Search

eyewoke

while walking in my darkness, I woke, eyewoke

Traffic

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

-Chiseche

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

-Chiseche

Parting

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

-Chiseche

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.

“Hmm.”

“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.

 

-Chiseche

Mamma Mike

Her arms, like wings were open always
Full of hugs, her lips kisses
Her slitted eyes squinted more if that were possible
As she moved to best give us our wishes

Freckles, like black stars ran across her brown skin
An oddity for a woman born Black
The spots I traced with grimy little fingers
Wondering if they could be peeled back

From her mouth came laughs, like roaring thunder
As the rest of her body shook in adipose waves
The same mouth would twist in agony
As she would oft witness old friends sent early to their graves

She put food in our mouths
We didn’t own a table
She sewed the clothes on our backs
To buy from stores, she wasn’t able

He made thousands, and she pennies
From vegetable stands, she made her money
He an executive suit, you never could have known
That they two, lived in wedded matrimony

When she heard there was another her
And that he’d bought her a brand new house
She tossed her hair, laughed and said
She might be the other, but I’ll always be the spouse

And so from her stand, she fed and raised us
When from his pockets, he spent on her
And when they asked why she wasn’t upset, angry, desolate
She would answer with a humoured har-har

And then he fell ill
Man once flesh reduced to brittle bone
And so she took him in and nursed him
Brought him back to health all on her own

Twasn’t long till he slipped back
Went to his old ways
But she only sighed and shook her head
She seemed much quieter these days

As the time it passed
Quiet turned to slow, and slow turned to bed ridden
We asked what was wrong
But whatever it was, she kept well hidden

She smiled less, she tried to though
Then the cold came along, and with it she went quick
Lost and confused, we circled ourselves
One day she was here, and the next she was too sick

I smile when I think of her
Her freckles, arms and laugh
She was many things
And woman, was she tough

She taught me many things
And one thing will always be
I loved Mamma Mike
And Mamma Mike loved me

Chiseche

A Seat at The Table, A Place on The Floor

I die a little every day
As I watch in fever-dream reality
The stream of my lifeblood trickle and fade away

Boxed in these four walls
The dusty panes, the peeling paint
The steps of those long-lifeless, echoing down the halls

Through the window to my right
A man screams into his phone
In clear frustration he talks about money, and what he calls civil plight

In the distance, sirens and ice cream bells wail
Background music to his political rant
He hangs up and I wonder if he got what he wanted, or if it was a fail

He retreats into his building, and the lump in my throat reforms
His performance so brief it made me forget, is over
And the emptiness inside quickly returns

The cream white paint, in the corner an ink stain
The desks, the files, they serve to remind me
I was never special, I am common, plain

It never really mattered what I was good at, what I knew
The world is such a big place
But has room for only few

The rest of us grovel and grab in desperate spree
We hack away at the best of ourselves
We even offer them for free

Anything for something a little stable
We kill for a place on the floor
For we’ll never get a seat at the table

I cut away, I divided all I had of me
Out-grovelled, out-ran, the thousands beside me
Just so They could have my bits, even if for free

All for a place on the pavement, on the floor
My reflection dulled and faded
I don’t know who I am anymore

Even my writing’s abhorrent, my poetry’s a mess
Rambles of verses dissonant
None worthy of print or of press

It’s been a while since I penned a rhyme
And I can’t believe it took feeling this way
To finally write down a poem

Chiseche

Take Me to Robben Island

Take me to Robben Island
The blood and bones
The water away washed
Remembrance shown by a pile of stones

Take me to Robbeniland
Where no robins sing
But through the walls I’ll hear the words of Brutus
Echo through the past crying equality ring

The beautiful blue on the shore around
The yellow sun, the smell of salt in the air
Bidding me forget- but I can’t
Screams of lepers countless left without a prayer

Walls whitewashed to near perfection
Empty cells, barren windows, fractured story
Each from these draws his own symbolism
And what I see is a hell in all it’s glory

Take me to Robben Island
I want to again hear the haunted sounds
And when the voices get too loud
Lay me in the water, and set me in the ground

Chiseche

Little Things

There’s a certain magic in the little things
The unrelated, disconnected things
The smell of ageing paper
The spotted tie your father wore
That old photograph you forgot you had
The crack in the wall you’d not noticed before
Those green suspenders
A gift from your cousin Mike
The pink ribbon tied to silver spokes
Of your childhood bike
The gentle scratch of the metal toothed comb
As your mother parted your hair
The smell of strong black tea
That always hung in the morning air
The song whose words you got wrong
But always played on repeat
The patched up tear on your sleeve
The pothole in the middle of the street
These things unrelated
The things you forgot you had
Are the things that remind you
That you too, are quite capable of love.

Chiseche

Go Home Sun, You’re Drunk

Go home sun, you’re drunk
It’s 4am and you’re banging on my window
With your dry heat and persistent rays
This fan just may as well be a heater
I’ve never seen such sweat in all my days

Sun, again-who sent you?
It’s 10am and my feet are sinking
In the deep sand, I waddle like a duck
It’s in my shoes, I’m gathering dust
It’s in my eyes now, what the —-

When are you not overhead?
My face is a permanent scowl
No, I’m not in a mood
You’re just overhead all the time
It’s not nice you know, it’s a little bit rude

Go home sun, you’re drunk
It’s 7pm and you’re still here
With your buzz, and your flies, and your persistent glow
Go home sun, you are drunk
And some of us are just trying to get some sleep, you know

-Chiseche

A WordPress.com Website.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: