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Adventures of the Mind

Adventures of the Mind


Picture credit: gettyimages-Eric LAFFORGUE

The Series of Rodgers Bounty Books [RBB]


Copyright © January 2018 by Bonwell “Kadyankena” Rodgers.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronical
or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any imformation storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing
from the owner.
Requests for permission should be mailed to: Bonwellrodgers91@gmail.com
Phone: 0881813953, 0881831435
Adventures of the Mind

This book is dedicated to our brother, Brian. Born in what had


first seemed like a warm nest . . . 2nd of October, 2008. Through
many agonies he was brought into the world, like any man comes
to exist. Happily was named Brian, the last in the family of five.
Though very young he was able to discern his left from right hand.
He was brave; no doubt it was so because he knew and loved his
maker Jehovah. Firmly could stand, and turn back from what he
knew to be wrong. Violent movies and anything of that sort he
viewed them disgusting.
The clock ticked by, every second counted and his presence being
a reminder of how our foolish actions could hurt innocent souls.
Within the unstable atmosphere he had been a big fun, a music
fun too. Though he couldn’t read, he knew a number of songs by
their lyrics written at heart. Like the way he used to sing song 120
before he could pronounce words correct. It used to sound like,
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Adventures of the Mind

“Veya udaitsibwee, kuti utchangayayee, dzomwe muyungu angakuudze, veya


udaitsibwee!” and was even fond of most tunes of new Kingdom
Songs.

Time passed and came 2017. Knowing not what was to come, his
health had started to deteriorate, and each passing day had meant
pain, which at the end was to claim his life. Endless complaints
due to the much pain he was going through left him weak and
weary. Fateful Friday morning at 6:30 am marked the end of the
much pain he had been through . . . 23rd June, 2017. But to the
family counted even more to be a crush that will last till the hope
we now have turn to a reality. The gap he has left will portray a
reminder.—Susan Rodgers

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Adventures of the Mind

PART 1
This part comprises of poems done by Bonwell and Chiyembekezo
Rodgers and most of them are sad poems portraying their rough
background.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Seasons”

WARD 2A, BED 16, one life retires


Death knocks pompously
as a debtor on client’s door
Boom! Like a bomb
It tosses up life
then knocks it down
Behold, mountains of sorrow
punctuated by a cacophony of noise
Mourning and groaning,
Leaving the hopeless

In the other wing,


Comes a quaking sound
another soul knocks in
mesmerized by jubilations
A genesis marked by ululations.
The joys of motherhood justified
Bragging rights of fatherhood qualified

The door are left freely


Swinging some in, others out
Tears of joy permuted by tears of sorrow
As they compete for space in the tiny eyes
Time flies
Seasons change
Ecstasy displaced by delirium
Winter replaced with summer
Light giving way to darkness

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Adventures of the Mind

“Grave Seekers”

A pregnant mother sliced open,


My father roasted alive,
A close friend, two bullets, his brains out.
My sister raped by a dozen, then stubbed.
When mean monsters order us out of their country.
For milking their favorable fortunes, they say.

The bloody scenes set my legs to task


Negotiating the mileage bare footed,
Breathing like a protesting diesel engine.
To the police, a foreigner’s most dreaded enemy.
Opting for deportation than being butchered.

With precise sublimity,


a sharp knife cutting your throat kindly like beef,
provoking the peaceful blood to explode like a volcano,
crafting a bloody stream that means your end.
“Gold or life, choose one”, I was told.
I will never go back again!
From home, I will leave no more.

Down south was almost my grave.


No moaners, no sympathizers.
Dogs, vultures, mice, and cockroaches, the only comrades
for the rotting bodies along the streets.
The question arrogantly knocks on the door of my mind,
GOLD SEEKERS OR GRAVE SEEKERS?
I choose my wretched life
From home, I will leave no more

Niggers are flashed out of Europe,


Should Africa too purge us out?
Black blood divided
Like acid and base on litmus paper.
In Africa, who’s is foreigner?
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Adventures of the Mind

I will break my back over fishing, farming right here.


Queuing up for the life left languid.
Than carefully arranging my own end
By crossing the vicious borders
Where dark sinister crocodiles lay waiting for your soul.
From home, I will leave no more.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Gone and Buried”

How can I forget


The day my father never answered back to my call
His stiff body shuddered my veins
Adrenalin pumped my heart
Salty waters down my cheeks
Gone and buried

The bumpy road we travelled


Moaners wailing ceaselessly
Shovels at work
Grave diggers sweating
We lowered down the coffin
And covered with soil
Gone and burried.

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Adventures of the Mind

“The Death Cry”

The death cry roared


And wake all the guardians in the ward
the monster entered
Walking around the beds claiming its dues
Picking up the weak and tired
As if they failed to pay their debt
Leaving behind the innocent with ravaged faces
A moist washcloth on their foreheads
Arms folded, eyes out.

“But not my brother, he’s still green!”


Someone exclaimed at the corner bed
“Hurry up and call the doc immediately!”
They wrestled with the monster at the top of their voices
Doctors came by, playing their elaborate charades
The invisible enemy came and surpass them
Planting its fangs and crush the throat of their only one,
blocking his airway, and asphyxiated him
his last gasp evaporating
Seizing him at the salad age,
leaving behind people wailing!
Moving to the next bed.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Trapped”

For ages, she’s been trapped


under the cage of patriarchy.
She endured constant abuses
but sailed through triumphantly.
Break-ups and make-ups
sandwiched her miserable life.
Her slight smile envelops the evil she stomached.

She’s been chained since time immemorial.


Coiled and bitten
by the venomous serpent,
yet she survived.
What a big heart she has!
Like a kangaroo,
she carried her cubs
until they were ready to jump the barricades.
She’s been locked-up in marital jail
breaking her back to keep head above water
while the chauvinist wildly sorted out other beauties.

Muted her mouth is


yet the silence speaks louder
of the hitches suppressed,
of the everlasting scars imprinted.
When will she be freed?

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Adventures of the Mind

“Shipwreck”

A shipwreck ensued
My heart crashed, sliced and thrown into the abyss
Sailing through the fierce turbulent waters
An angry tornado waiting impatiently
Our family ship digested
The next thing, certain hands separated-of my parents
My father stubbed by a pointed rod on the ship
Then blood gashed out of his throat like a stream
Down the sea he went, forever.
Anguish stretched my nerves,
Like an inflated balloon they burst
Blood clot perched on my mind
Blocking oxygen
Paralyzed, forever.

I clung on the ship’s nest breathlessly


Aunt, cousins, uncles, and others down the sea they went
Like a stone on a catapult, forever
NOW, my mother to the cabin she went
To resurrect it, BUT she was trapped by the pompous waters
They consumed her little by little like an apple-pie dish
Forever she went
The D-Day beckoned an era of hopelessness and helplessness.
Unconsciousness sneaked in
My heart condemned to retirement
Forever..

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“Death of the Author”

Sniffing peril in the air,


am retreating back to my hole,
hoping a heel doesn’t close it before am safe.
My fellow comrades with four,
some six feet have banished me
from the insect kingdom saying am freak,
cause I have one eye when the rest possess a pair.
Whatever; as long as I have legs,
I will walk to my original hole, though alone.

The best way to defeat an enemy,


is to make friends with the enemy.
Am going to make friends with the locusts or grasshoppers
with the whole trust they won’t make me chop
when their mouths salivate at my fatty neck . . .

“Hey comrade!” says the brick headed old fellow.


“Comrade, am not gathering today,
some cowards demands my head forgetting we are all insects.
No matter they adopt names such as major general,
captain, constable, etc
they will never become those two legged creatures
who drinks us together with their hot tea
whenever we surround their cup for our means of life.

Why should we be divided as some


‘more equal’ than the rest of us.
Their cocktail parties cannot be attended by an outcast like me,
without titles in the military . . .”
“Friend, times have changed, things have fallen apart,
and we are no longer one.

If a chicken comes to attack you,


the rest will be cheering your last breath.
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Adventures of the Mind

Am old now, in the evening of my life


give me a decent burial.
Unless you tell the present generation to unite,
you will never win against those murderous chickens.
They will always torment you . . .”
That was the last voice I heard from the brick headed old comrade . . .
He died . . .

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Adventures of the Mind

“We Walked Miles”

We walked miles
Bare footed
Five full moons of hunger,
Then storms,
Then scorching heat.
By inches, live bullets missed us.
Fresh blood oozing out
Like a spring from fresh wound.

We walked miles
We crossed rivers
Where floating bodies stink
We climbed mountains to reach there
Asylum seekers
Young souls
Whose left or right they know not
Running away from bloodthirsty fools
Power hungry callous beast!

We walked miles
to salvage our wretched lives.
Home is the yawning grave
that swallows the pitiful souls
In a blink of an eye
Villages ripped apart
With a bombshell.

Our mothers raped


And then butchered.
“Weep not!
Quicken your pace!”
Unless we reach that side
We shall not see dawn.

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Adventures of the Mind

“The Raped Dream”

You squeezed my hand,


I squeezed yours
You vomited rosy promises
I licked them happily
Your eyes caught mine
Your charm conquered me
My judgment paralyzed
I felt like a princes of love.

It was no reality
But a mere nightmare
AND NOW
You dump me like garbage
You say am no longer wanted
Like an active volcano,
You erupt
Calling me disgusting
It’s a chemistry mismatch
It’s a raped dream of love.

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“Echoes of Love”

My heart has leaped over the valley of disillusionment


To the promised kingdom of Affection
Where you patiently waited for me
A right but not perfect match
I cherish the echoes of love from the golden lid of your heart.

Your melodies resuscitated my broken soul


Back to life I came
The dark sinister gates of death have sent me back
Like a banished criminal
There is one more thing to do
Rediscover myself in your bottomless heart
Where a spacious room you offered
Mesmerized by mercifulness, tenderness and forgiveness.
Like summer springs of water your love healed my soul
Released me like a pardoned convict.
Echoes of love from your lips have taught me gratitude.

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“Comrade”

Struggle after struggle we fought


with our hearts and minds adjacent
we drove out our ruthless enemy, “Poverty”
NOW the battle is over
you declare our comradeship officially over
You find fault with my nose
you say wealth doesn’t suit me
Saying I don’t have a step to pace with it
and you elope with another comrade
me gaping at you disappearing in thin air.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Oh! My Poor Face”

Sitting on the couch, looking at the mirror, watching may face.


To be honest, from the tip of my toe,
all the way up, to the hair of my head,
I see nothing pleasing for exhibition.
My legs are curved like a bow
almost making a complete circle when standing.
From there, lies my thin thighs and a slight behind,
tagged along with my stomach rotund.
Hanging on my hanger of bones are my long thin arms.

Talking of the face I am staring now breaks me.


From the top of my head, down
I have two eyes, very large like awls.
My skin is black, extremely black as death,
generous with great acnes
Are they sent by someone who envies my skin?
My big nose hangs planted on the center
giving the impression that I was born to blow it.
My lips are heavy; like all the flesh on my cheeks is gathered there.
This ugliness comes deep from my core
for my unfortunate looks are coupled with putrid behavior.

But wait: What am I thinking?


I have a heart to mend
Beauty must come deep from the heart
otherwise it may be hypocrisy.
Why focus on the hood,
when I have habits to shade, manners to curb.
I have to start with mending my heart
although I have unfortunate looks,
at least I should have a beautiful heart.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Shy Boy’s Confession”

Seeing my sun going up


I have to calculate my dusk,
by finding someone to accompany me
through this dark jungle of life.
In every life rains fall
I want someone to give me shelter.

My heart tells me am madly in love with you


But I have a problem;
am a shy boy, very shy like a hedgehog
I asked someone to bring you home.
Now here you are, I show my heel and turn into thin air.
Meeting you, all my sentences evaporate.
I am a genuine paranoid.

But today I will tell you the whole story.


Am ready to face the consequences,
I will vomit what is in my heart.
I will squeeze every sentence out of my mouth
I will tell you how much I love you,
and ask you what you think of me.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Slap that Drum!”

Slap that drum with vehemence.


Make the cloud mad.
Induce a Man of God to shake,
until the ground break.
Hit it man, strike until it cry out loud,
and make mortals move their hooves,
extricating granulated earth in the air.
Sweep the whole crowd with mellow mood.
Beat away their anxieties
and quake off their troubles
Slap that drum man of rhythm!

Life is baggy with storms.


In the name of music, stop the rain!
Lynch it with elation
let’s whirl until the tallest dwarf
Stir the body freely and make hands fly
Life is what you make.
Don’t allow it to make you,
compose happy moments
set yourself free with a swing
So man of drums, make it cry hard.
Make our hearts thud.
Slap that drum man of rhythm!

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Adventures of the Mind

“Transmuted Fowls”

These inflated fowls,


swelled up with mutants and antibiotics.
Priced like Lamborghini poultry,
the Ayam of Cemani,
ribbons of Indonesia,
birds of price esteem.

Four hundred million slaughter a year


a fine massacre for profit.
Full of venomous chemicals,
ready to make peoples table.
They please their life with a bite of slow death,
and inject chemicals of cancer through their mouths,
chewing their days, so and so.

Truly, death is expensive.


But prices of these chickens are also very steep.
Money suckers, with a value of a cow.
It’s like they were raised in a rich family,
went to a high school,
walk in university corridors
and graduated with a price tag.

Glossary
Lamborghini poultry is a very expensive breed of chickens. These chickens
are black inside out.
Ayam means ‘chickens’ in Indonesian.
Cemani is the village where they originated. It also denoted the color of
the chickens since they are ‘completely black.’

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Adventures of the Mind

“The Yukky Eagles”

They have sharp eyes


Nothing can escape their sight
Long ago they came into our land
the land of our clan, the clan of ants
Everything we have, they espy potential use
They snatch everything we own, including ourselves
Now they have come to stay and made us their prey
They force us to toil in the torrid sun
they use and eat up our brains
They left us only with our hands
So we have to work hard to live
boasting over us forgetting they stole our things
Neglecting their duty of helping us
For they snatched everything from us
Now they say a helping hand is at the end of our hands
why not giving us our brains so we can think
and work with the brains not strength
Please give us back our brains
Pay us for all the hours we have worked for you
Give us back our land and children
And then leave our land in peace.

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“The Old Caterpillar Should Lead the Way”

You have lived long enough,


you’ve seen a lot.
Sleeping long have made your hair come out gray
This makes you capable to pave the way for us
Take the lead in this immense bush
In case it will bow for many days.
But thistles and thorns including itching glass awaits.

Show us how to cross this tarmac road


Where giants of metal, the giants of no mercy, breaks bones
They make a way on our backs and turns us into two
Brow out our brains and seal our mouths
That’s why you have to lead the way
So that little ones should follow your steps
Without fear to blow up
But to grow up to maturity.

Lead the way and sacrifice yourself


Throw yourself to the chickens.
Walk through running waters,
because that’s what the ruler is obliged to do.
So stop torturing us and eating all our food,
your duty is to lead us, not to munch our rations and beat us.

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“The Plague”

It’s the plague that makes me sick . . .


From the South, It came
With labour migrants.
Like a tornado,
It swept through the village
Tossed up every soul violently
Left the old self dead
A new self-born
Prosperity brought smiles on children's faces
Prestigious foreign goods flooded
In tandem with moral insanity
And the once mighty bond in tatters
As communalism collapsed

It’s this plague that makes me sad


Can you see now?
The minors plunging into early marriages
The grey-haired chewing toddlers
Violence spreading like wild fire
The pillars of culture in rags;
The traditional songs fading
The night time stories dying
We weep for the lost glory
It was a sugar-coated bitter pill
The plague has eroded our values

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Adventures of the Mind

“Making Simple Manure”

Rolled in a reed mat


Enclosed in an air tight coffin
Put in a warm cushioned casket,
down we all go to the graveyard
and six feet we are planted.
Millions have journeyed this road
But they never come back
Does the earth get satisfied?
Does it let its grinding teeth rest?
Does it get tired of chewing our remains?
Does it have much appetite to swallow us all?
How wide is its mouth?
Shall we all die and sink into earth,
the earth does not get fat.
It recycles us into usable manure.

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“Dark Memories”

Those memories shaped her.


Death pictures of kinsmen
Replay themselves day in day out
The musical rhythm of wailing women
Echoes and re-echoes
Memories peppered with sorrow
Instead of childhood fantasies
Of a playful young world
Memories crowded with neglect and solitude

All evoked in a nightmarish stupor


And make her restless
She tries to axe them,
But they stick to her like a curse
And robs off her happiness
And she hates the world
That fake smile veils the darkness
Inside the notorious cell of her mind
She isn’t rude but hardened by the past
Till those gloomy chapters are ripped off her mind
She’s still in old chains.

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“Long Live Ignorance”

Don’t pray with it for it can let things down,


gobble our brain and make us myopic.
It can make us fail to see what’s in front of our nose.
What is the reason for albino carnage?
Surmising their bones are serendipity
Does yours not bring you lot?
Why not use them to peg away?

Ignorance is also raiding savants,


for they believe in black art,
thinking someone will penetrate their home,
through a lock hole and exit without a spoor.
Why thinking that he has been whack by a hammer,
when reality shows, its stroke
Why squander time to go to magic healers
instead of rushing to the hospital and save life

If there is that science called witchcraft,


does it benefit anybody?
Does it give you food to eat?
Can it redeem you from death?
Why claiming to have an air floater
when you are trekking barefoot?
If it is real, why are you still an indigent?

I think we need to wake up!


Wake up and see real things
Wake from this slumber of foolishness,
which is intimidating even the wits and grip their brains.
Filtering their cognition,
and turn them into vassals of ignorance.

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“Love Rekindled”

My heartbeat for you,


Like a man perishing away
Came to a full stop.
I had to let go
You pictured my haunted past
It was a vain travail
Sweating for the sweet pains of love
The Tsunamious bondage
Like a drop of water in the wilderness dried up
And we quickly parted ways

BUT NOW
I hear a faint voice of your calling
The picture of your smile melts my heart
Flipping through the pages together we had
A craving for your company
Like trapped fire in my bones tortures me
The vacuum you left is irreplaceable.

I’ll rekindle the dead fire,


Call the sun from the east,
And bring back the day
The envious darkness put to shame
The troubled past erased
To give our lives a new bright start
While keeping fingers crossed
Hoping for a clear blue sky

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“It Doesn’t Like Cash”

Death doesn’t like money,


it has a great appetite for people.
It cannot be bribed, has no mercy.
It doesn’t care whether you are married or not,
pillar of your family or layman suckling someone’s sweat.
A devil may pity, but not this wicked enemy.

Fly abroad for best doctors,


you will come back in coffin.
People will burry you without anything you boasted of,
academic achievements, riches, fame, beauty.
Death doesn’t care, even if you care.
Whether we differ how we go;
local free hospital, expensive hospital, expensive coffin, in a mat
or just thrown like a dog, we will still go and go
all our plans and ambitions shuttered.

‘Had I known I would not recover,


I would not have spent all my riches attempting to bribe death.’
You regret and witness yourself taking the last breath as so and so
Best doctors, scientist, philosophers, it catches all of them,
leaving people pointing their footprints.
Can we make a concoction to defeat it?
Be careful, some have died after sipping it.
Many discovered medicines of a certain disease,
the very same disease snatched their breath.
Death does not like cash, or anything,
it’s mouth salivate for people.

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“Grandsons of Poverty”

Generation after generation


They enter the gruesome life
Of poverty and filthiness
Hunger inscribed on their faces
Their bloated stomachs as inflated balloons
Their ageing stony faces,
A perfect mirror of chronic hunger

Those half naked children


Are grandsons of poverty
On their way to playground
Some overdressed
Their faces messed up with juices
Fat green flies whistling around
Exposing the sordidness of their lives

Those illiterate stares


Those vacant eyes
Immersed in curiosity and confusion
When they see 'good things'.
They are grandsons of poverty

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Adventures of the Mind

“Woman”

The woman toils behind the scene


For a splendid performance of the man
At the patriarchal stage
Where male chauvinism is the order of the day
The dictates of tradition seal her mouth
And banish her to the kitchen
'Where she belongs'

But then, she defies all odds


Climbs out of the dark cistern
To the highest academic pinnacle
She’s weary of the voyage
But she marches on
One foot in front of the other
She breaks the glass ceiling
Upsetting the existing pattern
Males brand her ‘wayward’
But females admire her
She freed herself.

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Adventures of the Mind

PART 2
This part comprises of poem masterpieces done by great artists.

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“Annabel Lee,”*
by Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,


In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,


In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Laughed loud at her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,


In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,


Went laughing at her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

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But our love it was stronger by far than the love


Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the laughter in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams


Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

*This poem reminds me of my love, Chikondi, whom I nicknamed


“Annabel Lee.”—Bon
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Adventures of the Mind

“Home,”
by Warsan Shire

No one leaves home unless


home is the mouth of a shark
You only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

Your neighbors running faster than you


Breath bloody in their throats
The boy you went to school with,
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
You only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

No one leaves home unless home chases you


fire under feet
Hot blood in your belly
It’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.
You have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
No one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages

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Adventures of the Mind

No one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck


feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
No one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

No one chooses refugee camps


or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

The
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up

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Adventures of the Mind

How do the words


the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

Or the words are more tender


than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
I want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

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Adventures of the Mind

No one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear


saying-
leave,
run away from me now
I don’t know what I’ve become
but I know that anywhere
is safer than here.

“Glow,”
by Gerry Shula Sikazwe

Who will you be tonight?


Will you be the moon,
Or the fresh wind that accompanies it?
Will you be the brightest star?
Or the darkness that peeps behind it?
Who will you be tonight?
Will you be that dancer everybody prays they tango with?
Or will you be that one who ignores the luring call of music to the
floor?
Will you be her, the one with a warmly burning smile?
Or him coldly quiet, afraid to loosen his laughter?
Who will you be tonight?
Do not be me,
Do not be them,
Just simply be you, and glow.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Woman,”
by Chris Mwawa
On her back
she carries
a young baby.
On her head
a big calabash
full of water.
In front of her
is a burden
of another one
coming soon.
With long strides
the man ahead
shouts at her,
“Quick woman!”

“People,”
by Afrooz Jafarinoor
People pass by through life alleys
Like wandering soloists
Who walk and spread around melodies
In the atmosphere of houses
Some draw us to the windows
Some make us search for coins
Some don't even stir us
Some pull the pillows
Over our ears
And some of them
Vibrate a string in our hearts
And remind us
Of many of our own melodies
That are waiting for our fingers

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Adventures of the Mind

“All That I Had,”


by Anza Negota

You asked for my name


And I told you my surname
You asked if you could call me
And I gave you my numbers
You asked if you could see me
And I gave you my address

You asked me to trust you


And I gave you my loyalty
You asked me to love you
And I gave you my heart
You asked me to be your wife
And I gave you my happiness

You asked me to hold you


And I gave you my body
You asked me to believe in you
And I gave you confidence
You asked me to forgive you
And I gave you peace

You asked me to run a bath for you


And baby I gave a back scrub
You asked me to make you laugh
And I sang for you
You asked me to support you
And I carried you

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Adventures of the Mind

You asked me to help you


And I gave you my time
You asked me for stability
And I gave you a home and a family
You asked for my strength
And I raised your children for you

You asked me to share my life with you


And I gave you my life

I gave you all you asked for


I gave you more than what you asked for
I gave you all I had

And then I asked you to stop hurting me


And you gave me HIV

“When Love Goes Astray,”


by Colin Ian Jeffery
When love goes astray
Breaking asunder
All you thought was safe
Agonies of separation
Bleed and grieve the heart.

Wind must blow


As time ticks on
With lover forever lost
No more kisses and making love
Only overwhelming misery of loneliness.

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Adventures of the Mind

“All In Your Perception,”


By Tamara Booi

Sunny days may be too hot


Winter days may be too cold
Life may be too short
All in your perception

Failure may not be a lesson


Tragedy may not be wisdom
Success may not be everything
All in your perception

Your God may be tangible


Your God may be on earth
Your God may be the size of your heart
All in your perception

Children smiles may not give you hope


Family may not give you stability
A million dollar may not make you happy
Paradise is in your mind.

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Adventures of the Mind

“African Child,”
by David Rubadiri

Why African child


Stand you dazed
Your eyes gazing
Far far into
The distance haze
And ask
Questions too silent
For answers
African child
Your wings will grow
Then
You must fly.

“Riding a Lion,”
by Hellen Kachala
When the leader rides a lion
Followers silently edge away
Fearing how the journey will end
When the leader rides an elephant
Followers tiptoe from a distance
Marveling how he will dismount
And when the lion and the elephant
Graft themselves into siamese twins
We wonder whose blood is flowing.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Hierarchy,”
by Pax
Where does hierarchy begin?
Is it where the strong is on top,
and the weak step upon?
Where does your dignity be placed?
Is it where your always be the winner,
no matter what, even it has bitter taste.
Is SURVIVAL really that cruel?
That some of us are just a tool,
a fool for the strong to be cool.
No, it can’t be that bad
yet reality is quite sad.
Despite our hard beginnings
Life still is beautiful
that losing isn't everything.
To where dignity is placed -
when you respect yourself the most.
That hierarchy isn't important
to where your love is . . .

“My Sweet Rose,”


by Kenneth Mtambalika
What wrong did you do them
To remove you while so tender
They came flocking as admirers
Hiding their motive in smiles
I am the loser, sweet Rose
But what have they gained

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Adventures of the Mind

“Who Am I?”
by Carl Sandburg

My head knocks against the stars.


My feet are on the hilltops.
My finger-tips are in the valleys and shores of
universal life.
Down in the sounding foam of primal things I
reach my hands and play with pebbles of
destiny.
I have been to hell and back many times.
I know all about heaven, for I have talked with God.
I dabble in the blood and guts of the terrible.
I know the passionate seizure of beauty
And the marvelous rebellion of man at all signs
reading “Keep Off.”
My name is Truth and I am the most elusive captive
in the universe.

“Coming for Good,”


by Tobias Chidzalo
Is life a mere smoke
That three years work
Simply blows away?
We endured long years
When you only came
Briefly during holidays
Did we wait for this
Your coming for good
Now cold and silent

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Adventures of the Mind

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,”


by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps on the back


Of the wind and floats downstream
Till the current ends and dips his wing
In the orange suns rays
And dares to claim the sky.

But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage


Can seldom see through his bars of rage
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill


Of things unknown but longed for still
And his tune is heard on the distant hill for
The caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze


And the trade winds soft through
The sighing trees
And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright
Lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams


His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

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Adventures of the Mind

The caged bird sings with


A fearful trill of things unknown
But longed for still and his
Tune is heard on the distant hill
For the caged bird sings of freedom.

“The Wind Has Multiple Wings,”


by Adeola Ikuomola

The wind has multiple wings


With which with ease it swings
Like the organ’s bewitching tones
It overturns the multilayered stones
The wind has woken so late
Like the drawings on the slate
Whirlwind arises with flames of ire
To embrace the grasslands with a fire
The new clock has struck one
Clicking the sharp rays well done
The timbers seep the flowing rivers
Like the heavily drunken truck drivers
To the purity of the purifying ink
From the heart of a pure poetic sink
We submit our pages to the penful rule
Even though subjected to the painful ruler

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Adventures of the Mind

“Yet Again!”
By Tamara Booi

Your innocence was stolen


Early in your childhood
Life took it away
And left you with history
You rose from it!
Death visited your home
And your mother was taken away
Unprepared was your soul
As death is never on time
You rose; Yet Again!
Pretty young lady you became
Too pretty for the eyes of men to just look
‘Destroy the temple’ was the voice
Heard by them as your virginity was broken
You rose; Yet Again!
Life was too kind
Gave you your own family
The universe did not agree
As it was crashed before your eyes
You rose; Yet Again!
The sun is shining even brighter
So bright that you are seeing no more
Wrecking your future as
you run away from your past
You shall rise; Yet Again!
Rise You will
Yet Again!

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Adventures of the Mind

“The Forbidden Fruit,”


By Tamara Booi

Kind; when the world is unkind


Sweet; when the world is sour
Remembers; when the world forgets
Bracing; when the world is deadly
The forbidden fruit, keeps life interesting!

Loquacious; when the world is silent


Lights up; when the world switches off
Gives hope; when the world is fruitless
Take notice; when the world ignores
The forbidden fruit, keeps life interesting!

Attractive is; the forbidden fruit


Striking is; the forbidden fruit
Exotic is; the forbidden fruit
Finely brewed is; the forbidden fruit
Fulfilling is; the forbidden fruit

Giving; when the world is mean


Easy; when the world is heavy
Smiles; when the world is rough
Heartening; when the world is gloomy
The forbidden fruit, keeps life interesting!

Fruit with no color


Fruit with no kind
Fruit with no feature
Fruit with no name
The forbidden fruit, keeps life interesting!

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Adventures of the Mind

“Sonnet 116,”
By William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds


Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark


That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks


Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom:

If this be error and upon me proved,


I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Love One Another,”


By Khalil Gibran (aka Kahlil Jubran)

You were born together, and together you shall be forever more.
You shall be together when the white wings of death
scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:


Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though
they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.


For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Let These be Your Desires,”


By Khalil Gibran (aka Kahlil Jubran)

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself


But if your love and must needs have desires,
Let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook


That sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart


And give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer
For the beloved in your heart
And a song of praise upon your lips.

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Adventures of the Mind

“The Bushman Speaks,”


by Lucius Furius
(Note: The occasion for this speech is the arrival of an expedition
headed by a European in a Bushman werf around the year 1900.)

This desert is our life.


From the dry earth we gather roots and melons.
Over the endless sands we hunt the gemsbok and the springbok.

Sometimes the ga roots are shriveled and bitter.


Sometimes men are sick with thirst and hunger.

When there is water we drink and sing and clap our hands.
When there is food we eat and dance and clap our hands.

The eland does not come to us and ask to be eaten --


one must know how to make the arrow and poison it
and where to look and how to hide and shoot. . . .

What man is so foolish as to expect more? To expect


the rain to be always falling, his eggs full of water and
his stomach full of meat?

You have strong animals to carry you.


You have much food and water.
Your digging sticks are hard and sharp.
Your shooting-sticks are like lightning.

You are a powerful man and a good man.


I can see that in your eyes.

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Adventures of the Mind

But what you offer is a dream.

You can give us water and meat.


You can fill our hands with tobacco and perfect beads.

But you cannot give us happiness.

A man can only drink so much and then he is full.


If a man is always eating honey, he tires of it and becomes sick.

And even if all life were sweet --


what man is not food for lions and dogs?
A man who has tasted in his life no bitterness will find death very
bitter.

My mouth longs for sweetness


but sweetness brings bitterness
and in the end they are one.

So I ask you:
Take your digging sticks and your shooting-sticks.
And do not leave them behind.
Go to the green lands you came from.
We shall walk in this desert as we always have.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Grandma’s Funeral,”
by Lucius Furius

“She’s lovely . . . so natural.”


A corpse pumped full of formaldehyde.
My grandmother? That prodigious maker of
pies, cakes, stuffing, and cranberry ice?
That lover of Burger King restaurants,
amusement parks, presidential elections, and long
summer rides?
Her flushed face is like stone.
This body is a mockery of her being.
(Her fearless motion is done.)

II

She gave us life.


Crass, fond, willful. She gave us life
like turkey and stuffing.
She is the answer to our dark questionings.

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Adventures of the Mind

“The Draft,”
by Lucius Furius

"23: July 24"


"24: October 5"
"25: February 19"
"26: December 14"

The words went right to the pit of my stomach.


All doubt was gone.
I'd graduate/be drafted in June.
By September
I'd be in Vietnam.

My high school gym teacher had been an Army sergeant.


He stepped on our stomachs as we did sit-ups,
"toughening us up".
I've had a problem with authority
(unsuited, temperamentally,
to obeying unconditionally).
I'd be a poor soldier in the best of wars.

But if a job required some independence/ingenuity --


a pilot or a spy, say --
and if the cause was right
(World War II, for instance),
I could fight as well as another guy.

I don't like fighting,


but I'm not so naive as to think it's never a necessity.
There's always someone who, given the chance,
will take our possessions and make us their slaves.
So who should decide
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Adventures of the Mind

if a particular war is justified?


This seemed to be my own responsibility.

Vietnam? I decided it wasn't.


Weren't we protecting a democracy?
No. Thieu lacked popular support.
Wouldn't Thailand and India fall?
No. The domino theory was questionable at best.
Weren't our national interests at stake?
No, not really.
I'd decided I shouldn't fight;
They'd decided to make me fight.

The physical was set for March.


Unless I failed,
I'd go to Vietnam,
go to jail for seven years,
or go to Canada for the rest of my life.

In studying Army regulations,


I found a fascinating chart.
It showed for each particular height
the greatest and the smallest weight
the Army would accept.
I'd heard of people who'd gotten out
by injuring themselves intentionally.

Some exaggerated a minor back pain.


Others faked insanity.
Losing weight seemed nobler;
lying/mutilation, not required.

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Adventures of the Mind

The low for me was 118;


lose twenty pounds and I'd be out.
(At 5'10", that's pretty thin.
Could I do it and not get sick?)
My parents thought for sure I'd die.

Help from doctors was out of the question;


on my own I studied nutrition.
Cut down on calories,
maintain needed nutrients
(protein, essential fats, vitamins, and minerals).
Once I found a working combination,
I stuck to it without exception.
Cottage cheese, wheat germ, and fish were staples.
Bored fat cells chose self-immolation.
My weight dropped to one hundred and twenty.

In cases where the weight was close


I'd heard the Army sometimes winked:
("Oh we'll fatten this guy up").
I decided to lose to one hundred and ten.

Contrary to my parents' fears --


though vigorous exercise made me dizzy --
I really wasn't sick at all.
The Army sent a special bus
to take us to the physical.
Once there, we stripped to underpants,
moved like cattle from each room to the next.

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Adventures of the Mind

I weighed 110.
They classified me 1-Y
(examine again in a year;
if still unfit, reject).
Losing again would be inconvenient,
but free of worry since I knew that it worked.

I'd brought some food.


I drank and ate it ravenously.

So what did I feel on that bus heading home?


Triumph? Elation? No.
Relief, sadness, and guilt.
Relief because finally I was free of this mess.
Sadness and guilt because someone else
would be made to go and fight in my place.
It's true this person, on some level,
had chosen not to escape --
but maybe he just hadn't thought it through. . . .

Now for a bold statement from a slimy ex-draft-dodger --


I'm sure you'll think this hypocritical -- :
Each of us must be ready to serve.
Responsibility for protecting things we love
can not lie solely with the professional military.
(Future wars could overwhelm them.)

Service isn't always guns.


Service might be joining the Peace Corps
or electing leaders who effectively distinguish
false threats from real ones -- and pre-empt war.

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Adventures of the Mind

Wars should be rare, thrust upon us.


No more propping up tottering dictators.
No more shoving "Democracy" down people's throats.
No more sacrificing 10,000 soldiers so we can pay a
quarter less for gasoline.

Wars should be necessary and just;


everyone should serve.

“You Make The World What It Is,”


by Gerry Shula Sikazwe

For you hold a brush in one hand,


And a bowl of color in another,
To make the world blue as skies,
To make the world green as fresh grass,
With beauty and life folded in peace.
For in your heart grows love,
And in your soul flows a stream of happiness,
To make the world lovelier,
To make the world happier,
With immortal warmth and unrestricted joy wrapped in gaiety.
For your choices and decisions are pencils,
And your dreams and wishes are crayons,
Which sketch the world’s morphology,
Which shade thickly the world’s skin,
With precision as that of a star’s twinkle.
You are a potter, molding the world,
With your thoughts and actions,
You are a sculptor, carving this world,
With your philosophies and actual deeds,
This world is as you’ve made it to be.

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Adventures of the Mind

“A Far Cry From Africa”


by Derek Walcott

A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt


Of Africa, Kikuyu, quick as flies,
Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt.
Corpses are scattered through a paradise.
Only the worm, colonel of carrion, cries:
'Waste no compassion on these separate dead!'
Statistics justify and scholars seize
The salients of colonial policy.
What is that to the white child hacked in bed?
To savages, expendable as Jews?
Threshed out by beaters, the long rushes break
In a white dust of ibises whose cries
Have wheeled since civilizations dawn
From the parched river or beast-teeming plain.
The violence of beast on beast is read
As natural law, but upright man
Seeks his divinity by inflicting pain.
Delirious as these worried beasts, his wars
Dance to the tightened carcass of a drum,
While he calls courage still that native dread
Of the white peace contracted by the dead.

Again brutish necessity wipes its hands


Upon the napkin of a dirty cause, again
A waste of our compassion, as with Spain,
The gorilla wrestles with the superman.
I who am poisoned with the blood of both,
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed.

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Adventures of the Mind

The drunken officer of British rule, how choose


Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?
How can I face such slaughter and be cool?
How can I turn from Africa and live?

“Past Perfect,”
by Dele Afolabi
The million reasons I can always give,
Why the locale is a bad place to live,
Later they all fade and the horrible place,
Is a former abode for which I now grieve.
The wish is always to be back,
Back to run on a known track,
Back to seize once lost chances,
And attempt again to make a mark.
Back under skies I once knew,
A wiser returnee to appreciate anew,
Gems overlooked in my first coming,
Now revealed by the repeated view.
But it remains in mind as remembered,
My sojourns back are only in slumber,
The backward run for a past to regain,
Could be a voyage to see dead embers.
One day, I’ll be missing here where I now stand,
From elsewhere ‘twill look so grand,
The past will always be the lovelier,
Till the day I find my land.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Thoughts in the Silent Night,”


by Li Bai
Translated by Yang Xianyi & Dai Naidie

Beside my bed a pool of light—


Is it hoarfrost on the ground?
I lift my eyes and see the moon,
I bend my head and think of home.

“A Poem By A Leaving Son,”


by Meng Jiao
Translated by Liu Jianxun

The thread in the hands of a fond-hearted mother


Makes clothes for the body of her wayward boy;
Carefully she sews and thoroughly she mends,
Dreading the delays that will keep him late from home.
But how much love has the inch-long grass
For three spring months of the light of the sun?

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Adventures of the Mind

“Slave to Love”
by Bryan Ferry
Tell her I'll be waiting in the usual place
With the tired and weary and there's no escape
To need a woman you've got to know
How the strong get weak and the rich get poor
Slave to love
Oho
Slave to love
You're running with me
Don't touch the ground
We're the restless hearted
Not the chained and bound

“Summer,”
by John Clare

Come we to the summer, to the summer we will come,


For the woods are full of bluebells and the hedges full of bloom,
And the crow is on the oak a-building of her nest,
And love is burning diamonds in my true lover's breast;
She sits beneath the whitethorn a-plaiting of her hair,
And I will to my true lover with a fond request repair;
I will look upon her face, I will in her beauty rest,
And lay my aching weariness upon her lovely breast.

The clock-a-clay is creeping on the open bloom of May,


The merry bee is trampling the pinky threads all day,
And the chaffinch it is brooding on its grey mossy nest
In the whitethorn bush where I will lean upon my lover's breast;
I'll lean upon her breast and I'll whisper in her ear
That I cannot get a wink o'sleep for thinking of my dear;
I hunger at my meat and I daily fade away
Like the hedge rose that is broken in the heat of the day.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Guan! Guan! Cry The Fish Hawks,”


from Shijing
Guan! Guan! Cry the fish hawks
on sandbars in the river:
a mild-mannered good girl,
fine match for the gentleman.
A ragged fringe is the floating-heart,
left and right we trail it:
that mild-mannered good girl,
awake, asleep, I search for her.
I search but cannot find her,
awake, asleep, thinking of her,
endlessly, endlessly,
turning, tossing from side to side.
A ragged fringe is the floating-heart,
left and right we pick it:
the mild-mannered good girl,
harp and lute make friends with her.
A ragged fringe is the floating-heart,
left and right we sort it:
the mild-mannered good girl,
bell and drum delight her.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Butterflies in Love with Flowers,”


by Liu Yong (Northern Song Dynasty)

While I lean against the banister of a tall tower,


The breeze gently blows.
As I look into the distance,
The end of Spring arouses melancholy in my mind.
Surrounded by dewy grass at sunset,
I wonder who is able to understand my longing.
I would rather drink to intoxication.
One should sing when one has wine in hand,
But drinking to escape offers no reprieve.
I do not mind that my clothes are getting looser.
My lover is worthy of desire.

“Snow,”
by Louis MacNeice

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,


Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world


Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes—
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands—
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Lusty Beasts,”
by Innocent Masina Nkhonyo

Little they care for orphans


Their lust violently blazing within their greedy woods
egoistically pouring their myriad sorts
On the little abandoned Janes

Parading their tents tight


audaciously breaking their storerooms
Spoiling the virginity of the innocent Carolinas they enjoy
Displaying the worthlessness of their brains they mind not

The slap is too soft I suppose


The spanners to fasten their zips have to be improved
Seven years behind bars is a joke your magistrate
We need spanners to fasten their belts

The lust beasts have no shame


Though warned they behave the same
Till they exhaust their November- December rains
they will not stop
Their fervent entreaties are like gasoline tossed on a wild fire

Immersed deep in burning desires in the sheep’s fabric


masking mean faces in girls’ schools
they parade as good Samaritans
Palm-oiling the poverty stricken Madalos with a little cash for HIV
Wake up lovers of justice
Let us break the silence and confer evil no room
The lust beasts should kiss the walls of frosty Maula.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Rejoice,”
By Gladys Casely-Hereford

Rejoice and shout with laughter


Throw all your burdens down
If God has been so gracious
Ask to make you black or brown
For you are a people of great nation
A people of great birth
For where would spring the flowers
If God took away the earth?
Rejoice and shout with laughter
Throw all your burdens down
Yours is a glorious heritage
If you are black, or brown.

“The White City,”


by Claude McKay

I will not toy with it nor bend an inch.


Deep in the secret chambers of my heart
I muse my life-long hate, and without flinch
I bear it nobly as I live my part.
My being would be a skeleton, a shell,
If this dark Passion that fills my every mood,
And makes my heaven in the white world’s hell,
Did not forever feed me vital blood.
I see the mighty city through a mist—
The strident trains that speed the goaded mass,
The poles and spires and towers vapor-kissed,
The fortressed port through which the great ships pass,
The tides, the wharves, the dens I contemplate,
Are sweet like wanton loves because I hate.

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Adventures of the Mind

“The Desktop Metaphor,”


by Caleb Parkin

there are holes in the sky and we name them


we name them after things that matter
after things that matter and the Gods of our Days
and the Gods of our Days like The Great Stapler
like The Great Stapler which attaches the night to us
which attaches the night to us and the words to ideas
and the ideas to words that are just light
that are just light packaged in dark matter
dark matter sent first class to our eyes
first class to our eyes so we might know their names
know their names these things that matter
things that matter like the Photo Copier
the Photo Copier scanning and remembering us
scanning and remembering us as though we were exoplanets
we were exoplanets with atmospheres of ink
ink full of bright mating cries
mating cries from Gods of our Days like the Gull
the Gull whose beak marks the poles
the poles whose screams are tectonic
tectonic in the bin-man’s crackling eyes
eyes where names do not matter
not matter so we name them
name them holes in the sky

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“Detuned Radio,”
by T.L. Evans

My mother said she’d never known such rage


within a child, she told me later,
after the doctor, and after the pastor.
I don’t recall the nights within the cage.
I’d raise my two-foot frame against the bars
and fill the little room, my mother said,
with screaming, screaming that could wake the dead,
my fists and eyes clamped shut against the dark.
I don’t remember much till I was saved.
It was by chance her detuned radio
whose crackling plugged the quiet’s monstrous hole.
I sank beneath its filtered, whispered waves.

Still now, when silence starts to sink its gap,


I hear the desperate presence climbing up
and twitch the dial to static’s frequency.
Its hiss alone can make the thing retreat.
We used to top and tail, me and my twin.
And when the white noise stops she speaks again.

“With Sincerest Regrets,”


by Russell Edson

Like a monstrous snail, a toilet slides into a living room on a track of wet,
demanding to be loved.
It is impossible, and we tender our sincerest regrets. In the book of the
heart there is no mention made of plumbing.
And though we have spent our intimacy many times with you, you belong
to an unfortunate reference, which we would rather not embrace ...
The toilet slides away ...

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“When The Wind Blows,”


by Colin Ian Jeffery
When the wind blows
All comes tumbling down
They thought could not be moved.

Lies told will be revealed


Crimes committed held to count
Nations unchained and set free.

Dictators humbled
Religion no more cause for war
And love prevailing all hearts.

When the wind blows


There will be peace and freedom
And all men shall be brothers.

“An Unfinished African Monologue,”


by Ali Znaidi
I’m a huge body w/ out contours.
I’m a myth distilled from the waves & the wind.
I’ve got memories wider than my limbs.
I’ve got sorrows carved in the marble.
My merriment is encapsulated in the ululations.
I’ve got a past gnawed at by the wolves.
I’ve got perforated boats & rusty vehicles.
I’ve got treasures for my lovers & haters alike.
I hide my sorrows in a tattered shawl of a poor female farmer.
I paint my mirth in the smile
of a bare-footed child riding a home-made bicycle…

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“The Empire,”
by Unknown

The empire’s gates have been kept yawning


Some souls freely in, others out
Security seems permeable and
The empire is unsafe.

Trekking in hospital corridors


Comes shrieking sound of a woman behind walls
Later, crying sound of a baby is heard amidst laughter of joy
New life has entered the empire.

But on the opposite side of the corridor


Diffuses a horrid groan like a bull in a slaughterhouse
Weeping, crying and mourning follow
Life has matched out of the empire.

Mountain of happiness and mound of sadness


Laughter and sorrow
That’s what happens when life is replaced or displaced
From this unsafe empire

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“Hiroshima, 1961,”
by Holly Singlehurst

After Yves Klein

In the street, I am warm past my summer skin,


the pavement is burning the soles of my feet.
My shadow copies me as I open my arms. When
I jump, it jumps, but it doesn’t leave the ground.
The light through my closed eyes tells me
a secret, that I am the most beautiful red.
And another, that it has travelled millions of
miles, unobstructed, to touch only my body.

“We Have The Brains,”


by Gerry Shula Sikazwe

We do not abound in strength,


We cannot boast to have muscles of Hercules,
We are not gifted with terrifying physical build,
But we order about the strong.
We do not have confident voices as of Luther,
We do not have words of Eisenhower,
We surely cannot speak like Churchill,
But we run the very world which their speeches once steered.
We do not have fair looks,
We are not with eyes that twinkle or glow,
We do not have charm in our dress either,
But we have beautiful minds, and that makes all the difference.
We are creators, we are designers,
We are nerds, with minds that see beyond this time,
We are thinkers, we are dreamers,
We are philosophers, with eyes that see beyond this time.

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“After the Calm,”


by Paul Nemser

Our furniture is turning to nails’ ends and cows’ ears.


We’ve stored no provisions for molassesless times.
Like used-up, riled-up hives – our hearts.
Like pancakes burning in old butter – our backs.

On the bus ride after the geriatrician,


we smell angels powdering the breezes with lavender
and sit down to dream, and lie down to wake
and wake to read the split nutshells in our pockets –

to predict that a sheep will dance with weevils


and a salmon lay down with a leaning willow –
thinking someone always wants
the rides nobody wants, which breaks our calm.

Bus-music jostles us, like shifting tide
where islands once appeared upside down in the harbor,
and the loudest movement was a clam dropped on rocks,
a shard-splatter, a ganglion.

Bus crunches branch. We seize up. We sway.


I cradle your knuckles, as in olden days,
when we dipped a few fingers in wine.
We brushed only each other’s lips,

crooned only songs titled, ‘I will’


for hours, in a field momentarily green.
I will. I will survive. I will rise. I will follow.
I will be. I will wait – for you.

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Honey, wake up, you say, kneeing my hip
and smelling of eucalyptus. I love your eyes,
especially when we’re shaken, flickering in glass, in weaves
of raspberries that thorn across fences fallen to gaps.

The bus lets us off near a panic of birds


who pluck the fall-aparts rotting red. Beaks veer drunk
into a rising cloud, and we get silly and scream
like wing-ier species that tear prey to bubbling violet:

“O goddess of raspberries, grant us red hands!”


Shrieks, chucks, pipes – where from? Lilt of songbirds
in a social praxis? In the frantic, dizzily companionable
wane of this day neither still nor sweet.

“This Boy Has Been Hurt”


by Dolly Parton

I saw him picking up the pieces of his broken heart


And so I stopped to see what I could do
His heart had been run over by a reckless lover
She ran over it and broke it and left it black and blue
Tears were scattered everywhere he was trying to save his pride
He was the victim of a love and run
And I could plainly see that she had almost killed him
Left the scene of a broken heart not looking back at what she'd done

Oh, this boy has been hurt, I'll save him


I'll take his heart and mend it if I can
Oh, this boy has been hurt, I'll save him
I'll take his tears and dry them as fast as he can cry them
I'll heal his hurt and make him as good as new again.

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Adventures of the Mind

“The Crab Man,”


by Eliot North

Turn left, close the gate


Enter Mariner’s Lane.

The road to the shore


Is all salt and tar.

Go right down to
Correction House Bank.

Smell the fish guts,


Feel it pull you.

Push Gossip’s voice


Far from your mind.

Ignore the shudder


Of trains, overhead.

Down Tanner’s Bank


Pick your way.

Head held high,


Nose to the wind,

Past empty warehouses.


Go to The Crab Man.

Block out the warning


Tone of her voice.

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See him in his red robes,


Inside the chainmail door.

Feel the cleaver’s rhythm


Smashed over and over.

Watch how he stills,


Cocks an ear to the sound.

The swish of metal skirts


Closing behind you.

“Birdfall,”
by Danica Ognjenovic

We were three hours at sea


When the birds began to fall;
Tired from the fog and cold,
Some rested on the decks
While we fished for food
In that blind rolling water;
Specks of beating life
In a world too big to picture,
They took off once more
Into the mist and rain. We said
A prayer for them, and we
Prayed for ourselves again.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus,”


by Leslie Bruke

I am moving gently forward


over the wild and beautiful
unexplored world below me
I am floating in silence
and breaking it up
with the sound of my breath
Above me there is nothing
but shimmery light
the place where I have come from
and will go back when I am done here
I am diving
I am a scuba diver
I am going deeper past
the wrinkled rocks and dark seaweeds
towards a deep blueness where
a school of silver fish wait
As I swim through the water
bubbles burst from me
wobbling like little jelly fish
as they rise
I check my air
I don’t have as much time
as I need to see everything
but that is what makes it
so special!

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Adventures of the Mind

“Clothes that Escaped the Great War,”


by Patricia McCarthy

Not the familiar ghosts: the shaggy dog of Thorne Waste


that appeared only to children, the chains clanking
from the Gyme seat, nor the black barge at Waterside.

These were the most scary, my mother recalled: clothes


piled high on the wobbly cart, their wearers gone.
Overalls caked in dung, shirts torn from the muscle strain

of heavy hemp sacks, socks matted with cow-cake


from yards nearby, and the old horse plodding, on the nod.
Its uneven gait never varied whether coming from farms

where lads were collected like milk churns, or going back


with its harvest of dungarees scented by first fags,
notes in pockets to sweethearts; boots with laces undone,

jerseys knitted – purl, plain – around coke fires.


And the plod, plod, quadruple time. Then the catch
in the plod from the clank of loose shoes, from windgalls

on the fetlocks of the horse, each missed beat on the lane


a missed beat in a heart. As a small girl she could see –
at their windows – the mothers pressing memories

too young for mothballs into lavender bags, staring out


propaganda posters, dreading the shouts of telegraph boys
from lines of defence and attack. As the harness creaked

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and the faithful old horse clopped forward and back,


the lads were new-dressed in the years never to be had,
piled higher than high over the shafts of the buckling cart.

“My Grandfather’s Hat,”


by John Freeman

Most of the time I saw Granddad indoors,


first in his dark room with blue gas mantles
and a kitchen range and one tall window
in Poplar, then in the overheated lounge
of Aunt Nell and Uncle George’s new flat
in Morden when he was in his nineties.
But he came to stay in our house sometimes,
and it must have been when he was leaving
that I saw him wearing his trilby hat.
It was grey and sleek like a new plush toy.
No one had ever made our two front steps
more like a staircase in a stately home,
not even Mum with her polio feet.
Crowning himself slowly, his own archbishop,
holding on to a handrail like a sceptre,
he turned with no more haste than one of the ships
he had sailed in round Cape Horn as a boy
in another century, approached each step
like a descent to be addressed with ropes.
Grandly he lowered one foot, then the other,
while we watched him, silently exclaiming
vivat, and the black and white chess-board
of the path to the front gate stretched out
like a long drive lined with waving flags.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Photograph,”
by Rosalind Hudis

This is my daughter asleep in the morning,


one hand between the silvery poles
of her cot, that remind me of birch trees.

She’s going to theatre soon:


the surgeon will snap her ribs
to reach a heart which can’t wake

itself properly inside its blue forest.


She mustn’t eat. So when she stirs and calls
my arms down for the first feed, I turn

to the wall. She beats a fist,


the size of a large bee, into air.
Her feet swim faster as if racing

a blind snow flood,


and I am the snow. Later
it’s I who can’t reach

my child so far under,


her face a locked, white egg
in the thicket of tubes.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Deaths of Graduates,”
by Innocent Masina Nkhonyo

It’s another handshake


That beyond the elbow has gone
Standing on the ruins of their hope
They lament for the dear graduates
Thinking of their cerebral capabilities
Really sends ripples of fear down our spines
Like a candle in the twist gone
Leaving their uneducated old and poor parents
To fight the enemy poverty without any revolver left
The entire arsenal in the fold
Was spent on their education, this is unfair my fellow gurus

Intellectually the reckless graduates have scored a first


Morally they have left a lot to be desired
Like possessed they frantically searched for the beast
Till they squarely hooked the monster
And mercilessly shared the pangs of dishonest with innocent
parents
They have successfully engineered their fate
I pity their parents
As poor as a church mouse
They mourn till they exhaust all their wells of tears
All their efforts have been rendered worthless
Like a stone down a cliff the business has plummeted
They hopefully sowed herds of cattle
Engulfed with clouds of despair, sorrow they reap
Oh! Death of graduates.

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Adventures of the Mind

“In Her Shoes,”


by Asante Mtenje

In her shoes, those shoes,


those two sizes too big, worn out “Sofias”
she drags along to rummage through
dumpsters,
disregarding the stench and flies that trail after her
long after she has retired to bed.
Those four inch, strappy stillettoes
that grace her with a confidence she doesn’t
really possess
as she awaits lustful glances from pot-bellied,
sweaty armpits
descending from the latest mercs.
The last imprint on her mind as she falls in a drunken stupor
is that smiling innocent face awaiting her homecoming.

