A Cocktail of Loves in Poems, Prose and Some.//…alL ‘thrObs deserVe onE…!

They say it is the month of Love: February. Today: the exact day in said month.

Among other things, I like to think of, to call myself a Lover of Love. And, so, Love has always been in generous doses, been a healthy deal here at Nu kɛ Hulu (Water and Sun).

And because there should be no such thing as too much Love, because too much true Love should never hurt anyone, I bring you, Reader Dear, a cocktail of Love pieces…

A cocktail – poetry, prose, prose-fiction, creative non-fiction:

*       *       *

*

What for?

For what Thing have oaths been broken, laws come to no use, paradises been lost, selves ceased to be, wars raged and been waged, worlds toppled over and feuds fueled or even, been started?

What same Thing will humankind – with alL their possessions and statuses – never tire of hearing,of experiencing, of giving and if granted, never tire of receiving in portions and folds, once and again and over and all again?

LoveCokctail 3

Picture mine: After a Sunday church service –  in front of my home door, somewhere in Accra.Ghana; Sunday, September 16, 2018

For what one Thing have yokes been broken, wounds been bound, hearts known healing, shores been recovered, worlds bloomed anew, and collective tongues found or even, been first formed?

What single Thing have poem upon story and many a song been made and continue to be made for and about – all of which are – and will never grow stale and silent in the ears and very often, in the very soul of humankind?

For what?

 

II  *

Consummation by Aisha Nelson

the barrier
falls flat
still and stale

the wall
grinds into clots
of grit and water
just by a drizzle
not rain

the bud
flaunts its secrets
of spikes and flesh
due to a tickle
of dew

LoveCokctail 4

Picture mine: At a night ceremony, an anniversary –  Dansoman, Accra.Ghana; Saturday, November 17, 2018

blood-frothed thrObs of passion
scent-strung beads of sweat

And behold
you are not ashamed
not impregnable

But stand naked
vulnerable
in love

 

 

III  *

…But some Love can be like that.

Some Love can cry and work Itself into a kind of death, and yet, and yet when It gets all that It has been longing and dying for, all on platter after forever a platter and with every necessary accessory, what will this Love do?

It will go cold or comatose or worse at the sudden getting and having of all these Its heart-shredding, soul-gorging desires.

LoveCokctail 5

Picture mine: At a beach to reflect, write and such –  around Labadi, Accra.Ghana; Sunday, December 2, 2018.

It will go mute and numb with the wonder of prayers that get answered with such jarring humour and dramatic flourish; with the fear of how It came to deserVe this wondrous giving; with stubborn hesitation of how-in-God’s-universe It could have been worthy of such giving, such generous return of a meager love It even barely gave.

And when this Love, some Love does get over Its mute and numb, It plays too shy or too afraid or too careful or too careful and too afraid and too shy to let the first words gather form in Its mind, put on soul in Its heart, roll down Its tongue, slip out of Its mouth…

Is some Love not like that?

 

IV  *

CloudYou! – #TheSeedling

water
has curious personality

sun
is filtered-fine goodness

corn
needs no kneading

fish
sates at mere sight

LoveCokctail 6

Picture mine: On my way to go meet up and dine with the L.O.V.E. called Mother –  the high and clear blue skies somewhere in Accra.Ghana; Sunday, September 30, 2018

and
you should have been

the fun, the
blue hue
in that cloud

the onE right
there, yes

the One…

 

V  *

…Yoofi had been praying about Ewurasi since since. Perhaps, Prayer was all he did. Either he always failed at Watching or he would not even know what it is.

And when he thought about it all, he realized Ewurasi had meant something by all those little, sometimes silly, gestures:

Yoofi always saw Ewurasi off after each church service, right to her house gate. Many times, he turned around and found her still standing, watching his back as he went. Yoofi only smiled and waved Ewurasi another goodbye. Always.

