LOVE TODAY

When you see the future
It becomes the past
And the future becomes again
Unknown to you
To spend your life exploring your future
Is to spend your time scrutinizing your past
It is to miss all the joy and pain
The moment holds for you.

There is only one future
The result of what you do today
There is only one past
Tomorrow it will be today.
Love me today. Make a new tomorrow
Hope is my crystal ball
I see your heart aching for laughter
And laughter after laughter.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

GOODBYE, LAUGHTER

Have you ever listened to
The night talking to itself
While you lay there beside one another
And not a word occurred to you?

You see the end approaching
Like a boat coming to the shore
To take you away
Away from a laughter called love

And as your worlds drift apart
In the space of one short night
Strange, but no words occur to you
To adequately say goodbye.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE WORLD IS ENOUGH

I knew it
It was too new
Not to be true too –
The questions unreplied were too few too
Happiness swallowed all the cares
Sorrow wears
Discord tears
Happiness shares and it goes around
The world is enough
Big enough, small enough, world enough
Sure.
Manure is pure. Sure.
Even a decadent mind
Even that dark heart
Can laugh out loud
Out loud –
Manure is pure.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

FRIENDSHIP

To laugh heart to heart always. To cry heart to heart always. No heart on today’s earth can laugh completely without first crying completely, because only that Pain can unbolt a bolted heart – the pain of friendship. Friendship does not come easy, even when you think it just popped up right from the very first moment – that was merely the seed. Now you have to plant it, water it, tend it, nurture it patiently – and, hopefully, finally reap the fruit and the flower, after the pain… the pain of friendship. I will always be your friend, I vow. When it grows dark, remember my words…

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

A LITTLE LAUGHTER

FASSEN DID not know that the three brothers were coming from a war-torn zone. Or, rather, he knew, he just did not understand exactly what that meant. No laughter, no trust, no carefreeness, no childlike play, no joyful working from a love-filled heart – only caution, suspicion, fear, brutality, cunning, callousness. Inner deadening, a certain death. All of which they wished to reverse, to overcome now. The crisis they were fleeing from was not a war-torn hell-hole they’d left behind on another geographical part of the earth. It was the torture they carried within them all the time now, the propensities, the emptiness, the loneliness and the struggle to keep the inner child alive. It was little things that made them happy now – shared chores, small friendships, acceptance. Fassen did not really see all that. All he saw in the three young men were just three guest-workers from the camp, to be treated like everybody else.

The eldest of the three, Mugi, had the deepest eyes, depths filled with pain. Eyes that had seen things their owner wanted to forget, but knew he never would. All that was left in him was the urge to take care of his brothers in a peace-filled world.

Fassen, however, did not understand all this. He was a good, clear-minded, clear-thinking, God-fearing young man who wanted to simply do his job. He was usually one of the last of the restaurant personal to go home each night after doing the dishes down in the basement kitchen.

He could not fathom why these three new cleaners, these brothers, after sweeping and cleaning the house and grounds each night, like to come and join in doing the mountain of dishes and other kitchen utensils. Of course things went much quicker, and there was added human company, but it was a mystery to him and to his colleague, Weller, whose job it was. They stared at one another, mystified, and shook their heads.

It was Mugi who had started it first. One night, he hesitated outside the door and thought of the long walk home in the strange darkness, of all the people out there who never spoke to him and his brothers, never even looked at them, looked away, moved away, subtly, whenever they were in the vicinity; and he thought of the two men in the basement kitchen who were always polite and nice to them. And he walked in silently while they were washing up and, quietly, asked if he could help them. They happily consented, glad to have an extra pair of hands to speed up the work. Then he came again the next night, and the next, and the next.

Fassen and Weller began to wonder. Mugi hardly spoke. He listened fully, almost desperately, to all their conversations, and rocked with laughter, even if hesitantly, when they cracked their funny jokes, but he himself made hardly any contributions, or seemed not to.

And then, one night, his two brothers came along with him. Even more ready, almost desperately so too, to laugh, and willing in addition, unlike Mugi, to crack their own jokes, tell their own stories and, joining in conversations, make new friends at last.

Why did they persist in coming here every night and turning their job into a roundly, albeit effective, circus? Fassen and Weller could not understand. Might there be a hidden motive? What did they actually want?