Those Manolo Blahniks, those Steve Maddens


and her all-time favourite
red-soled shoes that fill up the room,
that fill up the ever growing space between them.
Those rhinestone braided heels that polish up
her black-eyed face,
those Italian leather boots that mend her broken soul.

Those suede black pumps that sway her gait,


as she commands the boardroom
only to be met by uninterested gazes that bore through her
knee length skirt and later ascend to the mounds in her front.
Those tight maliposa plastic shoes that hold
together her bony frame
and her bloated feet as she coughs violently.

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Those shoes that quiver along with her as she queues up


for the gift of life on a cold Monday morning.

Those shoes, oh those shoes


that have walked places,
those shoes that have been places,
those shoes have seen faces
those shoes have been there for ages

“Home, Sour Home,”


by Adebayo Akinloye
home…
the word is not
what hurts us
it is the space
we call our place
a cauldron of chaos and conflagration
inspired by the convolutions of
counter-claims charges and clashes
home…
the word is not
what kills us
it is a race
we dare not look in the face
a race of evil men
inspired to plunder and murder
it is not home that exiles us
it is our people
our blood.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Wish,”
by Josephine Haslam

I give you my wish; my half of the bird’s


fused clavicle picked clean of flesh. I give
you its winged thinness and its seed head curve
to stand for everything I own and love.
And though I want it most to be the one
that brings you back as surely as the bird
that turns for home, it isn’t that.
Nor is it the unearthed bone from Grimm
that speaks the truth and knows its provenance;
but only what we’ve taken from the supermarket hen
we cooked for lunch. Still, it’s this
they say will bring you all you long for.

But if that doesn’t happen, know that every bone I have


is for you a wishing bone and every wish,
for you, the best there is. And if
when it comes down to it and we’re all done
the bone is all that’s left, I’ll give you my tibia
and fibula, the femur, knuckle, pelvic girdle, skull,
this finger with its ring on, spine that holds me up,
every part in fact of the empty cage that’s held
the inner workings of the heart, the breathing lungs.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Love,”
by Lydia Maiden
Sighs are sounds, they go into the air;
Cries are voices, they fade into nothing;
Tears are water, they go into the sea.
But I have always wondered:
When love is forgotten
Where does it go?
Gold is dug from mines,
Rivers descend from mountains,
Honey is extracted from beehives,
And milk is from udders;
But where can i find love?
Is love a mere feeling?
Can this feeling be resisted?
Is love a tangible power
That drives people mad?
Or is it an intangible power
That is stronger than death?

“Blankets of Spring,”
by Saddiq M. Dzukogi
Earth be greyed
And magma
Mourns in scorn
Till soggy lips kiss air
Through blankets of spring
And sprout jade hairs
Into mauling palms of light
Dotted upon nubile soils
Blooming fauna
Feeding fire into barns.
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Adventures of the Mind

“Song of Nyavitima,”
by Zondiwe Mbano

Once upon a time


There was love, and love
Whispered only sweetness
The sun rose bright
And cool rivers mirrored
White clouds sailing high
Love is like a tree growing
Which soon bears flowers
Pouring our aroma of beauty
Winds sigh in the trees
And birds trill in the branches
As day passes and night comes
In the night there are months
That plant ravenous grubs
To gnaw away at the roots
Children, if you see love wilting
Do not ask questions; only
Remember once upon a time

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“The Lammas Hireling,”


by Ian Duhig

After the fair, I’d still a light heart


and a heavy purse, he struck so cheap.
And cattle doted on him: in his time
mine only dropped heifers, fat as cream.
Yields doubled. I grew fond of company
that knew when to shut up. Then one night,

disturbed from dreams of my dear late wife,


I hunted down her torn voice to his pale form.
Stock-still in the light from the dark lantern,
stark-naked but for one bloody boot of fox-trap,
I knew him a warlock, a cow with leather horns.
To go into the hare gets you muckle sorrow,

the wisdom runs, muckle care. I levelled


and blew the small hour through his heart.
The moon came out. By its yellow witness
I saw him fur over like a stone mossing.
His lovely head thinned. His top lip gathered.
His eyes rose like bread. I carried him
in a sack that grew lighter at every step
and dropped him from a bridge. There was no
splash. Now my herd’s elf-shot. I don’t dream
but spend my nights casting ball from half-crowns
and my days here. Bless me Father for I have sinned.
It has been an hour since my last confession.

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“New Fruit,”
by Ann Drysdale

In the last knockings of the evening sun


Eve drinks Calvados. Elsewhere in her life
She has played muse and mistress, bitch and wife.
Now all that gunpoint gamesmanship is done.
She loves the garden at this time of day.
Raising her third glass up to God, she grins;
If this is her come-uppance for her sins
It’s worth a little angst along the way.
A fourth. Again the cork’s slow squeaky kiss.
If, as the liquor tempts her to believe,
The Lord has one more Adam up His sleeve
He’s going to have to take her as she is –
Out in the garden in a dressing-gown
Breathing old apples as the sun goes down.

“I Am Not Yours,”
by Sara Teasdale

I am not yours, not lost in you,


Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still


A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love - put out


My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.

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“The Meat Thieves,”


by Susan Wicks

‘Drivers wanted. Thieves and alcoholics need not


apply.’ Job ad in a butcher’s window.

And yet we’re good with meat.


Our agile fingers know how to pick
a crusted lock. Corn-fed chickens wait
quartered in the cold safe
in a fur of breath. Under our coats
we hide small finds—an ear, a stiffened wing,
a wishbone; rabbit’s kidneys slide their satin eyes
into our pockets where the fluff congeals.
We can tiptoe through blood
and leave no footprints: friends will testify
we were far from this square of sawdust,
far from ourselves.

When we first saw meat


swing from your hook our hands started to shake
as we reached for the bottle. Now we stroke apart
the cutlets on their spine of bone. The marbled fat
is cool, the suet clean as candles;
mince curls like hair
from the greased machine. And each discarded heart
is a maze of hidden chambers, every valve
gasps open. In a gold wave
the sawdust swells underfoot:
all we can take is ours

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and the getaway car waiting,


packed tight from roof to floor
with perishable goods. We’ll part the air
in a screech of burnt rubber. While you turn
in your sheet we’ll stitch up your town
with a zigzag of tail-lights,
hooting and whooping at a job well done.

“The Dark Skies Society,”


by Helen Oswald

Less light was what they wanted.


Less light and a chance to look up
to see tonight’s old stars shining
and dying. Dark skies and fewer
street lamps leaking Lucozade
into a space once reserved
for heaven, where they might glimpse
Venus opening her door a crack,
or, leaning out of an upstairs window,
overhear God making plans in verse,
honing the moon into half-rhyme.

They believed – and said they had proved it –


that light pollution could cause cancer,
near-sightedness, insomnia and for some
drug addiction. They understood the heart
needs a dark place to thump undetected,
to go underground like a badger, burrowing
its own blind streets, to back out unseen
into fields where the beet sweetens.

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“An African Thunderstorm,”


by David Rubadiri

From the west


Clouds come hurrying with the wind
Turning
Sharply
Here and there
Like a plague of locusts
Whirling
Tossing up things on its tail
Like a madman chasing nothing
Pregnant clouds
Ride stately on its back
Gathering to perch on hills
Like dark sinister wings
The wind whistles by
And trees bend to let it pass

In the village
Screams of delighted children
Toss and turn
In the din of the whirling wind
Women
Babies clinging on their backs
Dart out
In and out
Madly
The wind whirls by
Whilst trees bend to let it pass
Clothes wave like tattered flags
Flying off

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To expose dangling breasts


As jagged blinding flashes
Rumble, tremble and Crack
Amidst the smell of fired smoke
And the pelting march of the storm.

“The Lazy Maid,”


by James Manlow

chin snug in her palm,


her elbow plugged firmly
in the knobbly joint of her kneecap,
legs a little ajar
beneath her skirts, is sound
asleep upon the stool, dreaming
of her mother teaching her
how to scrape parsnips,
which is how at 11.10pm
the mistress of the house
discovers her, stares at her
a while, sighs, then, as if
almost sensing a stream
of watchers on, looks
up suddenly and comes alive,
flush with wine and mischief,
gifting that wry-wild look
I love this painting for,
saying, it’s too late for this,
and, see what I put up with?
How I adore this girl.
She won’t change. It’s 1655.
It’s late. Let the dishes
alone. Let the cat eat the fish.

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“The Year the Rice-Crop Failed,”


by Melanie Drane

The year we married, rainy season lasted


so long the rice crop failed. People gave up
trying to stay dry; abandoned umbrellas
littered the streets like dead birds. One evening
that summer, a typhoon broke the waters
of the Imperial moat and sent orange carp flopping
through the streets around the train station,
under the feet of people trying to go home.
The stairs to the temple became impassable;
fish slid down them in a waterfall, heavy
and golden as yolks. That night, I woke you
when the walls of our home began to shake;
we held our breath while the earth tossed,
counted its pulse as though we could protect
what we’d thought would cradle us –
then the room went still and you moved away,
back into sleep like a slow swimmer,
your eyes and lips swollen tight with salt.
The next morning, a mackerel sky hung over Tokyo.
The newspaper confirmed the earthquake
started inside the sea. I watched you dress to leave,
herringbone suit, shirt white as winter, galoshes
that turned your shoes into small, slippery otters.
After you were gone, I heard hoarse and angry screams;
a flock of crows landed on the neighbor’s roof,
dark messengers of Heaven. Did they come to reassure,
to tell me we’d be safe, that we would find
our places no matter how absurd it seemed,
like the fish sailing through the streets,
uncertain, but moving swiftly?

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“A Letter to a Feminist Friend,”


by Felix Mnthali

I will not pretend


to see the light
in the rhythm of your paragraphs:
illuminated pages
need not contain
any copy-right
on history
My world has been raped
looted
and squeezed
by Europe and America
and I have been scattered
over three continents
to please Europe and America
AND NOW
the women of Europe and America
after drinking and carousing
on my sweat
rise up to castigate
and castrate
their menfolk
from the cushions of a world
I have built!
Why should they be allowed
to come between us?
You and I were slaves together
uprooted and humiliated together
Rapes and lynchings
the lash of the overseer
and the lust of the slave-owner

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do your friends in the movement


understand these things?
No, no, my sister,
my love,
first things first!
Too many gangsters
still stalk this continent
too many pirates
too many looters
far too many
still stalk this land
When Africa
at home and across the seas
is truly free
there will be time for me
and time for you
to share the cooking
and change the nappies
till then,
first things first!

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“Albino,”
by Josephine Haslam

The truth is, it was only part white;


the albino blackbird that came to your garden
two winters ago – but into my head
comes this ghost of a bird, shadowless,
a white absence, blind negative

in the snow. No reflection glides


over the lake where he flies, light and boneless,
no sound from his throat.
And though you say they never survive; the rare
or different, destroyed by their own kind
I see how he speeds out of the distance,
gathers weight, and darkens, over the miles
till he meets his own blackness, grows

into lustre; blackbryd, ouzel, merle


who quickens the heart as he sings
each night from our gate-post;
his mouth’s open crocus, his eye ringed with gold.

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“The Third Wife,”


by Mike Barlow

My first wife knew no more than me, no telling


where her needs ended, mine began. One day though
I turned the hill to find the boat moored in the field,
the house out in the bay, adrift, door open wide.
I rowed out to a message on the mat: gone
to my cousin’s place in Valparaiso.

My second wife blew ashore in a force ten


leading a shipload of apprentices astray
with her white dress, her turned-up Nordic nose,
her precious bible clutched in a manicure hand.
No matter how I pumped, the organ of her heart played flat,
her painted smile as wooden as a figurehead’s.

My third wife won’t say where she lives.


She comes to me when the tides are right,
stays longer if a wind’s got up or fog’s come down.
I stroke the warm loaves of her biceps, kiss
dimpled elbows, listen for the souch
our breathing makes when we’re together.

She has cousins everywhere. They post her money


in denominations the local shop won’t take
or drop by uninvited while we’re having tea. They push me
into corners, whisper her address. I turn a deaf ear.
This is my third wife I explain, who’s known
many husbands, some worse some better than me.

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“Missing,”
by Pauline Keith

First, Charlie Chaplin as a runner bean


there are seven of him. You can’t tell
which bean he is. They all have hats
and turned-up shoes, wear tight jackets
that are pulling, wrinkled slightly.
These look-alikes don’t make the catalogue
maybe Charles Jones who photographed,
arranged them side by side, had never
seen Charles Chaplin’s trademark pose
The selectors don’t have any such excuse.
They chose the big brown onion, faultless,
looking like a big brown onion.

Then, the war-wounded, second stage:


rescued, sea-rocked back to Blighty,
held in hospital – rawly shocked and ill,
no longer knowing how they’ll walk.
Instead, the catalogue displays them
at their third stage, wearing false legs
and stoic faces for the camera.
It leaves out the first photo: all seven
balanced on a long seat, side by side.
In blank space beneath the bench
one footless leg compels the eye.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Coming Down to Drink,”


by Frank Dux
What beasts are these coming down to drink
at the shallow pools in the river bed?
The drought has drawn them out.
And now the herdsmen;
two, three. One squats; the others stand leaning
on their spears. They do not watch the herd.
Their eyes rest in space. A breeze rises, stirs
the grass – and memory. Where have I seen
these men before? and these elegant beasts
with outswept horns?
The squatting man now stands.
The herd is clambering back up the bank,
dry clods breaking away under their hooves.
This too is memory – as is the rain,
large drops at first, spattering the dust,
a sudden coolness falling on my arms.

“Still Here,”
by Langston Hughes

I been scared and battered.


My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has friz me,
Sun has baked me,

Looks like between 'em they done


Tried to make me

Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'--


But I don't care!
I'm still here!

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Adventures of the Mind

“Much After ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ Act II, Scene 3,”
by Copland Smith

I heard a shout from my master’s orchard.


Boy! a man called. He did not know my name.
Not my master a guest called Benedick.
I ran to him. I said, Signior? I watched
and waited. In the window of my chamber
lies, he said, a book. Go fetch it quick
to me here in the orchard.
I am already here, sir. I said,
meaning I would be that fast. Instead

he showed his wit and said, I know


that, but I would rather have you there
and here again. And so I left, face full of blood,
and galloped to his chamber. At his window
was a glass, half full of honey beer,
a comb for his curls, a discarded hood,
and yes, the book – a golden glow
from its spine, and the smell
of its covers! – as if the calf were just killed.
I opened it. It was not my business
to open it. I opened it like the draw
of the curtains on my other master’s play
and saw the dark swirl, the characters
playing their parts, dancing on the floor
of the page, spouting words that May,
to those whose business
is reading, be heard through the book’s silence.
To those who do not have such talents,

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Adventures of the Mind

“Flat Dad,”
by Patrick Brandon

I’d taken out the bones so that


he settled easily, dropping into a lazy S,
unless draped -as now- across a bench,
or hung – yesterday – from a branch.

Wherever I choose to rest and release


the weight of him, I am careful
to keep intact the parted tuft
of soft white hair.
I pitch camp and taste
the lichen-edge of billy water,
bite into a stale crust,
the sound internal of the jaw
working loud as feet through snow.

In the fly-cast drift, the hour-line


played out between my fingertips,
I wait for the river to tighten.
In the silence between each breath,
birdsong- hesitant; lacking a confidence
that will return, perhaps, when I am gone.

I collect myself, shake him out


in a slow wave, watch the crumbs scatter
and the dust rise, and shouldering him,
move on to the next town.

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this is a great magic. And so I closed


the book and ran back towards the orchard:
down the oaken stair; into the darkening garden;
through the arch of columbine and rose,
until I stood, alone, in that same orchard.

By Benedick and by William, I have been forgotten

and all that I will ever have said is


Signior? and Sir, I am here already.

“Face Of Beauty,”
by Adebayo Akinloye
a powdered face
with bleached and transplanted teeth
advertising themselves
a pair of lips dyed with luxurious lipstick
20-karat gold in the holes of erring ears
like gold-ring in the snout of a swine
toe-nails pedicured in scarlet
constructed mediated breasts that
shame reality as they pop out
like the head of seething anaconda
a vain and glorious caryatid sculpted
over thousands of moribund nights
a face of beauty no more than skin deep
our conscience may mock you
how many of our eyes feast on you!
and in the name of light camera action
we glorify your beauty.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Farewell to Earth,”
by Christopher James

We buried him with a potato in each hand


on New Year’s Day when the ground was hard as luck,
wearing just cotton, his dancing shoes plus
a half bottle of pear cider to stave off the thirst.

In his breast pocket we left a taxi number


and a packet of sunflower seeds; at his feet was
the cricket bat he used to notch up a century
against the Fenstanton eleven.

We dropped in his trowel and a shower of rosettes


then let the lid fall on his willow casket.
The sky was hard as enamel; there was
a callus of frost on the face of the fields.

Dust to dust; but this was no ordinary muck.


The burial plot was by his allotment, where
the water butt filled up with algae and the shed door
swung and slammed as we shook back the soil.

During the service, my mother asked


the funeral director to leave; take away some hair
and the resemblance was too close; and yet
my father never looked so smart.

I kept expecting him to walk in, his brow


steaming with rain, soil under his fingernails
smelling of hot ashes and compost;
looking for fresh tea in the pot.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Holding On,”
by Clive McWilliam

My tiny aunt was always afraid


she might be blown away. She fluttered about
in the draft of her house chasing snails
that slid under the door. Each night she climbed
a steepening stair to lie beneath the stars’
straining light, hidden in sodium glare.

Her four room cave in the shade of passing


buses, where daylight goes
to snooze, with two knotted dollies
standing guard in a chair
and a wardrobe of tiny shoes.

You must have left the door ajar


the night the snails brought you the light
of stars on their backs, for the wind got in
and swept your house and blew you clean away.

“Love and Friendship,”


by Emily Bronte

Love is like the wild rose-briar,


Friendship like the holly-tree --
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most contantly?
The wild-rose briar is sweet in the spring,
Its summer blossoms scent the air;
Yet wait till winter comes again
And who wil call the wild-briar fair?
Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now
And deck thee with the holly's sheen,
That when December blights thy brow
He may still leave thy garland green.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Somebody’s Husband,”
by Anne Pierson Wiese

If I had a gold locket with my husband’s picture


in it – which I don’t, and I were dead – which I’m not,
and I could still think while being dead – which I
couldn’t, I’d be happy to think that some young woman
with a penchant for the past had found my locket
in the showcase reserved for special items
by the cash register in the secondhand store,
suspected it of possessing magical
properties, asked that it be extracted
from behind the World War II medals
with their umbilicals of dried ribbon
and the chip-winged porcelain hummingbird,
and bought it for a little more than she could
afford at that time in her life.