Yoofi and Ewurasi did hold hands, sometimes. But thrice their hands accidentally brushed each other’s. Something not-exactly-odd about this made Ewurasi tremble with a curious quiver in her breathing. The carnal hung thick and fat in the air between them. Ewurasi’s face fell with a shame that did not seem to belong to her. Yoofi cleared his throat, with careful, measured intent. His lips flattened and widened until they lost every semblance of a curve. His cheeks thinned over the beautiful roundness of his jaw bones. Yoofi cleared his throat again, relaxed the flesh on his face and soon, said carnality, the block of tension, sublimed.

Yoofi and Ewurasi shared many things – sometimes, very personal things. Twice, he gave Ewurasi his handkerchief. Ewurasi washed, ironed, perfumed and returned it to him. Yoofi only raised his brows at what he probably thought was a doubly lame surprise. A contrived smile and a blunt ‘Thank you’, and Yoofi walked away.

LoveCokctail 7

Picture mine: After a Sunday church service –  in front of my home door, somewhere in Accra.Ghana; Sunday, September 16, 2018

Yoofi and Ewurasi talked a lot together. Once she told a joke about how some Christian brother tried proposing to a sister:

‘Sister, I really really want to be there with you’, said the brother, a little too boldly.

‘Where is there?’

‘There. I mean there…’ he simply reiterated.

The sister, she feared that the brother would think her un-spiritual to have forgotten all about it. Nervous, she quickened her pace, but not without redeeming her reputation – saving the face of her spirituality.

‘Oh, sorry! You mean the upcoming revival. Sure, it will be powerful. It will be mega. I will see you there, right? So yes, I will see you. There.’

In the end, Ewurasi was hurt, more than for just sharing this joke. She had her reasons. And Yoofi did not find the joke funny. He could not find its crust. He too had his reasons. Ewurasi felt the joke was out of place. She felt like the sister in the joke. And she could not tell if Yoofi thought her – too – un-spiritual after all or very silly or slyly suggestive. Or all of these. Or more and worse.

As for Yoofi, the joke scratched a delicate part of him about his inaction – or was it silence? For he called Ewurasi many sweet names and walked and talked with her many times over. Yoofi told Ewurasi his dreams – his wishes and revelations and everything in between – but Yoofi never said to Ewurasi the three magic words, together, and in the correct order:

Ilove and you.

*

L.O.V.E!,
As always,
Aisha.

Thursday, 14th February, 2019; Dansoman, Accra Ghana.

 

LoveCokctail 8

Picture mine: At a beach to reflect, write and such –  around Labadi, Accra.Ghana; Sunday, December 2, 2018.

CloudYOU! – The Introduction (Part 1)

I have always been careful about professing my love for Love Poems, both as a reader and writer of poems. And more. I have written to explain one time and at another and again and again about this.

I would later suggest a few Verse-ions of Love – not Love Poems – and quite recently, I wrote to appreciate Love in Four Persons I have come to, and continue to cherish.

While doing the thinking and the writing about my reluctance to Love Poems, I learnt more than a few things about myself: the how-s and why-s of the what-s, the things, I think about. The Psychology – a subject I love very much – of it all.

But I digress.

Late last year, I suffered and enjoyed a bout and a thrill of writing poems, poems which once again, I will be careful to call Love Poems.

This is how the thrill-bout happened:

  1. I randomly open my Facebook account and meet the eternal question, ‘What is on your mind?’ where my next status update should be.
  2. I think of what to write. I mean, I think of what Facebook is asking me. For the very first bout, the first poem of what will later be the first in a series, I was thinking of Someone, someone specific. This was on 23rd November 2017,  some time after nine in the night. (The last in the series happened on 30th December 2017.) The poems that poured after this first one had a mind and method of their own. That is, I needed not have the said Someone in mind before I wrote them.
  3. I write, free and as fast as my phone’s keypad and its text prediction, as fast and easily as my fingers and my typing pace can allow. I write, the words coming in drops and shots, dribbles, puddles, and sometimes pouring too fast for my mind to assign moulds to, and for my fingers to put down before the words gel and cake on on the phone screen. The words came to me, far too willing and freely.

    CloudYOU! Dusk.

    Photo mine. Dusk. A small town not far from Lapaz, in Accra, Ghana. Circa 2014.

