While the nuisance whither my strength?

Sense the under-crudeness of my appeal.

You yonder lie too close to the

Tranquillity of fattening your being

But decide the [sinning] that buoys

For you or for me.

Complex Lust

I saw five staunch men and two stout old men

All dressed in pure white silks

And holding baskets of banknotes,

Of cowries, of gold, of diamond,

And death knocking at their doors

Their breathing counting themselves from

Periods they’re they are to live;

Each second, removing itself;

Yet they know not whether faith

Can justify its strength

Of winning not dying…when and how?

Now that life lies, death lies and wealth lies

Life in light

Death in dark

Wealth in work

Can’t wealth a simple or complex lust be

So as to bargain for their living?

How much; and many can it be and do?

Evolution for Love

Young black lady

You can say all eyes are double-checked

Under your skin’s shadows

Even of god’s

And well-braided young men

Yes! For your coal-color

Yes! For that swarthiest

That reflects even your white teeth in a closed mouth

But not when men’s hands

Transcend gods’:

Blue buttocks, red breasts, yellow cheeks,

White thighs, black + orange joints,

Achromatization.

Then that’s not the way to surrogate eyes

To transfix hearts for love.

So! Young black lady

Learn how to be acquainted with “I”

Young black lady

Know how to say “I”.

Sculptures of War

Hold onto the air

And breathe in the fine fry

Of bomb blasts and thrilling shrills

Tattooing the-all angles of a once bright nation

That entrusted by bloomy villages and towns

Whose facets, as smooth as the moon’s drizzling emeralds.

Now breathe out the scent

And scrutinize the all-odors of frying

And then notice among a many

Thwarted huts and barns;

Deserted streets and avenues;

Fat bodies of famine and drought;

Destitute mums and children;

Savage kwashiorkor upon masses.

 

The Untapped Path

They want me to be mute, to be silent

But my heart can’t

Because there is an ember within

And my grief swells every time I see the untapped path

The silence, might be their solace

But that broth can’t live within me

They want me to be silent

For not talking about the dead roads and swollen gutters

But I will speak, and even sing

Even though my songs are rotten fish

I will speak about the exorbitant price of chewing stick

And about the unspoken funeral of our book

And the skunky cities

Even if my songs won’t be listened to

They want me to choose between the two paths

The paths that diverged at Sitting Corner

But I am less sorry for my choice

Because I will head to the path to McCarthy Island

And partake in fending the eel-infected paddies

Just look everywhere

In the summer, the roads are braised with  red-mud

And in harmattan, all the thatched roofs denudate.

Oh, tell me now

Why wouldn’t the corrugates rust after a year

And why wouldn’t we always resort to palm fronds

I will sing about our cars, for they drain all our salaries

And their fumes suffocate us;

I will sing about the roaches eating all the office files.

Oh, tell me now

Why shouldn’t I choose the path not taken

When everywhere is embalmed with caskets

And we don’t know what to succumb to.

And yet you want to strangulate me for not being silent.

Not Assured

We live by the hours

Being uncertain of what could befall us next

Especially in the next second of our fragile lives

The vibrant limbo squeezes our shabby paces

And we get lost in the dark

And withered by the thoughts of being lost in the dark

And we fear that ranting darkness, even the one in our shadows

Our paces we distrust now

Our breathes we can’t say how many is left for us

For we are not assured

Not assured of the turbulent future

Because daily we are surmounted by countless thorns

They prick us, even in our eyes

Especially in the mosquito infested cells

They grab us, slap us, and hit us with the guns

Our heads, our ribs, they never mind, they hit everywhere

As long as they can satisfy their egos

As long as they can justify the survival of their masters

Moving North

He scuttled to my bed and hurriedly patted me.
The moment came like a dream as his cold voice echoed in my ears:
“Boy I am living town”
“What?”
He repeated it but this time, instead of betrayal in the voice, it came stolid:
“I am going for good;
And please take care of my family.”

From that moment, I understood that I need not ask him again,
Because I knew that that day was his turn;
He is to move to the North, like many others; the North where heads could be spared of the solemn brutalities – tortures; unjustified detentions; imprisonments; and public embarrassment.

I knew he was moving,
Without even saying the final goodbye to his kids
I knew he was leaving, so as to safe what is left of his precious life.

But at least he tried,
At least he informed one person close to him,
At least I was told of his ordeal;
Unlike the others who hastily left in the dark nights,
Nights when even the stars are hidden away from their view;
They left without living their families under anyone’s care.

And they all left for the North
They left without any explanation, but this, we all know why;
Because the home we all knew before is like a denuded coastline.

They all left because they hope that the sun will once more shine on our land
And on that day, everyone will bask under its glittering smiles;
They will all be back that day
To the place where their umbilical cords were buried.

But at the moment
Leaving is the only choice
Not that they are cowards for moving North,
But that the last heads need to be saved for the future.

And here, here I am today narrating his case
But maybe the next to scuttle away might be me
And that day I will also follow the winds to the North and another djali will be born.

The Naked Silence

Only because we fear the inevitable;
We fear that we will lose our lives,
And our wives or husbands will become widows,
And the children will grow without knowing us.

So we choose to let silence eat into our lives,
And forever, we silently grief over the pain being inflicted on us,
While the rogue crocodiles keep foraging on our cowardice,
And they manipulate not only the way we dress or eat,
But even the way we breathe;
For daily, through our own sons and daughters,
Unto whom we bestow our trust for our protection,
They make untimely visits to our houses,
Our workplaces, or even in the open streets;
They strangulate us;
They maim our raw flesh;
They make us disappear forever;
They make us unsafe everywhere we are,
Even on our own beds.

So our fear intensifies,
And we happily embrace the treacherous, naked silence
Because in the peak of our obtuse choice of being silent, we feel safer,
But we become defenseless
And even our judiciary and constitution become lifeless.

But till today we forget to understand
That the silence we choose is our utmost enemy,
It is the least we should be proud of,
Because for decades now, it never helped us through,
Rather, it passes us through rough, savages.
And it weakens our strengths to voice out the truth.

