FEAR NOT THE IDES OF MARCH

Fear not the Ides of March
Go boldly your path to the end
What’s unclear today, another Plutarch
Will explain one day again

Fear not the Ides of March
Fear is the foe of your nature
Your feet it’ll drag, tongue it’ll patch –
Heed not every Seer or Preacher

Fear not the Ides of March
Though your friends turn into traitors
Or family conspirators, sly and arch,
Join and jubilate with your tribulators

Fear not the Ides of March
Death cannot upturn your victory
Tough as larch and strong as starch
Shall eternally inspire your Story.

Che Chidi Chukwumerije.
15.03.2019

RECIPROCAL ACTION

It will come back some day
For from me it’s home and source
Once it went forth into world
To heal or harm or help or hurt another
Or pass them all touchlessly by –

And when it comes back to origin
Some will call it destiny, fate, fortune, karma
Some accident, some unfair, some design
Serendipity or plot or providence –
But I will call it by its name: Justice.

– che chidi chukwumerije.

THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE

TWO MEN in search of fortune.

Said the first:
“I will stay and farm my father’s land!”

Said the second:
“I will go and find the Wheel of Fortune, and I will turn it in my direction, and I shall possess it and I shall wield it, and I shall be a controller of happenings, a decider of destinies.”

Said the first:
“You will come back and beg me for a little plot of land on which to farm.”

Said the second:
“You will seek me and plead with me to turn your fortunes around with the Wheel of Fortune.”

Said the first:
“You cannot find the Wheel of Fortune. It is not a physical thing that can be grasped with the hand or seen with the eye. It is a power which started as a concept. It is everywhere.”

Said the second:
“It is a power which started as a concept and ended up as a wheel, a physical wheel that can be grasped with the hand and seen with the eye. I will find it and I will place a firm hold on it. It shall be mine. The Wheel of Fortune. Fortune!”

Said the Spirit of Fortune:
“The sooner you start, the better.”

The years have gone by and still he seeks. Through fortune and misfortune, through pleasure and pain, he seeks the wheel of fortune, that he may become a controller of happenings, a decider of destinies.

Said the first:
“The years have passed. Fortune, which smiled at me in the first few years, frowns now upon me. The harvest is meager. The earth sits hard upon me. Where is my friend who went to seek the Wheel of Fortune? I must find him. He will surely turn the wheel in my favour, and the winds shall turn in kind.”

Said the second:
“The years have passed. My wandering feet thirst for rest, my restless heart for peace. I have searched everywhere, in vain. I must return to my friend. Surely he will find for me a little plot of land where I can seek my fortune and fulfil my destiny.”

Said the Spirit of Fortune to the first:
“The sooner you go, the better.”

Said the Spirit of Fortune to the second:
“The sooner you return, the better.”

They met again upon the Highway at the halfway point between the going and the returning.

Said the first:
“My friend, have you found the Wheel of Fortune now? For you must turn it my way. The soil is unyielding, the farm is fruitless.”

Said the second:
“No, I have not found the wheel of fortune and was just on my way to you, that you may find me a little of your land where I may seek my fortune, for the road grows weary beneath my feet.”

Said the first:
“But you assured me that the Wheel of Fortune is a findable physical thing.”

Said the second:
“And you assured me that the land would one day support both of us!”

Said the first:
“The land is a deceiver, now I know. It is the whore of fortune and his worthless plaything! I shall go now and find the Wheel of Fortune. Then shall I own the land.”

Said the second:
“Oh, my friend, but you err. Fortune has no wheel. Myths have given birth to this belief. The land is the key to fortune. The land is the wheel of fortune. Possess the land and you have grasped fortune’s wheel.”

Said the first:
“I have turned the land several times, sometimes with my pitchfork, other times with a multitude of other implements such as my shovel, my hoe and my fingers, but not once did my fortune lastingly turn, although I turned the earth repeatedly. Sometimes the winds turned, briefly, but fortune never really. Thus I act with full clarity today. You can have the land if you wish. I shall find the Wheel of Fortune and I shall posess it and I shall wield it and I shall be a controller of happenings, a decider of destinies.”

Said the second:
“When you return to me, begging me to return your father’s land to you, I shall not do so. For it is now mine! Bear this in mind.”

Said the first:
“When you come to me, pleading with me to turn the Wheel of Fortune in your favour, I shall not do so! I shall abandon you to your fate. Bear this in mind.”

Said the second:
“Oh, you fool, why will you not come that we may together plough the land?! Two pairs of hands will soften its heart. There is no physical Wheel of Fortune! It is a power that began as a concept.”