  4. I pause, sometimes, to do very little editing — like correcting spelling errors and replacing words and such with others. At other times, there was no editing. Only more of versification,  that is, packing words and punctuation into lines — arranging fragments and whole units of thoughts into lines and stanzas or verses.
  5. If there is no slip in my use of the technology, I touch the POST button  when the stream of words cut, albeit with a discernible sense of closure. And it is ready to go, more raw than parboiled. The poem, just as it is. If slip happened — and it often did, for some poems — I would re-write (not re-type) the whole poem from a near zero-remembrance… Because I often tell myself that I have no talent for memorizing things, things including poems, even my poems, especially my own poems?
  6. Poem then loads. Then Poem goes up and public.
  7. Poem is posted!

The immediacy and urgency with which the poems happened to me, the solid and presence of the soul with which they came to me, the feel of freedom and light which followed my clicking the POST button on Facebook…

These. And more. I love. A vast lot. These.

It could be that things happened the way they did because I was in Love. Like actually, literally, in Love. Or because I thought I was in Love. Or I was only in Love with being in Love. Or because Love was falling in Itself with me. Maybe (not).

But if this experience is one of many things Love can do, one of many ways Love can come to anyone, and a writer in particular, then yes, I love Love (too). And I want Love coming my way more often. This way. Or any other way — Verse-ions, Persons, Other(s) — that Love chooses.

And I still can’t really explain why and how I settled on CloudYOU! as the title for the whole series. I say ‘I can’t really explain’ because cloud is not the only motif in many of the poems. Because there were others like corn and okro and fish and even water and sun. Because I gave each poem, in the time order in which it happened and poured, a #HashTag — more of a Name-Tag — of a stage in a plant’s growth. Such that, the series began with #Sprout, went through #Blossom, and ended with #Harvest.

I do expect, some day, that I be(come) more relaxed and reckless, less careful and calculating in professing my love for the kind of poems categorized as, or bluntly called Love Poems. And this time, not only as a Reader and a Writer and perhaps, Teacher too, but also as a Lover, and as every-One one of the Wonders about and inside the Magic called Aisha Nelson. Me.

So on this note, an excerpt from one of the poems in the series called:

CloudYOU!

I

sought and saw you in all, around me.
thought about you.
wove fine futures of us, around you.
dreamed about you.
crowned you

king…

 

Love,

AishaWrites. 

– Thursday, 1st March 2018; Dansoman, Accra.

Fifteen Pieces of Literature: Fifteen Shades of What They Call LO.V.E. (4)

And now abideth faith, hope, charity [charity is often translated as love],
these three;
but the greatest of these is charity.

1 Corinthians chapter 13, verse 13 (KJV)

love related words

L.O.V.E. is what they call It Love. And It comes in different forms.

from simple liking and raw affection
through
fondness and fanaticism
to
sheer blindness, madness -even

from everything that makes
admiration and adoration, idol-atry
and idealization, reverence and deference
alike and yet, different

Psychologists are yet to agree on one, ultimate definition for Love. Liking and Altruism seem to easily lend themselves to definition and probity, more than Love does. Yet, Love sits in the middle of these two, acting shy, playing hard-to-get, smiling knowingly, and yet exuding defiance.

love smiley

from
willingly serving another
through
dire sacrifice
to
slavery itself

At what point does plain self-love become selfishness, a non-Love. How does an innocent love for something degenerate into an addiction, a dis-order a dys-function, a dis-ease? Where in the world do humans not understand a crush – crush as in the beginning and or potential for Love, and crush as in a break, a heartbreak? And what too with the thin line they say there is between Love and anti-Love, hate? What informs a teenager’s idea of love and that of photographers and writers for their craft, their calling? Why would the mad dog go digging its teeth into everyone but the playing, giggling toddler’s flesh?

ilove note on scrap

the
presence or lack of it,
goings and comings of it,
sweet pains and pinching joys of it

for
doing, neighbours, rats, seasons, reading,
dreams, post-stamps, roses, work, spaces,

