Wrestling with one’s chi – a duet

By Noel Ihebuzor and Susan Daniels

my chi is a muse, impish
invisible fellow lurking
behind my ears and my tongue
whispering when I am not ready
sauntering away when I am

mine whispers words in woven gold flights
spiraling from blood to my ears
as my eyes open; dream-writing, I call it
and the words melt in daylight like mist
before I have reached for my pen

quicksilver, erratic
unpredictable, nagging like a stubborn dream
on those days when fresh minty words stream
down my running fingers
and then only to turn off the faucet
when incipient joy in showering in the deluge
of singing is huge

they gift us in fragments, suggestions.
if they gave us the keyed music
of the harp strung underneath particles
always vibrating, could our ears
hold the whole song?

then those days when in mischief
it fills me with words in riot
words that rage at thought
thoughts that resist rhythm
lines that refuse order, grating
words, thoughts in drunken stagger
limping clubfoot, clumsy clod

those words that sound like beginning poetry
that go nowhere, or spiral into nonsense:
pretending I am a tree/transmission shock
jamming the frequency/my head
is a crowded place to peek into.  hum the words
my personal goddess, and I will follow
blindly, my pen scribbling your joke
and this poet the butt of it

the seasons come and go
leaves sprout, bloom and drop
but my chi remains unchanging
driving, firing, inspiring and
sometimes tiring and
despairing me

ridden and driven by laughing children
impossible to catch, and should we try?
no, better to sound the songs
of invisible fingers strumming heartstrings
like mandolins that sometimes fall flat
for their amusement

my chi and I are Siamese twins
linked at the junction of mind, soul and heart
chasing our wants amidst chi’s obdurate wonts

yes, linked and bound, but not by a short thread
she tugs me awake, jumping rope
with the cord that feeds us both, but I cannot
wake her, cannot call her to me–no, I am her dog
leashed by that link,
sometimes running at the snap of a finger
begging for strokes and scraps

chi, your hands will not choke my throat when I proclaim
your wandering and meandering ways
twins are equals, social and spiritual
I resist bullies, and I call you that not
but can the palm no matter how large blot out the rays of the moon
my truths about you stand erect, an iroko for all to see
and despite your sobering entreaties,
these truths I cannot not hide nor suppress

I have no proverbs to suggest urgency
better than these; but yes, let us call out
trickery for what it is, and play each other
without binding, in a dance
instead of a chase, so we both smile in victory;
not a rout but a tie, in a game well-played by both

but though I rage, I fear that in the end
you and I shall meet at the junction of road
where compromise and conciliation habit
productive, just like I wish for us
for you need me and I need you
and the world would be poorer if our voices died
or we choked each other in moments
of well deserved rage and resentment

***This was great FUN!  Our two chis (Susan’s and mine) were at their best today in terms inspiring and sustaining inspiration. That is the only way to explain the fact that this duet took less than 90 minutes from conception to finish. Persons familiar with Igbo cosmology (I am igbo) will recall that one’s chi represents a personal god who is seen as playing a determining role in that individual’s life chances, creativity inclusive. One’s chi can thus then gift an individual with beautiful poetry/songs.  Presented in this way, one can read the chi as a muse!  Sometimes, the chi can also be stubborn and block creativity – here we find an igbo explanation for the western concept of a writer’s block!! As in all our duets, Susan is italicized, I am bolded.***

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6 Responses to “Wrestling with one’s chi – a duet”


  1. 1 Susan L Daniels September 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Again, I and my chi enjoyed creating this with you and yours

    So glad they were cooperative this morning (for me) and evening/afternoon (for you) 🙂

    • 2 Noel Ihebuzor September 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      same here, Susan. My chi speaks the owerre dialect of Igbo and is now saying – “Imela, nwanyi oma” to you.

      • 3 Susan L Daniels September 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm

        ahhh–and mine has only picked up a few words, so “Dalu, ejima m.” Know the word for twin, which is as close as I can come to literary soul mate, considering I only know about 10 words–courtesy of you and Adichi! Let me know if I goofed horribly 🙂

  2. 5 woosha8 September 21, 2012 at 11:52 am

    This is great!


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