A Withered Flower

For we have nothing but a conundrum to choose from.
In the past, we had our heads high
But today, those heads are pale meadows, that can’t even feed a calf.

We cried of the white-man’s burden
But that alone is better than the decades we lived in his absence.
For at least he dined not upon our meek lives;
For at least he taught us new avenues to fit well in the rest of the societies;
For at least he paved a way out for us to earn a living as does many men of today.

We cried of his burden only because he called our fathers ‘boy’ instead of ‘papa’;
We cried because he built him a boy’s quarter instead of a round mud hut;
We cried because we thought we lost our manhood when he started dressing us like his kindred;
We cried only because we thought the gold and silver we battered were not traded fairly;
And we failed to understand that until today, we can’t even efficiently make value of those buried gems.

We lost the white-man’s burden to our own men who are only greedy to enrich themselves;
In every second that pass by, they drink our bloods,
And in every second, they keep butchering our innocence.
And we, what have we today to pride of,
When every barbaric word or disease is said today to originate from us
And we cannot deny them, because even our leaders failed to fend for our weakened souls,
Yet they glamour colonialism for their own failures to leads us well.

I say even the white-man’s burden is better for us,
For he never ruled us with daily dreams and lies
But the cohort of vermin led us to nowhere but to the brink of the rouged mountain,
And today, what have we to pride of,
Nothing but a tiny nation like a withered flower.

Taboos in Cultures

The child will be dumb forever;
She shouldn’t even eat pumpkin…
The fetus will be as fat as a pig.
Bananas shouldn’t be frequently eaten by men …
They will have a soft manhood.
A shoe shouldn’t be left upside down…
A bad omen will befall on the owner’s mother.
Salt, needle and charcoal shouldn’t be mentioned
Or sold at night…
Bad luck will befall on society.
A man going for a journey or to work
Shouldn’t meet with a woman as the first person…
He will be unlucky for the rest of the day or his entire journey.
One shouldn’t present a clock or watch as a gift…
The recipient’s days will soon be numbered.
One shouldn’t present a knife as a gift…
It could cut through a friendship or be suggestive of suicide.
Do not give a person a bunch of chrysanthemums or dahlias or white lilies…
They are gifts for the dead.
You should always give an odd number of flowers – but not 13…
Number 13 is as bad as number 4.

And everywhere in the world, the countless lists go by,
And different cultures clash along the way;
But both grandpa and grandma would never answer further questions regarding why,
But only that: cultures say that they are not good and all revolve around death and bad luck;
So to be free from all troubles grandchild, always remember to give out books.
They are the only ones beyond the critique of cultures.

Awaiting

Can you recall how your voice rose like the music of a pestle on Yandeh’s mortar?
When we were as beings, you were counting your wealth:
‘My son,
I have twenty shells;
Five ladies by my ribs;
Twenty siblings from my cages,
All men, and the rest, seven, with braids awaiting drones;
Five plantations dine under my notch,
Fenced with a hundred laborers;
I don’t know how many heads of cattle? Ha…ha…ha!
Oh my son! You’ve seen. They are all mine.
Even the country is mine.’

Can you remember?
I wonder whether that strength is there with you now
To explain how you attained all those wealth;
And how managerial the termite-eaten brain will help you regain all now.

But remember that in life, one must be heedful that riches are never static;
They come in whatever way you opt to attain them,
But when time comes, time takes its turn
And that wealth spills into the sandy soil.

Listening Keenly

And breathes of your sweet scents scatter around us
Like the first raindrops on our dry mud flats.

In time haven’t you make a call
Through the phone in your roaring world
Or to salute us silently like you used to do with those beautiful inklings.

The course you chose the life you partake
Gave us the awareness we both yearned for
But this, was their worst nightmare
Because you told us the truth
You showed their nudity, the nudity they personally chose and
They thought it can make them richer, or stay for eternity
But your pen, your voice, deterred them of their evil acts

And on a brief evening, through their accomplishes
They took you away, without your consent, and without any explanation to us.

Until today, we are listening; we are waiting for your return
We all yearn to see you because we miss you
But today, more than a decade since they took you away
We’ve lost the truth, and we know well that we can’t ever see each other again.

And the cowards, they think that they have won
They think that they can silence us, through your disappearance
But to date, they’re only fooling themselves
Because soon, we will know the truth about your disappearance
And of many like you, and the cowards will be shown their own misery.

I can still remember our first encounter at the house in Bakau
When you hinted me of the friends I should make
Or who else I should talk to
And today, am really sorry that I couldn’t thank you
Or even remind you of the same brotherly advice.
For till today, I can’t fully understand how they have sacrificed you
How they posed their back to you only to safe their own desires.
But today, where are they, can they still harness their wickedness?

My brother, you are gone but I may sense your subtle echoes rattling through the vents in our hearts
Our untimely parting we might say was an easy task
But within us are the embers piercing through our saddened peace

And there you are
There earthed in an unceremonious bed of gold
While we, the living beings, still have the shabby world in our fists and the cowards still ravaging our lives.

Chances

I will forever deny that.
But the truth of life is that the future never reveals itself,
And the chances in life are that some might not hold on.

He lived a life, full of determination and hope
That come one day, he will set the caged birds free
But the truth of life is that the future never reveals itself,
And the chances in life are that some might not hold on.

He gathered the needed knowledge and earned all the medals of a real soldier
But the chances in life are that some might not leave to their dreams.

It all came, that unpredicted day,
That calm twelfth night of the year,
That moment, surprising to all, it just happened,
And the hard-toiled dreams faltered,
He came to live but life never permitted him to be,
That moment, that solemn twelfth month, came to mark the unceremonious erection of his tomb, the tomb that remained a ghost to all to date.
And that day, that moment, was when I realized that the chances in life are that some might not hold on.
But hopefully, a day will come when dreams will certainly win
And the chances will be that some will truly hold on.

Bye my Alma Mater

When we first met,
I never imagined that time could that quick steal enough of our relationship
But in a sudden, its two years and the time dreadfully ended;
Leaving us with nothing but the sadness to say goodbye.

When I first met you, I was filled with joy, hope, inspiration;
Oh, I had my shoulders jerked high.

