AN OCTAVE of ‘WOKE’ POEMS – by Tony Mochama Year 13

It is here, that thing we feared, from 1987, the bad news broken, like the cold morning light flooding at dawn, thru the mistress’s window-pane. The sound of it frightening’ like Ma’s gramophone, with the scratched record, back in ’77, so. I pulled down and broke the gramophone. Afterwards, with the music, beautiful/broken, stopped – ne’er to play again… We propped up the wooden instrument, on a drum made of cow skin – and named it – ‘Decoration.’ Still, there is other, heart-breaking music, one’s child singing: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’ you knowing, if I’m not there, Faith, no one can protect, or love you, the way I do. Childhood already abandoned, alongside innocence Like a broken bicycle outside an orphanage Oh! The heart is a broken gramophone – We no longer care to hear the music Pain something sinkin g and soon for g otten
Inner Plane
When all is up in the air, I become the gatherer of clouds, and feathers. When fair weather does not threaten, then I do, warm on the outside, looking in, inside several dozen degrees, beneath Fahrenheit 1 a.m., I am. On the dole, dancing to farandole, The Faraday effect - rotating one way to an inner song. I am the gatherer of sentiment, fluffy clouds, furious lighting, the one who survived it, almost all, the thunder-bolts God, life, hurled, except the last one. (Lighting is an inch thick, and five miles long)… (Song: ‘Every body dies, sometime.’) Here in the clear sky Our plane of Jah Hova cuts through a thousand altitudes, attitudes, you stay silent (in your inner-plane), of effervescence, and when I caught your scent in the present, you smiled, said me, (you and someone else), were sun-kissed, Star-crossed, kismet, the closest you ever got, to becoming a poet or coming out of the Closet. Over Draught For years I’ve survived on Over Drafts, Which I do not worry o’er beer draughts. The time of droughts, my children, Is not yet nowhere near … My own father, your grandfather, was not a noble savage, a man given to culinary appetites, he sipped porridge noisily, and sacked the marrow clean … out of the bone of chicken. The first sign of a failing constitution, is when one, grows long in the tooth-chronic, the dentist is a black tooth magician, a practitioner of periodontics, and all its saliva, and dirty tricks. Long before I die (d), I kept up with my marvelous regimen, always up by 3.33am, or if I had had too much to drink, the night before, then, four forty four, five fifty five, six sixty six loyal servant of an inner rhythm, not quiet minutiae (the paragraph above is a trick at pastherapy, the last time 7 oh six) It is at these strange hours, over left over draught, as draught of wind blew outside, that I drafted, the final drafts, of the rough drafts of poetry, that you now read as Draft! Later, at 5 or six am, I switch to C.N.N then read the day’s paper, or sometimes just hover over there over the day before poetry, drowning oneself in one’s words, like drowning oneself ... in an ocean one created …
Ca’Rezzonico Soon, the lady called Georgia whom I’ve never met but who calls, Me on my line Italian (33 11 26 1984 anyway) Tells me, I will have to leave my little flat (3366) on the Capo di Mori, make my way to the ‘Madonna Dell’Orto,’ and catch the vaporetto to Ca’Rezzonico… I look at my map and anticipate – the SaccadellaMisericordia, and the Canal Grande, the RialtoMercato and Campo Giaometto; S. Silvestro and Santa Angelo – before I finally get to Ca’Rezzonico. Then I think backwards, phone squeals flow in verse and reserve quails All saints are angels, but not all angels are saints, Silvestro Stallon’e once starred in a soft Porno and wasn’t it Gugliemo Marconi who inferred that the comet is cosmic radio? Did the Real Mercato of Venice ever ride the Vaporetto? Was my dear daughter not born in the SaccadellaMisericordia? And isn’t Madonna a hoe? And as Georgia speaks all I can hear is Ray radiating “We’ll take the midnight train to Georgia …” where As the blind pianist plays, we will groove to the music, electronica; Venezia having played me its last trick; me having ridden the ‘midnight vaporetto’ across the sky on this crisscrossing streets of Ca’ Rezzonico.