I’d be happy to think of her wondering


who he was, what he was like, trying to glean
from his miniature fading features with what
abandon he might have tossed his cap off on his way
through the front door after work, whether he was
a talker, a man who kept secrets – or both,
whether he might have been – discounting time and space
among other things — a man for her. I’d be happy
to think how love for somebody’s husband might live
in a locket, a soundless echo of the human
act – the hands that scrupulously trimmed the black
and white photograph into a wobbly but workable circle
and slid it behind the wisp of glass from under which
it could never again be recalled, so right was the fit.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Tsunami Girl,”
by Harriet Torr

Her belongings, like skins,


float back to the original effluvia of ocean beds.
An archive of buttons, newly dyed with fishspawn,
congealed with masonry skill,
disturbs the isotopes of an ocean’s plan.
A crustacean, plotting the symmetries of a world
between its kelp stones,stares at the hems and petticoats trailing
him.

The pink ghosts of muscles still fasten


round the dress and an occasional sea bird
dips its beak into its folds, deciphering its smells,
the idiosyncrasy of its shapes, the neck stem displaced,
the dislocated spine of its buckle digging the waist
where a strong hold of sea lice thrill to its curves.

TV men with diving suits and tanks


return for a second take;
the satin dress holding itself up to the poles of the waves
like origami dancing, twitching lace mimicking breath,
sand filled pouch, its warmth.
It dances past the slow differential of a fin
its acrimony of scales, its Mache print of skin

to the laughing girl shedding herself


like Narcissi in the tsunami wave.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Transparency,”
by Cherry Smyth

In Japan, in a laboratory in the hills, a man is whispering to water.


A man, whose wife has left him, is focusing on structure through
a powerful microscope. He’s astounded when each isolated drop
seems to listen, absorb the words, change like a face transformed
by smiling or a splash of shock. He studies how words like ‘family’
or ‘betrayal’ alter the crystalline mandala, as if the vibration
of his heart shakes and resets each miniscule aquatic form.
He mouths ‘eternity’ in Arabic
and ‘goodbye’ in French and manages
to photograph the crystal as it clouds inside like a blown fuse. Now
others will believe him, will apply the knowledge he’s not built for,
why these lexigrams appear, as if water held the capacity of mind
and how minds change when love’s ear hears nothing anymore:
how different from the first unspoken, this last not speaking.
He’s tired. He doesn’t mean to murmur ‘mercy’. It’s almost a
forgotten word. The droplet he is viewing becomes a spiky lattice,
with a strange core, like the trapped blue-white sea of a cataract.
His vision softens. He asks mercy for himself, from himself, until
the mantra rises to a song from the southern shore his wife would sing,
a song of waves and Bo trees, whose words he’s no idea he knew,
and he sees the water tremble as if for the body that once carried it.
‘Forgive me’, he says. He photographs the feeling..

“Justice,”
by Langston Hughes

That Justice is a blind goddess


Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Songs From the Clouds,”


by Francis Moto
I sat at Chingwe’s hole
and heard songs from the clouds.
Songs bathed in blood
the blood of a people
sacrificed to quench the wrath
of bloodthirsty gods.
I sat on the shores of Malindi
a cold wind rode
on the rippling waves
to break on the sand,
pebbles and lake shell.
Again I heard songs from the clouds.
Songs of children sacrificed
to feed the stomachs
of starved gods
Sitting on concrete slabs
Sipping a cold beer
The clouds broke into song,
A song wailing for women
Beautiful, young and ignorant:
Live women hand-picked
To be the king’s pillow.

Chingwe’s Hole, a big dark hole, like a crater, is on Zomba mountain


in Malawi. Stories are told of how people were sacrificed by being
thrown into the hole. Later their bodies would float down the Na-
mitembo river.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Napolo: The Apocalypse,”


by Steve Chimombo
Mlauli's tomb roared:
"Mphirimo! Mphirimo! Mphirimo!
Kudzabwera Napolo!"
Mbona was checked in mid-leap,
Chilembwe turned over and went back to sleep.
Mulanje, Zomba, and Nyika fled their places,
whimpered and hid their faces.
Shire curled round its head but it was too frail.
Songwe exploded and threw its seed
into the lake where it caught typhoid.
Yes, it rained.
Oh, how it rained that time!
The parched throat of the earth drank it up,
swelled its stomach in pregnancy;
but it came so late,
and with it came Napolo.
Napolo gnawed the womb of the earth,
the earth groaned and aborted, showing its teeth,
its teeth uprooted the trees on the banks,
the banks where birds sang around the python's flanks.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Because I Could Not Stop for Death,”


by Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death–


He kindly stopped for me–
The Carriage held but just Ourselves–
And Immortality.

We slowly drove–He knew no haste


And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility–

We passed the School, where Children strove


At Recess–in the Ring–
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain–
We passed the Setting Sun–

Or rather–He passed us–


The Dews drew quivering and chill–
For only Gossamer, my Gown–
My Tippet–only Tulle–

We paused before a House that seemed


A Swelling of the Ground–
The Roof was scarcely visible–
The Cornice–in the Ground–

Since then–‘tis Centuries–and yet


Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity–

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Adventures of the Mind

“No longer Mourn for Me,”


by William Shakespeare

No longer mourn for me when I am dead


Then you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O, if, I say, you look upon this verse
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse.
But let your love even with my life decay,
Lest the wise world should look into your moan
And mock you with me after I am gone.

“Happiness,”
by Carl Sandburg

I ASKED the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell


me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
I was trying to fool with them
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
their women and children
and a keg of beer and an
accordion.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Honeybird,”
by Zondiwe Mbano

Honeybird you lure me


Away from the morning fire
To the cold wet forest.
One my shoulder, I carry an axe
In my hands, a spear and clubs;
Across the fields to the forest,
Honeybird you lure me on.
Through the forest, up the slopes
The desire for honey, like a fire
In the blood, drives me on.
My knees weak with fatigue, and
A smell of blood in my nostrils,
I look up the high mountain;
Honeybird you lure me on.

“Good Morning,”
by Sarah O’Gorman
Good morning airplane in morning light –
Aqua sky good morning songs on
Radio goodmorning final curtain, Good –
morning street people, work people, Saturday
people Good morning new life, old life, hot
life Good morning great leveler, good morning
ever-blissful rasa Good morning mind and
memories of moments in mind, morning heart
in mind, good morning banana in hand, books
on bed, expectation at door, good morning
dancing feet and happy face, Good Morning

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Adventures of the Mind

“Death Be Not Proud,”


by John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee


Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

“What Is Beautiful?”
by Sarah O’Gorman
Will I convert love into art
as the romantics invent love and arts reputations
in search of the picturesque in the political
national natural beauty spots in natural
national parliaments
buildings developments architects of life
lungs to the sick sinking filthy city
layers built upon centuries
gently sewing up the fabric
of the historic soul
the medieval church of the heart
restored, repaired, and Revived
now and forever and now.
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Adventures of the Mind

“Civilian And Soldier,”


by Wole Soyinka
My apparition rose from the fall of lead,
Declared, 'I am a civilian.' It only served
To aggravate your fright. For how could I
Have risen, a being of this world, in that hour
Of impartial death! And I thought also: nor is
Your quarrel of this world.

You stood still


For both eternities, and oh I heard the lesson
Of your traing sessions, cautioning -
Scorch earth behind you, do not leave
A dubious neutral to the rear. Reiteration
Of my civilian quandary, burrowing earth
From the lead festival of your more eager friends
Worked the worse on your confusion, and when
You brought the gun to bear on me, and death
Twitched me gently in the eye, your plight
And all of you came clear to me.

I hope some day


Intent upon my trade of living, to be checked
In stride by your apparition in a trench,
Signalling, I am a soldier. No hesitation then
But I shall shoot you clean and fair
With meat and bread, a gourd of wine
A bunch of breasts from either arm, and that
Lone question - do you friend, even now, know
What it is all about?

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Adventures of the Mind

“First Love,”
by John Clare

I ne’er was struck before that hour


With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale,
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?
My life and all seemed turned to clay.

And then my blood rushed to my face


And took my eyesight quite away,
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start—
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.

Are flowers the winter’s choice?


Is love’s bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice,
Not love's appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling-place
And can return no more.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Good Bones,”
by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.


Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

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Adventures of the Mind

“My Man (song from Dowa)”


by Zondiwe Mbano
What is this?
My man, what is this?
What is this now?
the skirt is tight
To the other wife
You went yesterday
And you return today
The stomach swollen
What is it?
My man, what is it?
What is it now?
The shirt is tight

“Marketplace,”
by Folasayo Dele-Ogunrinde
Can I have that one please…
the tall, slim, handsome…
no, not the skinny one!
not the bald one either.
he’s in the third aisle
the well-dressed one in the suit & tie
yeah! that one!
can you wrap him up nicely?
here, keep the change
have a nice day.

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Adventures of the Mind

“The Path,”
by Steve Chimombo
I washed my feet in the waters of Mulungusi
and anointed myself with the blood
of those Napolo had left unburied.
I tied the loincloth around me in a tight knot:
it was a perilous climb up Kaphirintiwa.
And did Napolo pass here indeed?
The trembling earth und my feet?
The roaring waters around my ears?
The hurtling mountains?
The desolation of the shrines
portends retribution
and revision
And did Napolo pass here indeed?
Was all that for this?
This ritual of bloodletting?
And that to a deranged god creating
these strange forms of death?
I will to the mountain top
and there divine the message
Napolo brought.
I had washed my feet in the waters of Mulungusi.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Peering Up From Mud,”


by Margarita Engle

The Glass Frogs

you can't see us


not like those golden frogs
flashing their beauty
because we're not here
pretend we're not here
you can't eat us
we'd taste like clear air
we're transparent
invisible

until night when stars pass through us


moonlight flows into us
we start to sing
we need to sing
we love to sing
sing
sing
sing

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Adventures of the Mind

“Grave Mates,”
by Steve Chimombo
We meet again at the same
Graveyard, familiar grave-mates.
The mounds like tumors of grief
On the ground’s face separate us.
Misty eyes moisten the dust storms
Raised by the shovels and hoes
Refilling the freshly dug hole.
Today it is Tatha’s turn.
Yesterday we mourned Malizani’s end.
His bougainvillea wreaths are still fresh
As if watered by frequent tear drops.
Last week it was Ndatsalapati.
His flowers are yet less shrunken
Than his brothers’ and sisters’ before him.
Heads heavy with haunted thoughts
We retrace our steps, eyes locking
And grazing over the question:
When shall we meet again
In laughter, sorrow or in pain?

121
Adventures of the Mind

“Eating Words,”
by Katherine Hauth

When you know


That vore means eat,
you will know
that insectivores feed
on grasshoppers, moths, and butterflies,
mosquitoes, bees, and plain-old flies.

When you know


That carni means meat,
you will know
that carnivores eat
snakes and lizards, deer and lamb,
carrion, birds, fish, and ham.

When you know


That herb means plant,
you will know
that herbivores CAN'T
eat anything that moves on a foot,
just foods that spring up from a root.

When you know


That omni means all,
you will know
that omnivores call
Everything
they can suck or chew—
sometimes even me or you—
food.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Great Horned Owl,”


by Sallie Wolf

An owl once perched in my tree


at night (when most birds cannot see).
But when the sun rose,
he was found by some crows,
and their caws caused the owl to flee.

Mosquitoes,

with needle-noses
sucking blood
from elbows, cheeks, and chin

why were you not


designed to thrive
on brine, on swine,
or likewise-spiny
porcupines?

SLAP!
SLAP!
SLAP!

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Adventures of the Mind

“The Dentist and the Crocodile,”


by Roald Dahl

The crocodile, with cunning smile, sat in the dentist’s chair.


He said, “Right here and everywhere my teeth require repair.”
The dentist’s face was turning white. He quivered, quaked and shook.
He muttered, “I suppose I’m going to have to take a look.”
“I want you”, Crocodile declared, “to do the back ones first.
The molars at the very back are easily the worst.”
He opened wide his massive jaws. It was a fearsome sight—
At least three hundred pointed teeth, all sharp and shining white.
The dentist kept himself well clear. He stood two yards away.
He chose the longest probe he had to search out the decay.
“I said to do the back ones first!” the Crocodile called out.
“You’re much too far away, dear sir, to see what you’re about.
To do the back ones properly you’ve got to put your head
Deep down inside my great big mouth,” the grinning Crocky said.
The poor old dentist wrung his hands and, weeping in despair,
He cried, “No no! I see them all extremely well from here!”
Just then, in burst a lady, in her hands a golden chain.
She cried, “Oh Croc, you naughty boy, you’re playing tricks again!”
“Watch out!” the dentist shrieked and started climbing up the wall.
“He’s after me! He’s after you! He’s going to eat us all!”
“Don’t be a twit,” the lady said, and flashed a gorgeous smile.
“He’s harmless. He’s my little pet, my lovely crocodile.”

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Adventures of the Mind

“The New House,”


by Steve Chimombo

We came home to this:


Rats scuttling under the ceiling
Cockroaches pullulating in the pantry
Fruit flies hardened against the cold
Multiplying in the refrigerator
We came home to this:
Owl’s mating calls on the roof.
Claw tops skidding on the corrugation
Nightmares chasing each other
On our pillow jolting us awake
We came home to this:
Mambas slithering in the backyard.
Scorpions connecting across doorways
Guard dogs dying of rat poisoning.
Between the kitchen and bedroom,
Between the births and the burials,
Between the spaces created by the silences.
We have to build in our own time
A new home we came to, you and I.

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Adventures of the Mind

“He Laughed with a Laugh,”


by JonArno Lawson

He laughed with a laugh


that he wished was his laugh,
but everyone knew it wasn’t.

When he laughed he would ask,


"Does that sound like my laugh?"
and everyone said, "It doesn’t."

The laugh that he laughed


that wasn’t his laugh went
"Hardy har har, guffaw!"

The laugh that he laughed


that he wished wasn’t his went,
"Hruck, sniffle-hick, hee-haw!"

“Fore-Thought,”
by Sarah O’Gorman

Rising too the horses


gallop for the distance
The dreamy distances,
Will it all settle if I say
I have not lied,
I will not lie, I do not lie?
Is the mind moving on
If so, can it
take me along?

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Adventures of the Mind

“Zoophabet: Ants to Zorillas,”


by Avis Harley

Ants use antennae to seek out their tracks,


Beavers gnaw trees for their lodge,
Camels store food in the humps on their backs,
Dragonflies dazzle and dodge,
Elephant trunks furnish watery flings,
Flamingoes eat shrimp to keep pink;
Grasshoppers' ears appear under their wings,
Hummingbirds hover to drink,
Inchworms advance with a rear-ended loop,
Jellyfish sometimes can sting,
Kestrels catch lunch with a lightning-like swoop,
Larks love to warble and sing,
Moles tunnel intricate malls underground,
Newts thrive in ponds filled with weed,
Owls like to swivel their heads right around,
People can learn how to read,
Quetzals are gorgeous in feathery dress,
Rats have acquired a bad label,
Seahorse appears like a figure in chess,
Tortoise found fame in a fable,
Umber-birds thrive in the African wild,
Vipers can poison their prey,
Worms turn the soil when the climate is mild,
Xylophage chews wood all day,
Yaks grow in horns that are gracefully curled,
Zorillas are striped black and white;
each zooabet creature is part of this world:
unique, with its own copyright!

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“You Learn by Living,”


by J. Patrick Lewis

Who showed the world the world itself


Was awkward, shy and plain.
A high-born leader in a long,
Low decade full of pain.

Poor farmers, blacks, homeless, the least


Advantaged hoped to see,
Magnificently unarrayed,
Pure human dignity.

A lady first, the great first lady


Looked fear in the face,
And said, There is no room for fear
When courage take its place.

“Adulthood,”
by Chika Unigwe

He has got his little toy cars all laid out on the formica top
How proud he is of his handiwork
Then he calls out to me, “Quick, come see what I’ve done!”
I look but I miss the logic
I cannot match the excitement in his voice, the glimmer in his eyes
I simply do not understand
Maybe I could have once
Before adulthood robbed me
Of my sight
For the innocent simplicity of life.

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“Ritmo/Rhythm,”
by Margarita Engle

Mad has decided to catch a vulture,


the biggest bird she can find.

She is so determined, and so inventive,


that by stringing together a rickety trap
of ropes and sticks, she creates
a puzzling structure that just might
be clever enough to trick a buzzard,
once the trap’s baited with leftover pork
from supper.

Mad and I used to do everything together,


but now I need a project all my own,
so I roam the green fields,
finding bones.

The skull of a wild boar.


The jawbone of a mule.

Older cousins show me


how to shake the mule’s quijada,
to make the blunt teeth
rattle.

Guitars.
Drums.
Gourds.
Sticks.

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Adventures of the Mind

A cow bell.
A washboard.
Pretty soon, we have
a whole orchestra.

On Cuban farms, even death


can turn into
music.

“It Can Sparkle,”


by Adebayo Akinloye
in the boulevard of
our broken dreams
there will be an oasis
in the desert of our
forlorn hope there
will be a spring
in the place of our famished faces there
will be a fire of fabulous lightning when
every day someone cries
every day someone laughs…
when we can share with others
when a smile can sparkle our lives
there’s no shame in tears.

130
Adventures of the Mind

“The Promise,”
by Jane Hirshfield

Stay, I said
to the cut flowers.
They bowed
their heads lower.

Stay, I said to the spider,


who fled.

Stay, leaf.
It reddened,
embarrassed for me and itself.

Stay, I said to my body.


It sat as a dog does,
obedient for a moment,
soon starting to tremble.

Stay, to the earth


of riverine valley meadows,
of fossiled escarpments,
of limestone and sandstone.
It looked back
with a changing expression, in silence.

Stay, I said to my loves.


Each answered,
Always.

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Adventures of the Mind

“If We Must Die,”


by Claude McKay

If we must die, let it not be like hogs


Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

“Learning to Talk,”
by Chika Unigwe

“Peek-a-boo!”
His eyes light up
Twinkling little stars
When he realizes that we do understand him
“Peek-a-boo!”
He peeps from out chubby hands
Hiding his face
A cherub in a striped pajama shirt
“Peek-a-boo!”
He rolls the words round and round his tongue
Relishing the taste
Of this entrance to the world of words.
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Adventures of the Mind

“I Hid My Love,”
by John Clare

I hid my love when young till I


Couldn't bear the buzzing of a fly;
I hid my love to my despite
Till I could not bear to look at light:
I dare not gaze upon her face
But left her memory in each place;
Where'er I saw a wild flower lie
I kissed and bade my love good-bye.

