Yesterday Night by Tobi Oluseyi

The wind blew in softly through my window yesterday night –

                And I thought of you,

                Of us lying down in bed –

                                Together,

                At peace and at rest,

                In comfort as you sling your leg over my body,

                Claiming it for your own.

 

The wind blew in softly through my window yesterday night,

                And I saw you

                As I always do –

                In bits and in pieces,

                In my mind’s eye.

                                Sometimes we are touching,

                                Sometimes we are talking,

                                Sometimes we are laughing

                                Sometimes we are angry,

                But always together,

                                Always at home.

 

The wind blew in softly through my window yesterday night,

                And I was at peace,

                For though I’ve not seen you:

                The whole in one piece,

                And I fear that perhaps

                I’ll not know you when I do –

                                Mistake you for another.

                But if it will be,

                                Then it will.

 

                And I can feel the wind

                                Blow in through my window,

                And lull me to sleep,

                                And blow me to you

                And keep us together.

 

                              

 

Thoughts Of A Seeking Soul by Tobi Oluseyi

Sometimes when I think of theism and its many differing faces, I think of a coin – with its head and its tail. And then the ever-wondering child locked up in my bosom asks if perhaps theism is similarly only one side of the coin and atheism being the other.

In all our human seeking, is it possible that Time will bring us to see that blind man who looks around him and sees the beauty of creation, the wonder of nature and in an awe-struck moment of worship violently avers that there is a God and that he will devote himself to the seeking of him; and that his blind brother who hangs his head in misery from gazing too long on both the misery of his other brothers and the purposelessness of existence, and who in a similar fit of violent passion declares and end to self-pity, vows not to look to any fairy creature for deliverance, but rather work out not only his own salvation, but also that of his brothers in misery; Will Time bring us to see that both men speak the truth? Is God truly beyond our comprehension – for the now? And will it take us further aeons of development before we can be truly ready to grasp him as he truly is? And when we are ready, will we discover that he was a necessary figment of our imagination to help us maintain a semblance of order? A personalized ideal of all that we hold as good, pure and beautiful to guide and keep our errant souls in check like the nurse tending the child until it comes of such an age as to sufficiently grasp reality as it really is?

Will we then discover the emptiness of rules and walk with courage in the freedom earned by knowledge? Will we then recognize that good and evil, right and wrong are all arbitrary marks – like the points of a compass chosen by men to make some sense of the universe? Perhaps this is the heaven that the philosophers have written about – where we have all been purified, our essences cleansed, so that we are truly free and can look God in the face and realize that all along, he had been within us – he had been us.

Or perhaps we will realize that there is a literal concrete God, who can be seen, touched, heard, smelt and perhaps tasted – in another dimension, truly omnipotent and omniscient; tirelessly organizing reality so that it confirms to his plans, and endlessly creating rules to be enforced by his chosen in whose raised hands dangle the whip, threatening and lashing goats into submission.

Perhaps, we could also come to realize that life is not worth the effort of attempting to find some order in the utter chaos of it all and in total exhaustion, we leave it to itself with all its beauty and glory to the destruction for which it was intended anyway; recognizing that there is no escaping the ignominious ending for which we along with it are destined.

And perhaps, we would wake up to another reality and realize that all that we had thought, known and believed were all figments of our imagination: that other reality, some would call death.

 

12.00am, 30-01-2012

Plantains by Zara aka Eke aka Zed

If I were to woo you with plantains I’d require that you don’t mistake them for bananas, for the latter are just too sweet and I need a little ‘not that’, like the cruelty in your teeth. And if I wooed you with plantains, I’d flavor them with stories, crying in their newness and wrinkling in their old. I’d start smooth, like the plantain tree that grew in the backyard at home, next to the green pineapples, whose crown kissed the ground every time it stormed.

Then I might tell you about Panama, those rice and beans and living on the beach days, eating slick gold circles of crushed and fried plantains, with my skin dusted with sand and my hair salted with spray. Last time I tasted halos, my mami fed them to me in a house in Canarsie last year. But then her son broke my heart, so now tostones just taste like tears.

Or I could just woo you with plantain chips, they sell them spicy in New York- thin round slices peppered in red. Did you know? In Lagos, they slice them lengthwise instead, like mummified sunlight on a hawker’s tray, like yellow tongues suffocating in a plastic bag, like why I cannot come to Lagos to stay. They sell their roasted plantains dry with groundnuts. Abeg, let me just take you to my home down south. We sell them sticky and scarlet with seasoned palm oil, it’s like blood and heaven salting in your mouth.

I hear that learning to love me is like trying to climb a plantain tree, but when you get to the peak, oh. What a view you can see.