 

in
the not-exactly simple pat on a shoulder
to
an ardent, urgent kiss

a wink
a smile
a shrug a silence which is laden with so much more than words and deeds can convey, and fully and effectively so

Agape. Phileo. Storge. Eros. Kinds of Love, they say. According to the Greeks. There are more different ways to classify different kinds of Love. The question remains if it is that simple, that simple to draw sharp and discreet lines between these different different kinds of Love.

love bougainv

from
random show of uncomplicated thoughtfulness
to
laying down one’s life for another,

At exactly what time do friends become lovers? How is it possible to listen to, or be loyal to another, and not necessarily love too? Where, in the grand scheme of things, may a mother’s love fail, and another Love, a higher Love, begin? What changes do the love between say, a father and a daughter, undergo, while they both grow in more ways than one? Why do Christians believe that the one essential, ultimate nature and personality of God can be summed up in one Word: Love? Agape Love, they say.

love in maple leaves

from
the weirdest, the plain silly
to
the wondrous, the sheer vanity

from
a mother or a great-grandson or a stranger,
to a doll or an-other stranger or a shell

from
being ordinary to an-other
through
becoming the very centre of that other’s life, being – and if not universe, then world
Oh World! And what they say about what makes it go round!

love drop

Enough said about Poetry and Love and People and all.

Here, the final set of the fifteen Love Pieces. The last is one of of my few poems which insisted on – I explained – turning out as a (kind of) Love Poem.

Sit. Spread. Savour. It. They call It L.O.V.E.

love candy on plank

11. How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrette Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

 

love in melon

12. her II by Kwabena Agyare Yeboah
love is what is lost when translating a poem
and the days of relapse

darling,
i have pinned you on my memory

it’s dark out here
your hand is cold
and your hair is strangely reciting nursery rhymes

love is a letter i write everyday
and post on facebook, hoping your pictures match my letters

i can learn to love you
like how a mockingbird sings other songs

pardon my manners. there is something on your brow; i love you

love is prose, and i will put my name to it one day
i will be a bestseller because you will be my novel
of the gentleman

 

love note pegged

13. Extract from Edufa, a play which is an African/Ghanaian adaptation of Euripides’ Alcestis by Efua Theodora Sutherland
[………………..]

SAM: [To an imaginary crowd towards the gate] Thank you. Thank you. [Gloatingly] They didn’t get me. [Speaking to no one in particular] An idiot’s life isn’t so bad. There are always people to stop children from throwing stones at us. They only do that for idiots, I find. [To the cage] Let us tell my master that.

[Paying tender attention to what is inside the cage, he walks up a step, crosses to left and puts the cage and the box down.]

SEGUWA: [Entering from the kitchen] You’re back.

SAM: Are you pleased to see me? [Lifting up the cage] Look, he is my bird.

SEGUWA: [Horrified] Don’t bring it near me. It’s an owl.

SAM: [Blithely] Of course. An owl is a bird.

SEGUWA: What’s it doing here?

SAM: It came with me. It was an owl before, but now it’s with me, it’s no longer itself. It’s the owl of an idiot. What we get, we possess. I caught it in a tree.

SEGUWA: Take it outside. [………………..]

[………………..]

EDUFA: [Coaxingly] Sam, are you back?

SEGUWA: I don’t know what he is doing with that thing. Let him take it away.

EDUFA: What is it, Sam?

SEGUWA: An owl.

EDUFA: [Terrified] Take it out. [SAM sulks.] We would do well not to disturb him before we’ve heard what he has to say. He can get very stubborn. [Sweetly] Sam, come here. [SAM doesn’t budge.] You may keep your bird. [SAM turns to him grinning broadly.]

SAM: [Pointing to the owl] My owl and I had a nice thought for you on the way. When you are born again, master, why don’t you come back as an idiot? There are always people to stop children throwing stones at us. They only do that for idiots, I find.

EDUFA: [Smiling in spite of himself] All right. Now tell me quickly what I want to hear. [Anxiously] Did you find the place?

SAM: It’s an awful place. What do you send me to places like that for? Not the village itself. That is beautiful, floating in the blue air on the mountain top, with a climb-way in the mountain’s belly going zig-zag-zig, like a game. [He thoroughly enjoys his description.]