I met her in the greenest dells,


Where dewdrops pearl the wood bluebells;
The lost breeze kissed her bright blue eye,
The bee kissed and went singing by,
A sunbeam found a passage there,
A gold chain round her neck so fair;
As secret as the wild bee's song
She lay there all the summer long.

I hid my love in field and town


Till e'en the breeze would knock me down;
The bees seemed singing ballads o'er,
The fly's bass turned a lion's roar;
And even silence found a tongue,
To haunt me all the summer long;
The riddle nature could not prove
Was nothing else but secret love.

133
Adventures of the Mind

“The Negro Speaks of Rivers,”


by Langston Hughes

I’ve known rivers:


I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of
human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.


I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went
down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all
golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:


Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

134
Adventures of the Mind

“The Secret,”
by Anonymous
We have a secret, just we three,
The robin, and I, and the sweet cherry-tree;
The bird told the tree, and the tree told me,
And nobody knows it but just us three.

But of course the robin knows it best,


Because she built the—I shan't tell the rest;
And laid the four little—something in it—
I'm afraid I shall tell it every minute.

But if the tree and the robin don't peep,


I'll try my best the secret to keep;
Though I know when the little birds fly about
Then the whole secret will be out.

“Remembrances,”
by Chika Unigwe
My grandfather was a nature-man
He loved to dig
Burrow into the ground
It made him feel alive
He always told me
Even now
I still hear him
His dirt-stained hoe
Going furiously at a hardened earth
Forcing it to yield
And I am now
Digging into my brain
Begging it to yield
Me memories of one I loved.
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Adventures of the Mind

“Formula for Funerals,”


by Steve Chimombo
The formula required is not mysterious:
a few famines, droughts and pestilences;
one or two napolos and HIV?AIDS, also
to control pullulation, create depopulation
and make room for more burial grounds
The anguish of the bereaved gashes
the sunken flesh of cheeks like gullies
as tears gush out of eyelashes and sockets
enough really to refill the lake of storms,
razing to skin any moles and pimples
flash-flooding poles and flattening the hairs
or uprooting them in the wake of their passage
The lamentation of the mourners furrows
the foreheads like the combined contours
of the Shire Highlands and the Kirk Range
as sorrow terraces the drained temples high
enough to cause the envy of the mwera
yet sufficiently deep to be hiding places of
Mulanje, Zomba, Viphya and Nyika mounts
when the heart’s heaviness rises to the head.
Indeed, only a few ingredients are required:
the mfecane, slave trade or the mchape
and one or two world wars in between
to mobilize spears, poisons and explosives.
The results make more room for grave mounds.

136
Adventures of the Mind

“Poor Old Lady,”


by Anonymous

Poor old lady, she swallowed a fly.


I don't know why she swallowed a fly.
Poor old lady, I think she'll die.

Poor old lady, she swallowed a spider.


It squirmed and wriggled and turned inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
I don't know why she swallowed a fly.
Poor old lady, I think she'll die.

Poor old lady, she swallowed a bird.


How absurd! She swallowed a bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
I don't know why she swallowed a fly.
Poor old lady, I think she'll die.

Poor old lady, she swallowed a cat.


Thank of that! She swallowed a cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
I don't know why she swallowed a fly.
Poor old lady, I think she'll die.

Poor old lady, she swallowed a dog.


She went the whole hog when she swallowed the dog.
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,

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She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,


She swallowed the bird to catch the spider.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
I don't know why she swallowed a fly.
Poor old lady, I think she'll die.

Poor old lady, she swallowed a cow.


I don't know how she swallowed a cow.
She swallowed the cow to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
I don't know why she swallowed a fly.
Poor old lady, I think she'll die.

Poor old lady, she swallowed a horse.


She died, of course.

“After The Rain,”


by Chika Unigwe
I want to scoop the sand
Brown and earthy
Let it sift through
These raw fingers
Rub it coarse against my breasts
My mating partner
Raise it in thumb-fulls to my eager nostrils
Lose myself in its exhilarating earthly scent

138
Adventures of the Mind

“A Teacher’s Lament,”
by Kalli Dakos

Don’t tell me the cat ate your math sheet,


And your spelling words went down the drain,
And you couldn’t decipher your homework,
Because it was soaked in the rain.

Don’t tell me you slaved for hours


On the project that’s due today,
And you would have had it finished
If your snake hadn’t run away.

Don’t tell me you lost your eraser,


And your worksheets and pencils, too,
And your papers are stuck together
With a great big glob of glue.

I’m tired of all your excuses;


They are really a terrible bore.
Besides, I forgot my own work,
At home in my study drawer.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,”


by Jane Taylor

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,


How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,


When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveler in the dark


Thanks you for your tiny spark,
How could he see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so?

In the dark blue sky you keep,


Often through my curtains peep
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark


Lights the traveler in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

140
Adventures of the Mind

“We Wear the Mask,”


by Paul Laurence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,


It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,


In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries


To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

“The Traveler,”
by Maya Angelou

Byways and bygone


And lone nights long
Sun rays and sea waves
And star and stone

Manless and friendless


No cave my home
This is my torture
My long nights, lone

141
Adventures of the Mind

“The Messengers,”
by Steve Chimombo
Napolo has spoken: Death.
The lizard scuttled in the undergrowth;
the excitement he carried did not burnden him.
Mankind awaited his coming.
Napolo has spoken: Life.
The Chameleon stopped to consider
a joint in his leg and hesitated.
He rolled an eye behind and in front,
the shrubbery swallowed his form.
Mankind awaited his coming.
Napolo has spoken:
The man in the loincloth came to us at dawn.
we gathered round to hear the massage,
but did not understand.
He spoke to us in a strange tongue
and we greeted it with laughter.
He turned his back on us;
now we shall never know.
And yet Napolo had spoken.

142
Adventures of the Mind

“Who Has Seen the Wind?”


by Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?


Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?


Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

“When You Come,”


by Maya Angelou

When you come to me, unbidden,


Beckoning me
To long-ago rooms,
Where memories lie.
Offering me, as to a child, an attic,
Gatherings of days too few.
Baubles of stolen kisses.
Trinkets of borrowed loves.
Trunks of secret words,
I Cry.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Alone,”
by Edgar Allan Poe

From childhood’s hour I have not been


As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

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Adventures of the Mind

“Goofer-Dust,”
by Thomas Lux

(dirt stolen from an infant’s grave around midnight)

Do not try to take it from my child’s grave, nor


from the grave
of my childhood,
nor from any infant’s grave I guard—voodoo, juju, boo-hoo rites
calling for it or not! This dust, this dirt, will not
be taken at dawn or noon
or at the dusky time,
and if you approach
this sacred place near midnight,
then I will chop,
one by one, your fingers off
with which you do your harm. Goofer-dust: if you want it,
if you need it, then
erect downwind from a baby’s grave
a fine-meshed net
and gather it
one-half grain, a flaky mote, an infinitesimally small fleck
of a flake at a time
and in such a way
it is given to you
by the day, the wind, the world,
it is given to you, thereby
diminishing the need to steal
this dirt displaced by a child
in a child’s grave.

145
Adventures of the Mind

“Little Things Mean a Lot,”


by Kitty Kallen

Blow me a kiss from across the room


Say I look nice when I'm not
Touch my hair as you pass my chair
Little things mean a lot
Give me your arm as we cross the street
Call me at six on the dot
A line a day when you're far away
Little things mean a lot
Don't have to buy me diamonds or pearls
Champagne, sables, and such

I never cared much for diamonds and pearls


‘cause honestly, honey, they just cost money
Give me a hand when I’ve lost the way
Give me your shoulder to cry on
Whether the day is bright or gray
Give me your heart to rely on
Send me the warmth of a secret smile
To show me you haven’t forgot
For now and forever, that's always and ever
Honey, little things mean a lot

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Adventures of the Mind

“Why I Don’t Piss in the Ocean,”


By Maggie Dietz
Once my sister told me that from her summit at the city
pool she could see the yellow billows spread like gas
or dreams between kids’ legs. In something the size of the sea,
you can’t be sure who’s watching from above. Let’s say
it’s the Almighty, twirling His whistle, ready to blow it
at any moment and let loose the bottomless Apocalypse:
the ocean would make bone of a body, coral of bone.
Piss, and a tiger-fish darts through a skull-hole, a weed
weaves itself through ribs. You, too, have seen
the bulbs flash from the sea. You, too, have felt
it breathing down your neck. You eat fish. You’ve heard
that mermaids sing. My dreams are as beleaguered as the next
Joe’s, my happiness as absurd, but I’m not going to go
piss in the ocean about it. No, not in the ocean.

“The New Colossus,”


by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

147
Adventures of the Mind

“The New Church,”


by Lucia Cherciu

The old cupola glinted above the clouds, shone


among fir trees, but it took him an hour

for the half mile all the way up the hill. As he trailed,
the village passed him by, greeted him,

asked about his health, but everybody hurried


to catch the mass, left him leaning against fences,

measuring the road with the walking stick he sculpted.


He yearned for the day when the new church

would be built—right across the road. Now


it rises above the moon: saints in frescoes

meet the eye, and only the rain has started to cut
through the shingles on the roof of his empty

house. The apple trees have taken over the sky,


sequestered the gate, sidled over the porch.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Chino,”
by Brandon Som

The olla knocked with steam. The masa cooked.


She said her eyes are china. The vowel switched
on an aura, a shine that sheens the threshold.
The vowel was spell: an i that might we,
an I that echoes how we’re seen and see.
Eyedentity. Ay Dios, she exclaimed
surrounded by photos—niños and nietos—
where I’m the only chino. How might I
see through my family’s eyes—an owl’s eyes
in ojos and one in its lid turned sideways —
I wondered with her at the table where we
placed one olive—ojo negro—in each hoja,
that worn folio for field corn’s field notes.
What does that dark eye in the ear’s husk see?

“I Will Forget You, Presently,”


by Lucius Furius

I will forget you, presently.


As leaves of this ailanthus tree, now green,
turn yellow, fall, and are covered with snow,
so memories of you will fade.

But years from now, on a sidewalk in Oslo,


a thirty-ish woman, your distant cousin,
will smile at me as we pass,
and all those feelings, all your beauty's joyous ache,
will come flooding back,
as though it were only yesterday.
149
Adventures of the Mind

“Burning in the Rain,”


by Richard Blanco
Someday compassion would demand
I set myself free of my desire to recreate
my father, indulge in my mother’s losses,
strangle lovers with words, forcing them
to confess for me and take the blame.
Today was that day: I tossed them, sheet
by sheet on the patio and gathered them
into a pyre. I wanted to let them go
in a blaze, tiny white dwarfs imploding
beside the azaleas and ficus bushes,
let them crackle, burst like winged seeds,
let them smolder into gossamer embers—
a thousand gray butterflies in the wind.
Today was that day, but it rained, kept
raining. Instead of fire, water—drops
knocking on doors, wetting windows
into mirrors reflecting me in the oaks.
The garden walls and stones swelling
into ghostlier shades of themselves,
the wind chimes giggling in the storm,
a coffee cup left overflowing with rain.
Instead of burning, my pages turned
into water lilies floating over puddles,
then tiny white cliffs as the sun set,
finally drying all night under the moon
into papier-mâché souvenirs. Today
the rain would not let their lives burn.

150
Adventures of the Mind

“The Arrival of Education,”


by Abigail George
One day I lost my eyes and I could not see
Then I realised I had to reach out, reach within
Here, was our future that always came, a clean seed
Relevant and thrilling, promising new beginnings
Amongst the undergrowth it was gold, like golden yellow fields
Its spinning brightness was lightly tangled, shining and blazing
Our speech was once silver but silence gives us a sanctuary.
Asking, ‘Woman what is your choice?’
Africa is like a locked box with no key – it is dangerous.
There is no exit side only a source of corrupt lunatics, maniacs.

With a hand in the dark to feel my way around,


to reach your heart, I imagine the night sky is moonlit,
Dreamy and the stars butterfly spirit sparkling
as my call crosses the bewildered universe
‘It is not yet done, do not dream it is over.
I am calling out your name.’
Who will flee?
It is only non-believers since the beginning of time
Who will flee believing that emancipation
Is only temporary.

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Adventures of the Mind

“Touched by an Angel,”
by Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage


exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free

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Adventures of the Mind

“As In Athens,”
by Ogaga Ifowodo

Under the old tree – ancient, having drunk


the earth’s dew before I groped for her breast –
they sit over tobacco and rude gin.
At the waist of the tree, where gods have their mouth
present offerings slobber down over the old,
freshen the browned blood of yester-tributes.
A breeze combs the green hair of coconut,
orange and mango trees hedging the yard
with the scent of the sea, combs, too, grey hairs.
With a warm heart and a cold eye on all
that passed and passes between earth and sky,
that could dwell in the air, land or water,
white beards read the mist of ages past
and present. And begins poetry and proverbs.
Under the big old tree. As in Athens.

“Late Autumn,”
by Hagiwara Sakutaro
The train was passing overhead,
And my thoughts meandered into the shade.
Looking back, I was surprised to find
How my heart was at rest!
Streets were strewn with the autumn sun's last rays,
Traffic crowded the highway.
Does my life exist at all?
Yet in the window of a humble house,
Along a back street where the smoke still hung, Purple
hollyhocks were blooming.
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Adventures of the Mind

“The Massage,”
by Steve Chimombo

Was it a decade after Napolo


I met you, friend?
No matter.
We lived to tell the story around the fire
in whispers and behind locked doors.
We are going to laugh together again
with empty mouths,
and dead eyes;
grimaces echoing hallowed minds.
Review what is left unsaid,
and, after we have parted,
we will know
what it is we wanted to say
before you noticed the dullneess in my eyes
and I, the emptiness of your mouth,
before the art of saying nothing
in a mountain of words
inturrupted our conversation.
In those days, my friend,
martyrs were left unburied,
heroes were coffined alive or fled.
our tears remained unshed:
we did not know they had died.
No one told us who had gone.
These tears, my friend, are wrung
from a heart shattered
by the apocalyspe
that was Napolo.

154
Adventures of the Mind

“Stammered Farewell,”
by Zino Asalor
(For Peter Scarter)

Could be some hinge bolts fell free


Off doors strapping the wind talons in her place
Something naked about the paleness of the moment
Some shift in the balance of scales
And we became leaking balloons buzzing
Through the sky of sanity
Sucked out the forest of lungs
In one giant breath
Shoved deep into my throat
For a moment life left me
Life left me stammering
A stam-mer-ing farewell
I raise my hand against the storm
Thundering out your name
Wherever it is you have gone
Time is nothing but pelts of rain
On the umbrella of our camaraderie
Do you hear me?
Into worlds of walls and winds I cast my wish
What would I not trade today?
Anything! To play four-cut
Like we used to – behind staff club
I may let you win even
I am serious

155
Adventures of the Mind

“Another Fools’ Day Touches Down: Shush,”


by Jack Mapanje

Another Fools’ Day touches down, another homecoming.


Shush. Bunting! Some anniversary: they’ll be preoccupied.
Only a wife, children and a friend, probably waiting.
A Ph.D., three books, a baby-boy, three and half years
Some feat to put us . . . Shush. Such frivolities no longer
Touch people here. ‘So you decide to come back, eh?’
Rhetorical questions dredge up spastic images. Shush
In the dusty, brown-grey landscape, the heat unrolls.
Some wizard has locked up his rainbows and thunder again.
Why do the gods hold up the rain?
Don’t we praise them enough?
Shush. There are no towers here, no domes or gothic windows.
Only your children, friends nestling up for a warm story.

April 1st used to be celebrated as Fools’ Day before it was abolished during
the Kamuzu’s era. Jack Mapanje was detained for years during the MCP gov-
ernment.

“On the Death of the Emperor Temmu,”


by Empress Jitō

Even flaming fire


can be snatched up, smothered
and carried in a bag.
Why then can't I
meet my dead lord again?

156
Adventures of the Mind

“Phenomenal Woman,”
by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.


I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room


Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

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Adventures of the Mind

Men themselves have wondered


What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand


Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

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“A Dream Within a Dream,”


by Edgar Allan Poe

Take this kiss upon the brow!


And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar


Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

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“Chameleon,”
by K L Lapukeni
Basically, he started lean
and weak. Months facelifted
him. Up one branch,
his first, he swallowed them up
segment by segment, then thoraces,
heads and antannae.
Stronger,
He heaved himself along
a sturdier branch,
foxing into bird’s nests. He
swallowed fledglings: beaks
feathers and all.
Heavier,
He took a branchlet, along
which his eyes discovered more insects,
centipedes and hoppers
It snapped, and he fell to the ground,
his belly open as a book,
releasing the young, mid-aged
and Machipisa alive.
We gaze at him now, breathing
relief, seeing no reason
why we are interested in him.
But we live.
Old, he is dying

Note: Machipisa Mnthali was Malawi’s longest serving prisoner. He was in


Kamuzu’s jail for 27 years.
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“The Old Familiar Faces,”


by Charles Lamb

I have had playmates, I have had companions,


In my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days,
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have been laughing, I have been carousing,


Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies,
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I loved a love once, fairest among women;


Closed are her doors on me, I must not see her —
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man;


Like an ingrate, I left my friend abruptly;
Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.

Ghost-like, I paced round the haunts of my childhood.


Earth seemed a desert I was bound to traverse,
Seeking to find the old familiar faces.

Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,


Why wert not thou born in my father's dwelling?
So might we talk of the old familiar faces —

How some they have died, and some they have left me,
And some are taken from me; all are departed;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

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“Thoughtless Cruelty,”
by Charles Lamb

There, Robert, you have kill'd that fly — ,


And should you thousand ages try
The life you've taken to supply,
You could not do it.

You surely must have been devoid


Of thought and sense, to have destroy'd
A thing which no way you annoy'd —
You'll one day rue it.

Twas but a fly perhaps you'll say,


That's born in April, dies in May;
That does but just learn to display
His wings one minute,

And in the next is vanish'd quite.


A bird devours it in his flight —
Or come a cold blast in the night,
There's no breath in it.

The bird but seeks his proper food —


And Providence, whose power endu'd
That fly with life, when it thinks good,
May justly take it.