Said the first:
“Fortune is a person. He bears a face and owns a wheel. I shall find him and I shall take the wheel from him. Then shall I turn the wheel against him. My wheel.”

Said the Spirit of Fortune to both:
“The earlier you proceed, the better.”

The years passed by like the wind, and old age crept upon them. The land softened and yielded rich harvests, but Fortune and his wheel refused to be found.

Said the first:
“I am old and grey. My days are numbered, my memories rich and poor. I shall return to my father’s land and there shall I lay down, for I do not want to die upon the road.”

Said the second:
I am old and grey. My days are numbered, my memories many and few. I shall set off again after the Wheel of Fortune, that I may turn it and prolong my life and reactivate the youth in me. If I die now, all is lost and I shall be buried upon another man’s land. But if Fortune, who has smiled at me through the land, permits me now to find his wheel, then I shall change the course of my future.”

Said the Spirit Fortune to the first:
“Hurry, hurry, time is.”

Said the Spirit of Fortune to the second:
“Hurry, hurry, time is.”

Their paths crossed again, this time at the junction that leads everybody on.

Said the first:
“Why are you here? Have you not mastered the land which for you is the wheel of fortune?”

Said the second:
“I am tired of you. Please, move out of my way. Your father’s land is there. You can have it if you wish. Die on it; you are old enough for that now. I will have nothing to do with it anymore. It has brought me nothing but comfort, and prevented me from seeking the Wheel of Fortune, which was the ardent spiritual goal of my youth! Look at me: now I am an old man.”

Said the first:
“Then you shall die upon the road. I hope somebody finds you and buries you. I shall conclude my earthly wanderings there where I belong.”

Said the second:
“Rest in peace. Adieu.”

And then they parted ways, never to meet again upon the earth.

Said Fortune:
“Another twist, another turn,
And life goes on…
If they ask, or seek, or yearn
All I can do is turn and point them on…
The path they must go themselves –
The change they must work themselves
The moment they must grasp themselves –
The seeds of fortune they must sow themselves –
I am just a referee…

“Though men pass me by a thousand times
Never do they recognise me;
Nor is it necessary, as long as they heed
The Inner Voice in them that speaks to me.

“For I must obey, I must obey…
And place what they ask for upon their way.”

—–

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE SPLIT

I’m quiet tonight
Never mind that it’s morning
I’m still dreaming

I remember a friend
We had high hopes for his future
Yet he chose the Easy

Now I’m all alone
On the road we once chose together
Watching it grow longer

This pain I keep inside
Greater than death, worse than loss
Treachery’s dungeons.

If I doubted reincarnation
This life has taught me a bitter lesson
For I must come again

The work is unfinished
The cards will be reshuffled
I will come again.

Then I hear, so soft
The sounds of morning dawning
The past is over now.

Those words, those strange words
That baffle the minds of politics
Of culture and science

You can call me Fool
You can call me mad, and yet
You too will come again.

– che chidi chukwumerije.

HISTORY AND DESTINY

Plenty of questions but no gaps, only seeming gaps – but how would you know unless you first tried to fill the gaps in answer to your questions? Then you fathom that you are the gap, you are the question, and the answer rests in you.

Plenty of questions, but not all are gaps. Plenty of gaps, but only some are visible, while the rest, the sleeping questions, are still waiting for you tomorrow. You don’t even know your deeper questions yet, the ones that will really tear you out of yourself and make you a part of something bigger than you could ever conceive of today.

Because you are the gap and the question, you are the answer, the future and the fate. And the more you find yourself, the more you find your questions. And the more you find yourself, the more you find your answers. Until there are no gaps left, and everything becomes simply the story.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

FRIENDS FOREVER

SOI AND TEMI were friends right from the very beginning, friends forever, friends for life. They explored the ancient forbidden caves together which none may enter who wish to remain unchanged. But whoever enters and emerges alive will never ever be the same again. The thirst for adventure, the hunger for something new, bid them enter these caves, and together they did, like they had, united, entered every adventure before, brother with brother, friend for friend.

No-one ever came to know what they experienced within the caves, no-one, but indeed when they emerged a wondrous change had been wrought upon Soi and Temi. For upon the face of the quiet, philosophic Soi where peace and calm had been wont to rest, there now raged flashing thunder and restlessness beyond compare! But whereas Temi had entered the caves impetuous, carefree and wild, a rested sage with weathered eyes came walking out instead.