SEGUWA: [Impatiently] He’s so tiresome with his rambling.

EDUFA: [Trying to be patient] Good, you found the village. And the man?

SAM: He is a nice man, tall as a god. And he fed me well. You don’t give me chicken to eat, but he did. [Thinks a bit] What does such a nice man live in an awful house like that for? That’s the awful part.

EDUFA: [Very anxiously] Never mind. What did he say?

SAM: Ah! [Secretively] Let me fetch my box of goods.

[He fetches the tin box and sets it down before EDUFA]

[………………..]

SAM: I won’t go that awful house again.

EDUFA: No. Get something to eat. And rest. You are tired.

[SAM picks up the box and walks eagerly to the bird cage.]

But …Sam. You must let that bird go.

SAM: [Aggrieved] My owl? Oh, master, he is my friend. He’s a bird of an idiot. He likes us. He and I had a nice thought for you on our way…

EDUFA: [Threatingly] Take it out of here. Out.

SAM: Oh… [He picks up bird cage and goes out of the gate muttering sulkily] We’ll stay outside…If they won’t have us in we won’t eat…We will starve ourselves…we…

[………………..]

love isaland

 

14. Hello Day – Worldwide (November 21, 1999) by Kobina Eyi Acquah
In their town
Where good morning
Is offensive
And the very audacity
To offer it unsolicited
Provocative,
Maybe they need
A hello day,
A gesture, a token
Of what could have been.

Here in our village
A man must show cause
Why he passed his neighbour
And did not greet
And ask how he is
And how is home.
In our village too
We need to be reconciled
From strain and friction
But we require more than a day:
The grief-joy mixture
Of knowing and being know
Takes a lifetime to drink.

So if a day must be declared
Then let it be
The beginning of a
Lifetime commitment
To the unbarring
Of windows and gates,
The demolition of fences and walls,
The abolition
Of border ports
And entry permits
Or maybe
All they really want
Is a hello day, no more;
So they can say hello,
Contrapted
Like a toothpaste smile,
Limp
Like their cold fingers-shake.
Maybe all they want
Is the momentary flash, the quick open-lock
Of the shutters
Of the soul.

That way no light comes in
That will wake
Their conscience
Disturb their greed.

And we
We follow in their train

love wod to plasyic toy

 

15.*Consummation by Aisha Nelson
the barrier
falls flat
still and stale

the wall
grinds into clots
of grit and water
just by a drizzle
not rain

the bud
flaunts its secrets
of spikes and flesh
due to a tickle
of dew

blood-frothed throbs of passion
scent-strung beads of sweat

And behold
you are not ashamed
not impregnable

But stand naked
vulnerable
in love

*This poem was first published at Munyori Journal.

love wall, use

Love,

AishaWrites

Fifteen Pieces of Literature: Fifteen Shades of What They Call LO.V.E. (2)

Because of the savour of thy good ointments

thy name is as ointment poured forth,

therefore do the virgins love thee.

Songs of Solomon chapter 1, verse 3 (KJV)

For this reason, the very very few times I have written anything which could easily pass for the ‘love poem’ label, I have gone on to live questioning my own and sincerity – both as a wannabe-writer and more. Long after writing such poems, I like to console myself that I never set out to write a ‘love poem’ from the very onset. With a mind and will of its own, such poems simply insisted on turning out the way they did. As ‘love poems’.

poetryy[1]Photo Credit

These are poems borne of some state and or feeling that transcends mere mind and matter; someThing real, strong and raw. I speak of a reality of a self, an-other and or the world – a reality which is tangible, even if it is yet to get a name, and no matter how momentary or monumental it turns out to be. This someThing can be anything far from love. It may be Love itself. Just as it can be something that is not exactly Love; something that may be barely short of Love. Or this someThing might have started off as Love. This someThing might have as well simply morphed or long moved on…well, from (being or even vaguely having the semblance of) Love.

