II

Sometimes

Unrequited love

Is that condition

That

Feeds your heart with

Every answer except

Why?

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EPA Anthology Review

Eldoret Poets Association (EPA) started a slow revolt in the literary scene almost two to three years ago with their nascent e-book publication, titled; THE SENTENCE: Behind Bars of Wit. In an effort to synthesize a brand collective, they published another anthology titled; The President’s Eulogy in their annual adventure. As such, EPA has continued to exert its growing tradition of presenting emerging writers by providing them with a platform formerly inaccessible in the traditional publishing realm. The latest collection, LATIRA glows with expositions of candor, lyricism, esotericism, human consciousness, introspection, love, poetry, and the insurrection of language and the usual mirage of Mama Africa. The poets in this collection may not be a match to some of the acclaimed poets of today or yesteryears. To paraphrase Sanya in his Epistle to a Young Poet, there are many of these poets who write extremely well but they will never be known. Verily, this collection is by no means a sparkle of literary wars as the poets’ basic aim is to communicate, such that they are not the ornaments of the literary professors stuck in the bamboozle of parading old tricks to the modern contemporary writer nor are they puddle of senseless entitlement ballooning in the internet in form of poetry . However, like many anthologies, it is upon the reader to read and decide what cultivates his or her mind the most. Such is a matter of aesthetics, and this varies from person to person. It is my belief that the diversity of this collection does not betray its attribute of open contribution.

The poet Dannie Abse suggests that the essence of reading poetry is to start sober and leave a little drunk. Assuredly, most poems evaporate like ice falling on a desert; most of the poets are merely mentioned on people’s tongues, and few may intoxicate. In Latira, some poems will be bypassed for their immediacy, others for their conjecture in delivery and if this seems painful, then it is my wish that poets published herein and others elsewhere exert their attitude towards positive growth. To that extent, it is worthy to note that this anthology ratifies the belief that poetry has never died, in fact, it positions some poets and writers any reader should be keen with now and in the future. I will, therefore, try to examine several entries. In the first title, The Epistle of a Young Poet by Sanya Noel is reminiscent of The Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke published by the Norton & Norton Company as an appeal to a young poet to continue writing despite the odds. Sanya “advises” Sammy that for improvement, experience and popularity for poets /there are those in to the magazines and journals/ /it’s a common way, I have used it too/. While this may be an amalgamation of the writer’s method of growth in the oft-impenetrable literary world, Rilke thought otherwise in page. 18, when he decried the poet Frank from sending his poems to magazines. I think it’s a fashionable letter, and it remains upon the many “Sammys” stuck in their writing to reflect on the pointers Sanya talks about.

The first poem in the anthology, You Know One Day, I’ll Forget about You by Anca Mihaela has an excellent depiction of imagery such as /I emptied even my breathing/ not to pay my customs to life/. This is a type of pulsating imagery that fixates a reader on the ecstatic and almost overwhelming scenery of plush saudade. The poem despite its neatness has an annoying range of ellipsis that the editor(s) could have eliminated. The next poem, If She Were Mine by Clifford Mateh summarizes the unpopular friend zone chronicles where the boy craves the girl but he does not say what he feels and ends up losing her (He he), but the poem is tacit and expressive. I find it impressive. Poetic Love by Calton Ingoi muses on the love between a poet and a poetess by waxing lyrical with such lines /when a poet loves a poetess … it’s like a convergence of heavens in the nuptials of gods/. The metaphors are celestial, and vivid of an ecstatic emotion something like lull into an unending maze of passion. Another delectable line /… their nostalgias denounce inhibitions/ this is a certain paragon of rising and climaxing diction.

As such, this poem, in particular, can pass as my favorite in this collection. In Why Africa Weeps by Emmah Kemunto, the old epiphany of Mama Africa is revisited where the uneasiness of the problems confronting the continent are wailed upon. /Blood with a promise of peace/ happiness drowned her pain/ bad leadership, theft, corruption/ such are the pathological problems that are known to set Africa into poverty and chaos. In Sneak In by Kiambi Mutembei, the poet delves into the mannerisms of introspection. In a philosophical entreaty into the intricacies of a human soul, the poet writes /souls are vicious/ they seek each other by the gravity of love/. Such is a fixation on the component of fulfillment that an individual has to find in another to get the price of contentment as the poet concludes with /blessed be you for letting me/ see you without flesh/. Run Away by Daniel Many is brilliant; it’s all I can say about the poem.

