HUMAN HEART

Santa and Satan are spelled with the same letters.
I just noticed it, please don’t crucify me.
Just know there’s a thin line between the two.
Sometimes when you think you’re looking out through a window, you’re actually looking at a mirror.

Saw this picture and liked it.
Something is buried in your heart and it could be anything. It’s probably everything.
Some pains will stay forever – well, probably not forever. Until you change and forgive and let go. Or until you die, I mean really die. Even when you forget, still you feel the pain and don’t know why. And then you remember – but you still don’t know why you took that first wrong step into the future.

But when you look at the serpent well, sometimes it seems as if it’s rising up to strike or writhing in treachery and deception. And sometimes it feels as if it’s begging for help and crying for forgiveness and looking for redemption. But some unsuspecting fool will pass by and think they’re looking at a heart. But you know better. You know you’re looking at a warning.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

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THE HEART OF HUMANITY

With love we should call our children
So that with love they will come –
With love we should welcome our children
So that with love they will glow –
With love we should rear our children
So that with love they will grow –
With love we should release our children
So that with love they will go forth
And repeat the same process
With love –

Love is the only thing that makes us human –
Love is the most fundamental thing
That we should transfer from generation to generation
Through mankind –
Love is the progenitor, propagator and preserver
Of the HUMAN race –
Without love we are nothing.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

RUNNING WATERS

The story you told in the west is not identical with the laughter you laughed in the north, nor with the song you sang in the south, nor the thoughts you expressed in the east…

The language you spoke on the mountain is very different from the tongue you adopted in the valley, and from the violins you played through the woods, and the ballad you composed upon the blue-green meadows…

The roar you let out as you charged past us has a different content from the groan the desert drew out of you; and the whisper which ye sighed in this grateful heart is not the same cry with which ye flow into the sea.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

BUTTERFLY: BREAKING OUT OF A BROKEN HEART

It takes a long time
To forgive yourself
For not giving love back
To the person that gave it to you –

Nobody can break your heart
Only you can break your own heart
Nobody’s forgiveness can set you completely free
Until you yourself have broken out
Of your broken heart,

Like Butterly.

 – Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

BONDING

You know those walks we took
Down untarred streets and red
And brown was sand and book by book
We discussed all we’d read

You know those suns that set
As quietly we’d gaze
With hearts that knew to not forget
The orange tempered rays

You know those thoughts we thought
And knew not their origin
Yet marvelled side by side at what
Hearts bonded could be given

Nations will rise and fall
Sages will come and go
But Friendship will outlast them all
Through you, this I now know.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

IT IS WELL

When blood like a river
Attendeth my soul
When mirrors
Turn backwards and cold

Whatever my lot
Let the past work away
It is well, it is well
With my goal.

Out of hell, burning bell
Wring my soul, ring my soul
Though we fell, now ’tis well
With our goal.

CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.

* inspired by Spafford’s 19th century eponymous hymn.

A POET’S HEART

SOMETIMES THE night is so incredibly beautiful, I wish it would last a little longer tonight. Everywhere, everything is so soft. The night air is cool, soft. The vibration of the world, of my neighbourhood, has lost its harshness and it seems as though everybody loves everybody tonight. And I am glad again that I was born a poet.

I will live a poet and when I die, the world will say: a poet is gone. And if the world mourns, then I will be glad I disappointed the world and became a poet instead of a lawyer, engineer, banker, doctor, scientist, professor emeritus.

The poem that I wanted to write on the day I took the decision and forsook the world, I have now forgotten. Forgotten if I even wrote it at all or whether I kept it back in, bolted up in the hall of silence in my soul, where I continued to nourish it, and perhaps only wrote it another day in another poem, or maybe I’ve not even written it yet.

And yet, for its sake, and for the sake of a thousand and more poems yet unwritten, I disobeyed, ignored and disappointed the world, I dropped out of school, forsook a supposedly great destiny and became just a poet struggling to get by.

And yet I know, when I die they will say wistfully, with wet eyes: a poet is gone…

And they will feel it in their hearts. –

So poets are special afterall.