But as that time melted away, like it finally did,
The joy in me,
The hope I had,
The inspiration I eagerly embraced,
All undeniably faded.

But I don’t know whether it’s the sadness of parting
Or the fear of the new world I ought to face outside your realms;
But whatever it is- joy, hope, inspiration, sadness, or mere doubt,
There must be another encounter awaiting me;
Where I will reincarnate
And where time will, one day, scuttle into my newly found relationship,
And once more, steal the spotlight;
And I will be left with nothing
But the unbearable fear of starting a new life.

But whatever that rejuvenated life maybe or partake,
I will forever remember you, my Alma mater- the mold of my life.

Songs of an Alumnus

Right through the cool airs
Like a bird in dawns of a summer.

Sitting on a pavilion by the pitch
My heart fitted with echoes of colleagues;
And any sight of their dull bloom faces…
The joyful, sorrowful days becomes
Tainted thoughts!

Then I, left with nothing
But a wish of antiquity
To have them back
To correct the sins, celebrate the joyful days we had together,
And break the orgasm of being an alumnus.

Return of Winter

I could see the brown leaves of gamba grass
Fluttering all through in the wadding breeze
And the burnt shoots
Crunching my nostrils to disillusion
The underlying carpet
Sooty to tread on
And the far distance
Lying by the strength of the eyes

In some parts
My blood can sense their virginity:
Visiting bees and birds
Floundering the shrubs’ maturity
The whole air filled with nectarines
Like of an untouched doe

There is the perplexed passion
To the return
See the nanny birds traversing inheritance to their young
And their sounds meandering all through
See
The return of the winter

Songs of Deeda

When all the birds caged
And all their rations:
The polished grains been counted
For each to dine on
And all we’ve cried of
To shatter the spells of time
And make him come closer to our beings
Then there will we weigh
Our own rice for the day

That was time and we had that food
The black-eyed bloods
Ravaging under their acne fluids
Those white turbulent faces priding ashore with tufts

But do you know
That they have won:
The brisk tusks of ivories
The undergrowth of the Congo basins
The fervent name sake of the gold coast
The staunch Kintehs of Juffureh
All passed through the serpent waters and into their boughs….

And we, what have we
Our own breads to share into pieces
That’s all we have been toiling for:
And our dead by Biafra
We couldn’t count…
Those naked murders of our own brothers’ bloods
The assegais pruning their stolen breasts
The pregnant gypsies, we battered
Crudely their immaturity
And we, at peace we are?

Traitors

The scuttling paces as of little church mice;
One, two and another.
See them, all in white ‘grandmboobs’; wolves in a sheep clothing.
.
Scent their movements
Of tranquility in being
And if there be any sage
They will tag themselves;
And if there any good man be
They will be notched.

But see them stealing and mounting heaps of our hay in the far north and denying us of our daily rations.

But what can we do, for our hands are tied to our weak backs
And all we have left with us is to bank on Gods
And these Gods, we believe, are the honest witnesses
Gods, if there be any so?

Then they should be the witnesses in our dark courts-
Gods of forgery; Gods of theft; and the Gods of treachery.

Dare not trust men of today, for money is their bone of contention,
They will sing to earn your votes
But tomorrow, their powers will surpass your votes;
For they will bank on the same money
To illicitly erase the borders that binds their tentacles.
And there will be no more, your voices but their life threatening voices.

And life for you, will be a regret of coming to the world
For even your breathes will be monitored by the seconds
And your paces will be counted even in the heart of the dark nights.

Traitors, see them coming by, be mindful of their presence.

The Gambia, our Gambia

Lying smoothly abreast a maiden’s blooms
A pint though but satisfied is for its bosom

In its valley’s glistens a golden harp
That meanders like a python going for a nested trap;
In its tranquil strings
Lays all melancholy’s fringes;
By its flanks are carpets
Whose greenery buoys all souls by its lengths.

But I am the least joyous to breathe by its countable hills
Wherein I see many miles of flattened pieces,
Treacherous patches of sun-baked vegetation
That no omnivore or vegetarian care.

The courteous boughs of alter-ego have thence faded
Lest of the least praised when braided;
Trumpeting no more,
Roaring no more,

Chattering no more,
Crying no more,
Lest of brays, hisses, neighs, and moos,

The Gambia, our Gambia,
Happy is the nation, but doomed between perplexities.
The Gambia, our Gambia with a loom of uncertainties.

At Home

Wherein man’s brutal thoughts dine on
Man’s innocent feelings

At home we are
But at home can’t we feel anymore
For thus a tragic transformation in living
That none ever prepared to settle or
Prevent one of

Man is dining on man’s heart
To profit himself as a lucrative
He skins his mates
He sells his siblings
He batters his senses
Just to live, only to survive.

And in the wild,
Children cry,
They bramble for peace
But their swollen abdomens, sigh by
Their mothers, they scuttle in the dark
Sell their hidden thighs
And render the rusty coins for crumbs
And they feed them, to rescue their fragile lives.

At home we, but at home can’t we feel anymore.

Foroyaa

We the sons of peace
To sing the chants
The honorable songs of fleeing
Our bloodless endeavors
Has savored our might
Of winning the peace
And it has to be won
Within a blissful
Encounter: of thoughts,
Not of a fight; of words, not of force.

At home, yes we are at home
And the incredulous time is singing.
Its seconds, shying by
And the solemn sanctuaries by them are unlacing their shoe laces.
We have the times in hand now
And who will lead the way to the best song for freedom? We
The sons have come.
We are with our foroyaa but straining effortless now to gain our homes for and of ourselves.

The Path

Where we will queue for our needs like civilized creeds
When can we see ourselves?
Where we will voice out to the shrill airs
Our daily frustrations and without a pester of grains into our shabby eyes

When shall we understand ourselves?
Where we will value the cost of innocent lives we coldly seize along the path
And we, we still remain affixed to seeing the oozing blood aligning both of us.

Folks with our senses have derailed in the thin airs
Yes, vanished but not to their will
And the folks without our senses remain mute over their own blindfolded actions.

