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,
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;
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.
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.
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
They left us with nothing but tears
Streaming from Batokunku to Kartong
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,
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.
Upon god’s grace!
Or on one’s
Coaxing truth ashore:
See the meandering blood
Yet flaunted by gnawing pigs.
The rooms are empty
The furniture pulverized
No food on the bamboo mats
But the inks of the Avant-garde
Spill the beans.
Innocently on their last legs;
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.
Nothing is appeasing
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is there any line between
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
Here I am a wandering style
And you the bee waggling yonder
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.
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?
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
Blue buttocks, red breasts, yellow cheeks,
White thighs, black + orange joints,
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”.