AUTHORITY WITHIN

There is a poet
He lives in me
I am his host and his prisoner –

He is not married to my wife
He is not related to my family members
He does not come from my country
He does not work for my employer
He is a recluse
A hermit
Who lurks sometimes seen sometimes unseen
In the waters within my heart
I heard his name
They called him Spirit.

He looks at me
With his burning eyes
Only when he has something to say
Then, calling my name, he commands:
“Pen, write…”
And I write.
And that’s all I know about him.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE FIRST RECOLLECTIONS

Do you remember how we met?
It was by chance, wasn’t it?
That is, if we were to begin now
To believe in chance…
The chance that came our way –
We took it…
Just one look at it
And we took it –

I remember many beginnings
I remember the start of
Many love stories
But our beginning was indeed special
Because it was simply so natural
And so unaffected
Just like all the poems it has given birth to.

That was our beginning
And that shall be our story
The natural and the unaffected
Missing you breaks my heart
Even already on the first day
Without us together
Nothing o nothing will ever be the same Again.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

DIMLY

I touch my intuition
Every morning
And at night I remember it
Like a friend from long ago
Far away
On the riverbanks of dawn
I forget what I saw in the soft bright sunlight
Of nightly dreams
Sometimes during the day
It will beat
Like a weak heart
I barely hear, barely feel
Quietly inside
Between conversations of How are you?
How are the revenue figures doing?
Very poorly. Stop. And look into the water
And feel your life
Trying to flow back to you, in little ripples
Of intuitively perceived memory
Of the blue island.

Don’t shake your head
And tell me you don’t understand
I know you simply don’t remember…
But I remember you; dimly
Like a friend from long long ago
Far far away
On a blue island….

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

MUSIC FOREVER

Hometown Uhude

I wonder
How it will be
On the day I die –
Will I hear that music?

This whole journey
What has it been worth
If I don’t hear that music?

If tomorrow
Will unteach me how to hear that music
Then take me today, dear Lord…

If today I am still deaf
To that music
Then guide me to the source
Of that guitar, and teach me how to grasp
Thine song, Lord, before my day
Is come.

As empty as life is
Even emptier is death
Without music.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

THE DOVE

la paloma

***

The young maiden requested of the youth at the piano
To teach her how to play that piece he played
He sat her by his side and tenderly began to show
The movements of the fingers to be laid

She went home weeping, but the tears were tears of joy and bliss
And in her memory the piece played on,
But when she got home, sorrow drew her into its abyss:
Quarrelling brothers used her to trade on;

The night went by and morning dawned and restless she arose
And moved as was her wont to the piano,
Played to unburden heart and mind, but could not shed her woes
‘Til she recalled the piece she’d learned to know.

So she began to play the piece, and peace returned to her
And then a wonder began to unfold:
Soon after she released the tones, there flew a dove, sans fear,
To perch on her window, and twitter bold

Amazed the maiden held her breath and continued to play
And the little dove continued to sing,
But when she changed the tune, to make the mood even more gay
The strange white dove flew off a-fluttering

“Can it be so?”, she asked herself, “That if I play this piece,
The unknown dove will come and sing along?
But any other tune, however full of sprite or bliss,
Will drive her forth again without a song?”

dove

So she began to play again the piece the youth taught her
And verily, verily, it was so:
The singing dove returned unto the window-column clear
But when she changed or stopped, the dove would go…

Now she called a brother inside and, full of raptured joy,
Performed for him this miracle of sound
And not even the untamed heart of this untempered boy
Could resist the magic thus come around.

And so it was, her joy was great, her heart burst beyond bounds
To experience such unity in life –
Such harmony and true beauty that flowed even from sounds
And conquered every woe and every strife!

A-skipping and a-humming and a-dreaming and a-swaying
The young maiden ran cross-town to the youth
To tell him of this wonder that came to her while a-playing
The music piece he’d taught her in his boothe.

The youth was startled by her tale and refused to believe
For ‘twas a tale as strange as strange can be
So she sat down at his piano and that music did weave
And the dove came to them, singing freely…

And then the youth, with wondering eyes, told her a startling thing:
“This piece is called La Paloma – by jove! –
And La Paloma translated out of its Spanish ring
Would mean in English simply but the Dove.”

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

***

THE MARRIAGE

A woman loved a man
And a man loved a woman
They vowed the sacred vow:
Marriage.

Then the woman balked and
Suddenly decided to ask her brother
First… –
She asked him
And he promised to give her the answer
The next day
For he was baffled by the question.

Then he went to a wise man
And questioned him thus:
“Please, Sir, if your sister asks you whether
She ought to marry a man whom
She says she loves,
What would you tell her?”

The sage studied the man’s features thoughtfully
For a while, then with an introspective look
Said:
“I would tell her not to marry him.”

“What reason would you give her for this, Sir?”

“Truly, I would give her anything
But the true reason,
For that would render it meaningless.”

“And what, Sir, is the true reason?”

“Marriage is a sacred, mysterious bond which,
Once taken,
Is embedded forever in the eternal Silence!
It therefore concerns only three:
The man, the woman and the Creator!
Once one of these two humans
Requires the opinion of a third human
To take this step
Then he or she is not yet ready
For Marriage!”

And so, the next day
When the man’s sister came for an answer
He told her mysteriously
Wisely nodding his head:
“My sister, in your best interest
I advice you not to marry
Your fiancé.
But ask me not why. Just believe me.”

She became destabilized and confused, very…
For she loved her fiancé
Excruciatingly.

But she had her own restless, defiant sage
In her own heart too;
And she decided that her brother was wrong
She went ahead and married her loved one
Resolutely, calmly
Proudly.
Wondering how she could ever have doubted
Or asked a third person,
A stranger to their love.

Invited to her wedding soon after
Her surprised brother,
On arriving
And meeting her fiancé for the first time,
Suddenly became deeply confused…
And now he addressed his sister’s laughing husband again:
“You?… You!
Incredible!
But I thought you told me
To tell my sister not to marry you?”

But the sage laughed
And said
In a voice full of respect:
“It turns out that my wife
In the end
Believed her heart
More than she believed the words
Of the forbidden third human…
Because she loves me.”

And, so saying,
The young sage went home joyfully
With his wise new wife.

-Che Chidi Chukwumerije.