The path, our path
Is still a route, we can’t fully comprehend
Our path, the path is still an arena we can’t folly
For our path to live a life are always streamlined to a more brutal path

Hope

The shadowy, cracked voice we never anticipated
And we, as citizens, never speculated between ourselves either.

Our hopes, our dreams, carried away in a film of cold air.
We lost it,
We lost it, our wholeness.

Our flabby beings transposed to fluffy feathers
The souls in us, reduced
And these feeble souls, dwindled in the embracing fogs.

Basking under the calm palms of Taipei, as did by our predecessors,
We preempted to embrace better lights
Instead, the lights themselves preempted us –
And we became dreams in ourselves.

In the living streets, we see not ourselves anymore
Nor feel our solemn breaths pulsating
For these innocent nimble airs have been, in a selfish confusion, sacrificed without our consent,
We, the innocent seedlings became the victims of the in-humanness.

In the juxtaposed streets, we are no more ourselves
For our faces we have lost in the battle we never fought in ourselves –
No pride anymore lingering ahead for us.
All in us, our racked composites, are now even lighter than our mass.

Where is life itself
Do we still linger with it – for our dreams have been kidnapped.

Yes our souls have been caged
Caged, yes, but our humble breathes are our remains, our life bearers and not their inhumane, dark hearts.

Yes we are with our breathes
And the hope it broth, we will ever glue to
And the future, our future, will never bleed…
For time has time
And the time begot the future.

Shattered to the Miniature

And weep with me when our fisted veins stray in the meandering loop, my little dangling heart.

Lies are now the blood of the deans by God
And truth is now the key to death.
This is our mood and we have no treasure to batter it for
Lest our solitude silence we always linger with
And the procrastination of the woes of God we do wash our rancid faces with
We juxtaposed our streets with the hope of change
But all we have are the daily mysterious deaths
Or the treacherous disappearance of our beloved bold faces
And we still stay aloof the pestering truth
And thus swell our hearts with the coaxed poisons of silence.

Oh my little dangling heart
When shall we shy away from the gout of shame?
And strangulate that silky thread tying our souls.
We should eat from the bosom of hell
And be able to sense the manliness in us
Oh my staunch immortal mates.
Can’t we drink from the waters of Tunis?
Or bath in the perfumes of Tahrir
Or wear the boots of Tikrit?

We are right at the tip of the loom
Lest we act swift, our axles will go stiff
Then shall we float in a sea of limbo
Like the bleak shrills of Somalia.

The Solemn Palms of God

Let me count the lines on your toes
And the fluffy feathers that avail your liberty

Come on, little frail bird
Let me a single wing
Let me taste what lie in the heart of being the self

For we are still in limbo
Our eyes we have but we still can’t see.

The real routes, we still don’t know their source
We have, yes two generations
But none is a better story to narrate.

Where are the solemn palms of god?
That crafted your identity:
Tell me their nature
So that we will not mistake them for the sorcerer
For we have them all over
And they claim to be those solemn hands that craved you.
And they pierce fear into our shabby hearts
That mistakes the fear of death with the fear of the truth.

Tell me, who are we to own each other?
Who are we to be the possessors of others souls?
Tell me, who should be listened to: the sorcerer or that which coin him?
In the era of their making, they lie of their capabilities
And cry that they know the composite of our fragile hearts
And that without them, we, our existence will be a story of the future.
And then they are there, not through their own hands; but through our handicapped fingers and blindfolded eyes.

We still know not our own strengths
Because we are still without the needed virtue
And this weakness, they take advantage of

Little frail bird, tell us where to fetch those solemn hands
For it is only those real hands that can save our cloudy heads
For it is five decades now, we are immersed in the muddy stream.

The Mocking Birds

The sweet melodies of the summer;
The locust bean trees have bloomed
And the clouds are now all grey
The cows, the cane rats, all full with expectation
That their kraals and holes shall soon be full of the solemn cries of their little ones

Leave the birds to sing
And their grief of the haunting winter fade away,
The coming of a new summer is a celebration of the turmoil of their fallen comrades
Whose songs did worth their innocent nimble souls?
They are gone, but their sturdy patchy voices will ever ado
For these songs are the remains of their ever innocent ancestors

The mocking birds sing
But not songs of mockery;
They poise the truth and brandish the suppression,
They strangulate the forgery,
And garnish the pain enshrined there within;
For the songs are their only holy verses
Leave the birds to sing.

The shrill voices of strangulated miniatures have filled the innocent air
Their sweats are oozing
And their fragile carcasses are crumbling apart
What else
Lest of the rupture of their suppressed protruded bellies

They yearned for the disintegration
Not of their uniformity
But the utmost wish of being free men

The ganders have filled their purses
They have pecked to death the newly born males
And they are blind now
Because they are full
And the carcasses are weaker than ever
Impoverished by their hands…
Traitors that no longer see others but themselves

Who are they?
Orient them of their identity
They are nothing themselves but eggs sealed with iron;
And the iron, they are always playing with
And the iron, they value less like a cigarette butt

But tell them
That the irons are their souls;
When they play with them
Their center will disfigure
The falcon would never hear the falconer,
The blood-dimmed tide will be loosened, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence will be drowned

But finally, the feathers will fly
The third coming will have its due
And the wind will flow freely to all the traitors.

Burr of Sine

And praise you than ever
It’s of you
And was his
But know of another.

Burr of Saloum

And you beget any of my heart’s contents.
Yes! Today is yours.

Ill health

Souls for soul;
Soul for souls;
Souls for souls.

Peace

Soul in souls;
Souls in soul;
Souls in souls.

Khibar for Juma

By that tender path of my granddad’s fjord.

O my succulent avocado lingering under the eyes of a traversing light of transition

What receptors there lay to embrace the sun’s exposure?

What arts or fingers smooths your nudity?

Your taste I see like a mango’s juice

Or shall I say: the palm wine tapper’s chilly liquor drenching down a gourd’s mouth;

And him, he haunting to leak the leached ones but tongue-less like a snail.

I will come by the sunrise

To ease my pride upon that sharp blindness, the light to embalm my soul

To pride for being a tributary of the great sea of Sangamar;

That tributary leading to Joal and to the breast of the encysted Palmarine.

