Everyday People (VOL. I): 1. Buffer

My heart in turmoil, a beating mass of scars.
Each beat, I feel the loss of you anew.
My eyes are full. This painful sight of you,
Smothered by love and another’s embrace,
Burns through my tears to set my brain on fire.
The things I have left unsaid are bitter
On my tongue but your name remains as love
Crystals melting in the warmth of my soul.
Akorede, yours is the oasis
Whose water is unobtainable still
I linger in your shade dying of thirst.
You are the mirage that hides the whole world.
You are a world hidden in a mirage.
Akorede, do you love me still?
Have we become purely ornamental
On our separate routes to true love?
You have let me go, why do I hold on?
What am I holding on to? Memory?
Idealised you have become perfection
And nobody can win against ideals.
This is my final goodbye, dear lover.

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The Edge of Desire

The edge of desire is
A glance shared
And unspoken promises.
The edge of desire is
A breath held
In anticipation.
The edge of desire is
A fleeting touch but
A lingering scent.
The edge of desire is
Clothing revealed
Surreptitiously.
The edge of desire is
The devil alone
With two people.
The edge of desire is
The darkening of skin
That preludes areolas.
The edge of desire is
A hardening
espousing arousal.
The edge of desire is
A breath shared
Before lips meet.

Everyday People (VOL. I): My Oríkì

This is the first post in a series I call “Everyday People,” a preface of sorts. Observing humanity as we go about doing what we, as individuals, do that collectively become acts of humanity (the drops becoming the ocean) I witness discreet islands of poetry in the discrete components of humanity. People become animate figures of speech: a child dances with abandon despite surrounding squalor; a person falls in love with someone who breaks another’s heart; women/men become gods and forces of nature. Despite the evident poetry in all people, some lead to the burgeoning of self-introspection which, if you find the time to properly order and catalogue your thoughts, become essays and they hold as much beauty. It is only fitting this preface be my formal introduction.

Who am I then? I am the eloquence of thought refined to fluid purity/poetry. I am the twilight that presages dark, and light. I am the water you paddle and the wind in your sail. I am the horizon, the journey, and the destination. I am the muddy shallows and the fathomless deep. I am a tempest in a bottle capped with a broken sea, leaking errantly. I am decadent, nonchalant, care free, with an aversion for responsibility. I am a believer in God and fate yet a person of science and technology. I am the good, the bad and the ugly. I am an escapist with a perversion for beautiful things and fantasy. I am many things, and more. I am, simply put, mundane. My friends called me Beast, and some still do, but would I have been any different if they called me Daffodil instead?

Are we bodies with souls or are we souls with bodies? I cannot say exactly, I’ll leave that to mystics, religious demagogues and scholars. We undeniably have a body and cannot deny the presence of a force behind life. Another undeniable fact is the solidity of the human brain (mind?), be you a nihilist or a religious fanatic. In a poem by Emily Dickinson, she writes that “The Brain is wider than the sky … The Brain is deeper than the sea … The Brain is just the weight of God.” The full extent of the cognitive functions of the brain cannot truly be defined. There are IQ tests that try to judge human intelligence, although they are largely successful, there is more to the brain than just intelligence. Ethos, morality, compassion, communication, et cetera. Besides, I think there are different forms of genius. Lionel Messi is a genius with the ball, so is Mozart a genius of symphony and Tesla a marvel with numbers. Take each from their respective fields and put in the other’s, I’d like to think they would fail horribly. As much as there is a genetic pathway to the development of our neurons, they are still shaped, to an extent, by experience.

Back to names and naming, both of which are just an elaborate part of communication and never has it been as eloquent as modern-day allows, I reckon. Humans are social beings and as such desire companionship, there therefore will be a concurrent desire to communicate. Good communication leads to the sharing of technology, emotions and history. And just as communication evolved with time, so have our names, possibly from long sentences like “The Man who lives on the Hill and has forty-three sheep” (maybe even longer) to names like “Crouching Tiger” and, now, we have arrived at names like “Bell”. Names. Do they become the person or do we become the name? The pertinent question is are our names simple representation of who we are or is there a deeper symbolic meaning to names and naming? Are men born great, do they become great or have greatness thrust upon them?

In the face of an egalitarian society and globalism, much of the Nigerian culture is slowly, but surely, being eroded by the frontier of westernisation. Only time will tell as to the consequential effects of present day situations and how they will eventually shape our society. However uncertain the future may be, the past is almost set in stone. “Almost” because there are different perspectives from which reality is experienced. Bicycles were once seen as “Iron Horses.” Some names, in the Yoruba culture, gives indications as to the circumstances surrounding a birth (I cannot say much about other Nigerian cultures), but your name does not really define you. What defines you will be a complex interplay of genetics (genes and their expression, your ancestry) and the environment where such genes will be expressed and influenced. How others define you will be dependent solely on their perception of you. So how was it my friends came to call me Beast? What does that say about me?