This anthology borrows its name from Latira, by Omondi Ochuka. The amalgamation of language takes center stage in this poem. The poet chooses a clinical approach to communication where life is measured by time in a transitory, sometimes morbid variation of pain lodged into a metaphorical time capsule. In his infrequent levity and conscious creativity, he writes /a parody of library walls peeling out/ the seasons/ then incisions/ is a brief instance of humor before the poet retreats back into a feat of lexical disposition regarding the difficulty in understanding what reward a person gets from time even after suffering under its monarchy. The poem sensations are pervasive yet unfulfilling at the same time; one wonders what entity is to blame for life’s throes and truncheon.  In I Speak Requiems by Redscar McOdindo, the use of unique similes is evident into the nostalgic perhaps longing for what is dead or irredeemable. Throughout the poem, the picketing resonance seems to urge the reader to act or reflect on how terrible the status-quo is at present. The poem, therefore, not only calls for critically accessing the situation at hand, but also decries the state of non-chalancy of people regarding the change they want to experience.

In The Sequel by Wudz, some of the personas body parts seem to die out before coming back to haunt the living. In fact, the personas’ undying love for his mistress suffers a poetic tragedy where he denounces all earthly contraptions if only he can have her by his side. Such is the force that moves the persona to say /how meaningless of life devoid of something to love/ sends man to an abyss of pity and despair/. The persona pursued by the intensity of passion later questions /how can I let love destroy me/ and deflects into a spiritual warpath with any entity he believes is preventing the ultimate intimacy with his lover. After all the struggle through love, then persona remains unbowed and chastises self by proclaiming that /love is my religion/. Go to the Next Poem by Steve Otieno is a lyrical composition which to my interpretation is meant for patronizing people who despite being humans are constantly awash with clues, pointers or information on how other people should live their lives. Steve disparages the invisible persona with sentiments such as /are you the choir that awaits trumpets at the edge of judgment/ then dismisses the challenges the persona /you are lifeless on your own/ to decry the perfection he or she is trying to assume. Lastly, The Role of Poetry in the face of Social Media by Eric Onyango is an essay that assesses the benefits of social media to a young writer, and as any reader would surmise, the benefits have been immeasurable. The chief example of this observation is this anthology.

It is no doubt that all the writings in this collection were knitted carefully and it is, therefore, upon the reader to decide what makes them tick. One must ponder, are the poems worth revisiting? Does poetry manage to cover the hybrid of themes presented in this anthology? What about the choice of words; are they reflective of the poets’ different styles and quality? This anthology is an impressive piece of literature and while there may be instances of laziness by the poets in proofreading their works, it is worth reading, pondering, sharing, and the cycle continues. It is my hope that in Latira, the readers hunger for fresh poetry will be satiated.

 

 

 

Review by Eddy Ongili..

 

Footnotes

Ads[1]
the difference between what we want and what we get
is the little thin line of forgetfulness
because what we desire and what we don’t are
hooked up our ribcages like straight jackets , like paragraphs
written on our ribs. Instead, we try to read, only references
because the more we try to reach for what we want
the more we tear and the hollower we become
and if we’d known this when we were young
we would have assaulted beauty in its many forms
by pouncing on each second to take as much as we could
years ago, yawns scratched dreams and memories
on beds filled with love and no demands, only warmth

now
we want to forget how we loved, and to those people
we are sorry we didn’t have the strength to insult
or admit how we thought they were so beautiful
that we wanted it that way so someday, we would remind them
how we shook with rage when they didn’t notice
how much we tried to separate the artist from the romantic
because we wanted clarity
to understand if the muse or the solemn indiscretion of the heart
drove Beethoven to compose Fur Elise for Therese
but nothing! nothing we could understand