Anyway, in this process of wooing you, I get to tell you things with fruit, that I see undressing you as peeling a ripe plantain, soft coverings dropping away so eagerly to reveal sugared flesh. I’ll taste you till my teeth fall out, darling, put me to the test. I’d cut off your ends and suck inner sweetness onto my tongue, dip you in red oil and savor you long.

Contrariwise, weighing loss heavier than gain- leaving you would be like opening a green plantain, if I were unwilling skin and you the hardened meat within. What blade could wedge me away from you, incising long lines of devastation for purchase, peeling me off while leaving my inner membranes clinging with a stubborn set. You cannot send me away yet. We need time, time for your bones to melt with ripe and fill with sweet, so ready that when my fingers graze you, you pool at my feet.

I only meant to woo you with plantains, bringing dowries of pregnant bunches cleft by a cutlass from its mother stretch of tree, sap staining my palms and kolanuts in a wake behind me. I cut down its long leaves and bound them with twine, that I might make a bed for you and stake you mine, framed against dewy green. I offer you this bundle of oblations, what else have I to give? I seduce sacrifices down your throat, feed you plantain fufu from my fingertips, if you will let me live.

When there are nothing but sapped skins heaped upon our floor, I’ll retrieve my cutlass from behind the door, step out and cut down more. Like you were dying and these were the cure, like I’m mute and they will for me implore, like you I do adore.

I’ll worship you with my harvests time and again, just tell me you’ll come back for more. 

Game of Two by Shane D.

Game of Two

Two pairs of clanging feet
On a turf so soft, writhing in the heat
Of passion and a fine silk sheet.
It is a battle of the fittest
Each with same interest
Vieing  to reach the peaks of Everest.
There is banging and groaning
Sweat freely pouring
As higher they climb, each screaming
At the near sign of approaching victory.
Finally, there is a tie
Both at the peak, both in time
Slowly descending, soaked in slime
Congratulatory kisses and cute drowsy smiles.

Pride & Shame by Osazeme O

 

Its post pride weekend, and I’m in a deeply pensive mood! I spent most of my weekend with Africans feeling extremely proud of who I am. My social media spaces were lovingly littered with images and sentiments about pride from NYC to Nairobi to Cape Town and beyond. I wished most of my rainbow friends here and at home a happy & safe pride, and yet something doesn’t quite feel right.

Pride in all its glory is about glitter, and bare skin, and instant gratification and throwing caution to the wind, and saying ‘fuck you society (family, church, community, lover even) for making me feel shameful about who we are and how we love. Right? Well very little about the way pride manifests conjures up feelings of pride for me, aside from maybe the indignant use of the word PRIDE.

As I consider what the main Pride festivities consist of, I feel a greater sense of shame than I do pride. I find it hard to appreciate or understand how excessive displays of nudity and random profligate public displays of sex and sexuality can be beneficial to anyone. I recall two separate conversations I had with friends on the issue, from one conversation with a long time lesbian, her conclusion was that she couldn’t partake in the parade because to her the gaudy masquerading and gratuitous nature of it all simply translate into ‘a freak show’ or ‘a comedy of errors’. Another friend expressed that to her pride is a privileged display of white sexuality that isn’t really accessible to ‘the other’. That there is a fundamental gendered class struggle inherent in pride festivities. I find myself agreeing with both of these trains of thought.

Growing up as a bini, naija, southern african bred, afropolitan lover of women something about the mystique surrounding sex and sexuality that was instilled from my home is very alluring to me. Although I must admit that the mystique can be used as a tool of oppression as well, but that a conversation for another day. So for instance, I find a woman dressed in a sari or a booboo so much more intriguing and arousing than a pornographic spread or a woman in a bikini. Less is more is just that the women in my inner circle and myself. The intellectual and physical play invoked through the power of suggestion is simply exhilarating. But more to the point there is a subtle power in discretion that I’m not convinced festivities like Pride are aware of capitalise upon.

I guess this stream of consciousness was provoked mainly because I’m noticing a lot of rainbow folks on the continent trying to piggyback on and replicate western displays of Pride…to this I say DON’T touch that dial. Empowerment and progress should look and feel different for us. Because in the midst of these adopted audacious statements, our community is still unsafe, we are still targeted and yet we continue to love. Just this morning I heard news of yet another young lesbian who was murdered in Cape Town. So my questions become:

1)   How do we combat shame from culturally relevant places?

2)   How do we sensitise our people to our existence?

3)   How do we combat the ignorance that spurs violence?

4)   How do we build and sustain ally ships?

5)   Who will fight for us?

6)   What makes you feel most proud?