It did not take them both long to understand that they no longer got on with each other like they had once done. And all who met them now, who once had known them before they visited the ancient, forbidden caves, could not but marvel at this uncanny development: For save for their faces and save for their names, Soi had become Temi and Temi had turned to Soi. Indeed they might as well have switched identities. But – and here’s the wonder – whereas quiet Soi had interwoven well with carefree Temi, the new Soi, the restless, was a stranger to the new Temi, the silent, and vice versa.

The mystery of opposites, parallels and poles began to dawn on the people; for characters which had once so perfectly blended were now as distant as the poles. And clucking and clacking and clicking-a-clack the elders and superstitioners verily nodded and wisely declared that the knowledge of the ancients can never but never ever prove wrong: None may enter the ancient forbidden caves who wants to re-emerge the same! But neither Soi nor Temi heard them speak, for they were already a-separated and a-gone, the formerly peace-loving Soi to now be a warrior fighting on distant battlefields in the cause of unknown folk; the one-time aggressive Temi to traverse faraway lands, teaching strangers how to love and about peace.

Moments, as they are wont to do, passed by quick in time, hurrying through the modules of mortality; and before the stars had fully registered the change, the warrior Soi, at the head of a battalion of fiery foreign legions, came a-thundering into a land which for long had provoked their warring skills.

Burning and a-looting and a-screaming and a-hacking, they emerged victorious one phase after the other of battle, until they entered the capital where a mysterious sage preached calm and love and gently enjoined peace on all, attackers and defenders alike.

A brief din in the battle… Soi and Temi stood one before the other and neither recognised his brother, for if times change a man, his profession will change him even more.

The softly spoken words of the strange, gentle preacher finely pricked the conscience of the fiery, impatient warrior, for he too well remembered once long ago when he had known them true. But rather than yield to their truth and risk appearing a fool – which he never would have appeared, for it is the fool who resists truth and the great man who bows down – he drew his sword and struck at this disturbing preacher with very mortal mien!

But, lo and behold, the preacher was neither surprised nor unprepared for the attack, for he too could well remember how hard it is for an unrestrained heart to accept that it is wrong, since he himself once upon a time one such brash heart had been. But neither too had he forgotten the ways to fend off a blow, for once a fighter, always a fighter indeed.

He dodged the lethal blow and fled. But the inflamed warrior pursued hard, accompanied by seven of his soldiers.
Hills, plains, woods were met and left behind as the warrior and his horde slowly closed the gap between them and the preacher. Finally, mounting a plateau, they surrounded the fleeing preacher.

However, among the warrior’s seven soldiers, there was one whose heart had been secretly but deeply touched by the words of the preacher. And as he saw the preacher about to be knifed down by their daggers, he suddenly turned on his own men and slew two with a double-dealt blow. In the confusion that ensued, the preacher, seeing his chance, picked up a fallen dagger and turned on the warrior.

Their fight was brief for, wonders oh, the preacher was a warrior too and an even abler one than his once dear friend, the one time philosopher; and now that his death seemed a-near he’d quickly shed his gentle ways and a reckless fighter lay unveiled!

It was only as the warrior crashed down and lay upon the ground, dying, dagger incisions in him, his red blood a-pooling, that the senselessness of his legacy and the futility of his quest, thus ending, arrested and animated his insight. His original self, as from a deep slumber, re-awakened – and he spoke… spoke on futility, stupidity, humanity. The battle ceased and in wonder all parties gazed at the expiring warrior for, in his hour of death, he had re-turned into a philosopher, gentle, wise and convincing.

With dimming eyes he gazed up at the eyes and into the soul of his shocked and startled killer and, in a clear flash, suddenly recognised in this reckless fighter-of-a-priest but his own old gregarious friend, Temi.

“Oh Temi, my friend, oh Temi, my friend.” he whispered with a tender smile, “What Nemesis is it that has decreed that I die in your hands…?”

With hands still a-poised for the final blow, for indeed his old self had true awakened, Temi paused…

A thunderbolt come down from the skies would surely not have shocked him as still as Soi’s still whisper did…

“Soi?” he whispered.

“Temi…” came Soi’s replied.

And then he died.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije (There Is Always Something More).
amazon cover copy there is always something more 2015

ROW YOUR BOAT

image

Do you see
Those two boats
On the river?
Two brothers
Will row, side by side
Into the sunset.

One will dock
On the golden banks
While the other
Will row on
And they will wave
Goodbye to each other.

This is the way
Of the world
Of love and loss
Of meeting and parting
Of friendship and memory
Of life and death.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

Picture:
My brother Kwame and I
University of Ibadan, Nigeria
1995