at present
there are letters of inconsistencies
like happiness and sadness, wrung inside our hearts
and there is so much we would like to do
so much we would like to take but we restrain
showing how grateful we are that someone could care about us
and want nothing in return
we would rather forget the void of incompleteness
if we knew how to locate the winds ashtray
so we could wipe the past and repulse the thrill of experience

but every day, we live on bare minimums
we’d rather suppress the love we feel than admit
the unmentionable, the prohibited love we feel for another
we’d rather forget to pick up the phone or reply to the ones we desire
for how shameful it is to burst into flowers for the one that awoke such curiosity in our lives
we’d rather wilt before confessional portraits are hung
for us in museums, labeled circa (those years) … to remember
days when we slapped God with rituals of passions
that he had to counter-check from his blueprints if indeed he wanted
it to be so sweet, so fulfilling … that we could utilize one night’s moon
to build forever from a moment we treasured
but we malfunctioned and callously slipped into a comatose
of bygones, of desperate attempts to quell the disquieting foray of love

and before we knew it, we now burn with the desire to disappear
into rainforests and donate our bodies to nature, to prolong the tragedy
of forgetting how to reach for what is ours
yet we are glad that we didn’t lose the pain

© Eddy Ongili 2016

The Art of the Water Flower

Chevelin Illustrations. 
Artwork & Story.
Title: Aji Aya Bomb
17. http://t.co/Qqself0VMO

When god was a teenager antagonizing tribes
Across the Mediterranean and Arabian Sea
He still commissioned the beauty of the arts
Tapered a woman into artistry … and probably blinded
By his own creativity, destroyed men in battle
And cheered as the crowds in the war dungeons of Sparta

But when he grew old and had a son
He relented and let the earth do as it pleased
It was then that I was born and yoked
To answer how long a moment lasts
Such were the days that she stretched out love patterns
In my heart with songs, paintings, with rivulets
of addictive tension in my stomach

Then

Poetry shrouded my intellect and I felt sick
As a vagrant of language, hoping to translate
Her lips into words I could read and be contended but
Each time language fell haphazardly from her lips
And I badly needed the meaning
For what madness it is to love and fail to eloquently share the feeling.
She was the trappings of artistry and brilliance
Between those parts in my heart that were broken
Those in my mind that dreamt about the future
Others that burned on my skin to be cooed by her skin
And the rest in bones that wanted to follow her to the soil

Yet she came draped with luminous fire that men failed to give a name
She came as a misfit, as a lover and a fighter, as a queen and a beggar
She was disorder in silence and unquenchable chaos roamed her eyes
But still
I wanted total defeat
In her arms, thighs, lips … anywhere that I could feel subdued
I wanted an enclave, a resort, the forest, a pristine cave
And the full length of the Nile River
So that I could unite my fingers with hers and conjure
The definition of a moment as an electrical surge into the body
Yet that felt temporary and savagery

Sometimes the randomness of her galling repeats
Lurched my organs that I remained amazed when
I found myself in libraries, reminiscing, hiding tears
Ballooning out of each page and I must have felt the emptiness Beethoven had
Composing excellent symphonies only for darkness to plunge
The beauty of hurtling down the seas for the retirement of ages
And just like god retired, the agony of feeling forever as a moment
Became a prolonged disquiet of my craving
Now brittle, only bristled inordinately as a water flower
Existing in the kaleidoscope of immeasurable love for the arts

© Eddy Ongili 2016

Forlorn Echoes of the City

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Hey?
Hey, yes you?
Do you know these sounds?
That seem like they’re replacing your eyes with the ocean
That when you try to blink, the currents collide
That you cough like a Subaru hosepipe to hide it all in
Confusing the reality of the noise of downtown Nairobi
Luthuli belching tunes of weird music, dust whizzing past your tired nose
And for the umpteenth time, jumpstarting life but
Uhm … when it burns here, my future kids roll in my scrotum
Hiding from my toxic thoughts of unloading self onto wenches
Burying Lolita tales and craving to piss on Vladimir grave
Just so I can admit, I’d never write enough to beat him

But fuck it …
At times, I fear these sounds disintegrate like cotton candy
Giving me rigor mortis when a few minutes or hours or days slip past me
That god I do not notice when I look at her, craving her soft thighs, mimicking her lisp
Tracing the intensity of her womanhood, yelling, “please love me” inside, gorging my sanity
If only I could visit her as a museum and compose a new line each day to what she’s doing to me
I’d love her portrait the way an antique is treasured without understanding its origin
But at the moment, I am taking a Selfie posting on Instagram
Hating on people who caption their pictures with inspirational quotes
While my future wife hasn’t pictured me yet
While the girl I am pursuing hasn’t featured me yet
Get the picture?