I have officially sanctioned the Idea of pleasure, Pre-dawn, early morning, and then the Sunshine Sparkling like Champagne’s postcards, canals, casual anal - Everything evaporetto On the boat ride signorita barricades herself inside, against the breeze, other boats, the picturesque Water Front that is stuff of childhood - Everything evaporetto Damn good weather, restaurants, Opera and theatre, Life ain’t no Oyster, neither here nor there; the idea Is not to have a good time - Everything evaporetto Let us, instead, think of the problems we imported (starting with that mosquito that came in your suitcase- Either as contraband, or (a) stowaway)… The debt we incurred to come for this holiday Don’t divorce yourself from reality (in reality, Get a divorce). Reality is ‘life as water vapour’ --- eventually, everything evaporetto. Freedom of Expression Kenya, country of little ethnic petty-minded people, Entangled in small desires, petty jealousies, having Lost the petticoat, the plot and the coat. Your cities are superimpositions on the pity Of the ruralities where people weep, in VCR repent, “serikalisaidia” when the floods blood Budalangi. Cicada, unsuccessfully trying to nudge, then nag The Government, into action, unlike her fishmonger husband who just shrugs, the State winks at Cianda, hugs her, then gives us a slitting of eye-lid over her shoulder From the air the capital city is a string of lights It looks like Christmas down there; in Munchen, A Kenyan plays Sheryl Crow, promising to soak up The sun, when she returns to Kenya; it is summer In Germany, so she sits still in her holiday ‘C’ Flat, Sipping steaming coffee, complaining how hot the weather is, out there. To think small, country folk, is not a crime, It is enshrined in the Constitution – under “Freedom of expression,” How Does A Bird? Find itself at the top of an artificial tree In a completely sealed-off aeroporto In Dubai? Did it have to go through ‘Customs,’ Show a feather, explain its last point Of migration, why it went there (it was the weather …)! And when it squawks so plaintively, Wondering why no other birds have made it, To this impossible place Is it like man lost in the wilderness Yelling for help into the desolate landscape, While, Simultaneously scanning the dry, light yellow horizon X-ray by sky hoping for a figure that looks like that finder?
Is it the same song a desperate wife sings, When all the love, unnoticed, drained out of the homefrond? Then she discovers a tell-tale text, hears an unbelievable tale And tells him to ‘tell it to the birds’ as she spills the frijoles? Is it this bird she’s talking about? The last of 37 … I could continue getting out of bed At 3:33 a.m. for the remainder of my life Occasionally thinking of “Duran Duran” And how in the last year of Mama’s life Their psychedelic videos illuminated our old living room Aquarium flushes of colour, cancelling gloom like lighting! On this last day of 37 th , I could hum the song “What is love?” (Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me … no more) Like a Talisman, chant a mantra, against harm, Watch the news about Afghanistan just to see what the Taliban H’ve been up to, tonight A could conjure up the pain, of Kurt Cobain, See his distress, mental disease and distressed Levis, That last April, before I turned nineteen, How I shed a tear upon seeing his coffin On CNN, vaguely aware that in Rwanda next door, Thingshit were happening (“don’t hurt me, no more!”) Someone calls me on the stroke of 8 am To tell me to switch on the T.V, see Keithi K, see Mutula Kilonzo’s requiem mass, I could put down, This vodka glass and ask: “Does the poet, Have a drinking problem?” I could, on this very day of 37 th , Begin to slip into the skin of a ghost … Light (dark), floaty, as transparent as window glass, Or a vampire, all fangs and invisible in mirror glass Or a poltergeist who, in a rage, smashes Scotch glass… Glass glassglass (terrifies la familia) Lies, broken on graveyard grass.
I could reflect on the very best of bed mates Murdered and through in the last half of this life Go to that Thursday May 7 th ’98, and fall in love All over again with Julianna; or in a bar eight, And a half years later, re-un-cov-er her. Mater-Upper Hill-Forest Road-Nairobi Weeessst- {Ngong-Campus-Zimmerman-Umoja-Tena}-South ‘C’ -South ‘C2’-Chester House-South ‘C½ ‘-Nairobiiii West II- South ‘B,’(Balozi), South ‘C’ 3 and back to South ‘B’ penthouse In Venice Nellie said I had lived the life of a Gypsy. (outside bracket, In reality I have triangulated around the place of my birth-death). Tipsy! I think it best to itemize the remaining 15 hours and 37 minutes before I officially turn 38- Shower, Nation Newspapers, Standard Bank, Go Down, Supermarket, Mpesa, Ma3 to Zeeps, (Chelsea vs. Toffeeham, go Chelsea)! U2 to U1 to U0- Briefly, I consider dedicating this poetry to U, Briefly I consider titling it “Diary.”