TALKING TO HERSELF

He loved her like the
Sun was about to fall down
Like lightning and thunder
Would be their eternal crown
And then when he’d had his fill he walked away
Now there she goes talking to herself
Each evening…

It hurts his soul
To see her cry
Yet he must go
He can’t explain why
The light and the darkness dwell inside his heart
So there she goes talking to herself
Each evening…

Trying to understand the demons in his heart
Trying hard to grasp what happened and then she starts
To blame herself for what she can’t explain
There she goes softly talking to herself
Each evening…

Each evening
Deep inside
Each evening
He’s suffering too
Too…

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE SILENT THINGS IN OUR HEARTS

THEY HAD always had an eye for each other, ever since their primary school days. Naturally, neither had ever given even a hint of this to the other, but each had carried his and her own slumbering love silently, unspoken, unsubstantiated, deep within each heart.

The primary school days ended and they separated, each going to a different secondary school. Six years of separation and in that time neither had any idea where the other was. And yet their love continued to grow, to wax soft and strong, tender and untouched and sacred, in those recesses of the heart of which even the mind itself is barely conscious.

Every once in a while she would float into his thoughts and he would remember and vaguely yearn and long… then forget again and continue, like other youths, with the demanding task of growing up – until the next bout of longing.

Nor did she ever completely forget him either. And being genuinely of the deep female gender, her ability to call forth his memory in her heart was even stronger. Often she wandered where he was; was he still alive? Was he fine? Was he in love? Would they ever meet again? Would he recognize her? Did he ever think of her? There was no reason why he should; he had hardly ever looked at her in their childhood days. Foolish me, she would think, dreaming hopelessly…

Thus did the years pass by.

He grew up into a young man at the tail end of his youth, matured by love affairs, ideological battles and heartbreaks come and gone.

She grew up similarwise, and if he had loved deeply, she had loved twice as deeply… and if he had believed blindly, she had believed even more fiercely… and if his heart had been broken, hers had been dispersed, ground, into the winds.

Thus did they suddenly meet again in the university.

Who recognized whom? Who was more – or less – eager to let show the fact that silent, unconfessed love had long smouldered in fiercely hidden embers deep within the heart?

Often he would visit her in her room in the evenings and they would crack many jokes, and slowly came they to also like one another. But if he was seeking company with which to cure his loneliness and erase the memories and after-effects of earlier heartbreaks, then she for similar reasons was reluctant to unite again too quickly with a member of the male gender. It was a subtle cat and mouse affair, nothing ever actually spoken, yet both being fully aware of exactly what was going on – and while these things were happening silently in their hearts, outwardly they continued to crack their friendly jokes.

But tensions build and pressures mount and something somewhere must always finally give. And, for hesitation, the tide untaken at the flood, it sort of wilted and softly broke, the potential lost its momentum, the attraction lost its orientation, and it died between the two of them. Gradually they began to see less and less of one another…

One year then passed, during which their paths did not once cross.

She had meanwhile exchanged her room for a new one which she shared with another female student with whom she had quickly become good friends. But never had she voiced it to anyone, not even to her good friend and roommate, that there was someone whom she silently, painfully, loved. –

And no-one could have prepared her for the shock she got when she one evening opened the door of her room upon a visitor’s knock and saw him standing there. They stared at one another with bewildered looks of surprise on their faces.

And then, from behind her, from deeper inside the room they shared, the happy voice of her room mate called out loudly, brightly:

“Oh, Zubi – hi! Finally… you’ve come.” And, bounding forward with barely suppressed excitement, her roommate turned to her of whom this story is about and, taking Zubi’s hand, said:

“Efe, meet the guy I’ve been telling you about… and, Zubi, meet Efe, my room mate.” –

With pain almost impossible to bear, Efe watched her roommate Awa hug, and be hugged, tightly, by him, Zubi, the silent owner of her heart.

Over the next couple of weeks it became clear to her that Zubi and Awa were in a serious relationship and loved each other deeply.

Nor was there anything for her room mate Awa to know or ever suspect in connection with the two childhood friends, Zubi and Efe, for there was nothing that existed or ever had existed between them, was there?