Sometimes the night is so beautiful and I wish it would last a little longer tonight, and I’m glad I was born a poet. Even when I’m dead and gone I’ll leave behind upon the sad earth a few lines that will forever move human hearts and they will nod thoughtfully and say: once upon a time, a poet was born… he lived on earth, he wrote poems and he died…
They will say this because poems don’t die and, in truth, poets too are immortal. None is so immortal as they that cook with letters, build with words and touch us not with fingers or lips, pictures or songs, as precious as these are, for who can live without love and kindness, music and art, but there is a special quality of perception that works wonders and magic within us when language, this device we so casually misuse and abuse everyday, is made into the container and preserver for generations to come of something that goes right into our core and makes us glad that the poet did not fail to write once upon a time.

And last night it was so beautiful. I was all alone and only once was I called upon, in the night, by the rain… it was at my window, poetic, heavenly, cold, sweet and temporary… it passed away, and took with it the last traces of the receding harmattan.

And I hoped the night would for once last a little longer last night, yet knew my hope was folly. Twice I slept anew, twice awoke, and the night was still with us and still so soft, and I thought of you, in the night.

And I slept again and when I opened my eyes the sun was shinning, the night is gone and I began to write this story of all that happens and happens never, but remembered ever by the works of the poetic spirit.

Birds are chirping. People are yapping outside my window too. Lagos is beautiful only at night when NEPA provides us with electricity and the fan or A/C is working, or else it needs must rain and the roof better not be leaking. But if you are lucky, you have a generator. Or a guitar. Best of all of course is the cooling cooling rain.

That is when Lagos is most beautiful. When the Water falls…

I thirst after you
Waterfall
I want to
Drink you up

I am
The quivering starving lake
Underneath the Souls of
Your feet

Step on me
I will carry you to your river
I am your horizon
You are my ocean.

The reading is taking place next Saturday. Who will be there? Nobody I know, naturally. Of course they will all think I know them and they know me. We will shake hands and call one another by our names and remember some incidents from the populous empty past.

Yet I know them not and they know me not. We are all strangers to one another. This is the city, where neighbours and friends and strangers are all strangers to one another, and the city is the strangest one of all amongst us, the laughing, mute, cunning, open, mocking, sorrowing city. Community of strangers and, maybe, one friend for a little while, once in a while. Baby, are you still my friend? Friendship dies in the night when no-one is looking and no-one can say later exactly what went wrong.

Why are people always staring? In the bus, on the streets, everywhere. They point their eyes at one and STARE! Walking with her, she said I’ve learnt to ignore them. Well, I haven’t.

I remember, many years ago, when I was a teenager, someone said to me: you’ve got to learn to either soften the look in your eyes or desist from looking too strongly into girl’s eyes. You confuse them. You make them think you’re in love with them. You invite them to fall in love with you. You seem to promise them eternal, warm, caring love with your eyes.

I smiled, slightly confused. But I knew she must know what she was saying. She was my cousin and knew my eyes and what lies ever behind them.

We went to the library, to check up on the progress and make final arrangements. I got there first. Everything, like almost always in Nigeria, is being rushed through in the last moments. The reading is on Saturday. Yesterday was Monday, full of freshly awakened poetry. Everybody full of new lines, composed in their hearts over the weekend, strutting upon the stage, playing their parts, artistically, as though it wasn’t all an act. Yesterday was Monday.

Monday, some say, is a slow day. Others say it is a fast day, hectic, with everything happening too fast for them to follow. It is, for some, a hard day, for others a dreamy one. Monday is an okay day, I guess. Afterall Monday is Sunday’s child. Beautiful, deep Sunday. Land of answers.

She looked charged full of energy, as always. We collected the requisite material, first from the library, then from the publisher, then picked up a part of the decoration and headed for the venue. We spoke of this and that along the way, but said more with silence and thought thoughts than with words, spoken words. We really are close, a closeness many people would not understand. They would think of other things, as usual. And miss the very point.

We separate along the way, and meet again at the sponsors’ and then return to the venue for the press conference.

Flow up and be free and be happy forever.

– che chidi chukwumerije.
from THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING MORE, by Che Chidi Chukwumerije