PROGRESS

When you ride the western star until you hit its heavenly glass ceiling, are unable to break through it, and then console yourself with the thought that, at least, you have done better for yourself than those who once started off with you back home in the deep global south… the question is: has Progress really been made?

You rise in the West
But Africa stays the worst.

If you shine moderately in the glow of the eastern star, but your own land of the rising sun is still struggling with twilight…

If like a lost moon you reflect dazzlingly the northern lights and it blinds you to your own northern people’s plight and they desert-roam in darkness and have no light…

If you drown power-drunk in the global financial waters, but your own lagoons are not overflowing with milk and honey, and your people thirst out of lack…

Has Progress really been made?

West, east, north, global are not necessarily far away places. They are the System and the way of life that rule and school you also at home, and force you to make a choice.

It’s easy to rise as a stranger.
It’s hard to rise as yourself.

As a stranger you just have to pretend and act the part and they’ll let you through and put you in a place that’s safe for them.

But as yourself you have to persevere; and refuse to compromise if it won’t help your People; and be content to inch your way forward, little by little, you and your world.

It might be slow, it might be painful, but that is true Progress.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

PLAYGROUNDS

There is evil in the air
It chokes your breath in unexpected places
A playground, full of hard adult eyes
Watching, and avoiding, each other
While playing children loudly try
To shout the intruders merrily out –

One by one each parent
Picks up its child and hurries home
Away from this place
And no-one can say really why
The world became like this
Or when. It’s the future, and we’re there.

CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO LIVE WITH A STRANGER?

You cannot find like-minded people
Until you know your own mind
If you know not what you seek
You won’t know when you find
You will walk with your enemies
Your friends you’ll leave behind
You will feel no sense of belonging
Wherever you yourself bind
For without a sense of orientation
Or self-knowledge, you are blind.

And then there are those that will say:
You must stick to your own kind

So some stick to their race
And some to their nation
Some to religion and faith
Some to culture and tradition
Some stick to their gender
Some stay in a certain generation
Some remain within a field of thought
Or choose those of like inclination
Some share in an agenda
Some an intuitive perception

Some are united in what they seek
Some are united in what they find

Some will leave you when they find you
Because it is themselves that they seek
Some will seek you when they lose you
Because it was you who took them to their mountain-peak
And showed them their inner freak
Because – give me a break –
Who on earth does not secretly
Want to be a freak?

You like the taste of many soups
And are a part of many groups
And yet nobody knows who you really are deep inside –
Not even you yourself, with whom you always abide.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

BEING DIFFERENT

UNRAVELLING THE mystery that is my own soul, I pondered and sought; I wondered about my beginning. Woman and man in a garden. Which garden? East or west? Home is best, they say.

So I went home into my spirit-man and discovered an a different person dwelling within, staring back at me with my own face but not my own eyes.

“Different person,” I asked him, “Who are you and what are you doing inside my heart?”

But he only returned my gaze without giving an answer, and I sensed that I must find the answer myself. Myself? But who is myself?

The mystery took shape, deepened, arose. I wandered from pole to pole. But each time I thought I had found my goal, I saw the different person inside my heart again, looking back at me with my own face but not with my own eyes.

I wanted to scream, but my heart rejected this. I lay me down to sleep, but sleep ejected me. So on and on I wander and sojourn, on and on I go, seeking to unravel this mystery that is simply my very own self.

And each time I think I have found the answer, I see him again, a different person inside my soul, staring back at me with my face but not with my eyes.

Who are you, I wonder, you stranger in my soul?

What are you, why are you, so different, so alien, so silent, so bold?

– 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.

LONELY FOOTFALLS

How deep must be the night
Inexhaustibly deep
To awaken such endless restlessness
In countless sleepless souls

And there you see Love
Wandering in lonesome search
Like a homeless stranger on earth
Restless, tireless, nervous

Moving from heart to heart
Knock knock knocking on human’s door
‘Tis not the love of partner pleasure
It is higher, it is Compassion

And through the restless night
Quietly in spirit we search
As though we were desperately listening
For love’s footsteps in our hearts.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

SPIRIT SLEEP

image

A smile is made up of many wounds
A road is the sum of innumerable restless feet
Love is the pain that pleasures
And victory is defiance in the heart of defeat
But what is spirit?

Spirit is
The stranger that walks the earth
For whom death is birth
Sleepwalker swaying at deep’s edge
Unfulfilled, the promise, unremembered, the pledge.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO

If a true friend is gold, are they poor that have no friends? Or rich by default, for peace of mind is also the lot of the lonely who is spared the irony of the laughter and companionship of false friends? How often have we met with a friend and parted from a stranger a short while later? In these days of sad revolutions and mixed allegations, of spying and cyber double lives, of migration without integration, of religious justice without religious love, of racial reawakening and regrouping, gender re-evaluation, of social re-engineering and hardening, there are some you will meet who will tell you that what they need is not a friend, what they need is honesty and clarity.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

I SAW A TEMPTER

I heard a whisper
Which made more sense than it could have
And less sense than
It did

I felt a touch
Which was more intimate than it could have been
And less intimate than
It was

I met a stranger
Who looked more familiar than he should have
And less familiar than
He did

I perceived an odour
Which smelled nicer than it must have
And fouler than
It could

And then I saw a tempter
Who seemed exactly like I knew
A tempter ought not to be
Yet I knew it was temptation
Because it never answered my smile

Not the smile you see on my face
But the smile
That lives, always silent, in my heart

And the tempter
Does not answer this smile
Because how can you answer
What you don’t hear?

The silent smile who waits so gentle
Resides in everybody’s heart,
And anything that answers not my smile
Is not mine.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.