while walking in my darkness, I woke, eyewoke

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


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.


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


Little Roll

Little roll
Little roll, sitting by my side
Size of my fist when I’m sat down
And when my hands are held high
You pretend to hide

Little roll
So your friends and family moved in
I have your brothers on my thighs
Your sisters on my arms
And I believe that’s your father on my chin

Little roll
Now you’re not so little anymore
You’re bigger and so much bolder
I’ve given up on hiding you
Like I tried so hard to before

Little roll
Does it still make sense to call you that?
You’re on my body, you’re in my head
You’re in their mouths too now
Except they call you fat

Little roll
I guess you came to stay
You’re now a part of me
You fit, so don’t listen to what they say
Because, little roll, I love you anyway


Thank You

When you came into my life, the sun was out
I couldn’t see it on the second floor room
Head high, nose turned, I stood short and stout
My bright yellow sweater standing out in the musty library gloom

You met with an amused smirk
Every word I loudly spoke
In attempt to outsmart, out-edge, to out-quirk
In attempt to conversation provoke

I called you basic, you were dull
And that was honestly, completely true
But you were the simple gentle lull
That would pull me to shore when in the eye of the storm

You taught me words like YOLO
Like, sho, like it’s said swag, not swagger
And I taught you words like Oslo
And made you listen to the likes of Mick Jagger

You showed me that people liked to be the same
That the world was bigger than me and mine
That for some, all they wanted was fame
And that sometimes, that was also fine

Stark opposites, we lived side by side
Me with my dreams, you with your stars
We knew and drew the clear divide
Between yours and mine and ours

Bit by bit, it was ever so slow
The bonds we knew not how to force
Began to loose, tear, cracks show
And our road had reached finally its course

And so you left, and I laughed and I cried
And I laughed yet again
For I thought my soul had died
For I’d never known such pain

When you left, the sun was shining
I saw it this time, to my cheeks it made it’s way
And before I knew it I was closed-eye smiling
For I realised it was okay to be unokay

The sun still shines, and I say to you
Thank you, from the heart of my heart
For the times and the laughs that we both knew
And for the strength to make a new start



When You’re in Nairobi

When you’re in Nairobi, you run
There’s a bus to catch, you make haste
There money to make
There’s no time to waste

When you’re in Lusaka, you run
There’s deadlines to meet
There’s simply no time to stop, no time
To take a look at the people on the street

When you’re in Johannesburg, you run
There’s a reason, afterall, it’s called Jozi
There’s a life about the rush and the buzz
That has no room for the lazy

When you’re in Kafue, oh, when you’re in Kafue
The skies are blue, the hills forever roll
The lily pads on the river, and the blasting train horn
Sugar canes and sweet potatoes raw
In Kafue… Kafue you stroll

– Chiseche

When A Child

When a child is born
In the galaxy, a star dies
Blazing in an inferno of vibrant colour
Reflected when she first opens her eyes

When a child first laughs
When she giggles, when she smiles
A new ray of sun bursts alive
Stretching across the horizon for miles

When a child first walks
New paths come unravelled
Winding and twisting to forever
Guiding her to a world less travelled

When a child first talks
Her words clumsy and unclear
Stumble and stutter across the room
We hush, for a voice of the future is here



I had always walked through life with my arms to myself
Closed off, and hugged tight
Fists set, X-ed across my chest
Always ready for a fight

I had always walked through life with my eyes wide open
Balooned pupils darting for any hidden danger
Blankly blinking at odd moments of realisation
The reflection ahead was not a stranger

I had always walked through life with my mouth sealed shut
Speaking rarely, I dared not to laugh
My teeth gritted, jaw set tight, for I knew
This was a world for only the tough

I had always walked through life with my arms to myself
Now, catching with them the good, and the bad
Left and right are my stretched palms wide
Accepting and inviting all the happy and the sad

I walk through life with my arms wide open
I choose to bathe in the sunlight, and dream with the moon
I walk with my arms wide open
And wouldn’t change it for favour, fame or for boon



Many times it is said life passes you by,
Tiptoeing to a never end,
or zooming past so quickly, your book is already done
But me? Life tic-tac-toes its way on to the next level,
my mind consciously in the moment and when I look back…
I often see a stage left untouched.
A memory left locked, inexperienced, but a memory all the same.

Like in sixth grade, primary school.
l am scrawny and short, black skin aglow with Vaseline,
hair a mess that escaped its rubber band ties hours ago,
eyes big as saucepans, soaking everything in.
I had been skipped in from the fourth grade,
“her mind is too bright” the teachers had said…
leaving fifth grade a memory nice and shiny,
left untouched to be borrowed from the stories of others,
pretending they were my own.

Like in 10th grade, secondary school.
I am still scrawny but with a little more flesh.
Hair neatly braided to a strict shoulder length,
my Jesuit school skirt helped to fit by my trustee safety pin.
All the pretty girls around me, my new friends;
Mercy with the beautiful hair, Natalie with the long legs and the honey skin,
Kay with the eyes and the teeth and the smile.
They all giggle as they share their stories of the boys they’d kissed.
I listen and laugh, and when it comes to me, I freeze for a moment looking back at my starbursts of memories and find it there;
another memory, dull and grey and again unlived.

And so, I come up with Boy.
Boy is tall and handsome and came from my old school.
Sometimes he plays football, and other days he’s on the basketball team.
Sometimes he’s called Brian, and sometimes Andrew, but never ever Tyler- those don’t exist in Lusaka.
Boy becomes my companion all through school,
always in my pocket,
ready to be pulled out in the event of skipped memory.
Tweaked and fixed as meets the occasion,
perfect enough for idealist me, and just real enough for them.

Like in university,
I am still short. Scrawny? Not anymore;
my bones wrapped in flesh and fat and insecurities.
My hair remains in its neat Jesuit school shoulder length braids,
and Boy in my pocket, flown with me hundreds of miles to Kenya only to be thrown out when I realise that I can answer that question with a laugh and a sigh.
But Boy is soon replaced with Beer and Sex and Travel and all the other memories I am too afraid to make but can weave with my mouth.
Soon, my hands are filled, shoulders burdened by unlived memories, fantastic stories and fear. Fear of the structure I have so intricately created, falling down at my feet.

Like now,
my hands are free and my shoulders much lighter.
I am still short, I don’t think about what my body looks like,
and my hair is whatever I want it to be.
When I look back, I see a line of golden stars,
memories made from a life well explored.

And what about those memories untouched, unlived?
Well, they were never there to begin with.


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