while walking in my darkness, I woke, eyewoke

A Hundred Thousand

A hundred thousand things I left unsaid
A hundred thousand thoughts that haunt and follow-
Me. To bed
I wake in my sleep
Please don’t wake me up

A million silver penny memories
The picture perfect life I had to borrow-
We. Were young.
You filled my cup
Please don’t wake me up

I got lost but I’ll never show
I tell myself that I’ll start tomorrow-
But. We know
Tomorrow never comes
Please don’t wake me up

This six stringed hope for a life I had
Great joys drank up even greater sorrow-
I. Fell out
Was I ever in
Please don’t wake me up

A hundred thousand things I left unsaid
A hundred thousand thoughts I freed and let go
Still. My heart
Take me back to sleep
Please don’t wake me up


Untitled #1

When I’d first seen that picture of you
Of you with them, your friends
Eyes squinted to slits, cheeks pulled upward in laughter so alive it jumped
Right out of the still
I thought to myself
How dare you

How dare you share your time and candid laughter
For the whole world to hear
How dare you tread life so lightly without intermission
How dare you find peace of mind
How dare you be happy without my permission

And so I called you, casually so
Bringing up the photo like it were nothing
Pushing ever so slowly, those buttons which I knew so well
Smiling to myself in a savage satisfaction
When from your voice, I heard the tell which meant your high
Soured into a new low

What is wrong with me?

My small victory curdles into lumps of emptiness
To do something so low takes a special kind of screwed up
When did I become this person?
And the worst is, I don’t remember who I was before
Is this who I’ve always been?
Who, or what, really, am I?



Letters to Berlin

I crossed the street, and sat at the cafe
The smell of tea leaves mingled with the dry August wind
The taste of sugar on my bun, almost a sharp tang
The slow burn, as the tea assaulted my tongue

My hand it skimmed along the pages
The whirls of my fingers, mingled along the ridges of-
The crumpled papers almost a hand thick
The not-so-straight lines, and scratchy ink

Letters. Every single page unique
Telling stories of a life untold, yet fully lived
Of love and laughter, and memories golden
But also of pain, of loss, of a childhood stolen

The letters, all mine, all written to me
Self-authored, self-read, self-published, and self-buried
Now out in the open, for all eyes to behold
But all they will see is a tiny mount of paper, dry and old

These words they cannot be held in any longer
They cry out to me, their voices growing stronger
And so, I’m sending my letters to Berlin
For my life it was un-started, now let it begin


Silver Lining

Happiness is….
The yellow of the sun through the curtains on a lazy Saturday morning
The sound of nothing, almost- as the slow traffic rumbles seemingly far away-
from your blanket cocoon.

Happiness is…
The warmth of fresh cow’s milk on the tip of your tongue
Sweetened, almost- with the apiary honey-sharp, and gold
dripping on the round of the spoon

Happiness is…
The sound of nobody’s else’s footsteps, but your own
Through the wooded nature reserve- the call of the birds, and changing colors-
calling for sunset soon.

Happiness is…
The cool evening breeze as it deftly cuts through your hair
Swirling, not so silently- to a deep blue sky, cloudy- but for a thin silver lining
promising the moon.



Tough Girls Don’t Cry

My father was a Military man
He always stood tall and proud
He had a voice strong and sure
And where he went, Death clung to him like a shroud

Silent. He never laughed out loud
But it twinkled with his eyes
I’d love to say that he was gentle and kind
But those would be honest lies

He was a designer…of sorts
His fists were his tools, his canvas her skin
And she was cowed to submission
Telling neither friend nor kin

The thins he’s seen in Rwanda
They years of a warred peacekeeping
They left ghosts in his eyes
And made for nights of ne’er sleeping

The only thing he ever loved
Were his daughter and his son, I think
Well, it’s what I tell myself
To keep from slipping off the brink

He taught me to be sharp always
To let on less than I knew
And when it served the purpose
To play the happy fool

He taught me hoe to hold a gun
How to not feel but to think
And those nights I’d seen his drunken stupor
Taught me to never hold a drink

Not one tear did I shed
When the day came for him to die
For my father was a Military man who raised a tough girl
And tough girls don’t cry.

– Chiseche


Sweets and crisps and molten chocolate bars
In the hot sun the vendors hawk their wares
Inside the sweaty buses, the conductors shout for fares
And in the traffic, the people drive their cars

A man homeless, in a shirt purple and torn
Approaches a car, flawless and new
Turns his palm up to beg, for whatever small, whatever few
In his eyes hope that some pity on him will be shown

In the car two people, son and mother
She at the wheel, he in the front seat
In the cool of their air conditioning, away from the heat
Glance at their newfound bother

The boy, in his hands a Styrofoam plate full of food
Moves to roll down his window and share
But his mother firmly shakes her head and shoots him a strict glare
Before turning her head, eyes determined on the car’s hood

The man’s hand drops in a quick flash
As shame and sorrow fill up his eyes
The boy uncomfortably chokes down his fries
The oil turning in his mouth to ash

The lights turn green and the engines start revving
The moment is over, and we don’t know for sure
Between the rich and the poor
Who it is that really needs the saving


Mr and Mrs Everything

Mr and Mrs. Everything
Lived in a box
There was a stove for Mr’s kettle
And a shelf for Mrs’ socks

They had breakfast for dinner
Supper for lunch
And the skins of sliced potatoes
Was their special Sunday brunch

Mr really liked
The cooking and the dishing
While Mrs rather fancied
The reading and the fishing

They both wore green boots
Put on the wrong way
And they took long walks
Up and down the hill each day

They didn’t have much money
Their piggy-banks were bare
But they were very very happy
To just have each other there



