Honey, it’s heaven in my womb.

By 

Natasha Sebunya


Tears make their way through the passage carved by the loneliness that your sorry ass created
My irises burn open with the sting of regret
The salty taste bubbles through the vocal chord that had been silenced by your insensitivities
But then I hear the familiar thump that pounds in my chest
And hey, blood is still running through my veins, and air still fills my lungs
And I am reminded that I still live
Breathe- speak-beat-live
I almost drowned in a pity filled pool
Thank God I saw in it the reflection of that fool
She 5,3 drowning in tears for some fool
(who by the way is not even that big)
And I remembered
Knees-hands! crawl…left-right,march! One-two,fly!
Breathe-speak-beat-live
And I thought to myself;
There should be a license for the penis
Drive at 16, drink at 21, penis at 33
Some sort of a class where they are taught,
You opening my door, does not equate to me opening my legs
You can, and honey yes you may, buy me flowers, diamonds, a house, and some of you even the world
But mister! you can never afford my heart
My uterus is not for sale, baby not even for rent,
You have that weapon that sits between your legs, but remember I can make rise
And don’t you forget,
Honey, it’s heaven in my womb.

 

Another strong poem by Natasha Sebunya

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A mine-field of an alcoholic’s ticking emotions

By

Natasha Sebunya
For her love is the unshed tear
The hushed cry of a strangled soul
As he strikes her
With the palm that once stroked her cheek
The mark of his, no their, wedding ring scarring her blush painted face
Her mascara veiled eyes clouded by the frozen pain of tears iced into anger
Search for their, no her, two year old son
As her decaying soul howls a lullaby in prayer
To the Jesus that is supposed to live in her so that
The blows of her husband’s blows do not wake her child
Happy –anniversary-
For once,
Their love was of passion
For love was loving and his love was her living
Their love was of moon-bathed nights
Little black dresses, rouge lips and coal-lined eyes
Her stiletto raised legs, planted onto virgin hips
As she was swayed by the rugged palm of her tall-dark-and handsome
For love was the promise strum
By that passion-driven scum
For his promise was of security, not this mine-field of an alcoholic’s ticking emotions.
Now her emotions hold her hostage to this monster, this phantom,
This parasite that nourishes on her insecurities.

 

***I met this young poet two days ago. She has just completed her IB exams and is waiting to proceed to university in September this year in the USA. Her poetry blew my mind. Here is one of her poems.

V is for Violence and Violation

By Noel Ihebuzor and Susan Daniels

 

 

You return always to your ritual
Of force, foaming like fits of fury
Heart of steel, to stages of stone, long assumed gone,
Dormant but dominant
Clenched fists of metal rusting
Behind its lustre of polished calm
Simmering tension running subterranean
Ever willing, trigger happy, happy pugilist,

It is a lottery won by 7 out of 10 women,
With prizes of broken bones, torn souls;
Whose mouths swallow knocked-out teeth
And bitten tongues.  She says
She ran into a door, and a door
Fell on me once, but how many doors
Can one woman run into
Before she says she ran
Into a fist?  

You pound the rib
You gave into shapeless broken fragments
The call of the residual is strong
Damming and diverting rivers uphill
To flow in impossible unceasing eddies
And tiring sterile circles

He does not always hide
In bushes or haunt alleys
Like a cat hunting mice:
We know our attackers
Two-thirds of the time.
Numbers do not lie.
The strangers we were warned off
Are not as dangerous as friends
38% of the time, or men
We think we know, 73%
Of them our rapists without masks.

And behind the smile, the polish
The beast lurks, ready to
Pounce and pound flesh to prove the power
Of the mighty proud to a lamb

We ask for it, old women
Dressed in housecoats

And young ones in sweatpants
Who jog bike paths,
Or women who look
At their husbands
Without the right balance of fear.
We are always asking for it,
Simply by breathing.