But you have no excuses for't —


A life by Nature made so short,
Less reason is that you for sport
Should shorter make it.

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A fly a little thing you rate —


But, Robert do not estimate
A creature's pain by small or great;
The greatest being

Can have but fibres, nerves, and flesh,


And these the smallest ones possess,
Although their frame and structure less
Escape our seeing.

“Fear,”
by Goodnews Mememugh Karibo

a brushstroke of blue water


the signature of oncoming rain
a powdered face resembling the
body of a morning sky
children who run out to play
are meat in the sun
our stories are big envelopes
filled with mail from last night’s
scandal a brushstroke of blue water
drapes my hair
my hair is a cloud running Southward
a variety of things happened
in the south this morning
one of such things is the dismissal
of our rights as fronds of one palm
it drapes my hair
it throws my memory of freedom
into water and
the jinx of not being born twice
breaks on me

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“Postures of Good-looking Tigers,”


by Abigail George
That is the history of lunacy for you.
Found in the wilderness upon the land’s pale throne –
Like a carcass found in an asylum of trees.
The Depressed Writer in the Northern Areas
Life is a hideous oblivion.
I do not know you but I miss you –
Like the pouring rain and Alba.
Winged Creatures of God
Standing in the Metro I met Paris.
Hemingway, Pound and T.S. Eliot’s Paris –.
Winter branches of the establishment.
I do not have enough time left to save the world
Rooms with white walls. Wards and nurses.
Please excuse me for I do not know how to love another –
Fury I know. That comes with the history of illness.

“Though On The Deceased Life,”


by Yuan Zhen (Tang Dynasty)
Insignificant waters become,
When sailings to the oceans abound.
Misty clouds circle mount Wu around,
That’s the best scenery I have ever found.
Many a flower I pass by,
Second looks I bother not to try,
For pilgrimages as a monk I vie,
Still remember the lover I once had.

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“Devotion,”
by Zino Asalor

Devotion
Distant dreams running
Fever of eels writhing within
Shake this wrapper in wind
Release sunken splinters
Pluck me out
Feed me lashes
In this Devotion of drums
Rhythmic hearts run in unison
We are together
Lone voice tears into song
Peeling skins
Lifting limbs
We are free
Of Devotion
And wet clothes draping shoulders
Heavy
We are free
Whispers spear through thoughts
Reverberating
Killing the old
We are free
Opium sails through the raging seas
I ease out, take it off
I lift it up, let it drop
I am free.
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“Monkey Bay,”
by Edson Mpina
I’ll return to this harbor to
live my life; I have lived all my
life for others in the past.
I’ll build myself a fortress over
the vast rock on which the ships Ilala, Ufulu
and Mtendere berth.
As I sleep in my fortress, monkeys from
Nkunguni Mountain will guard me
Mphipe wil fly my sweet chambo whose
calcium-filled bones will wave me passage
with a new method, letting the music
of water-refined air and air-refined water
refine the marrow coursing my senile bones.
Living here, I’ll possess all my days.
Kakowa will lead me by hand to colonies
of hippos, sightseeing;
every day I will waltz to Chilinda to sip lather
form coconut covers.
I’ll have baths in the water falls of the sun here,
below an unbroken sheet of sky,
a sky without gaps. I’m longing for my life
next time when I’ll recline
on my past blurred with jail
and verse. My plans are packed.

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“On Aging,”
by Maya Angelou

When you see me sitting quietly,


Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I’ll do without it!
When my bones are stiff and aching,
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don’t bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling,
Don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy
And every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.

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“The Patient,”
by Lucy Tunstall

I have no idea what happens when I turn my back.


I sleep through everything.
It is quite stupid how I never open my eyes.
The carpet is luscious. The blossom at the window is spectacular.
I try to keep them apart.
There are more grown-ups than I know what to do with.
I have a different Darling for each one. I inflect it.
I miss everything — the haunted wardrobe, the bald landlady,
the slurring woman crashing up and down the stairs,
Look after her, Look after her, Pierrot with his little spoon.

“Immortals at the Magpie Bridge,”


by Qin Guan (Song Dynasty)

Clouds float like works of art,


Stars shoot with grief at heart,
Across the Milky Way the Cowherd meets the Maid.
When Autumn’s Golden Wind embraces Dew of Jade,
All the love scenes on earth, however many, fade.
Their tender love flows like a stream,
Their happy date seems but a dream,
How can they bear a separate homeward way?
If love between both sides can last for aye,
Why need they stay together night and day?

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“Thoughts After Work,”


by David Rubadiri

Clear laughter of African Children


Rings loud in the evening:
Here around this musty village
Evening falls like a mantle,
Gracing in all a shroud of peace.
Heavily from my office
I walk
to my village,
My brick government compound,
To my new exile
In this other compound
I would no longer intrude.
I perch over a chasm,
Ride a storm I cannot hold,
And so must pass on quietly
The laughter of children rings loud
Bringing back to me
Simple joys I once knew.

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“I Am Chito,”
by Hiromi Itō?
Translated by Jeffrey Angles

The first time I ever heard about coyotes


Was in a book called (in Japanese) Seton’s Animals for Boys and Girls
There I encountered Lobo the Wolf King, bighorn sheep, a family
of wild boars, cottontail rabbits, and raccoons, but it was the
stories of the wise coyote I loved the best
I read the book over and over, over and over, it taught me the
wisdom of rabbits, wolves, wild boars, but nothing surpassed the
wisdom of the coyote
Tito was raised by humans, was kept constantly on a leash
No one loved her, they teased her until she ran away
She learned to survive
Ran for her life with her pups in her mouth
Trying to get away from dogs and people
I read about her over and over, over and over
There was a map of America in the front of the book with
pictures of animals where the stories took place: coyotes in the
central plains, wolves in the southwest and north, elsewhere there
were cottontails, boars, and partridges
During my childhood, that was America to me
Where did that book go? I no longer live in my childhood home,
not even in the same town, not even in the same country, I lost my
place there, I lost people and relationships, almost lost others too,
I lost my language, but what about that book I read over and over,
over and over? I must have lost it too
Just the other day
I tried searching for it on Amazon
It popped right up, and I ordered it straight away
Lives of the Hunted it’s called in English
Published in 1901, reprinted in 1967

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It arrived at my home
A former library copy, the word discard stamped on it in big
letters, probably the library didn’t want it because the stories are
too cruel, too cruel for today’s youth, nowadays kids are used to
killing one another in the virtual world, but even so, the stories are
too cruel, a mother coyote was giving her cubs her milk, was
licking them when hunters shot her dead, her cubs fled into their
den, only to be dragged out one by one
Here is how the book describes it:
Even at this age there was a certain individuality of character among the
puppies. Some of them squealed and some of them growled when dragged out
to die. One or two tried to bite. The one that had been slowest to comprehend
the danger, had been the last to retreat, and so was on top of the pile, and
therefore the first killed. The one that had first realized the peril had retreated
first, and now crouched at the bottom of the pile. Coolly and remorselessly the
others were killed one by one, and then this prudent little puppy was seen to be
the last of the family. It lay perfectly still, even when touched, its eyes being
half closed, as, guided by instinct, it tried to “play possum.” One of the men
picked it up. It neither squealed nor resisted.
Neither squealed
Nor resisted ...
The book was in English, but I could read it quickly
Since I remembered the Japanese
I had read the book over and over, over and over
All the coyote pups were killed
Only one survived, only a single pup
Tossed with its dead littermates into a sack and taken to a farm

In the original, the hunters named her Tito


That’s what I had suspected, I had read it in an old translation,
kids in Japan back then couldn’t be expected to pronounce the
unfamiliar

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sound ti, but that’s the version I was brought up on


So for me, her name was always Chito
I was always Chito
Wow-wow-wow-wow-wow-w-o-o-o-o-o-o-w
I remember her voice
When I was a child, I read the book over and over, over and over
Here is how the book describes it:
an inborn hankering to sing
Her songs were
a volley of short barks
mixed with doleful squalls—
Wow-wow-wow-wow-wow-w-o-o-o-o-o-o-w
Here is how the book describes it:
when the sun went down she would feel the impulse to sing that wild song of
the West which means so much to the Coyotes. It is not the invention of an
individual nor of the present, but was slowly built out of the feelings of all
Coyotes in all ages.
I’m not sure if I remember the Japanese correctly
Getting old is no fun at all, you forget important things like that
It is not the invention of an individual nor of the present,
but was slowly built out of the feelings of all Coyotes in all ages and
Her experiences all emphasized for her that old idea to “lay low”—
that is, to be quiet, unobtrusive, and hide when danger is in sight
Those were the most important things I learned as a child
Chito’s wisdom

How to survive
Seeing the book, I remembered why
I came to this place called America
The most important things I learned as a child
Were in that book I read over and over

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Maybe I had lost them for a while


Or just forgotten
The fate of the animals, their lives and deaths
Their lives upon the plains, and my life too
Chito was killed over and over again
But each time she came back to life
The humans tenaciously, persistently killed her
She tricked them and was tricked by them in return
She scattered her feces, went into heat
The more they hunted her
The more clearly things came into focus
In other words, all the things she thought along the way
Not the invention of an individual nor of the present
But slowly built out of the feelings of all coyotes in all ages
It was for Chito
For Chito
That I abandoned my home, bought an airline ticket
And came to this place
There was someone I barely knew, I’d only barely caught his scent
But still I followed my nose and pursued him
I found a room, rented a car
And stayed the full three months permitted without a visa, I
thought I’d try to stay
When people asked me why I’d come, I said
I’m a poet, I’ve come to learn about the oral traditions of the
Native Americans
And that was true
But I didn’t even know what I wanted to know
I didn’t know where to go
I didn’t know whom to ask
I was terrible at speaking with people in my native tongue, so in
English it was damn near impossible, I couldn’t even tell them
who I

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am (it took me decades to say that even in Japanese)


But the real reason I came
Was because I wanted to encounter a coyote
I wanted to prick up my ears and listen to its howl
Rattling dryly over the roads, through the darkness of night

“Rain at the Zoo,”


by Kristen Tracy

A giraffe presented its head to me, tilting it


sideways, reaching out its long gray tongue.
I gave it my wheat cracker while small drops
of rain pounded us both. Lightning cracked open
the sky. Zebras zipped across the field.
It was springtime in Michigan. I watched
the giraffe shuffle itself backwards, toward
the herd, its bone- and rust-colored fur beading
with water. The entire mix of animals stood
away from the trees. A lone emu shook
its round body hard and squawked. It ran
along the fence line, jerking open its wings.
Perhaps it was trying to shake away the burden
of water or indulging an urge to fly. I can’t know.
I have no idea what about their lives these animals
love or abhor. They are captured or born here for us,
and we come. It’s true. This is my favorite field.

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“Catalogue of Strange Fish,”


by Kate Potts

From the unfathomed, farthest away from the light, from the sea’s
iron guardedness they come — pin-eyed, with flesh like tree bark.
Their jaws are gorgeously spiked, ragged with toothpick teeth,
goon teeth, prison-bar teeth. O anglerfish, vampire fish, oarfish,
goonch. A strange fish holds himself upright and fast to the park
railings. He is white knuckled. His eyes focus upwards as if
counting or reciting, tugging at the brain’s stubborn pinions. When
you ask if there’s somewhere he needs to get to, he only sets his
jaw harder. You both know that if he acknowledges you, he’ll fall.
Every one of your dreams is about the president, however
tangentially. Each morning, pre-waking, mucid insects seem to
attach themselves to your collarbone and gnaw in at the marrow.
What if we could all say whatever came first to mind, whenever
we wanted to? No perusal. Scullion! Arse-wipe! Warp-faced pignut!
Invincible as a body that’s snug in the womb. What if we could all
get whatever we wanted, whenever—as in the fairy tale? On the
beach at Marazion the surf is spangled with mackerel scales. The
sands heave with stranded bodies, underwater silver bullets, drying
and curling up in the winter light, so close to home.

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“My Father's Wound,”


by Vivek Narayanan

Avocado trees on the moon. Aichigum,


mullukumb, Billy Blue Gum. This is not exactly
a confessional. My father’s wound
was also my wound, dirt outside
Vedanta Hall, blood in the dirt
below the gutter pipe, blood like washing
undone in my banian fold. I am not saying
that blood was the thing. My father
was singing. From the tall narrow barred window,
the gravel driveway, in the heat, my father’s wound
is jelly to the touch. I touch it now.
A broken tree on the floor. Tarzan says,
“Tarzan save Vivek father wound.” “The shadow
before State House, he will ride his bike no more.”
Once, I looked up from paper and saw the clouds
move. It was terrible, that clouds
could move. The clouds moving reminded me
of my father’s wound. I don’t care if you like this,
I am going to take my time. My father came back
from a hernia operation, there had been a mistake,
the stitches had to be removed. Every day
I had seen him shaving
in the bathroom, whistling Balamurali’s songs.

“If you’re going


to write a poem about me,” my father says,
“don’t forget to mention my daily yoga.”
There is a large glass door looking onto the pool.
My father cleared that place up. Surrealism only matters
if it’s real. I listen to Michael,

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Mr. Mister, Genesis. On Kyrie, I saw


a massive bird block the sky while I blasted
the song from the car stereo to the playground
and the driver sat quietly. Did I mention
we had a driver? He drove me around
when my father had his wound
and could not move.
I betrayed the wound. I see it half-formed, my mother
washing him, his long painful yelps. This was scary,
to hear those animal sounds. My mother went in there
instead of me. Splashing. A red oval among the ripples.

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“The Animals in the Zoo Don’t Seem Worried,”


by Tom Sleigh

Looking at the lion behind the plate glass


I wasn’t sure what I was looking at: a lion, OK,
but he seemed to come apart, not literally

I mean, but I couldn’t see him whole:


Mane. Teeth. The slung belly pumping
as he panted and began to roar. His balls

sheathed in fur swaying a little. His tail’s tuft


jerking in an arc like an old-time pump handle
rusted in midair. Somebody or something

I read once said that when Jesus had his vision


of what his father, God, would do to him,
that Jesus could only see pieces of a cross,

pieces of a body appearing through flashes


of sun, as if the body in his vision
was hands looking for feet, a head for a torso,

everything come unmagnetized from the soul:


the lion caught me in his stare not at
or through me but fixated on the great chain

of being that Jesus couldn’t see and that


a zebra might gallop in — black and white stripes
marking longitudes of this world turning

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to meat, bloody meat — this vision of an inmate


that Jesus’s father helped to orchestrate by
making a cageless cage with glass instead

of bars — though the lion didn’t seem to care,


he was roaring for his keepers to bring
him food, so everything’s what it should be

if you’re a lion. Nor did the sea lion


seem concerned about having gone a little
crazy, barking incessantly so I could see

the plush, hot pink insides of its throat,


though like the lion through the glass
there’s this distortion, my reflection

I’m looking through that makes me float above


the zoo: and now this silence at closing time
pours like a waterfall in different zones

of silences that, pouring through my head,


surround roaring, barking, human muttering—
is any of that what being sounds like?

Or is it just animal gasping like what


Jesus must have heard from the thieves
hanging beside him, one damned, one saved?

What was in his heart when his vision


clarified and he saw it was a hand he
recognized that the nail was driving through?

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“The Vanity of the Dragonfly,”


by Nancy Willard

The dragonfly at rest on the doorbell—


too weak to ring and glad of it,
but well mannered and cautious,
thinking it best to observe us quietly
before flying in, and who knows if he will find
the way out? Cautious of traps, this one.
A winged cross, plain, the body straight
as a thermometer, the old glass kind
that could kill us with mercury if our teeth
did not respect its brittle body. Slim as an eel
but a solitary glider, a pilot without bombs
or weapons, and wings clear and small as a wish
to see over our heads, to see the whole picture.
And when our gaze grazes over it and moves on,
the dragonfly changes its clothes,
sheds its old skin, shriveled like laundry,
and steps forth, polished black, with two
circles buttoned like epaulettes taking the last space
at the edge of its eyes.

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“After the War,”


by Rachel Galvin

When he got to the farmhouse, he rifled through


the cabinets, drawers, and cupboards,
and his buddies did too. The place was abandoned,
or so he thought, and his buddies did too.
He tried to talk to people in town, and his buddies did too,
but he was the only one whose Yiddish made it
across into German. They took his meaning.
He, in the farmhouse, took a camera and a gun,
but his buddies, who knows. About the gun,
it’s also hard to say, but after the war he took up
photography, why not, and shot beautiful women
for years. Got pretty good at it, and how.
Won prizes and engraved plates, put them in a drawer, forgot
the war, forgot his buddies, forgot the women, forgot the drawer.

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“Perihan,”
by Sara Deniz Akant

It doesn’t matter when I cross.


two seconds and they’re gone.
the ferry facing Ulus. The trees
that spanked of green. the narrow
bags of temples. beyond that –
just – these Peri scenes
When the human body sweats
the skin produce an oil
when Peri bodies sweat
it does not produce the oil
the ropes fall to the pavement
their waters slap me still
their green glow sweats
into the pavement waters
slap me still –
I could curl among the roses
I would make an aqualung
we will reach the edge of this walk soon.
all lights torn out for fuel.
move my fingers in the dark
awoke without a start.
Peri here – my name is Peri –
my name is Perihan

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“For the Love of Avocados,”


by Diane Lockward

I sent him from home hardly more than a child.


Years later, he came back loving avocados.
In the distant kitchen where he'd flipped burgers
and tossed salads, he'd mastered how to prepare

the pear-shaped fruit. He took a knife and plied


his way into the thick skin with a bravado
and gentleness I'd never seen in him. He nudged
the halves apart, grabbed a teaspoon and carefully

eased out the heart, holding it as if it were fragile.


He took one half, then the other of the armadillo-
hided fruit and slid his spoon where flesh edged
against skin, working it under and around, sparing

the edible pulp. An artist working at an easel,


he filled the center holes with chopped tomatoes.
The broken pieces, made whole again, merged
into two reconstructed hearts, a delicate and rare

surgery. My boy who'd gone away angry and wild


had somehow learned how to unclose
what had once been shut tight, how to urge
out the stony heart and handle it with care.

Beneath the rind he'd grown as tender and mild


as that avocado, its rubies nestled in peridot,
our forks slipping into the buttery texture
of unfamiliar joy, two halves of what we shared.

