falling through rain (a chain poem from the NF2W9 workshop)

It feels like falling through rain,
the icy pelts of raindrops thudding against your skin,
your uplifted face welcoming tiny splices of pain,
the water trickling down your sweet onyx face
onto your expanse of dark chocolate neck,
the sweetness of the curve-length
diluted into strands of remorseful hurt,
hurtling further down onto your bronzed shoulders,
your collarbone shrieking in disbelief
at the ice drops nestling hard in its narrow cocoon.
Your chest heaves silently then loudly
thuds through the droplets,
it feels like falling through rain,
your cries swallowed up by the ice-grey precipitation
and your thumping heart pushing against the nestling glacier drops
that press back against it, turning thumps into popsicles of pain,
your arms are noodles, the color of bwe bhulo,
with the strength of a newborn child,
your cries for salvation and deliverance
swallowed whole by the leviathan of love,
the noodle-arms flap in time to the beat of the rain
tap tapping against the expanse of your stygian back.
Once sinewy and strong, your back is now twisted,
pushed further into a soft curve of even softer curves
that splinter with the thumps and tap tapping of
what feels like rain
through which you are falling.
You can’t feel your legs,
the rage of rain wraps itself around the once-golden limbs,
choking the yellowness out of your life,
the raindrops dimming the rainbows from your thighs
right down to your toes,
It feels like falling through rain,
the pain hits each part of you
and as you fall faster and faster through this nameless fissure,
narrow, unforgiving, untelling,
the pain swallows you whole,
burning you up from your toes to your head
and, as you fade into brilliantly white nothingness,
it feels like falling through rain.


I thought I’d have concluded this search—
           this thirst for warmth. where the opening
                         of arms is an invitation to worship [in] another’s

                         tender body, submerge myself in the haven of chest
              & gently unravel the layers of ache nesting
              in multiple chambers of my heart. tell me, if I unfurl

               declarations of glee in every human language,
               will what wails in my torso cease? pardon my
                            unboxing [of emotions]. I don’t know how to write

                             a poem without dissecting this anatomy & heaping
               my innards atop a page. when I was younger, words
               detested departing my mouth, budged as if dancing

               on a red carpet. the way I speak now is by holding
               water with my tongue. in an alternate dimension,
                             a boy of my name enjoys the coziness of a lover’s embrace.

                             here, I feature as the guy scurrying, seeking
               shelter, while the moonless expanse discharge unceasing drops,
               in a motion picture titled: self-portrait as a lonesome bird.

               sometime, I think wholeness is an illusion, & the desire,
               an elaborate seed by the universe, to ensure humankind
                             is a vessel of longing.


Of manyness begging to become less of a vacuum,
like the rain searching for oceans and sparse land to fill.
There comes the rage, occupying your vein and coursing through your body.
Unlike me, you do not know how to write a poem.
You unbox your emotions by picking a knife
and bleeding out the pain till you slip into another dimension
where nothing feels like nothing.
You wait for a lover to make something of you.
Scream your name, wipe the crimson off the countertop
as your blue body awakes to the blinding sunlight.
No raindrop thinks it caused the flood.
No tree thinks it’s the forest.
You cannot christen your grief so you lose yourself in the clouds,
fall through the rain and become the ocean.


& when the clouds have wrung themselves of you
and the thunder-echoes die out;
when the wind blows red, and the sky shines blue
and all the ground is dry as drought:

they will call for you, with tears in their eyes.
they will build altars in your name.
you are no longer vapour: you say, “I
will never rain for you again.”


Suddenly you mean something to everyone
And someone
And no one in particular
They will clink their glasses under the dark, stormy clouds
Call you names you wish you heard in your alive days
Reminisce about you
Like the golden boy you were
as if high on nitrous oxide
as you danced on the wedding stage
Your body twisting
And breaking
And wiggling
Like you were the home
For a boneless Jinn
Rising to the occasion
Just in time to make the crowd
Roar with laughter
They will mention the last conversation
Of your coming home
And they,
responding with a half-hearted ‘K’,
Will weep
And curse
And wail
For the once loved, golden boy.


