in the quiet after all

i kept getting asked at work
are you okay? of course i
said well it’s just that you
are sighing a lot they told me
oh i said then a manager saw
my cv and asked what i was
doing working at a coffee shop
and if i still spoke languages
and i thought of everything
i had lost when someone
asked why i don’t drink
and i said substance abuse
cost me my only friend
and a house and a kitten
in east africa but even then
i knew it was only a symptom
not a cause i can’t remember
ever truly being happy
except with her and that
was over before it ended
in madness i wouldn’t let go
until it soured and we died
utterly exhaling as i poured
a woman’s coffee and asking
if she needed space i wanted
to die then i think and i sighed
and it was raining outside
and a lone drop went running
down a leaf by the window
falling perfect to the pavement
to explode as all the pressure
was suddenly unbearable
i breathed it in and held it
there behind the coffee counter
looking out the window hoping
this storm would slow and pass
and in the quiet after all
that helpless pain a sunset
would hug the evening sky.

kuvunjika kwa koleo sio mwisho wa uhunzi

“the breaking of the tongs isn’t the end of the forging”

he found it late and started
thinking of himself a painted
god and did it at a whirling
pace and ate his first rejections
and that made him strong

and he went about in flush
with power of it painted
gods don’t fear they roar
and live their secret songs
and publish and he ate
his first deserved tearing-downs
and that made him strong

and as he roared he drank
and fled but at his best was still
a stoned and smearing painted
god and sent off applications
to learned places he could work
the craft not carry its enormous
weight alone he ate rejections
and that made him strong

and he did it then with fire
licking at his painted guts
white and wipping arcing fires
backlit in his frantic eyes

and then the rains arrived
and then they stopped
and something soft and spent
and aimless curled up
inside and didn’t do it
anymore and didn’t want
the pity for the aching loss
for the purpose he had carried
then he carried still inside
alone as ever from the first
alone with all the scalding
flames the searing light
he felt it still in darkened
places hiding lost as ever
same as ever but he knew
that once and who can say
this once he roared and shook
his heavens rattled chaos once
he was a burning painted god

and washed of paint he looked at last
clean and blinking from himself
and in the darkness ate the truth
and it made him strong.

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