These are poems which will later on, receive very little or no re-vision or re-write. This is what must happen. Otherwise, I dis-miss – but not, discard – these my ‘love poems’ altogether. Almost always, I dismiss these poems, not without giving myself the ‘What were you thinking?’ laugh and shake of head. Yes, I laugh at my own self for my feeble attempts at – that is if I even ever set out to writeLove poems.

A and B

One day when I grow older in this Thing they call Love, and when I grow as a person and as a writer too, I may change my mind about all these dogmas I have about Love and what is usually called a ‘Love Poem’.

Until that day, I believe in something. That there is something sacred, shifty and so infinite about Love, something which makes pinning Love down on paper, and with words – in poetry, to be specific – an apology of what Love really, truly, fully, is, can be and can mean. One can always try with the pinning down with words thing, but that does not make the whole process any less than an apology, unpretentious and unqualified.

(In the immediate previous blog, the first in this series, I already implied that there ARE, and there will be poems that capture all or almost all that Love can possibly mean and consist of. These are exceptions. And together with their writers, I respect and celebrate these poems.)

Keke 1

Keklevi Ansah

Having said this, whenever I am reading anything that seeks or attempts to deify, demystify or so much as even suggest a description of Love, I find myself too much on the guard to look out for how forced or vain, inadequate or exaggerated, blasphemous or even hypocritical the whole attempt of writing about Love is. Again, in poetry, to be specific.

Of course, there are ‘love poems’ which even on my first time encountering them, I knew right before I ended the first line that this poem is like no other ‘love poem’. Truth is, I did not even know the names of the writers of some of these poems, or that they (the poems, that is) have anything to do with love. And this is not to even mention how I can be very bad I am at remembering names of writers and the titles of their work(s). This chronic forgetfulness happens more times than I can even forgive myself for, irrespective of how I much I was filled and or affected by the said poem – or any piece for that matter – and whether or not the piece was about or had anything to do with love. This will not be my first time saying this, and also citing the two Elizabeth B-s as examples.

I may never be quick to call these other writers and or their works (my) favourites, but I do know that I will always go back to read and re-read many of them over and over and far too many a time. I will read them and enjoy reading them more than I will my own self. This, I know.

For now, and in keeping with the title of this blog series, I have gathered fifteen Love Poems/ Pieces of different peoples and genres, from places and times. In this blog, I present the first set, five pieces. Especially in this first set, more of the writers are from Ghana. Based more on format/ structure than on essence, the third piece of each set is a non-poetry piece. Apart from these, and alternating the pieces based on the gender of their writers, the pieces presented in the whole of this series are in no particular order.

sushiPhoto Credit

For some of the writers – Kofi Anyidoho and William Shakespeare are examples – I deliberately chose their less known ‘Love’ Pieces. This was to present a broader picture and richer texture of their literary works in the context of, and together with those of other writers. And apart from the writer of the very first piece, Keklevi Ansah, I have provided one source, an internet link, for readers to find more about each writer. (Keklevi tells me she is not on any online social network. I know this has everything to do with a personal decision – hers – than it is a matter of access or any other means. I respect Keklevi – her decision and all.) Instead of such a source, I have provided pictures of Keklevi, and she is the only writer I have done this for.

Keklevi Ansah is one of my students in eighth grade and about going to ninth grade. She is also one of the handful of students who beyond my being their Teacher and friend, I am super proud to mentor in anything Creative Writing. In a recent Talent Competition organized by the senior-most class in the college where, currently, I teach English Language and Literature, Keklevi performed a longer version of her poem, When Father Comes Home from the War.

Keke 1

Keklevi Ansah

I am yet to recover from the magic, the…the…well, the Love that is called Keklevi – both on page and on stage. Truth is, I do not even want to.
Recover.
Remember It comes in different forms. And that they call It L.O.V.E.
Enjoy!