I will come by the sunshine

Peeping through the haze and see whether it is that,

That which I saw in dawn’s youth

Me, I or else: but like a second-old egg enshrined within the pillion of a spongy envelope,

Being traversed across your quadrilaterals like the nanas of ancient Ghana.

Music, love, blooms and a helm of freshness

From the Atlantic and River Sine, I will have my being molded into.

Feel it and I counter the scaly brows of your night and read through the furrows there from formed.

Then I shall be acquainted with knowing trust:

Embracing the sweetness in being cherished by a motherly palm,

Being branded for belonging,

And not like a society’s dropout; the voiceless servant of hallucination,

That struggling being, vagabonding.

Who therein censors how muscular an un-ravished melon’s seeds will be,

Or the brightness of death?

I will, I will by the pestering sun

And gaze through the opaqueness or the translucence therewith it alienates itself to.

Oh Juma! The spirit of a dove’s heart

Your palms, I heard are coined:

A brilliant horizon approaching,

Fervent embroidery surfacing the earth

And there, there, see those sprouting greens

See the brand of air produced therein

And know how life thaws or crystallizes.

I don’t know what kind of phalanges…ah! What hands touched you to be you;

Lean than the tissues in a baby’s cheeks.

In sight I see a mother and on her laps, slumbering babies

With their mouths plugged to her nipples

While the bosom of the night,

Opaque than a grave’s walls.

But still you I dream of

That mother,

Harboring a many of my kind: Withering tomboys without even a loophole to salvage themselves,

But am told that you,

That the crest of your arms are impotent to bruise a fetus’ cord

That I know not but can I sense in you;

But I will see; experiment and tongue.

Juma I will taste with my wholeness.

What a joy there

Embedded right here, in my bewildering mind.

The pulses are yearning for your eternity

In them are two thumbs, playing the Kora

Two pointers and the rest, little fillers rescuing the heart of loneliness

And embalming it with the lyrics there-from:

The airs carried out by those twenty-one cajoling strings of the djali,

The breeze carrying these solemn un-forecasted melodies,

Solaces the swiftness of the trees, their branches and leaves

Blazing like the noon sun

And one sees how transparent their tiny legs are;

Creating dust bowls amidst the triumphant crowd.

Listen, listen keenly my dear

To my tumbling throbbing heart

To the poems for Sangamar-

That wilderness,

That winnower undressing the chaff.

If the verses can sing,

Let the wind dance with you

And I, to lay my nose by the wind’s path

And feed by the perspiration of your alveoli.

What sensation is behind a light bag’s weight?

Trust, truth, justice or prejudice

Or the abomination of such sureties of pronouncing it:

In us, the men we have now are not us,

The pulses of men have melted;

Their services, are valueless than a tobacco butt.

We live, less flaccid than a sponge,

Our purses, we gossip,

And our palms, we know not the sum of their lines,

And we care not to know either,

Everywhere is the sprouting skeletons.

Ours, I mean those fleshes, we no more conceive

And the bloods, their bloods, painting our faces

Yet, we utter not a breath

But to dine on our ancestors’ weaknesses:

The cold silence we chose;

Quietness,

Reserved,

Laissez-faire,

Barren of words;

But the trend of remaining deaf and dumb

Will eat up our tissues.

One by one, our turns are closing the wilderness.

Yesterday we cried to wipe out our occupants

And today, we yearn to get back ourselves

And we have ours by ourselves

But have we accomplished our mission?

“Uhuru!”

“La liberation!”

Our poems of negritude;

Our pan-Africanism.

We chanted the names like Foroyaa-

In the streets

In the swollen factories

Even on our deathbeds.

But, we ourselves, we hate most.

We hunt each other day and night,

We hunt not broilers, but our own layers;

We refute by the pulses of twilight not the cola nuts, but our own eggs.

Tell me Juma, is this what we longed for?

For we said we are our own peace?

Leaning towards destruction, we need not raise eyebrows

To broth an enlightened man

But we know why hearts tumble or pulsate

And why we taste our own lymph fluids…

The sap feeding the faces,

Or those salty waters drowning our skulls,

Through the profuse perforations.

Tell me Juma, how succulent can there be seen

Of the paces and phases,

Walking against the leeward habitations

And caging the breast of the yearned mountains flourishing with fountains.

There then can we embrace the tentacles of being in exile,

A lace of menace

That waif. A man.

None will bewilder for the least when the tones of home chorus

Beautiful songs of whistling palm leaves, of the black ants’ lyrics;

And of the pelicans’ chants.

Facing the reality is a dirty realm:

In packing all our belongings

To part with the melted time.

In myself is no more the self

But a motherless-lamb bleating.

The airs, too soft to carry its melodies

And no ear within an inch away to sense the lyrics behind its gyres.

What herdsman’s corroded sickle serrated the lymph of its mom’s breasts?

What warm milk shall the babe fetch from life?

Juma, the lamb is my retrospect

And in the blind mirror

I see sorrow bathing my innocent face,

Its shadow, crystallizing my effrontery.

It is time I know

It is its turn, am sure,

That saddened moment to abreast our faces ahead but with our eyes behind,

Refocusing on them,

The land, the leaving, the route, oh abandoning the land we knew by birth:

It’s like blinking ones naked eyes in a pool of pepper.

See the river traversing my eyes’ bosom

And see how rocky the deserts are to leach them.

Why can’t oases sprout there from?

But see; see how pregnant the brows’ bellies are

And see how dry the sobbing cheeks remain:

Lest with the white traces of the waterways

Tattooing them to embrace man’s grief

Which by far is never blessed with even a hair?

Even a hair of beauty.

Juma, facing the reality is a dirty realm,

The sun has burnt all my glands

And in you, only you, I have seen

A flowing stream smoothing itself on a barb of fire;

Juma, cherish the commensurate,

Will the stream or the fire die out?

Or the fire will gulp him in her groaning mouth?

Juma, O Juma Ndela.

The blazing sponge, my being, and the stream your nerves.

