ways of sleeping

i keep returning to that bridge,
the things we want, when we want them,
disappear. and you. you.
on our way to Majengo —
why is it we can not exhaust this?
this. this.
we keep returning. over and over.
you keep returning.
the drums of Shostakovich.,
i keep hearing your sad music,
your sad music.
i do not know any language,
i do not know any language,
i do not know any language,
i do not know any language.
memory here is forbidden.
& you my love, you are forgiven.

Samaki wa Pagatori

A substance of influence
at first invents language, forget Babel, my love,
Think of code, a secret whisper, what becomes, in the end,
The familiar but elusive whisper of the lover.
That not yet forgotten thing lingering,
At the waste end of memory,
not that I know anything
About such a place.
Such a place, such a place, such a place.


Think of two lovers
Whose only language is silence,
Meditation, and sex in a hostel house,
the fish of purgatory listening,
listening, listening.


Or, a new beginning:
It invents the possibility of language in Bobby the Fish,
So that twenty years into the conversation
Bobby the Fish is still trying to make out
The first letter of the first word ever said
In a world some of us believe to be the first and only one:
‘In the beginning was the mercy fuck…’


Water, though, is Bobby’s first language:
Drowning in his first sexual climax,
And his last.
So that the pout becomes both supplication
And admonition
to the god of water.


And if there are other worlds,
Where fish hunt men with harpoons,
Broken nets, Benghazi currents?
What are we to say of these men?
Or the fish,
Who adopt accents and evening dress,
Walk to famous restaurants and order tuna
In white wine?
What would their great psychologists say,
If they were not still sulking
And mending nets
To be captured in later?


Hi, Bobby. Welcome to Nairobi.
Fear nothing.

dark room

shadow here is a manifestation, not of light
and object, but of you, the demon you,
the one who comes with many hands,
stale stench of Sportsman in your mouth and hands,
a book whose cover changes every midnight.
shadow here is reproach,
a levee, not between here and there, or you and i,
but the texture of the many hands
of our common demon god. shadow here
refracts and bends, so that the long comma of apathy
becomes a kind of infinite pause,
your hand always waiting for mine.
you are an architecture built only of shadow, depth,
conspiracies of love, or what you call kindness.
shadow here
demarcates nothing,
this false demon love of our shared nothing.

if you are out there in the big world, 
hurting, in pain, lost — mostly 
lost — come claim my 
life, claim all my lives, live
through grace, through the 
particular shade your absence casts,
through all that is mortal. if you are out there. 
come claim back this mortal 
come see the colours 
you cast. 

a question of power

what precedes judgement 
day is as obvious as 
the shape of the nipple 
in my mouth —
not obvious —

not deliberate, not 
quite the spice 

our own private code
about the Arusha Evangelical choir.
the private language
of love.

something old,
an old rule. 

you are the type of person who says ‘psychopath’ in the middle of a commute, deliberate and rude.

listen, things take shape,
they must. 
time itself takes shape in you, 


if we could have those same nights
in Pemba, years ago, when you were younger,
the black in your eyes pure, absolved —
we study those eyes, their walls of coral,
marine fish, years and years of water’s mighty
ability to curve, its infinite mercy,
in essence to slowly destroy
that which it renders beautiful —
your ability to gaze back into yourself,
to abandon your body without apology.
if we could take back those nights,
learning yoruba through the endless mercy
we came to call your body.