Your name, however, can define the environment you are in, albeit, slightly. It creates first impressions, creates an ambience, agreeableness, et cetera. “Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day,” says Bertrand Russell. One of those convictions has to be your name, the power of it. It reminds you of who you are, your identity, and, in some cases, family lineage/ancestry. The Yoruba’s have epitomised this with the Oríkì. In literal terms, it means to praise the head. An Oríkì is an encomium, a eulogy. It is a form of poetry that appraises a person and is tied to the person’s name, clan and community. It was/is as unique as tribal marks, and just as vital. A sign of proper Yoruba heritage, your Oríkì is purported to have spiritual significance, to be able to soothe and calm, to rouse and excite. Men and women wooed and seduced each other by singing their partner’s Oríkì. Not truly a Yoruba child, but the idea of an Oríkì excites me too. What then is my Oríkì?

In a relatively superhuman show of will and discipline (relative because this probably would have been easy for someone else), I would not divert and digress to begin talking about local cultural decay in the cosmopolitan waves of globalisation (western civilisation if you’re more of a conspiracy theorist) and egalitarianism. The Nigerian cultural decay is evident, whether it be good or bad remains to be seen. So on this note, I conclude with a quote from the Bible and the Qur’an. Religions with the same roots yet a majority of the adherents from both faiths hold a mutual disregard for the other.

“And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field,

and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam

to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam

called every living creature, that was the name thereof.”

“And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air,

and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not

found an help meet for him.”

– Gen 2:19-20

“And He taught Adam the names – all of them. Then He showed

them to the angels and said, “Inform Me of the names of these,

if you are truthful.”

They said, “Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except

what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You

who is the Knowing, the Wise.”

He said, “O Adam, inform them of their names.”

And when he had informed them of their names, He said,

“Did I not tell you that I know the unseen [aspects] of the heavens

and the earth? And I know what you reveal and what you have concealed.”

– Quran 2:31-33

A name is one thing, associated with that one name is a whole host of experiences. Do not name me, but for your sake, call me Beast, B, Killa Impekkable, the first of my name, fourth of my brood, son, brother, friend, fiend. And I am an everyday person. At the end of this, I wonder how much of me remain outside the boundaries I have drawn.

A Pot of Beans

I have a friend
As cool as
Snow-capped mountain peaks
And just as tall…
However, he doesn’t think
The sweetest part of the pot
Is right at the bottom.
* * * *
“It’s beauty in the struggle, Nigga…
(Beauty, beauty…)”
J. Cole in Love Yourz
* * * *
Another friend
Who lost a finger
In fireworks
Saying suicide is a no-no,
He’s simply not ready (to die).
The two statements were unrelated.
* * * *
Life is rumoured to be a lot of things
Yet Life is what you make of it.
Life is a woman. Mother. Sister. Wife.
Life is a woman, with breasts like watermelons
Or apples or pears or pancakes or lemons…
And the sway of her buttocks enthralls…
Buttocks the size of… We never would agree on it.
Her skin brown, black, green, yellow, white…
Life is a rainbow, a bridge for unicorns.
Life is a man. Virile. Scum. Good-for-nothing.
Life is a man. The husband who beats.
The husband who heals. Father. Brother.
Life has many aspects. Many masks. Many faces.
The face you make holding your newborn.
The face you make holding a stillborn.
If you’d always known the outcome
Would you have let it come to term?
Life is a bitch. Life is a beach.
Filled with the infinite sands of time
Build castles. Watch them crumble or stand.
As the waves come crashing on the shore.
Life is a theatre. Sterile and antiseptic.
Life is a theatre. Of War. Of Dreams.
And we all are actors on this grand stage.
Some laugh. Some cry. All fall in love.
Is there someone in the audience watching us?
Judging our performances? Good. Bad.
Life is a traffic jam. Slow. Stationary.
Feels like there’s someone in your way
And there’s always someone ahead of you.
Life is a stream. Paddle your own canoe.
Life is but a dream. Unbelievably true.
Some have food but cannot eat.
Some have food but tire of eating.
Some can eat but have no food.
Life is imperfection cloaked in enigma.
I dunno what it means. Do you?
Life is the Cross of Cavalry. The sin of man.
Life is a spontaneous evolution from nonlife.
Life? There is no life. We do not exist.
What is life to you? To me, life…
Life is a Pot of Beans.