Then embrace my nakedness

And let me slumber in your porch like a day-old kangaroo under the turmoil of winters’ blast furnace,

That deadly harmattan breathe,

What a tap on a brother’s back,

What a grim in a foe’s teeth.

The paces of time have surrendered their breaths

Upon another page

That some may there see

And the others, facets of darkness.

Yet those chanced with sight,

Wrong pages may be turned

Or the right pages, afresh.

But onto us between

None should in accordance taste of Lake Sleep:

Of the sins incurred

And the blessings acquired,

While the lines of the college, the shoal carried us through

So as to tally all the triumph

In death and beauty.

Feel the skulls of my eyes

And know the rivers therein; their fringes

Overflowing and the sands, pore-less;

The distance, an ejection of blurred worlds:

Their angles juxtaposed.

What brain lies by the smoothed way?

That carries a heart of dejection?

A menorah with mouths embodied by a mass of molten magma

And the tongue, leaking the snaking redness of the earth, the virgin volcanic liquor.

The time we had, shall we say has been seized by age,

For whatever breathes, wilts alongside,

See the simulation thereby

Then we, the beings are counting for ourselves

But the cow never knows how many furs forfeit the liberty of a fly?

So are our days.

Yet we know, we see how the flowers

Bloom and by noon they wither

And by the wisdom behind beauty,

We know, how it replenishes without the night’s permission to it.

Long, long myth

Long it might be encountered,

A journey to emancipate that feeble vent in my heart.

The mars we heard of is not that we have in our hands

And that moon, shining, nowadays takes not a blink to answer to our calls,

And we resort on it and feel rumbles aligning it.

For time, we heard

And time we know and have.

Does there lay any illicitness by his ageing?

Lest of his passage to mark the energetic faces of history.

Those that come to light must pass through the gates of nothingness.

But he, we know well, censors the breath of every event.

So Juma, my silk linen pyjama,

Count the pulses that pass through the airs saluting you.

And there, on a day, on a second,

You will see my pride relaxing in your boughs.

Long, long myth

Long it might take

A journey to emancipate that feeble vent in my heart.

Long, long have its manifesto aloud been read by history:

That a plank is never a crocodile

Even when waters turn soil;

And that, my Juma, am sure of.

Juma, my bloom, Juma Ndela

Will I sing?

I will sing a song ever crafted by man

They say she sings, that Yandeh Codu,

And they say he attends to her as if in paradise, that Sedar, that kinsman, that poet;

But Juma, my poems for you,

The lyrics of this wadding poet,

This drunken djali,

Will float the mountains of your crest.

This song, will sweetness itself gossip.

All, but for your nobility.

The patience you bear to listen to these coarse voices of my mucus less throat.

The suffrage, the frustration, the pledge, our appeals;

All you bear on your sturdy back.

And there I will lie

We will dwell

We will dine,

And those weak ones among us,

Will equally bask under your life-rendering sun.

O Juma Ndela, Juma room me to sing.

With my khalam

The four strings’ dancing will my keen fingers regulate;

And the smoothed paces of her affluence will flutter along in the coy air

Like a gulp of water passing through a tasty vagabond’s throat.

See the dance in the stars

And the smiles of the moon.

The pelicans, the herons, and the flies

Sharing the delight in your being.

And then the tone, thundering

For that staggering calabash, mastering its succulent task within that salt-water

Fixed in a basin twice its size.

My left hand seizing a side of its necklace

Then pulling it up-and-down

While the right with a thumb-size finger ring around the neck of the pointer.

Rattling upon its head.

Chai wai! Juma Ndela!

Chai wai lady!

Listen to that emotion,

How its melancholy mixes with the khalam and the concoction of instruments.

Listen, listen my Juma

Still to my energetic music:

The sabarr speaking and praising alongside my chants

For Jajan Njai

For Leo Sedar

For Abdou

For Kairaba

For Jilanka Jola

For Gaindeh Njai

Listen, Hai! Listen my Juma

Time is rolling by

And my being, decaying over the withering seconds.

And the finale

Of the fine-feather-chorus

Echoing from those mermaids of the drenching seas whose rhymes asleep a lion.

Hai! Chai Juma!

A man never is a woman

But other souls convert.

Chai woman! You are a man in our hearts.

Of you, the earth’s hands clap and its mouth dilates; and its tongue salivates

What then have I other than this little poem?

This scanty poem roving for words.

My Juma, my pearl under the tropical noon.

The music has talked

The fine palms of gods entrusted on man

Will never be frail in validity.

The music sang itself

A song bitter than the love I have for myself

And the sand dunes behind your crest

Are moving

Snaking around your emissaries

Dancing alongside the poor stanzas I have bounty of for you.

If I chanced still, I shall sail through it once more

And see how sour the tunes will reactivate your slumber-of-life.

Then ear keenly

And sit upon the shoulders of your bay

And eye majestically

How my songs’ frequencies

Are making your waters too to dance

And the fish too

And the sailors.

Juma! Oh the Juma of my mind!

I will surely come

As a pedestrian, then a hawker,

To market your tag throughout,

As far as to Walo,

I will travel, even if I am to dine on only moldy bread crumbs on the way,

Or to eat only salivated remnants of the bony dogs, I will travel;

I will come

I still will by sunshine;

Sailing through a troughed stem of gonga tree,

With my two palms as oars

And a sac from my shirt as my engine

And the wind, a soul fuel to energize my homecoming.

Juma I will come even if my coat fumbles and my boat tumbles,

It will stagger

It will shiver

But headlong will I sail

‘Till I meet the beards of Sangamar

And will therein sing again

I will sing that little, that feeble, that wordless song in me.

So my Juma,

Ear my coarse tongue’s fables.

Listen to the sibilant silence,

Ear my throbbing heart,

Eye the confusion of the African cupboard,

Of the forgery in personality

Of the misinterpreted cultural orientation

Of my sober gesture:

The khalam

The sabarr

The calabash within the water

Their ways of playing

The chants of crickets for burrs,

The concoction of Arabic, British, French and American attires,

Which one carries my identity?

Listen!

Scent!

Breathe!

Then feel those iambs of the lyrics with your tender skin as lean meat.