Before you leave
Please take the time to look around
Look at the walls and the floors
Look at the time;
the hour and minute hands
Please, please look at me.
I want you to remember
The keys on the kitchen table, a dull bunch of four
The whistling of the kettle, smoke out its scratched pewter spout
The crease in my yellow dress, the creak of the front door.
The way the window opened but never closed
Unless you lifted it half an inch above the pane
The bright blue curtains you hated but never changed
Me and my fanciful, and you, you and your sensible plain.
I want you to take this box, hold it
And carry it with you on whichever your way
Fill it with wings, pebbles and feathers
Fill it with the memories you make each day.
Love, like you never have loved
And always carry on your lips a smile
Know my heart will always be with yours
Every step of every precious mile


Grown-Ups Lie: An Original Short Story

Anita loved the holidays. First, there was no school. Second, she could go to the shops with Mum and look at all the decorations, and sometimes Mum would get her one of the sweets that came in the cases shaped like dolls or cellphones.

She especially loved the giant Christmas tree that stood in the center of the mall, perfectly aligned with the clear, high domed roof. The red and silver tinsel garlands wove themselves around the tree in a never ending spiral and the baubles were way bigger than the ones at home. At the bottom around the tree, giant boxes wrapped in shiny paper were stacked against each others, and there would sometimes be a sled and electric reindeer in front of them. She knew the boxes were empty, her brother had told her, but she liked to imagine that they were filled with all the best toys and gifts, and maybe Santa would bring one to her house on his sleigh on a snowy night like in the films.

But again, she knew Santa wasn’t real, and she knew it did not snow in Zambia.

They were in the supermarket, and a popular Christmas song was playing from the speakers overhead. Mum gently hummed as she pushed the trolley along the aisles, picking an item only to inspect it, put it down and pick another. The trolley was smaller this year; when they got to the entrance, Anita had gone for the usual giant one but Mum had said;
“No, not that one,” and she got the smaller one, the one where you fit two baskets instead.

There were toys and chocolates on every aisle corner, decorated with tinsel and Christmas lights. Anita let her eyes linger over them for a few seconds before rushing to follow her mother. The supermarket was crowded today, it was a few days to Christmas and so everyone was doing their last minute shopping.

“What happens when people are not organised,” Daddy would say when he saw the long lines at the counter. He was in Zimbabwe for work, and he said he would be home last week, but he had not come yet.

“Bring me the tomato sauce,” Mum said, and Anita reached for the brand they’d always used but was met with a stern, “No, get the supermarket one.”

And so she put it back on the shelf and reached for the generic branded one. Mum was a few steps away from her now, inspecting the spices and Anita squeezed herself through the trolley filled aisle to reach her when someone called out.

“Grace!” She looked up, it was Mum’s friend from church, Aunty Kangwa.

“Hello Kangwa! Mulishani? How are you?” Mum said in her warm voice she usually reserved for guests.

Aunty Kangwa had just pulled into their aisle with the giant trolley, in it bags of rice, pasta, frozen meats and a whole bunch of other foodstuffs.

“I’m just doing some small shopping last minute, you know these holidays,” she said, she had a good-natured, husky voice. She shifted her full figure from behind her trolley to greet Mum and pat Anita on the head, her hand smelled of perfume, “iyee, this one is growing!” she said, looking down at Anita through her black rimmed glasses. There was a small smudge of hot pink on her teeth where the lipstick had rubbed off.

“Yes!” Mum agreed. She turned to Anita and said, “Mami I told you to get the All Gold tomato sauce, not this generic one!”

Anita stared at her blankly, confused.

“You know these kids, absent-minded,” Mum added, and Aunty Kangwa laughed in agreement.

Anita went back and put the generic-brand tomato sauce, picking up the expensive one that Mum had earlier told her to put back on the shelf.

“Anyway,” Aunty Kangwa was saying when she got back, “tell me, what are the Christmas plans?”

“Oh you know,” Mum replied, “the usual, church na ka small family lunch after. The whole family will be coming.”

“Oh, lovely,” Aunty Kangwa answered, “and when is Bashi Kingsley arriving?” Kingsley was her brother’s name, so Anita knew they were talking about Daddy.

“The flights have been fully booked these days, you just know how hectic the holiday season gets,” Mum responded, putting a seasoning bottle in her basket, she did not even inspect it like she’d been doing with everything else they’d bought today, “but we finally found him one for Christmas Eve.”

Anita’s heart rose. Daddy was coming home after all! They would just have to wait till Christmas Eve, and it was only five days away.

“Oh! That’s wonderful!” Aunty Kangwa sang, she clapped her hands together, and the bangles on her wrists clinked together, “God is great!”

“Indeed,” Mum replied, and with a smile, she added, “Anyway dear, we’ll catch up soon! Let me rush, these lines are too long already.”

“I know, I know,” the other woman agreed, “we’ll chat later.”

And so they pushed their way through the crowded aisle and Anita followed her mother to the shortest looking aisle.

Another popular song started playing through the speakers, but Mum was not humming along this time. They snailed up the line, the songs changing, and Anita barely keeping her excitement at bay. Daddy would be here, and they would go present shopping, and he would make that special hot chocolate with the ice cream inside, and she would show him the drawing she had made at school.

“Mum,” she said after some time.


“What time will Daddy be arriving on Christmas Eve?”

“He’s not coming,” Mum replied as they reached the counter.

Anita felt like a brick had fallen inside her stomach, “Huh?” she breathed.

“He won’t be coming baby,” Mum explained, “We can’t afford the ticket.”

But she had just told Aunty Kangwa that he would be arriving on Christmas Eve! Anita did not say that out loud though.

She nodded quietly as she watched the green numbers on the screen add up whenever the cashier punched in the items. Sometimes grown-ups lied, and sometimes they left bottles of tomato sauce at the counter.



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