Sometimes, death is a lens for those left behind
but still, there is something in time that blunts
     the edges of a once sharp memory

     The gash death leaves on a mother’s belly
carrying in each spill of crimson wine
the portrait of a boy, smiling, the birthmark

     on his face like a dark moon, will fade
to become a reflection in the water.
     One day, she will drink from a river

     & find herself kissing the image
of her son, (the body is seventy percent water,
     when we die, we give it back all)

     she will hear his voice, faint like an echo
amidst the rumble of water & her tears
     —tributes to this larger body of water,

     will not be an offering to death,
but to the eluding shapes of memory. She will try
     to sculpt his body within her mind,

     but his face will come off like a crumb of clay.
She will replay a memory of his laughter
     in her head, but it wouldn’t feel like music

     Sometimes, the sharpest pangs of loss
can be measured by the fogginess of memory.


But oh blessed assurance!
Did we not witness Heaven?
It was our hefty deliverance.
The clouds as a shield from the prayers of the fallen.
The silver and gold marks on your skin
Gifts from the demons you battled
The angels took one look at and let us in
They hovered about like a scent from a candle.
Below the fallen cry out for your blood
Nothing could wake them from their anger
As your tears raged on like a flood
But no one could ever hold you under!

if it was not the rain,
and. the probabilities.
the lipstick on your teeth,
Gregory Isaac,
Singing Sade?
if it was not the wind,
your stutter,
if it was not my bad cooking?
you not having an end.
shopping for cigarettes and mangoes,
the curve of you collarbone,
me at Mutua’s calling you in panic,
an hour later,
sounds from Jamaica,
cursing at everything, from orange peels,
the burgundy of your shirt, luna moths:
what are the naturally occurring colours in nature?
i’ll never know, being blind,
and preferring the eel to the butterfly fish,
the coldness of your hands,
and your strange understanding of Kenyan criminal law:
knowing some day I’ll need it.  


Ribbons of ice marked our ending,
laid bare on velvet cheeks,
held up by the hopelessness that
the day I will need all you, all of it,
will shrivel and never come.
if it was not the rain,
and. the probabilities.
the lipstick on your teeth,
gregory Isaac,
Singing Sade?
if it was not the wind,
you stutter, the marina
if it was not my bad cooking?
finally,you not having an end.


You’re fine, go home the doctor says but you know
what walks through your body has teeth.

Everyday these little knives plunge deeper
in search of liquid.

Impaling you, reincarnate of Osun, body of water
at war with yourself. 

You turn to God the way the ocean turns over
a ship  – initiating drowning.

Your voice at the crack of dawn,
pinpricks in his ears,

Punishing him for wringing the last drop
of blood from your petite body. 

At night, you find yourself in the place where
hell seeks communion with desire. 

The complete undoing of your body/ the caramel
taste of woe.

So you self medicate, the pills going down
your throat, glow lamps in a tunnel,

Lighting up your nerves and neurons,
making you watch:

                 1. You holding onto life by a string
       of nauseadizzinessvertigo

                 2. The estrogen burning a hole in your heart,
       turning your clots to stone.

in an alternate world
you text the girl you love:

              your body is 70% water
              & I’m a leaking boat
              Slowly drowning into you.

a quote you stole from tumblr
& she finally texts you back.

A knotted string of texts later
& you are on your first date

Chipo standi at the Odeon stage
Before you head out for the action.

On a whats app status the morning after
She MCM captions a picture of you; Babake

Last night she called me dzaddy
You boast to your friends

As you retell tales from the night before
When bodies twisted and turned
Twisted and turned

In an alternate world
It all seemed like eternal sweetness.

But in a dis ya world
You have Eric Wainaina’s Mariana on repeat

Loneliness has turned you into a poet
Writing love letters to no recipient

Powerless like the god of sun
On a rainy night

For the girl you love loves another
Who will probably never be you. 

Oh! the selfishness of the human condition
We grade our longing by our measure
& we ace,
Then we blame another
When feelings fall like a pack of cards 

Even the moon knows it has no beef
With the thick of the night
A woman is not nursery for wounded              love
A man is no sanctuary for prayed up desires 

The feeling of self is not relative
& drowning is melancholy—
When we lose ourselves
It means recovery is the only gospel 

Heartbreak is a figure of speech,
What is capable of leaving your powerhouse broken?
Grief is colourful—
The redness of your anger. The blue of the vacuum. The gold of your disbelief. The brownness of the earth that devoured. 

Raindrops are strips
Of heavenly dissent &
The sun—a way we smile
With fire brewing on our teeth

Love breaks momentum / there is nothing literary about a feeling that turns you into a metaphor for longing
Run—lest you fall in love with lightening

It is suicidal to cling unto something
That can set your soul ablaze 

Not in any particular order: Mercy, Praise, Semilore, Alvin, Lubnah, Sanni, Anointing, Felix, Roseline, Adela, Clif .

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