It was Fassen who first started to get irritated, and a little suspicious, after two weeks. Very irritated! A little wary. And of the opinion that this had to stop now. He spoke with Weller about it and after a little persuasion, the younger Weller eventually agreed. So, that night when the three brothers came, they politely – to the brothers’s startled surprise – denied them their now-customary wish.

“Too many cooks spoil the broth,” Fassen said with a shrug of his shoulders, looking up briefly as he dried a tumbler, an enigmatic half-smile on his face, his gaze watchful.

Nziko and Kama, Mugi’s two younger brothers, shrugged and nodded. They quickly rationalised it – it was true anyway. They only requested to join in one last time, since they were already there, which requested was grudgingly granted.

But Mugi did not request anymore. It was not Fassen’s words that had registered with him, but the look in his eyes as he spoke. There had been no hatred or malice there, perhaps, but then there had been no love too. Only a desire for safety and order, and boundries. And this desire for safety and order, and boundries, had temporarily blinded Fassen’s inner eyes to the desperate, momentary needs of fellow human hearts, blocked his view into an appreciation of simple friendliness. Mugi recognised here a lack of understanding for and of the depths of pain within his brothers and himself, of their longing and need for love, for carefree play, for a semblace of normalness, for contact, for a place where work is laughter, just a little laughter.

And because Mugi knew that Fassen was right, in accordance with his job, position, responsibility, and level of understanding of human beings, he did not argue, nor made he any further requests. He could not, even. He felt again like a stranger. He felt again many of those silent shifting feelings he wanted to forget, but knew that he would not. He felt again that pain which one feels when one is almost understood and then betrayed, when one needs just a little shoulder to rest a little head for a little while, but finds none… he felt again the character of loneliness.

So he smiled at Fassen, and would also have smiled at Weller if Weller had not averted his young eyes; then he went outside to wait for his brothers who were still attempting to snatch a little joyousness, still seeking a little laughter, companionship and joyful work with which to cure them their sorely wounded young souls.

And he thought of all the many lonely people walking undetected on earth, singly or in groups, who have also come from war-torn zones of whatever sort, physical or psychical, or both, and more, and who carry deep pains, badly healed scars within them, which nobody understands – and he prayed for them.

And, not long after he was through with his prayer, his two brothers emerged from out of the basement, finished here, and together the three of them walked through the cold night to their tiny apartment in the camp, their home. And, as they walked, they cracked jokes and laughed.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.
From my collection of thoughts and short stories: amazon cover copy there is always something more 2015

THE ELIXIR AND THE MUSE

Joy is my elixir
Sorrow is my muse
When one is not there
The other I use

The mountain-top of poverty
Will give you a clear view
Into the character of humanity
And make a sage of you

The dark depths of wealth
Will expose you to propensity
To indulge in all things that tempt
And to understand vanity

You will see needy nations
Full of natural born resources
Of lazy corrupted wasted generations
Raining on each other backward curses

You will see greedy nations
With the mastery of bright inventions
Choose instead to perfect division
And to invent and sell deadly weapons

You will see great minds
Of science, religion and philosophy
Brainwashing weaker minds
Into believing everyone different is their enemy

You will feel the cold power of politics
In high and low places
And learn to respect the simplest tricks
For they win the most complex races

You will despair and turn to the dark side
And hear its mocking laughter
You will look for the light far and wide
And severity will be its answer

Illness will teach you
That your body is not all of you
There is eternal life inside of you
It is the real you

And you will learn from disgrace
How fickle are our human ways
When you’re up they’re quick to praise
And quick to damn you in your fallen days

Wonder above wonder
The flight of technology
Cannot take you any further
Than truth, hope and simplicity

Trust is still a riddle
Treachery a talking drum
Death still waits in the middle
Of the life you can’t escape from

Only love, only love will understand
And bring you strength and succour
Even as it holds in its tender hand
A little joy, a little sorrow

The power to open our eyes
To the little acts of kindness
That tower above parochial ties
And cure the heart of its blindness

To civilise joy with purpose
And pacify pain with message
For just as poetry elevates prose
Goodness preserves youth in age

Some bend the word
To achieve selfish aims
Diplomacy becomes their sword
So who are we to blame?

Joy is my elixir
Sorrow is my muse
When one is not there
The other I use.

– CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.