VULNERABILITY

Waking up
Feeling like a wound
And for a second you don’t cover up your vulnerability
Because the world is still asleep
And no-one is watching…

You lie there, your eyes closed
Your wound open
And let your life’s troubles tear at the wound
In your Heart…
And then,
Just when the pain becomes unbearable
You feel the calming weight of responsibility
Descend like balm and bandage upon you
You know your role again
You become strong.

And by the time you open your eyes and arise
The wound has been stitched up again
And you set forth to meet the world
Unperturbed
Resolved.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

PRISONERS OF LAW, CITIZENS OF LOVE

Sunday morning
The homeless beggar throws his plastic sheet off his destitute form
Steps out for a moment from under his bridge
Takes a dry bath in the warm sun’s rays

The off-duty policeman
Who tomorrow on duty will evict him again from under the bridge
Walks past him on his way to worship
Throws him a kind smile and a coin into his bowl.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

IN THE MORNING

The things we know in the morning
The moment we awaken
And from somewhere else are returning
But not yet quite retaken
By the world of thoughts that ever crowd around us
During the hours while we are fully day-conscious
Those things we know as sleep departs
Are as true as true can be
The Hour of Awakening to us imparts
The starkest clarity

It may be painful, may be pleasant
It may be quite surprising
But it is always true and doesn’t
Require verifying
Because if you did awake aright into this certainty
Events themselves will prove to you their authenticity
My thoughts are clear as sleep departs
And I see without guile
Displayed before me all those hearts
With whom I frown or smile.

————–
che chidi chukwumerije
————–

ART IN ALL ITS FORMS

Art in all its forms
Is the thief of time
Stealing from the past
Sharing with the present
And the future
Like Robin Hood
For time is wealthy in memory
And, like Shylock, reluctant to give.

An evening song will reawaken your life’s morning
A painting will view like déjà vu from lives unremembered
And a poem will whisper your life’s story back to you.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

MUSICIAN’S MORNING

EARLY IN the morning Egwuobi practised the minor chords on his box guitar, his best friend, whom he called Freedom. His soul was full and empty. He gripped the strings with his heart and gradually played, first arpeggio-style, then a-strumming, slowly changing from one chord to the other, one key to the higher.

Each time he caused the strings to vibrate, each time there arose sound from the instrument, a breath of calm seemed to sink into his soul. He did not want to stop.

By the time it began to grow bright outside, he had gone through only a third of the exercise. With a sigh he dropped Freedom lightly on his sparse, rough bed and arose.

For a few moments he remained motionless on his feet. His chest rose and fell, lightly. A look of gentle, dreamy reflection was trapped upon his face, a hard, rocky face with full lips and a strong, pugnacious forehead. He had an angular skull, radiated an intense and awkward, almost overpowering crude handsomeness. His observant grey-black eyes were turned inwards, his profile was angled towards the window.

It dawned on him again, like it did every once in a while, that destiny is like a skin. It wrapped itself around you even ere you arrived. It encapsules, encloses, protects and undermines you. Captures you. Teleguides you. It limits you. It links you to your world. It is hard to shed and hard to change. It lasts a lifetime.

Once again a wry smile was his reaction to this ever-recurring moment of recognition. A wry and sad smile. Yet it was a smile of amusement. No wonder snakes shed their skin. His humour was sometimes dark, sometimes light. He suddenly remembered that he had written something into his diary sometime in the middle of the night, something about train tracks, cocoon and the birth of butterfly. He remembered the feeling of the struggling butterfly. He reached across his bed, lifted his diary, opened it and read it again. Everything came back, the nocturnal stab of clarity that subsequent sleep had temporarily blotted out. It was the same recognition that had just come back again in the skin analogy. Now he felt calmer.
He emerged, composed, out of his reflection and went into the bathroom. A normal prelude to another abnormal day.

This was how it always started – with music, unfinished, and a startling recognition that would fill him all day long. This was the cycle of his life.

An awakening musician.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

NOSTALGIA’S DONE

Just now I saw a morning star, luminous in the sky high up above me. And then suddenly I see it no more. Blue-grey clouds are journeying past in silent, ominous solemnity. Morning has dawned. The birds, they are a-singing. Early people are writing their feet into the road… and I am sitting outside, writing poetry and pretending it is prose.

Perhaps by the time I am through, and raise my head anew, the clouds would have gone completely by, and my star will be visible to me again. But if not, yet still I carry within me the picture of my morning star, as luminous in my heart as it was luminous in the sky.

I suppose this is what they call Nostalgia.

Now, see: the sun is rising, and the light is come again. Star, sun and light. And there is spirit inside of me – spirit and love.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

ONLY US

It is not a joke;
But everyone is laughing
As though it were…

Early in the morning
I can hear voices whispering
Before dawn…
But when I peered out through the window
I saw nothing
Yet heard something
Which sounded like whispering voices
Talking to me
Telling me what to write

And I write without complaint
Even though the pain is sometimes astronomical –
Yet I write.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

DAWN

I chanced to look near dawn
Out of my sorrow
And indigo was the wall
Outside my window

Surprised, I looked away
From night, my widow
Then stole another glance again
At my tomorrow

Tomorrow was in mute concert
Briefly I am my cello
Confused at my own melody
My poem, my strange bedfellow

But night is sheared now finally
Soft day echoes my hello
And as I rise, my waking thought
Sinks away into my pillow.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

NEW ROADS

How maddening it must be
Upon reincarnation to see
The fullness of your memory
In all its grime and glory –

Take it away, take it away
I don’t want to know today
The sadness and joy of yesterday
With my heart let me find my way

I fell in love, in love anew
With dawn and dusk, with dream and dew
With life and love, through vice and virtue
Another me, another you.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.