Friday, November 23, 2012

Letters // Barua -- November 20, 2012

MY LETTER TO YOU//Thomas Green

I am writing this letter
Sending it off to you
I still have things to say
And do not know what else to do.
You’ve left me alone
For such a long time now
Sometimes I miss you so much
But you are not around now.

So I sit down and I write.
I write this letter to you.

Life is like a roller coaster
It has high highs and precipitous lows
At times I need to talk to you
To share this ride with you as I go.
You took me on such a high ride
Our experience so strong remains mostly untold.

You gave me a love that was just beginning
A thing growing strong, with much room to grow.
Starting from near ground
We traveled together up and up to behold
the spiraling enchantment we enjoyed
Together our love uncontrolled.

Down that exciting track
Who would have pondered or could have known
You would be taken away in a flash
so sudden and yet so silent it was
I knew not where you had flown.

So I sit down and I write.
I write this letter to you.

Once I knew you were gone
I could hardly lift my head and cope
Knowing that you were no longer there
sharing this ride we had so much hope .
Now that we can no longer be together.
So sit and  I write to you this letter
Though there will be nowhere to post
For you are in God’s hands,
My dreams and memories,
In my heart you do reside the most.      

DEAR MR. JOHN DA SILVA//Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein

You are lying in intensive care right now in Nairobi.
Your granddaughter Esmeralda just called to tell me your condition.
A heart attack: Worse, then better, than worse.
Be proud of her, John, her voice was calm and green,
Scrolling through the world inside your phone
Asking for nothing but prayer.

John, I don’t pray. I’m an American Jew in Diaspora
Far from Israel and its wincing policies. I heard the Dalai Lama
Speak once in India, but I was lurching and late to his lecture.   
When Esmeralda asked for prayers, though, John, I thought of you.
I saw you in my mind’s eye, as if thinking of you made you whole again.  
I thought of you cast in projector’s hum and light, speaking

To American students with the enthusiasm of a boy scout
Detailing histories long forgotten by even those who lived it.
There are Sultans roaming your mind, John, and architects,
Princes and ambassadors, kings and queens, imams and slaves
Tailors, traders, traitors. Your mind, full of labyrinths
Memorized and stitched into history through pen and ink.

A life in postcards, paintings, stamps, and signs.
Soldier of architecture, hero of history, Believer in beauty.
Your stories unravel like giant balls of yarn tangled in darkness,
One eye sharp and glistening, the other a marble of blues.
We have to remind you to take a breath, John, to breathe
In the present as you plunge into the past.

Do you remember when I saw you in Dar es Salaam?
Hours before your show at Alliance Francais, you sat
By the doorframe in a chair, looking at your life’s work
With the criticism of an ex-lover. You loved them all,
but still they were not perfect. You knew each painting
as if they were children named after beauty and forgetting.

How you love Stone Town, its rotting facades
Hidden histories, open secrets, wounds, mosques.
And how we love you, your tireless storytelling,
Your love for a good glass of red wine, your lit-up
Obsession with life and all there is to collect, name,
Claim, understand, and teach before a life is through.

The way you photograph decay, damage, destruction.
The way you stay on the image of an old Indian dhow
And talk about it as if it were the only thing that ever mattered.
The way you know each Sultan like blood brothers
Naming them, beard by beard. The way you gather glass
By the seashore, licking its salted story with a knowing tongue.

John, these hours are upon us now, stacked in a tower of worry.
We’re sending messages straight to your frail heart now, John,
Willing it to remember its strings attached to a wider love.
Stone Town’s collapsing still without you John, but you remind us
Of its beauty, and without beauty, there is nothing but history
Stripped of meaning. You taught me that, John, you showed
Me how to decipher time’s love letters carved in wood.

Consider this letter a prayer, then, John, that you’ll wake
From the pain of this particular moment to an incredible
Bloom of thanks for all you do to keep us close to the earth
Of birth and all that tumbles forward from it. Your limp,
Your eye, your magnificent hand. Your memory, your company,
All you do to stir what’s meant to surface.

With love & gratitude,
Mji Mkongwe

LETTER TO YOU//Mustafa Sharif

This letter is for you.
But not only you
Oh! It's for all of you
Who can read it and understand what I have to say

This letter is for you
You and your group
Who came to me the last season and the season before

Who wanted to win my trust
Did you value my trust?

This letter is for you
You and your group
If you want to come
Make sure you meet the terms
Or I will never let you in in the season to come

Monday, November 12, 2012

Travel // Safari -- October 16, 2012

QUESTIONS//Gerry Bukini (ze Anonymous Poet)

A seed planted
A seed grows
Weeds uprooted
Crops nourishes
Harvest time
Food we eat
Or crops we trade
Goals reached

I wonder
What did the seed like?
What he left behind,
Or what he became?
Where he came from,
Or where he went?
Did he wish to stop somewhere?
Did he wish to go beyond that?
Is that why he left some of them behind?
Did he really want to leave them behind?
Does that mean he was strong enough,
That he overcame drought, insects and wild animals?
Why did he have to grow to be eaten or sold?
Why didn't he stop so the farmer gets all the loss?
Did he want to make the farmer happy?
If he strikes would the other seeds strike too?
Would he be alone?
I wonder
I just wonder

I wonder
Did the farmer see what the seed had to go through?
Is that what he wanted?
If the seed refused to grow what would he have done
Can he force him?
Why force him to move from seed to a crop
Who asked to move into another form?
Is it the seed or the farmer?
Who is moving?
Is it the seed or farmer?
Do they move on the same bus?
Do they share the same struggle?
Do they quarrel?
Who listens to whom?
Who controls who?
Is it the journey that they have to go together?
Or they just travel?
Is it a routine?
Does it make them happy?
I just can’t help it but wonder
I just wonder
I wonder

JOURNEY//Gerry Bukini (ze Anonymous Poet)

Pack, unpack
Park where there is no parking
Few bucks and seat on a tree bark
More bucks and have a pain free back
I know past is black
Light chases away dark
And soon I’ll be back
Now barking is what my heart is lurking
“I want to go home”

HIGHWAY ONE: A ROAD TRIP IN REVERSE // Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein

We played the I Could Live Here game
The whole way from Joshua Tree to the Redwoods,
Stopping in every quaint village, destitute town
Proclaiming with each nauseating halt:

I’ll be the bike mechanic!
You’ll be the sign language interpreter.
I’ll be the hula hoop instructor,
You’ll be the fortune teller, specializing in small children.
I’ll be the writer in that little red barn.
You’ll drag dogs from their feral nests and train them
To be good, even if it means pulling out their fangs.
We could live here.

In each place, the gas station became our gas station,
The church, our church, where we prayed for each
To love the other more, and we did.
Before too long, we were in San Francisco,
The enormous roar of ocean waves, just a painting
In our brains, hung loose on the wall of memory.
We were nearing the end of things, begged the other
To drive through the darkest parts of night, till night
Itself was a promise that could not be kept.

By the time we got to the Redwoods, we realized
None of this was ours, not even ourselves.
We posed for Moody Self-Portraits with Trees,
But one of us was nervous in nature,
The other was unnaturally quiet
And our parents were still screaming at each other
In their far-away, desperate basements.

We could have been anyone, anywhere,
But we were here, among ancient trees,
Falling out of love.