it’s strange, this volume i have,
the birds of kenya and nothern tanzania,
and another volume I won’t be bothered to find,
two books, two lovers,
two musicians. two cormorants.
two coroners on a blind date.
doing some kind of twist. & now, i remember the difficult year.
i catalogue what i find under the bed:
(what do i do with the carcass of a jackson’s widowbird?)
suitcase from campus never unpacked five years later —
if we can call it anything, it is a time piece that’ll
end up uncollected, unclaimed, and some grandchild will
write something about the remains of those days —
dust, mites, cheap condoms, anthologies, a kifaru matchbox –
i spent my childhood on this, but it was never 45 sticks –
an earring, one-way bus ticket to kilifi, coins. notebook of haikus.
testimonials about my favourite mortician.
it was my mother who taught me how to hoard.
all i keep now i’ll need ransom to tell.
a useful skill — my house is a monument of itself.
i remember the difficult year.
i gave up certain books, knowing ambition is cruel.
kept those about prescriptions, fashion,
there’s one on kissing, another on chess,
another on variations of poker. we are taught what moves are lethal.
there’s sabra ali amran’s sikitiko.
i hope, when I die, it’ll be at the post office –
13404 00500, that I’ll be arriving at my own little box,
and they’ll carry me to a place non-existing on the map
and somehow shaped into a map. or they will return to sender.
this is the great answer to all my troubles —
i’m in a room somewhere, in a warehouse, counting matchsticks
as one counts the beads of a rosary.
meditation, prayer, forgiveness —
all this do not compare to working at the factory belt.
we’ve talked about we’ve talked about certain
details distinctions divijhtss when I come to you
& you’ve said, what a nairobi word? the djinns.
when you said you did not want be found,
somehow in that place there was nothing —
as much as I tried to say, yes; here exists what is exempt.
the collective and the rich: can we say fuck them?
in turn, can we be fucked?
can we wake up in the dream and contempt?
if a thing is extinct,
how do you talk about it.
my love left,
my left love.
to ask if.
asks a questions.
we can add things up —
there’s only one answer.
then there is no such thing
if we want truth.
there is a monster.
but truth is more difficult.
additions are terrible.
here is a popular lie —
kuku ya umoja ni tamu.
first we must arrange the burial of the dead,
what some say are arrangements for life.
we call it mourning. the ceremony. others call it an an inconvenient bus ride.
city hall and its charms. we are conditioned to harm people.
time and materials cost money.
after the dead are gone, and i mean when they are, when they are,
when the dead are gone.
after and when allude to time. beyond the origin of words
i have nothing to offer but once there was darkness.
we go to Grogon and enjoy a meal. distance and time mark a city.
concepts for the intelligent.
i want nothing but your laughter in braces.
this is an installation for a man i love, the kindest man i ever seen. he has in him his devils, but they do not compare.
he has the the care of of the devil.
he plans, he transcends.
while they are in the streets you and I contemplate time.
not in any grand way.
let’s say, for instance, the idea of a while.
while you are on Mama Ngina i’m at home doing my best to sober up.
while you watch me sleep I deam of you.
while you are being the great lover of birds I am in your room trying to arrange things.
and that’s it. you never watch me sleep,
while order remains a curious concept to me,
i’d rather exist in your not knowing anything.
there is so much distance in a while.
not to mean we have never been considering departure.
while the bus waits.
while the car starts.
while you put on the brown lipstick.
while you consider genes.
while laughter remains a costume,
while a smile remains metronyn.
as we consider tradition.
every word has it’s origin.
I’d like to think there’s no time for the first time i heard you cry.
while wild friends are out there starting revolutions,
making installations, reading Camus, the homemade equations of art.
my great task of the day is your morning tea,
or a simple kiss on the cheek, or the simple act
of seeing you, considering you, while you exist.
you’ll never be my muse,
but there is a while, and you exist.
you’d laugh; there is no question.
a biographer, a magician,
knower of nothing, as Michael says.
we do not exist in our times. Coltrane plays.
it has been so clear that
the shallow end is enough.
whatever is left of revision is immaterial.
this is something
I do not care for.
we were so young then, you and I,
causing trouble, keen on ruling a world we did not know existed,
our mothers in a sad world we chose to forget,
you were there in my first death
now you own all candles at Holy Trinity,
even if you will not light them.
I know about your death too,
the continuous thing we share –
whichever benevolent god created the world we did not know,
I want to say I love him.
that you will never know my love for you from those days matters little to you,
you have you have your precious haunts
and I have my gods from the little religion I am allowed.
I’m glad for those days, on the bridge I’ve forgotten,
how you remind me of the names of places as if I need them,
places you need but will never go back to.
Bangladesh, Kisumu Ndogo. your face a great report
of the world we still do not know, will not know.
you were not there when your mother died,
I like to think that there were no thieves at the wake we have you to thank.
I was there but I have no more uses for death. so, chai ya matanga.
matters little to death.
Jessy fell at the grave: the first act of love and decay.
glad, though, to see you now, walking with the dogs,
whatever past we have we must forget,
you will teach me all the languages i will never use,
you will let me love your pet,
we will never talk about your absence at Wanjiku’s funeral.
if i can love you back i will teach you a magician’s tick
of foregoing mourning.
i will teach you of water and all we need to forget.