Hurtling past Kimathi Street
Mocking routine, dodging matatus
People listening to music everywhere … I hear sounds from within them
Like pounding hearts, wobbly asses, broken dreams, broken heels
Everything becomes slow, I feel alone with people
She’s there, sitting there bored like a simba in an open cage, I step inside
She spots me, suddenly hulking and dwarfing me, “I know I am late” I barely conjure
“Your mama, never told you not to keep a woman waiting”
These are echoes
Thunderstorms, No? She screams in my ear but she’s whispering
But I notice, speakers ramming from all the corners of the restaurant
Suddenly among billions of stars, she’s the only sound I want
Then I hate her.

I feel like poetry, distilled and ignored on street corners
But street vendors say, they sell like hotcake, come early in the morning
I know her from my dream last night, I am early I guess.
“Nice boobs btw” I blurt, brain foggy from all the smoke is my defense
But she smiles
Making me feel her teeth bitin​g my neck
Dropping tiny fireworks on my skin
I miss a heartbeat, could be poison blocking my arteries from fries cooked with transformer oil
Undyingly, my ancestors blush
Then …
Empty samosas, more coffee, why slam poetry should be banned
And the Revolution will be televised, gaddamit! or streamed in HD
I lose the plot and my ancestors promise never to resurrect again
I hesitate; all I hear are my organs churn in a maddening rush
Nairobi, has my heart in its pockets, pieces of my mutilated self
But my future wife, she’s probably thinking about me now
Feeling the echoes of my longing for her, for this girl I don’t know

© Eddy Ongili 2016

To Her

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I want to stare at her
the way she needs to be stared at
without the aid of a reference material
the way a painting is glorified on a wall
and notice the silent grace of her eyes
so that my salvation will fuck terrestrial brilliance
with the collision of our eyes

I crave to hold her
the way she imagines cotton cat-walking on her skin
intensely and delicately, without persuasion
and knit myself on her body as a handmade sweater
like how seduction scripts the night but no one notices
except the resplendent sensuality​ of fireflies

I want to love her
Willingly, privately, publicly, honestly
Not just because she is a woman
but for the knowledge of infinity etched inside her
that god, should I die pursuing my desires
I​ would still love her from beyond
to ripple through each metaphor of longing

I want to breathe her
the way she wants to survive
in inches, at a distance, eternally
with a delicate balance of passion
yet to explode in my innards making me crazy and helpless
when adrenaline bursts in my bloodstream making me seek nourishment
on her soft, supple, turgid, plentiful flesh beyond specific fantasies

I want to touch her
the way she longs to have feather dance on her skin
delicately, softly, without conviction
to be a criminal traceable on her skin
and punishable in entirety of an amateur detective messing with a crime scene
to have her suspend me into the waiting cliff of her china eyes, so I can crush in her heart

I want to kiss her
Passionately, seductively, prayerfully and in silence
Beyond the magical mixture of tongues; spiritually and physically
to have experiences of our own

To when I stop hesitating​ from admitting I can no longer live without her.