 

1. When Father Comes Home from the War  by Keklevi Ansah

I never wanted father to go for that war
He could be hurt
He could be shot
Or he could even die
But when he comes back
I know he will
He will for me

When father comes home from the war
He will bring me daisies
and candies
and all those stories
Yes, he will tell me
When he comes back
I know he will
Just for me

When father comes home from the war
I will tell him never to go again
Or else I will never see him off to the train
All this grief and pain
Like an un-washable stain
He will have to stay

When father comes home from the war
This is what I will tell him
What I want from him
What I need from him
When,
When,
When father comes home from the war

 2. Love After Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

  1. Extract from Changes a novel, a love story, by Ama Ata Aidoo

‘Not many women are this lucky…’ Esi could hear her grandmother’s voice. ‘And who told you that feeling grateful to a man is not enough reason to marry him? My lady, the world would die of surprise if every woman openly confessed the true reasons why she married a certain man. These days, young people don’t seem to know why they marry or should marry.’

‘What are some of the reasons, Nana?’

Ah, so you want to know? Esi, we know we all marry to have children…’

‘But Nana, that is such an old and worn-out idea! Children can be born to people who are not married.’

‘Sure. Sure, but to help them grow up well, children need homes with walls, a roof, fire, pots.’

‘Oh Nana. But one person can provide all these things these days for a growing child!’

‘Maybe…yes…Yes, my lady. We also marry to increase the number of people with whom we can share our joys and the pains of life.’

‘Nana, how about love?’

‘Love? … Love? … Love is not safe, my lady Silk, love is dangerous. It is deceitfully sweet like the wine from a fresh palm tree at dawn. Love is fine for singing about and love songs are good to listen to, sometimes to even dance to. But when we need to count pennies for food for our stomachs and clothes for our backs, love is nothing. Ah my lady, the last man any woman should think of marrying is the man she loves.’

  1. Territoriality by Mawuli Adzei

Let not the crab in his psychedelic gait
Stray into my virgin field at night
Nor the tortoise for want of pace
Tarry a minute longer on my hallowed portion
Nor the cockroach encroach
Upon my holy-of-holies

The animal in us is obsessive-possessive
We mark our jurisdictions in style
Some with urine
Some with shit
Some with body scent
Some with barbed wire
And the redlines glow
With the white heat
Of the cremator’s pyre

In the law of dominions
There are no ghosts
No vacuums
No oblivions
Everything is etched in concrete
Pictures hang permanently
On walls of the mind
Smiles illuminate the darkness
Tears empty into the sea
But leave their paths of flow behind
And the heart in all seasons desires
And claims all for a heirloom

The animal in us is obsessive-possessive
We mark our jurisdictions in style
Within the bounds of this microcosm
I call my own
Carved from a million geographies
I bind you in the Gordian knot
Of the spider’s flimsy-tenuous spokes

And I’ll be PREDATOR
WARRIOR-BEE and EPIC-HERO
Defending to the hilt my TERRITORY
Spilling BLOOD
Poised to DIE
Just to hold on to YOU

5. Wine by Nana Nyarko Boateng 

Days
when your heart wakes
without you
and goes to find trouble
hurts itself
and comes back
hides in your stomach
and coils around itself like a snake
pushes against your chest just like a storm
and beats, no end
till you cry
and beat, no end
when you stop
to breath hard
like nothing is enough
to let you be
one heart
without another
attached involved loved
pumping not for its own sake but
for her
for him
for them

Days
when your heart stops
and beats you hear
is only from your memory
how it used to
be, eat, fear
love, love, love
whole
gone.

Keke 3

Keklevi Ansah

Fifteen Pieces of Literature: Fifteen Shades of What They Call LO.V.E. (1)

(that ye)May be able to comprehend…what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height…and to know the love, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with…fullness…
Ephesians 3:18-19 (KJV)

sunset -pic

For what Thing has oaths been broken, laws come to no use, paradises been lost, selves ceased to be, wars raged and been waged, worlds toppled over and family feuds fueled or even, been started?What one Thing has humankind, with all their possessions and statuses, will never tire of hearing, experiencing, giving and if granted, receiving in portions and folds, over and again?

What for?

For what same Thing has yokes been broken, wounds been bound, hearts known healing, shores been recovered, worlds bloomed anew, and collective tongues found or even, been formed?What Thing at all has poem and story upon song been made and continue to be made, all of which are, and will never grow stale and silent on the ears and possibly, very soul of humankind?