And we breathe the fear of the brawn breed
Trapped in culture’s cages,
Bent, stooped, stopped and stumped by glass ceilings
And your febrile insecure masculinity
It is your fear that chokes you
As you choke me, break me and break us,
Your false potency creates tsunamis of true impotency
And you forget that the truly strong
Are not afraid of being weak
And that only the weak
Embrace violence to prove power.

***As always, a pleasure to collaborate with my friend and duet partner Susan especially for International Women’s Day.  Susan’s words pierce and her statistics call attention to the disturbing pattern and spread of gender based violence. They challenge us to act, to act fast and NOW. My words are in regular typeface. Susan’s are italicized.

Tristesse

 

Stirred by anger

By Nwachukwu Egbunike

sadly those sired by anger
are boiling with hate
to lose their commonwealth
they look at all with grim

 

sadly they take the same path
falling into same pit
those dug by their patriarchs
step siding the truth piously

 

the ping of their bb
rings with curses and malfeasance
roaring with disgust
for the pooh-pooh sprawling on their mats

 

they tweet all day
not as stewards of truth
but slaves of hate
passionately greedier than their dads

 

same short cuts taken
same mistakes made
shying away from the facts
sole path of breaking the curse

 

wishing to change the tide
with same tools that caused the flood
without rationality that paves the flow
wrapped up with sentiments that blind the face

 

but we’ll still hope
though we see none
but knowing that greed last not forever
by truth we’ll change this land

 

it might tarry
it might delay
but one day, despite the delay
it will mighty arise

 

(Nwachukwu Egbunike, 12/12/12)

***Nwachukwu Egbunike is a Nigerian writer, critic and social commentator. His book “Dyed thoughts, a conversation in and from my country” is a collection of critical articles on the challenges of nationhood in Nigeria. He lives in Ibadan.

Arms and Voices for Peace

By Susan L. Daniels and Noel A. Ihebuzor

there are arms we lay down
& others we hold open

there are tongues we must still
and others we loose;
the barbed tongue that howls like a howitzer
we have to leash and rein in
some arms raise to embrace.
others crest fists in tsunami rage, or balance hands
that shape silos tilted skyward, curved metal calculated 
and conducted to maximum strikesthe tongue that coos

softer than the dove,
sweeter as beautiful rays splashed
on the wide bosom of a waking beach
i would plot the curve of a cheek, rested
on my shoulder, lay down
what holds us at arm’s length
and instead open–
a gesture with a bell’s resonance
that tongue whose voice melodiously flutters
under a blue sky,
let her reign,
let her caress and conquer
the hardness of our guns and melt our swords 

these arms, these hands
could  pull needles from softened metal
that was swords
and use these tongues to tell it– 

let us close the gaping wounds
on the face of the earth
caused by the savage rage
of raw us clawing at things we never can ever own

let it begin, this stitching together
of something torn

 

***Susan(italicized) and I (regular type face) decided, on Susan’s prompting,  to blend our efforts for the Dverse prompt today, which involves truce or armistice.  As always, this was so much fun to craft with Susan–a wonderful, inspiring co-creator, poet and friend!

Noel @naitwt on Twitter

Song of a Child Bride – a duet

By Susan L. Daniels and Noel A. Ihebuzor

I am a girl.
Eleven years ago
I came too early for you,
but I was yours
as nothing else was,
and I grew under love
brighter than the sun.
I am still growing.  I am green
& unripe fruit, unready

I am a girl,
I long to play, feel
and unfurl.  I run after butterflies
I wave after birds in flight
I dwell in innocence
I harvest smiles and stars in all I see

I am a child
my eyes carry hope.
I feel.  I dream past this body
and carry in these bones
a life that hums promise
and walks joy

I am a girl,
body, soul and spirit,
and human
not a piece of flesh
not an object for peace
not an object to be priced

I am a girl,
though lately this body bleeds
and these breasts can make milk
I am too young for this business of women
my hips are too narrow to balance a child,
too slender to push one out;
my mind too new to mother another
and I will break beneath a man’s need
my young body if forced to yield will only hurt,
weep in pain and shame