Like the stream of blood that afloat my fire-river.

See how it sinks!

To journey that distance farther my life

Then seeing the bare sands in your lungs

Facing the streamlining waves downing

Like a gliding snake on a sheet of greased glass.

Which blood is denser?

Which lymph is thicker?

Which solution outpaces

Yours or mine?

Yet, the lane of hatred,

The stream of blasphemy,

The catastrophe of coal-on-coal,

Our butchering of one another,

Runs deeper than those kind waters piercing through the stomachs of our farmlands.

Juma look at us

We of the same breed but separated by that artificial line on a map;

Look at us, seeds haunted from the same bed

Born, bathed

I mean breathing the same airs shimmering from the Futa D’jallon to the Atlantic;

But see how divided we have become

When they drew a line between us;

A barrier coagulates our lives

That barricade of: Being a citizen of one artificial boundary,

The law, we have with us to separate us forever;

To create hatred among us for traversing that boundary

When I sit to watch destiny’s paces

I sense a blurred path

A naked burrow

Wherein my seedlings too will be minced into

Like granite in a well-seasoned concrete,

As of those arching my blood streams,

Controlling the beatings of the warm-hearted-throbs;

A cell with mosquitoes to spread the intoxication on them;

Then to the others;

Even any that a pint of my blood will run through.

All of two malformations: an undefined citizenry; and a lost cultural insurance.

Even though I know everything about this land; about them; about their forefathers,

Nothing is a secret to my being:

The sensual lines;

The customary frames;

The choirs’ songs;

The town criers’ drumming;

The humming bees’ prayers;

The howling owls’ hoots;

The donkeys’ brays;

The corrosive voices of thunders;

The congested sounds of the lightening;

The waggle dances of worker bees;

But I will still ask you, my Juma, is any mine?

Then there should be no cultural barricade;

No political syndrome or attire;

Should ahead be tagging us like a notched cow

Drowned in a herd of a million heads

Yes! Five out of one million heads

Both as black as the blood running down my skin of pride;

Of the heights of Siamese twins;

The he (the herdsman) will de-husk them,

He will separate poor seed varieties from five millions of their kindred.

If dead be, I am it once.

Then will the pendulum of my mind and soul be seized forever.

And that sword of Janke Wally

Will behead a many upon their mistakes:

For denying my fists of a cloth of soil

The blood of who floods nine-tenth of my valleys;

From that land spreading its wings

Like of a vulture on an errand

Eyeing all the loopholes of this globe.

But done that will my trend tally with theirs

Then will that wish of pepper to one’s eyes

Flourish than ever;

Not that I a coward is then

But a spilled milk to cleanse the hearts of the soils:

Off those corroding fallacies.

For: I as I in else will not show my real self,

A tranquil self of being oneself.

Now consider my fate

Your judgement upon my quest:

I pay a visit to you;

Then will the rising meters spell and swell…

“Kenaroheh! Kenaroheh gara! The stranger has come!”

Then will my fluencies in the native language be counted;

Laughter will dwell on the alignment of my tongue:

Its pronouncements

Its pronunciations, will all be a totality of strangeness to them:

The rolling of my tongue,

The positioning of my teeth,

The ejaculation of the airs.

Oh, what an orgasm?

What a bitterly omen?

Then feel the oozing blood

From my arteries and veins;

The sour taste there then

Its cries like a dejected baby

Lying briskly on a bed in a deserted countryside compound.

Hear how thrilling it throbs,

Smell how pungent its urgency is,

Breathe how coarse its airs are,

And then feel how feeble its bones are,

How sharp, how blunt,

How rough like a vintage road.

Dare you then to those: An undefined countryman ship;

A tainted milk of the mother’s breasts;

Oh! No country to pride of;

No culture to adore as a pride?

But

I still will count my paces by the sunrise;

I will come by sunrise;

Engulf the dwindling courage;

And gulp the shattered sorrows;

And settle to re-instate my sovereignty

Then re-name me Juma:

Pound the white rice and mold them;

Gather the elders and children;

Dig pith by the main door of my re-birthed room;

Hold me up…upright within the palms;

Show me the four corners of Palmarine

And praise the heart of Sangamar;

Scatter some pounded rice into the pith;

Give the juveniles their shares;

And let them shatter my nakedness

And with whiteness like the curtains of the sky,

And their fine songs of noise

Flutter the whole airs’ slumbers;

Call my name now…Korrmak;

And allow the sekat, bassi and dang smile fervently within mouths;

And the penglerr, lam and ndambu shower the ears and souls with breezes as of drumbeats of august rains.

Woman,

Listen!

Yesterday was my birthday

I think you could remember

And today is my death day

I think you may know

In my cell nowhere:

Do you still remember that man with the many homes: Pacholing, Deya, How-Ba but tomorrow, uncertain?

Yes Damirog of disillusion.

Can you remember?

I think you are with me.

In my little cell down there:

Can you still remember that man?

That brother of dejection

With the name: “adhere to god”

And with a gold-colored ring dangling by his left ear

The bi-sexual by look?

In my little cell right here:

Am sorry my dear,

Listen to the wonderful story

But halt!

You need not to outstretch your hands to embrace

Neither should you flatter by it

Nor to grief or cry to its rhythms:

Just listen

Just have a handkerchief dry by your laps

Oh! Where should I start?

But give me chance

I will think over and you will dine well.

Yesterday by the noon was my death day

They said so

That I was ready to die

Oh! I said not

But they said so

I mean I was to return to them in Folonko;

And in the deep sea of Kabla;

And in the forest of Bateling.

And there, I would meet them

Mirang, Teneng and Manlafi.

Oh! Not them they said

But those were my names when I visited:

At a point

I was a plump girl with red eyes and a thin head

And always salivating like a sea snail

And they called me Teneng for I came on a Monday morning.

At that point

They said that I was a devil

For my mother got me from the farm

Where I was exchanged with the daughter of Sangamar

While she was working in the paddy,

And I, left in a basket sleeping under the wild kola tree.

It was there they said that I was stolen.