Beastiful

With my closing eyes… I see?
With my beating heart… I feel?
With my thinking mind… I be?
With my living soul… I’m free.
Free to be. To feel. To see
To be a kaleidoscope reflecting light
Off the shards of my broken dreams
Reflecting hope unfettered from
The harshness of reality. Free.
To hold in my eyes those shards
So each time you look for my soul
You would first see The Window,
Comprising a million shards,
Held together by my Antidepressants
Giving it the appearance of stained glass.
The only beauty you’ll see in it
Is the reflection of yours.
Behind it is nothing, as my soul
Is guilefully hidden beneath
And I don’t know how to describe it:
The beauty in my soul nor of it.

Mirror Mirror Memory

Each memory holds fragments of truth
Sometimes the slivers fit snugly enough
They form a mirror into our pasts
Though a mirror once broken, never is the same
Ware the images be not exaggerated in size
Every memory is unique and peculiar
Like a fingerprint of time and perspective
Of course there is a feel to each sliver
A texture, a colour, a brittleness…
Like the fragrance of a mother’s hug
Your face in her bosom is a future’s promise
She coos, she soothes her baby’s cries
The world is all right for the moment…
Like words of milk and honey
‘fore the violent tooketh it by force
Each stroke violating the puissance of purity
Blood, blood, why is there so much blood…
Like a lover’s last embrace, holding hands,
Imposing on your world sanity and peace,
Head on your chest, whispers of nothing,
Content, your lover’s eyes close as if asleep…

And in that feel lies the edge, razor sharp
Sometimes the slivers cut deep enough
Tears come to your eyes like lost friends
The pain becomes more than just memory
It cuts and you hurt, and you flee confrontation
It cuts and you hurt, but all scars fade, fade
It cuts and you lust, a terrible hunger awakens
Each cut rich and poignant with flavour…
Of the mother’s hug becoming a smothering
And the draft from her swift departure
Dries her tears off your confused face
There can be no understanding
The hasty receding steps of your fleeing home…
Of your body broken by violent needs
A monument of defiance, defiled but standing
Each scar a memento, a history unto itself
You never bent, you were broken over and over
Then you heal the healing of time, crooked but true…
Of the thought of your lover’s next embrace
Desire burns hotly, it is fire in your veins
And you are slave, and you are master
Your hands attempt to recreate your lover’s magic
Seek those arms and find oblivion, home.

As much as we are made of billions of cells
Our memories become us.
If I could peel back the layers of your skin
And reveal the soul beneath
It’ll be firmly nestled in a niche of memory.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

“Each memory is a mirror. A mirror into a time past. Each memory holds a fragment of truth. A measure of emotion.

Like the fragrance of mother’s hug. Taking you to a place where the world was once right.

Or the embrace of a lovers arms after a night of passion.

But the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. In the end, memories are all we have left. A mirror mirror on the wall.”

This fragment of beauty was written by Simisola Aremo.

Bird’s-Eye View

Birds roosting on the Cross leave guano on
The pulpits, The Star and Crescent lose their
Shine. Hatchlings emerge to The Last Supper
Hear only silence from the minarets.
Mothers out to catch bookworms
Come back with
Silver in their beaks each with the sweet smell
Of decay but rumoured to taste like the
Heaven trapped in the pages they had been.

(Flip-Flap. Flip-flap)

Light streaking through the windows reveal dust
Motes tracing patterns: steps hidden in steps
Hidden in steps, Giddy on the musk of
Decay: the effervescence of despair,
Desolation, Apostasy. On the
Walls, the calligraphy become the scrawl
Of madness. The sparks become explosions.
A self-immolation of the willing,
The unwilling and some witnesses.
As I grow, flexing my wings, I wonder…
Where is The Father? Where is the bleeding
God? Where is the faith of five pillars? Where
Are the devout? What is the world become?
You who has no love for your neighbour yet
Covets his wife? Do you think your blood is
Worth more than the scholar’s ink to proclaim
Education Haram?

(Flip Flap, Flip Flap)

I ride on air currents, I soar through clouds.
I am become Icarus with wax wings
I am become Apollo, vehicle,
Not god. The search without while ignoring
The canker within. I am become the
Phoenix rising and the phoenix dying.
In the throes of my final rest, question:
Is it monotheistic for one God
To have three parts or is it agnostic
To believe one God cannot? Can they not
All be Sons of God and Virgin Mothers?
Can they not all be Sahaabiyaat and
Sahaba? Can they not all be what they
Appear to be? God’s Image. Human Beings.