I am a child,
I long for safe spaces
to draw and discover my dreams,
to live them, and to sing, joyful
as I discover the marvels of the world,
my world expanding

I am a child.
I dream of books I have not read
and the only seed I am fit to hold now
are those of the mind, scattered to work deep;
not the body choked with seeds of a man
I must accept but carry in fear and bitterness.
Death will bloom inside my body, not life
if I am planted now

I am child,
not a wife
marriage at my age will drown me
twist my bones
pierce my body
and break my spirit

Mother, father
I am your child.
Your flesh made and fed me;
to send me to a husband
is to send me to a slaughterhouse
where the floor is stained
with the blood of so many cattle
listen to my words, words
eyes speak but mouth cannot;
words my body shouts in trembling
your eyes can hear if they open.
I beg you to answer past my fear
and shield me with your arms

Father and mother
ignore the clutter of culture
spare your daughter this chain of torture
Ignore the clatter of the appeal of gain,
remember our  bond of blood
before you cause me pain,
before your decisions tear and shatter my developing body
and eventually spill this innocent blood

 

Intro to this duet by Susan  on her blog – >

**You guys had to know this was coming, right?  Noel (regular text) and I (italicized) have created this duet, using the voice of a child.  Though it was, as always, a pleasure to weave lines with Noel, the subject is not one that leads to much joy…no matter how talented your duet partner is.

****Let me only add to this intro that Susan’s talent is infectious, and that it has been my luck to be so infected by it! 🙂 

http://susandanielseden.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/duet-for-the-girl-child/#comment-12719

ChildMother and Wife

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

the child as mother

smothers childhood

the murdered mind weeps

when torture is garbed as culture,

a deadening deaf culture

deaf to pleas and protests

pleas of despair

the despair of the innocent,

thrashing like fish  

trapped in a net,

whimpering and weeping

the lonely lament of a lamb,

her neck gripped in the jaws

of a predator, depraved,

blood spurting from ruptured aperture,

victim’s pain and slow death

contrasting with victor’s rapture

the shivering of the struggling lamb

before the slaughterer’s blade,

as dreaded night falls,

in vain searching the dark world

closing in on her for some light

to brighten her bleak plight and

and lift her soul,

finding none

 

heiress of pain,

fragile limbs grabbed, groped and gripped

by coarse grasping hands,

the repeated shattering pain  as tender

flesh is gashed by hard hot flesh,

the happy husband

invades soft developing chambers

savours with selfish relish tender flesh,

matters little

this maturing and developing frame

now numb

matters little childhood

now broken

Matters least innocence stolen

forever lost

as forced intrusions, crude invasions,

desecrate unfolding sacred spaces

the empty victor’s gain,

the victim’s pain, our collective shame

 

Now she carries a new life in her, her child,

herself a child, drenched in confusion,

12, 13 seasons ago,

she was like this life just beginning to form,

now daughter of pain,

tied down by the glue cobwebs of tradition, vice-like

 

 

Is this meet the sacrifice of the innocent?

Is it meet that marriage mars childhood

mangling a girl child’s today and her tomorrow

destroying her innocence

in the season of her youth

making a mother of one

in need of mothering

smothering her hopes, happiness and health,

freezing rich potentials

limiting possibilities from unfolding

all because fevered callous hands,  

propped by culture selfishly reach out in greed

to harvest and appropriate fruits,

tender fruits plucked in their bud

to feed coarse souls

in collusion with parents

in search of quick gain

on such emptying and wasting plain

deaf to the cries of pain

of childhood smothered,

of dreams denied

** raw…will refine later – the subject is a delicate and very painful one**

A song for Kibera

By Noel Ihebuzor

From their anthills and lairs, nests, cages and hovels
They crawl out of their holes, their dark damp cramped cages
At the first suggestion of light
on a new day
on empty bellies and in unwashed bodies,
on cracked tired broken shoes
they stream forth like angry ants in search of little change and
praying for the big change
In this existence denied of meaning, devalued and wasting