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“Had Death Not Had Me in Tears,”


by Kofi Awoonor

Had death not had me in tears


I would have seen the barges
on life's stream sail.
I would have heard sorrow songs
in groves where the road was lost long
where men foot prints mix with other men foot prints
By the road I wait
"death is better, death is better"
came the song
I am by the roadside
looking for the road
death is better, death is much better
Had death not had me in tears
I would have seen the barges
I would have found the road
and heard the sorrow songs.
The land wreathes in rhythm
with your soul, caressed by history
and cruel geography
landscape ineffable yet screaming
eloquent resonant like the drums
of after harvests.
We pile rocks on terracing love
Carry the pithy cloth
to cover the hearths of our mother.
Come now, you lucky ones
come to the festival of corn and lamb
to the finest feast of this land
come, now,

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your lovers have unfurled


their cloths
their thighs glistening like golden knives
ready for the plunging,
for the plentiful loving time.
To whom shall I turn
to what shall I tell my woes?
My kinsmen, the desert tree
denied us sustenance
long before the drought.
To whom shall I turn
to whom shall I tell my woes?
Some say tell the mother goat
she too is my kinswoman
elemental sister of your clan
But I cannot tell the mother goat
for she is not here.

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“Lament of the Silent Sisters,”


by Kofi Awoonor

That night he came home, he came unto me


at the cold hour of the night
Smelling of corn wine in the dawn dew.
He stretched his hand and covered my forehead.
There was a moon beam sparking rays in particles.
The drummer boys had got themselves a goat.
The din was high in the wail of the harvest moon.
The flood was up gurgling through the fields
Birth waters swimming in floods of new blood.
He whispered my name in far echo
Sky-wailing into a million sounds
across my shores. His voice still bore
the sadness of the wanderer
To wail and die in a soft lonely echo
That echo I heard long ago
In the fall of night over my river,
In the distant rustle of reeds
At growth in the strength of my river.
Once upon an evening I heard it
Strung clear as the gong of the drummer boys
Bright burnished like the glint edge of
the paschal knife, ready anxious to cut
My cords and enter into my fields.
I was still a dream then
Carried by the flimsy whiffs
Of sweet scents borne aloft on the vision
Of my coming flood
That will bear me slowly and gently
Into his world of smiles and smells.

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He was not very gentle with me


But I did not complain. The thrust
was hard and angry, severing the tiny cord
Shattering the closed gates of raffia
Gathering at its eye the reeds to feed my fishes.
My flood had not risen.

The canoe carried on the strength


Of his man rowed steep down my river
into a tumultuous eternity
Of green hills and mountains
That reeled and rolled to the river shore
To clasp and bear me away.

Then the floodgates opened


for justice to cleanse to purify
My evening of awakening
In the turbulence of his triumph
Into the bright evening of my rebirth.
The birth was tedious
The pangs were bitter
Into the bright evening I rushed
Crying I have found him I have found him.
He stood there rustling in the wind
The desire to go was written large upon his forehead.
I was not ready for his coming
I was not ready for his loneliness,
for his sad solitude against the rustling wind.
I was not ready for his entrance
Into my fields and shores of my river.
The entrance of raffia was closed
closed against his lonely solitude.

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He stood beneath my entrance


In his approach I knew the steps he took
Like the departing Lazarus
Marching toward his grave.
I was not ready.
The flood was gurgling at his estuary
swimming within me birth waters
warmed by his coming. He was silent
mute against the rushing of the wind
to cry and die for his homeland.
My flood had not risen then.
Across my vastness he marched into the wind
his arms folded upon his chest,
his eyes searching for the gates
that will open his amulets
to snatch and wear his talisman of hope.
He marched into the wind
howling through door posts
to catch the boatman at the dawn point.
to ferry him across my river.
But I was not ready.

My hands stretched to cover his


in the darkness, to cover his eyes
in the agony of his solitude
to call him names I knew
to put the dressing from my womb
upon his cudgel scars,
to hold his hand in the clasp of nightfall.
He was mute; the wind had stopped rustling
He was erect like the totem pole of his household
He burned and blazed for an ending

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Then I was ready. As he pierced my agony


with his cry, my river burst into flood.
My shores reeled and rolled
to the world's end, where they say
at the world's end the graves are green.

“Even the Gods,”


By Nicole Sealey

Even the gods misuse the unfolding blue. Even the gods misread
the windflower’s nod toward sunlight as consent to consume. Still,
you envy the horse that draws their chariot. Bone of their bone.
The wilting mash of air alone keeps you from scaling Olympus
with gifts of dead or dying things dangling from your mouth —
your breath, like the sea, inching away. It is rumored gods grow
where the blood of a hanged man drips. You insist on being this
man. The gods abuse your grace. Still, you’d rather live among the
clear, cloudless white, enjoying what is left of their ambrosia. Who
should be happy this time? Who brings cake to whom? Pray the
gods do not misquote your covetous pulse for chaos, the black
from which they were conceived. Even the eyes of gods must
adjust to light. Even gods have gods.

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“Eden,”
by Ina Rousseau
(Translated by J.M. Coetzee)

Somewhere in Eden, after all this time,


does there still stand, abandoned, like
a ruined city, gates sealed with grisly nails,
the luckless garden?
Is sultry day still followed there
by sultry dusk, sultry night,
where on the branches sallow and purple
the fruit hangs rotting?
Is there still, underground,
spreading like lace among the rocks
a network of unexploited lodes,
onyx and gold?
Through the lush greenery
their wash echoing afar
do there still flow the four glassy streams
of which no mortal drinks?
Somewhere in Eden, after all this time,
does there still stand, like a city in ruins,
forsaken, doomed to slow decay,
the failed garden?

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“Drunk Judgment,”
by Steven Heighton

A night address
The world is wasted on you. Show us one clear time
beyond childhood (or the bottle) you spent your whole
self—hoarding no blood-bank back-up, some future aim
to fuel—or let yourself look foolish in reckless style
on barstool, backstreet or dancefloor, without a dim
image of your hamming hobbling you the whole while.
Voyeur to your own couplings, you never did come
with them, did you, even when you did? You said Hell
is details, when Hell was just the cave, the concave-
mirrored skull you dwelt inside, your left hand
polishing while the other shook to clinch a deal—
Provide, provide! Sure, in the end, like any soul
you were endless and yets—brave, deft with phrases, kind—
three cheers for you. Too closed to want what others love
you vetoed life—
were there other worlds to crave?

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“My Sister Buried in a Trunk,”


by Aaron Barth-Martinson

I was around—
Every night
I called up to her window
Emily—Emily, don’t die alone...
I was there

As close to serenade
I tried to make my voice sound,
When I sung out to her:
Come down Emily, Emily come take a walk with me—
Put your feet on solid ground!

I was confined to come each eve,


I cried for her to glimpse my sight,
I saw but a lonely light;
A discomforted form at work.

I swear I came even on wild nights,


Where now I think the rain tried
To provide me with some future incite,
Though I was unaware of what she wrote
I knew that she did write,
I thought she would retire soon from sowing,
The window was high,
With candle light still glowing,
I whispered, Emily—Emily
Please stop what you are doing,
Just for a moment— come walk with me
Emily—Emily, don’t die alone . . .

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I heard a pace, I heard her rise,


I heard her heart— it was racing,
I thought I could hear her feet on the steps
The upstairs window flew open—
The door below stayed closed—
I should have known it was her life that was going...
There was no light in the window anymore
Later nights when I did call;
My life without her had little answer...
It was strange how I kept facing
Returning to where she went departing
Without a care at all.

But when I broke the rules


So sick with love from calling,
I found a trunk full
Of slanted verse
And I was no longer falling.

Yet after I made your work immortal,


You died again, in my grief.

Now often nights I still come by,


Sometimes I think I see,
A shadow pass over your room;
I shed a tear for Emily.

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“The Weaver Bird,”


by Kofi Awoonor

The weaver bird built in our house


And laid its eggs on our only tree.
We did not want to send it away.
We watched the building of the nest
And supervised the egg-laying.
And the weaver returned in the guise of the owner.
Preaching salvation to us that owned the house.
They say it came from the west
Where the storms at sea had felled the gulls
And the fishers dried their nets by lantern light.
Its sermon is the divination of ourselves
And our new horizon limits at its nest.
But we cannot join the prayers and answers of the communicants.
We look for new homes every day,
For new altars we strive to rebuild
The old shrines defiled by the weaver's excrement.

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“The Unknown Citizen,”


by Wystan H. Auden

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be


One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a
saint,
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in a hospital but left it
cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he
went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his
generation.

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And our teachers report that he never interfered with their


education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

“Sunrays Nurse The Skies,”


by Adeola Ikuomola
Incurring the sky’s displeasure
The sunrays went into self-exile
Like the dreamy blue engineers
Hydro hammering our rooftops
The wiry wind’s wrath appeared
Like the lion robbed of soft jewel
Forsaking bonds of brotherhood
Upon fleshy bones made in blood
It was from our disorderly storm
We struck the cords of the clouds
Playing trumpet of hate till death
Stamping and sealing destruction
With the dew coming as barrister
And the cocks ordained attorneys
With the divine justice enthroned
Acquitted sunrays nurse the skies

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“The Little Black Boy,”


by William Blake
MY mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O, my soul is white!
White as an angel is the English child,
But I am black, as if bereaved of light.
My mother taught me underneath a tree,
And, sitting down before the heat of day,
She took me on her lap and kissèd me,
And, pointing to the East, began to say:
'Look at the rising sun: there God does live,
And gives His light, and gives His heat away,
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday.
'And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love;
And these black bodies and this sunburnt face
Are but a cloud, and like a shady grove.
'For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear,
The cloud will vanish; we shall hear His voice,
Saying, "Come out from the grove, my love and care,
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice."'
Thus did my mother say, and kissèd me,
And thus I say to little English boy.
When I from black and he from white cloud free,
And round the tent of God like lambs we joy,
I'll shade him from the heat till he can bear
To lean in joy upon our Father's knee;
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him, and he will then love me.

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“Gye Nyame,”
by Nana Arhin Tsiwah
When at last
We have reached
The feet of the
Great Ta’kora…
Then shall our feet
Be washed before
The readings of Bones
And the vowels on Nserba
Shall be made known…
Under this
The olden beard
Of the Mighty Gye Nyame
Shall we pour our hearts’
And souls’ impregnable thoughts
Like the heralds of
The morning cock
Into woven tales as ‘Awensem’
Except that we do not
Have heads of dwarves
Or eyes of Ananse
That we shall dry our lips
And drench our tongues
As if we can travel this ugly pathway
Without Nana Nyame . . .

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“Bottomland,”
by Abigail George
I must unweave you –
Skeleton in the closet.
Slope. Forest. Prairie.
Milk fed hospitals –
Childhood of stars inside out.
The green creek rotten.
I saw a mountain –
Monarchies in your journal.
Woolf ’s river. Ouse.
A lake of mud. Grass –
Seeds must be harvested.
Their veins like gulls.
Cool spoonful of reeds –
A growing feast in my hands.
Poking their noses.
I hold drums hostage –
Without even trying to.
Silent winter dreams.
Pinpricks of highways –
Lighthouses guide drunken boats.
Women like geese.
Ink. Cars in darkness –
Braille. Tender is paradise.
Driftwood never sleeps.
Starlight in your face –
I hold coupons in my hands.
They scrape my ghost heart.

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Iris for a mouth –


Poppies fire governs the eyes.
Watch this thirst monster.
Look at shattered me –
I am speaking gobbledegook.
Veil dropped to ankles.
We are difficult –
Desire. Dark windows. Grief. Praise.
The bathroom mirror.

“The Thoughtful White Clouds,”


by Adeola Ikuomola

The thoughtful white clouds


In their technically beautiful terrains
Unleashed pure subjects on parades
Like the beauty heaped on red roses
The beautiful white clouds
The terminal interplanetary palaces
Raised altar to alter the atmosphere
Like the waves bleeding for livewire
The glittering sociable clouds
In lime light of unquestionable beauty
Placed inner purities on essential duty
Like glows of candles in thick darkness
The travailing virtuous clouds
Wheeled into the thunderous theatre
Injected terror into our bone marrows
Like the lions examining a strayed prey.

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“A Wake for Okigbo,”


by Chinua Achebe

For whom are we searching?


For whom are we searching?
For Okigbo we are searching!
Nzomalizo!

Has he gone for firewood, let him return.


Has he gone to fetch water, let him return.
Has he gone to the marketplace, let him return.
For Okigbo we are searching!
Nzomalizo!

For whom are we searching?


For whom are we searching?
For Okigbo we are searching!
Nzomalizo!

Has he gone for firewood, may Ugboko not take him.


Has he gone to the stream, may Iyi not swallow him!
Has he gone to the market, then keep from him you
Tumult of the marketplace!
Has he gone to battle,
Please Ogbonuke step aside for him!
For Okigbo we are searching!
Nzomalizo!

They bring home a dance, who is to dance it for us?


They bring home a war, who will fight it for us?
The one we call repeatedly,
there’s something he alone can do

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It is Okigbo we are calling!


Nzomalizo!

Witness the dance, how it arrives


The war, how it has broken out
But the caller of the dance is nowhere to be found
The brave one in battle is nowhere in sight!
Do you not see now that whom we call again
And again, there is something he alone can do?
It is Okigbo we are calling!
Nzomalizo!

The dance ends abruptly


The spirit dancers fold their dance and depart in midday
Rain soaks the stalwart, soaks the two-sided drum!
The flute is broken that elevates the spirit
The music pot shattered that accompanies the leg in
its measure
Brave one of my blood!
Brave one of Igbo land!
Brave one in the middle of so much blood!
Owner of riches in the dwelling place of spirit
Okigbo is the one I am calling!
Nzomalizo!

In memory of the poet Christopher Okigbo (1932-1967)


Translated from the Igbo by Ifeanyi Menkiti

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“The Passage”
By Christopher Okigbo

BEFORE YOU, my mother Idoto,


Naked I stand;
Before your weary presence,
A prodigal

Leaning on an oilbean,
Lost in your legend
Under your power wait I
On barefoot,
Watchman for the watchword
At Heavensgate;

Out of the depth my cry:


Give ear and hearken…

DARK WATERS of the beginning.

Ray, violet, and short, piercing the gloom,


Foreshadow the fire that is dreamed of.

Rainbow on far side, arched like boa bent to kill,


Foreshadow the fire that is dreamed of.

Me to the orangery
Solitude invites,
A wagtail, to tell
The tangled-wood-tale;
A sunbird, to mourn

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A mother on spray.

Rain and sun in single combat;


On one leg standing,
In silence at the passage
The young bird at the passage

SILENCE FACES at crossroads:


Festivity in black…

Faces of black like black


Column of ants,

Behind the bell tower,


Into the hot garden
Where all roads meet:
Festivity in black…

O Anan at the knob of the panel oblong,


Hear us at crossroads at the great hinges

Where the players of loft organ


Rehearse old lovely fragment, alone-

Strains of pressed orange leaves on pages


Bleach of the light of years held in leather:

For we are listening in cornfields


Among the windplayers,
Listening to the wind leaning over
Its loveliest fragment . . .

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“Refugee Mother And Child,”


by Chinua Achebe

No Madonna and Child could touch


that picture of a mother's tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours

of diarrhoea of unwashed children


with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies. Most

mothers there had long ceased


to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother's
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then -

singing in her eyes - began carefully


to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she

did it like putting flowers


on a tiny grave.

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“The Restricted Avenue,”


by Atuhairwe Agrace Mugizi

Heaven smiles, kisses the ocean;


glow worms, rare beauties, fly
over the tanks and cargo. There is
a large wave pushing
you, thousands more to the coast.
The water is warm,
free of sharks,
plenty of crabs and scorpions.
You row, and row, row;
green bucket under your left arm:
bare feet,
short breaths,
alone, amidst thousands.
You have sepulchers
along your route
to the coast: no thoughts
of returning to lay eleven wreaths.
The coast is clear.
No penny or pesa.
Only long hair, quite a fortune!
No more glory and norm.
One torch rays at the banks,
swings on. It’s your green light.
Right arm beats the water, angrily.
At the shore, you look at the old train calling.
Three steps ahead,
Then you know it’s over.

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“For Future Children of the Serengeti,”


by Abigail George

(For my mother and my father)


I am afraid of men.
Men who do not love me. Men who
Do not consider me
Beautiful in my own
Way. Men who do
Not consider me an
Artist. I am afraid of women.
Women who do not
Love me. Women who
Do not consider me
Beautiful in my own
Way. Women who do
Not consider me to be
An artist. So it is with quiet
Courage that I write
These words. I write these
Words for all women
Who are artists. I write
Them too for the end
Of regret. I write these
Words in memory of
My first love. This is
The autobiography of a poet.
The autobiography of bipolar.

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“An Average girl with Big Dreams,”


By Tamara Booi

Arrived at the city


On quest for knowledge
City lights showed so much hope
Decided to keep on
Open roads showed so much space
Decided to run
Tall buildings showed so much ethnicity
Decided to observe
Distinct cultures showed so much diversity
Decided to blend

Poverty showed so much relevance


Decided to survive
People showed so much anger
Decided to smile
Colleagues showed so much jealousy
Decided to excel
Friends showed so much competition
Decided to stand out

Many jobs gave little fulfillment


Decided to learn
Government showed a little support
Decided to discover
Men showed so much endurance
Decided to be inspired
Women told so many stories
Decided to write
Life is still to happen
And I decide to win!

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“Loves Secret,”
by William Blake

NEVER seek to tell thy love


Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind doth move
Silently invisibly.

I told my love I told my love 5


I told her all my heart
Trembling cold in ghastly fears.

Ah! she did depart!

Soon after she was gone from me


A traveller came by 10
Silently invisibly:
He took her with a sigh.

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“We Alone,”
by Alice Walker

We alone can devalue gold


by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
is gold
so much the worse
for you.

Feathers, shells
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.

This could be our revolution:


to love what is plentiful
as much as
what's scarce.

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“Friend,”
by Rabindranath Tagore

Art thou abroad on this stormy night


on thy journey of love, my friend?
The sky groans like one in despair.

I have no sleep tonight.


Ever and again I open my door and look out on
the darkness, my friend!

I can see nothing before me.


I wonder where lies thy path!

By what dim shore of the ink-black river,


by what far edge of the frowning forest,
through what mazy depth of gloom art thou threading
thy course to come to me, my friend?

“I Had No Time to Hate Because,”


by Emily Dickinson

I had no time to hate, because


The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I
Could finish enmity.

Nor had I time to love, but since


Some industry must be,
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me.

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