For what?

For one thing, I like to tell myself that I am not into love poems, both in writing and in enjoying reading them. I can explain:

                                               *        *       *

Largely because they make much more room for more details, I can tolerate short stories, novels, movies etc.about or on love. In fact, there is something about Helen Dunmore’s novel, The Seige; Kwaw Ansah’smovie, Love Brewed in the African Pot; Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun; David Nicholls’s movie adaptation of his own novel, One Day; and The biblical Solomon’s Songs of Songs, that will always stay with me. I can mention more. Something human and more about how Love was treated and explored in these works, at least.

attemtp

I do realize that because poetry is usually – supposed/ expected to be dense and compact, and at the same time, manage to say so much in as little words as possible, poetry cannot afford the luxury of explication as one would expect or like, and especially so for a subject like Love. So I should blame poetry’s economy of words, I know.

Also, I know I ought to know that not every poem need be so hard a code – or nut, even – to crack, just for its own sake. It sure has been said once and almost too many a time that any piece of writing, including poetry, must first communicate, before any functionality and or aesthetic, no matter how mundane or not so so.

I should consider the many poems out there which have done huge justice to this same Love subject, unlike the many more prose forms which fall short of exhausting the subject, not even with their relatively bigger room for words.This too I know.

And oh, I do realize that not every poem need to be this serious, this exalted. In fact, there are poems that are intentionally not supposed to make any sense at all – like some concrete poems; poems that are willfully silly – like limericks and parodies; poems that are allowed to be without reason pun not intended.

However, it iopen mics probably for these same reasons that poetry should rather want to avoid, if not leave, the Love terrain altogether. And this is not at all because poetry is incapable of getting the job done exhaustively, but because, poetry, being a self-cum-popularly-acclaimed ‘nobler’ one of the three genres of literature – play(script) and prose being the other two – it is just unlike it, if not unbecoming of it, to bore down on subject matter and happenstance at the expense of depth and density in meaning, and unity and solidity of theme.

Talking of depth and solidity and all…

red rose on wood floow - black and white

red rose flower on back-and-white wood

One of my all-time favourite people from literature – you may call them characters – is Senchi, in Efua Theodora Sutherland’s Edufa , an African/ Ghanaian adaptation of EuripidesAlcestis. In a doubly serious conversation with his friend, Edufa, about having ‘…solidity…(being) Something…Somebody…(having) grip…’ in life, Senchi says,

But perhaps, that, like many statements we are capable of expressing, is merely grasping the extremes of light and dark, and missing the subtle tones for which we haven’t yet found the words.’

For one who says he makes ‘Songs for everything; songs for goodness, songs for badness; for strength, for weakness, for dimples and wrinkles; and for making you cry. But… never make(s) songs about ugliness because (he) simply thinks(s) it should not exist.’, he must surely have songs about this Thing they call Love.

ilovepoetryBeing ‘…the wanderer…’, being one who ‘Comes in the nick of time when everything he loves is together in one place. Friends, women, bottles…’, and being one who is ‘…trying to pay (his) way in (life with) the currency of songs.’, we can say that  ‘expressing’ Love is one of the ‘many statements’ Senchi talks of.

Also, being the wanderer that he calls himself, he must have seen enough of this world and of this life to know enough about this thing they call Love. He must know enough to talk and sing about Love, while keeping in mind that this same Love, ‘…like many (things/ feelings/ emotions) we are capable of expressing, is merely grasping the extremes of light and dark, and missing the subtle tones for which we haven’t yet found the words.

This ‘merely grasping (at) the extremes’ is the burden of words and of the worlds and possibilities they come with. This ‘merely grasping (at) extremes‘ is the burden of all genres of literature, and for poetry in particular. And especially so for subjects such as Love. I believe.

They call Poetry’s (quality) ‘economy of words’. They simply call this other one ‘Love’. Where it is very possible and plain needful, let the two live and let live.

Love,

AishaWrites

– Monday, 18th May 2015; about  8:30pm