As they scurry to places to sell their hands and feet
They leave behind temporarily a jungle maze
full of the living and the heaving
most empty denied living hollowed souls
sucked into the hole of hell by want and still in want

Late in the evening, they crawl back insatiate to their dark damp cramped holes
To rest fatigued souls and aching soles
Every day repeats this same ritual of pain with no gain
This same cycle and the circle remain unbroken, imprisoning,
crushing and slowly closing in

A vegetating existence has slowly cooked and numbed the soul
Emptying it of meaning and thinning it as the soles of the tired shoes they wear
As poverty flourishes and hope declines, tired souls and worn out soles

Men and women, teens and adults, drifters and hopefuls
They trooped here from now dimly remembered villages,
Their minds and feet seduced by the lure of glory
The haste for gain
Now their souls sad and weary weighed down and confused
Reduced by pain, held by down as if by weights of lead and waste

The rains of regret have erased all,
washed away all rainbows from these emptying spirits
regret rears strong, sears and cuts deep like a shearer’s knife
the mud filled streams of poverty wash down and away
clearing and carrying away the struggling and clambering feet and limbs and lives
the slopes are steep and slippery and false
on this faulted journey to the portals of plenty and affluence
the streams become torrents, and the torrents rage and
drag down and away

the storms of ruin gather and billow
dirt, dust, rust and rot mingle
dearth and the death of living
the dance of the death in place of life
like the stagger of the club footed , ungainly, clumsy, ugly and pitiful

help comes on millipede feet, fortune just as fast and hope dies just as slow
poverty walks and stalks in tatters and foul rags
time is also a millipede, hope a stunting dwarf
despair blooms and flourishes widely like wild untamed poisonous mushrooms
announces her presence loudly in the echoing rumbles of empty stomachs
fading hopes, festering wastes, dirty deaths, dirt and garbage

priests and pastors, imams, preachers and prophets
conduct their rich rituals as they dispatch the departed
and console the living with tall tales

Life in the crowded spaces of the living is full of rage, red in the tooth,
Raw, rough, tough
Human waste runs open, in open drains, scattered
Pipes and pumps yawn empty, cheap card board and brown zinc habitations
Sprawl and lean dangerously before habitants who have since stopped to care

The smell of alcohol mixes with the stench of poverty,
mixes with the smell
Of airless spaces with exposed excreta, vomit and waste
In noisy cheap bars, cheap perfumes on easy prostitutes
male and female
Hang heavy suffocating with the damp clammy odour of fear that sits heavily on this place of violence that violates
Scantily clad child mothers parade their wares unheeding before
Progressively inebriated future clients, with dimming eyes and failing judgments
As the venom of booze slowly creeps all over, dulling senses and stirring lust
The flesh trade is fast and flourishes, a lot more than flesh is sold in those short exchanges
Poorly clad children issues of many a trade sit around abandoned,
Strong glue has fried their brains and slowly freezes their lungs
They observe, hear, see, soak in and absorb all the rituals of pain, shame, want, cruelty and neglect

The streams of life that waters the living flow away and distant
rough and raging torrents of mud dredges rush openly and scar this place of want
rich in misery, eroding living and corroding the soul

And the place goes on
one big dance of opposites
full but empty
alive but dying
urban yet a jungle
more animals and less human
all ready to pounce