They were just , as always, two casual acquaintants who happened to have known each other in their childhood days and who, today, whenever they met in Awa and Efe’s room would, as usual, aye, as they had always done, simply crack light friendly jokes with one another.

And if they felt anything else, anything deeper, for one another perhaps, then it spoke not, nor loudly, but remained, silent, as it continued to reside in the deep quiet places within their hearts.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE INVISIBLE PEDDLER OF HEARTS

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“WHO STOLE your heart, dear?” a woman said to another
“I don’t know,” replied the disheartened woman, “I just don’t know…
One minute I had it, the next it was gone;
And who the thief was, I simply do not know – “

Finally I had compassion on her
And, making myself visible, confessed to her:
“I stole your heart, dear – “
“You? But who are you?”
“I am the invisible peddler of human hearts.”
“I want my heart back!”
“That’s not possible, dear,
I’ve already sold it to another woman
At a very high price
And made a huge profit for myself,
Especially when one considers the fact that
It wasn’t at all hard to steal it from you.”
“What! What! What!… you you…
And you exchanged my heart for just money?!”
“No, it wasn’t just for money at all, really…
The other woman was suffering terribly.
You see, her heart had been broken
And it refused to heal…
She needed another, and quick,
So she appealed to me in her heart,
Me, the invisible peddler of human hearts.”

The disheartened woman listened in shock and amazement,
Then asked:
“And how much did this other woman pay for my heart?”
“She paid with all her carefreeness
And so, now, though she has a heart
And though her pain is gone
Yet she has no real joy as well anymore –“
“Terrible! You monster! And then me! What about me!?
I need a heart too!
You can’t just steal and sell hearts that way!”
“You should have guarded your heart better, my dear.”
“I want to have a heart again,
For there is in me a creeping coldness now
Which I fear will eat away all my remaining warmth.”
“I can get you a new heart,
But it will cost you a lot – “
“I don’t want a new heart, I want
My old one back.”
“That will cost you much more,
Indeed almost everything you have,
Because the woman who has it now
Has placed it tightly under lock and key –
She has barred it up very securely indeed
Because she does not want it broken, or even
Scratched, in any way damaged, like her first one was.
Hearts are precious, and yours is especially beautiful, you know.”

The disheartened woman said:
“I don’t care what it costs me,
Just get me back my heart – “
“Okay, “ I replied, for she was in earnest.

At nightfall I returned to her with her heart – unscathed –
She reached for it –
“Oh no,” I said… “first you must
Marry me – “
“Marry you?! You thief?! Never!”
“Don’t be so heartless, dear maiden, please.”
“Don’t crack jokes about the aching gap in me – just give me
Back my heart, for I am not heartless…”
“Marry me.”
“I cannot.”
“Why not?”
“Because I do not love you.”
“How can you speak of love when you have no heart?”
“My heart is in your heart, please do not drop it.
I ache. There is pain in me, coldness and loneliness –
I need my heart back.”
“How can you speak of loneliness when you have no heart
with which to feel it?”
“My heart is always my heart,
Whether it be in your hands or
In another woman’s possession –
It is my heart
And when it hurts I hurt –
Please give me back my heart;
Our separation makes us lonely.”
“Dear woman,
Heartless though you are,
Yet are you precious too and clear –
Perhaps not all heartless people are evil,
Just disheartened…
But won’t you now share your heart
With the other woman – ?
Hers is sorely broken, it bleeds day and night
And her agony knows no end –
Won’t you help her? Give her a little of your heart?”
“Who or what could have so badly damaged a heart, I wonder…?”
“It was a lover that did it long ago,
One who loved her too much at the start
And too little at the end –
This confused and frightened her…
And she lost her balance, sought it desperately and briefly,
Found it not, and tripped over…
Her heart slipped out and fell –
Her heart is broken.”
“Then let us share mine, she and I,
At least until hers heals again – “
“Then I shall take you to her
and you shall, out of the fullness of your heart,
Comfort and strengthen her and teach her how to
Dance again.”
“So, you shall give me back my heart then… – ?”
“Aye, verily,
Even as I took it from you, whilst you were not looking,
So have I already given it back to you, even now, whilst we were talking
And you were again not looking……
Guard it, guard it better, dear, please, it’s a good heart;
And now come with me:
Let us go to the woman with the broken heart
So that you may fulfill your own part
Of the bargain –
If you will not marry me
Then you must heal a broken heart
Like you want to,
And you will thereby learn many lessons too,
And reap, too, a heartful of joy.”
“… my heart feels so different in me now… why?”
“Very simple, my dear. It has tasted love, loss and pain,
Has learned what it is, to give
And to need
And to be needed.”