© Eddy Ongili 2016

The Heavy Rains Will Come

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There will come heavy rains splattering the ground
Pounding merrily, gushing the wild rhythm of oddity
And screams will be heard on river banks
And grim stares will be seen, sighing at the destruction
As bedrocks will tingle sensually from a heavy lust of water
Only then will we prolong our differences and curse
Terrified because excessive greed will be malignant beyond comprehension
And we will all fall, steadily like harvested maize cobs

There will come heavy rains dancing a circle
Holding pretentious conversations than therapy groups
Finding out why we must disrupt this by shouting together
Because time will erupt majestically swinging unto the clouds
None of us will remember why we refuse listen to reason
Nobody will proclaim to have seen the deluge coming
As losses will be astronomical, farting gaily on our gross stupidity
For we were all alive when we had the chance to prevent much damage

There will come heavy rains spouting on all corners
And birds will long to sing, frogs will be affected by depth
Until poetry will lecture our plunging senses
As a constant threat to the coexistence of this country
It will find us swooning, helpless and dying
While we cling to the wrath of the changing times
We won’t remember this war, only fallen soldiers
Rotting underneath piers of the sea we built

© Eddy Ongili 2015

October Memories

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There is a place for what we once knew
The days we chased each other uphill covered with dust
The days we held hands in buses and felt the adrenaline together
It was so addictive how we bent to listen on railroads
Until we felt the rhythm and friction of graceful music
How could we have known that we would be crushed someday?
How did we just breathe when everything felt right?
But now, I am affected by honks, rumbles … god any whistling forlorn
That I am glad I didn’t lose the pain

Forever became moments
Only from the place meant for us
This I didn’t know until I suffocated on dust reliving
Railroad memories, I became a fool alone
But I am glowing that I didn’t lose the pain
As if the emptiness I have felt vaporizes and enriches my skin
Because this is all people see when I fall to dust crying, chilled
By the idea of dirty little monsters paralyzing me when my back breaks
This is how I didn’t know how gigantic your warmness had been
I just couldn’t lose the pain

Three years now and I shouldn’t be the same
But I have mirrors spitting fumes and bullets … I pick cartridges
Metals I hold onto as frontiers of the memory
As how Lucifer has turned soft, to marvel at a perfect sky
We shouldn’t have prayed under the thatch of starry skies
Thinking we had a home before thunder unwrapped all we knew
All familiar evil turned into unceasing rustle for the Almighty
As if the chance to look inside your eyes electrocuted me into disarray
But I don’t want to forget the comfort love brings
That’s why I am glad I didn’t lose the pain

I remember, the surface of your lips, a type of sensuality
perfumed tension that made us listen to our kisses echo
beyond the restraint of convincing myself that I deserved you
I remember, the vacancy of my heart, the horror of living as a desert
Yearning for one drop of rain to rescue me from fizzling out
I remember, I kept loving you while you were stiff and unresponsive
I had a life; I just wanted you to be around
Like how your bosom beamed poetry and all I wanted was to read
I remember and this is why I am glad I didn’t lose the pain

© Eddy Ongili 2015

Before We Become Strangers

image

before we become strangers i would like to kiss you
the same way couples do on their wedding day
knowing too well that a home can become haunted
the same way a poor man would make haste
and scramble for the little crumbs the world dumps 
with the same energy that makes him realize he is neither
strong nor full enough to even offer his body the fuel it needs

i am terrified of the little things in life like looking at the mirror and
realizing i am shouting at my reflection
the same way a girl approaches her house only to find
her door broken but nothing stolen
i would like to kiss you like a boy in his adolescence
and fantasize about you knowing too well i will never have you
the same way a soldier kisses his wife goodbye, trying to savour
that one moment while the commander issues orders for boarding
because he has to provide for his family

the same goddamned times a girl in a crowd can hear her heartbeat
and still hold back her tears when she realizes she is alone
the same surprise of spotting a flicker in darkness
i would give all to kiss you like a loner tracing raindrops
On the window of the backseat of a bus
trying to understand how it feels to disappear in your lips
yet be alive enough to see myself die about the grace of your breath

like a sprinter acknowledging a crowd’s electric applause
knowing he cannot win against his competitors
like a poet enduring a workshop to find an opportunity
to read a poem about his love to strangers  

i would like to kiss you before we turn into strangers
before I measure the length of your waist with my hands
before I watch you walk past me with the incompleteness I desire
because I am horrified of becoming a stranger before I struggle with love 
and confess about the silent fireworks I get in my heart because of your lips

those strawberry lips that i can
lick or kiss or bite or just stare as a providence of my heart
you bulge inside my heart like a blossoming flower
making me a gardener who labors without pay

© Eddy Ongili 2015