TRAVEL LIGHT

I went on a journey, a holiday,
And brought home with me
In my bag instead of clothes new things
I never knew existed before
Where I saw a mountain shrouded in tears
I packed into my bag the power of mystery
And at the end when I saw smiles
With the primordial power of blessings
Waving goodbye on the faces of friends’ hearts
I stored the power of openness
In the folds of my rucksack
Strengthening my back.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE WATER DANCER

As I was travelling from one place to another, once upon another time, I saw a young man with a friendly smile that occupied his lips and eyes, and – what do you know? – each time he spoke, he danced…

As he spoke, he danced to his own words. And as I spoke to him, how strange, he danced to my words too.

We had a deep and searching conversation, exchanging hearts. And by the time we parted, he was the traveller – although he still danced – and I was the dancer – although I still travelled – for we had changed, and exchanged, hearts.

I taught him how to travel, he taught me how to dance. If you will travel, then you must become like water. And this dance which he taught me, so strange, but it seems to me also to be…

The water dance.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE SHY IN EVERYONE

I can show you the earth, I can show you the sky, I can show you the sea, the sun and the moon; there is nothing I cannot show you, but my heart. Yet: what is in my heart, you may wonder? And truly there are only simple things therein, little things forgotten and unforgotten – yet I shall not show it to you.

You can touch the sky if you really try; you can swim every ocean, river, sea and Lake. You can stand on the moon, you can stroke a candle-flame; but, try as you might, you still cannot touch my heart, unless I let you. Not my heart… not this little heart of mine.

Is my heart fragile? Sometimes. Is my hard adamantine? Sometimes. What is a little human heart? A mountain? A sea? A cave? A mirror? A forest of flames? What?

I can show you everything but my heart, because locked within it is a painful shyness that simply cannot bear to be seen, or touched, the wrong way, by the wrong hand, or eye, too soon, too late. It is gone. Innocence. What happened?

If I could take away the Shyness from my heart, then I could show you my heart… but then all the fun would be gone. For a heart without shyness is only a memory of a heart – and my shyness is very precious to me and my heart.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

CHRISTMAS: HEARTS OF BELL

I saw a bell
Fall under the spell
Of a magic wand
In a magician’s hand

And he turned the bell into a man
Walking up and down the land
Ringing out a message to everyone
But only a few will understand

I tell you what.
Affiliation to nationality and religion, gender, class and race
Will always be more important to the human race
Than being human, our common lot.

So now the bells, they are ringing
The hearts, they are singing
The times, they are bringing
A Message of Hope.

– 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.

LONELY HEARTS PLANET

During the day, they’re saving the world, sharp-minded politicians, stern-faced armed forces, convincing philosophers staring into the camera and huddled around their boardroom tables, anchors, performing the news, personifying stability and the guarantee of mankind’s future – during the day they’re saving the world. At night, see them grope in the dark for a hand, listen for a friend, any friend, yearn for something, anything, to fill inside them this deep hole opened by loneliness. Chronic. Everyday we set out with loud voices and brilliant thoughts to save the world, but who on earth is going to save us too?

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

REFLECTIONS

The reflections of the things we love
Reside in our hearts,
A descendant of the primordial dove
Within everybody darts…

Dart on, dart on, star of heaven –
Eagle, dove or raven.

The reflections of the things we seek
Reside in our souls,
Be they bright or be they bleak,
Fulfilling their roles…

Play on, play on, lead us there –
We must pay our fare!

The reflections of the things we are
Flicker in our eyes;
An angel, a beast or a solitary star
That never ever dies…

Shine on, shine on, little star –
I know who you are.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

SLAKE

She can’t have the one she wants
So she loves a thousand in his stead
And leaves broken hearts in her wake

He can’t own his one true love
So he seeks her in a thousand others
Many broken mirrors of the one he can’t take

They stand on opposite sides of the lake
My oh my; their hearts, how they ache
Unable in the salty water their thirst to slake.

– CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.