They trooped here in droves in search of hope
hopelessness and dope now bind many
in their rage the gun and knife now become a few
and for many the rope calls and ultimately unbinds……

let the sky open like my eyes and see
may the sky unblock her ears to the cries of pain and shame
heaven, reach out and wipe away their sighs, their pain
as they hover stunned by the lies of smooth tongues
sky loosen their bonds
bind those who tie up others with their inaction and truthful lies
heaven, unbind these bound tongues, bind those of the binders and wasters

heaven, open a window for these trapped souls
so that sun may shine
sky, open your sides and send showers of calm, of hope
of renewal, to reborn, recreate
let your waters of life wash away the gloom and doom, loosen their grips and unbind
the victims, wash away greed, remove need
let the seeds of hope flourish, hope and possibilities as twins and triplets
let new habitations spring up, homes for humans and hearths for hearts
women and children will be fine
and songs and dances may explode in every throat richly
and tired feet may again dance in nimble and rediscovered elegance of souls filled and fired by fine wine

**** I visited Kibera, Nairobi for the first time in 2004 and returned there on a number of occasions. The intense poverty there never ceased to shock me…and this song of despair and hope, written in 2004 was one of my responses to the strong emotions Kibera stirred up in me.

A song for IDPs

A song for IDPs

by Noel Ihebuzor

(For BOSSASO and other  IDPs)

 

Hope lies here poorly shriveled and shriveling,

withered and withering

once high hopes now desiccated dry

the hot tropical sun sits on the dying camp

oppressive and roasting, quickening rot,

a constant rain of dry dust flows

roams freely in this place of captivity

slowly drying and dimming the voices of the trapped dying living

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

 

 

No water runs here as life slowly runs out

no food grows here, despair bounds and grows,

this place of rock and stones arid

by a sea that rolls, simmers and boils

 

This place bursting at its seam with suffering in the sweltering

scorching suffocating heat

betrays the jungle in the hearts of men and women

for there is no logic to this place, no sense it

 

Good sense departed so many moons ago

care and compassion suffocated and hope now orphaned

The animal in us runs raw, ragged, ranting and dimming all sanity,

rages, savages, pillages in a sad presage of the triumph of the beast

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

 

 

Mothers and females, forlorn drag around their feeble frames

full of fear in this fiery place, haunted by fear

humiliated by hunger, haunted by anxiety

sagging flesh sits ugly awkward on tired bones

violated mothers their pride sold to nourish those they once suckled

suffer the chuckle and derision of their temporarily satiated invaders,

armed predators chuckle as victims hide their shame

and their pain in sphinx-like empty stares

hoping against hope that they caught nothing else

in the unequal exchange

 

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

 

 

 

Fathers and sons sit around sullen

avoiding each others’ gaze

hiding their fear and shame and hate

wedded to woes and wants

souls trapped, feeling man-less and impotent,

empty yet full and over running with rage

in this cauldron, hatred and anger cook, slowly, simmering

raw rage grows and fills every crevice

in bitter emptied dried out souls

 

Outside and beyond, the voices of good intentions, of

actors and reactors, benefactors and beneficiaries mesh

while the victims die in large numbers

their groans and hisses drone on

and are drowned by distance

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

 

 

The shrivelling thinning hair on the enlarged heads of children,

Fontanels fallen in

sad sullen eyes, empty sucked into large sinking sockets,

wrinkling, flaking aging skins, bursting balloon bellies

enlarged heads sit ugly on tiny martian-like necks

frames as if of new born lambs adorn once chubby children, all

announcing ungainly early return trips and escape from this place

where fear is fertile

 

Flies buzz around, settling on the yellowish phlegm that ooze from nostrils

drawn by the foul stench and litter of littered humanity

of wasting and decaying humanity

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

 

 

Hope runs dry in these running noses,

in running temperatures and running stomachs

and soon the earth will take into its already distended bowels

these ungainly sacrifices and the earth is desecrated.

 

Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

Or do we simply continue to stare

 

 

***** I wrote this poem when I worked in Somalia somne seven years ago and after visiting IDP camps in Bosasso in Puntland, NE somalia and in Hargeisa. This particular sad song was triggered by the human misery I saw in those camps as we struggled to bring help and hope to victims of human folly! I saw the same misery in eastern DRC when I worked there!  Noel