And together we set off for the Broken Heart
And, just as she had promised to do,
She taught and comforted her and helped her
To dance again even with her heart…

And, job completed here, I made myself invisible again
And travelled on once more, another one in my heart,
Another heart in my destiny,
And I just as ignorant as before.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

HEARTBREAK AND PROMISES, TOGETHERNESS, FAREWELLS AND SILENCE

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To make a promise to love another person, forever, and then to break this promise and say, Goodbye baby… awakens within the hearts of everybody who hears of it a memory of their own broken and unspoken promises.

Noise everywhere. Noise in my head. Noise even in the centre of silence. Lovers are what sages once were, and vice versa. Heartbreak and promises, togetherness, farewells and silence are all trying to resolve themselves within our hearts.

I should never have told you that I loved you, but how could I but not tell the truth? Evermore I understand the importance of silence. Our hearts are broken in silence: a small token to pay for the new powers which soon and steadily awaken in silence within us.

One who can bear the pain of heartbreak; one who can say goodbye and yet always be there; one who can preserve promises in silence unbroken; will read these lines with a knowing smile.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

FRIENDS AND CASTLES, LAKES, MOUNTAINS AND MYSTERIES

Friends are true friends when they will not go away from you in search of something which they merely sense that you can give them; and they can wait a thousand years for you, because they simply love you.

Castles are places where those who have love can live without guilt, and those who have no love cannot live without guilt, because every castle is an amalgamation of the qualities of the souls that inhabit it. Castles breathe.

Lakes, although they treasure a mystery, will only show you your own face, and if you must know what lies inside the heart, then you must break through the face on the surface of the lake. Lakes speak never.

Mountains are mighty until you have conquered them… and then they become mightier than ever, each mount, but now you know why it stands there, because you have crowned it. Even after you die, the mountain will remember those who crowned him once, and forever; and when you return again, he will whisper your name not once, but thrice… mountains live forever in my heart. You are my heart, sweet woman.

Friends and castles, lakes, mountains and mysteries.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

FALKENSTEIN

There she perches, haunted…
The ruins of a castle once loved;
Haunted by love…

There she perches, haunted…
The ruins of a castle once loved;
Haunted by love…

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

- Nov/Dez, 1995. Ich an der Burgruine Falkenstein bei Pfronten in Ostallgäu.
– Lange her. Nov/Dez, 1995.
Ich an der Burgruine Falkenstein bei Pfronten in Ostallgäu – Quelle fast aller meiner frühen “Castle” und “Ruins” und “Burgruine” und “Schloss” und ähnliche Gedichte.

SING OF GREEN

Sing of green
For soon it’ll be gone to dust
A memory of autumn’s ancestor
Saying I used to know a lass
And her name was Summer

Yet look underneath her smile
Yes I mean her brightest smile
Where a shadow sweet as secret sorrow
Suckled on her honey lips
And read my thoughts of you

Then sing with me, sing of green
From the caverns of throat
Dry hoarse tears, from depths of wrong
And right, let the hordes of your
Passion shout with song!

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

POWER OF BIRDSONG

This singing bird
Were she a bard
Would be a millionaire untold
For everyone who heard
Would find it hard
Not to shower her with silver and gold.

For singing she
Convinced the heartbroken
That pain is the pleasure of the soul
Dance me your worry
‘Tis but a small token
To pay for a broken heart sang whole.

– CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.