But it was Fafa they said was the best marabout

So he was able to send me back

Or my mother I would have eaten.

He poured some holy water on my head and I got ashamed

And I looked no more into a stranger’s eyes

Nor of my mother’s.

So I had to turn into a cobra

And that I plunged into a deep well

So I was buried in it finally.

At another point

I visited as a boy

And they named me Mirang

For thy said that my cheeks were smooth like a calabash

And my skin, fairer

And my eyes shone like pearls

And everyone loved me

But they said this time

That it was Aroko, my stepmother

It was she who bewitched me

She visited my mother at dusk when she was pounding rice for churah

And Aroko claimed to be begging for salt

But she found me laid on a mat at the door step

So she touched my forehead

And she exclaimed that I was handsome.

So the next day I developed headache

And at dust I passed away.

And at another time

I came as a girl

And they reserved Manlafi as my name

For they said that I didn’t like the earth and its people.

But my eyes never saw what the world looked like

I never coughed

Nor tasted the air.

And this time:

Woman listen to me keenly

This time I am here

Yesterday by noon was my death day.

I hope am right.

Yes my re-birth.

My umbilical cord was summoned

My gums were tattooed

Black.

As they said that it was too red for me to shine it on Ngoneh

She would shy away

And at the wrestling ground

I would be alone

My name would not be praised by any

For none will dare sing a song for me.

My left ear, notched

And the gold earring is hanging.

In my former visit, it was my right

But this time, I have it on the left

For they said that the right gave a bad luck.

O! See the pain

The blunt metal pierced through my lobe,

And on my seventh day, my being was shattered in the garbage bin

And they danced, cried and prayed

Naked! Naked I was. Stripped of pants.

O the nudity of my soul was battered.

And I finally chose life with a sinful name: Damirog.

Woi! Feel my proximity to death!

And now I am still here

Not gone. Pegged. No return yet.

And my being shouldered on two forces: friends and foes.

God forbid! Halt! A slip of the tongue

Rule a red on the foes

And make it: friends of an eccentric survivor.

Sorry! Sorry for now!

I am getting too rude and shameless.

Woman,

Come count me

Count the manhood in me

I am in love

Woman, I say see the brows on my chest

And hear the depth in my box

I now talk like Korrmak.

Then allow me to a semirr:

I will choose a well braided sweet corn with milk teeth;

Tag her hand with a piece from around the vents of my heart;

And labor for seven tactile years

Each, with a coos farm, a rice farm, or firewood fetched

To revolve round the sun’s waist;

Then to the jaraaf

To splash the tying spirit, the glamorous water, upon her back;

Oh! Mine at last!

And will be carried to them

Old folks of the lifelong avenue

For ndutt

And will the countryside songs off fanjah murmur

While the atoh impregnates the wombs of the keen airs

There then will their brisk sways smile like my hearts;

And then passed to me alas! With the omoteh

And she will fallow a year with the brand.

Then to articulate with the furrows of Sangamar:

“Alley wayy! Fata rett!”

And the kippirr will exalt in might

Till the trousers of the canoe are wetted;

And I will be in the fore, the kohorr,

Then by the tenderr and the olalass;

With the ogam

Will my sight on the retina tranquilize an honorable signal…?

“Fatajoff”.

Juma Ndela!

Fatajoff bo faww!

And let the kind paces of the airs

Salute the brisk hands of Sangamar

And kneel henceforth to

Let the dusty shoes of his

Be cleansed thus

To a shiny boot of a calf.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

GLOSSARY

Well, it might be awkward when some readers, in this work, come across some words or statements strange to the English Language vocabulary.

Sorry! As I really don’t mean to corrupt that language but to definitely allow the messages directly reach  their actual destiny…he who feels the pinch. Obviously, to translate the words within the poem will rob it of its cultural vitality and message. Therefore, I decided to write some of the words this way, as a native would pronounce them. Yet, I would crave your indulgence to consult the glossary herein highlighted.

Alleh wai an expression used for cheering up somebody doing work.

Atoh a calabash with a small opening at the top, used by Serer women as a drum for a special part of a marriage ceremony.

Bassi a type of food prepared from broken coos.

Benachin a popular Wollof diet in the West African sub-region

Bo faww forever

Bolong a tributary

Burr king

Chai wai an exclamation for praising someone

Churah a liquid diet prepared from pounded rice and groundnut

Damirog adhere to god

Dang powdered white rice with sugar been shimmered and molded

Domi son or daughter of

D’jali a praise singer

Fanjah a cultural Serer song similar to those of initiations and sang during ndutt.

Fatajoff let it be straight

Fata rett let it go

Fato bala by the root

Foroyaa freedom

Gara you have come.

Gayindeh Njai a lion

Gonga incense tree whose stems and branches are used for boat and canoe construction.

Jaraaf women group leader responsible for the making of marriages possible.

Kanjeleng a woman being adopted by another family for her to get a child due to the death of her previous children

Kenaroheh stranger

Khalam a four-stringed guitar used by the Wollof

Khibar news.

Kippirr to take the boat down to the water from the beach.

Kohor the person in front of the boat who makes signals with                                                       either the head or by talking to the other crew members when in sight of fish. He also cast the net and the spear.

Kora a Mandinka musical instrument with twenty-one strings

Korrmak old man.

Lam a big Serer drum that produces loud sound and is used in ceremonies like naming, wedding.

Mushiba an exclamation that means danger or catastrophe

Ndambu a short Serer drum used in collaboration with the lam and penglerr.

Ndutt a traditional Serer marriage ceremony conducted only by women. In it, they sing fanjah and beat the atoh. Men are forbidden to attend it.

Ogam a long spear with a long rope at the rare used for hunting big fish.

Olalas a person at the back of the boat who controls its direction.

Omoteh a dress for a Serer bride covering her whole body and worn throughout her first year of marriage.

Penglerr a Serer drum similar to the sabarr.

Sabarr a Wollof drum

Seekat a traditional Serer food prepared from thoroughly grounded coos.

Semirr an in-law

Tenderr the person in the middle of a boat who paddles in collaboration with the one at the back.  He also removes the water that gets into the boat.

Wantai hand fan