Call Me Down the Rain, Part 2

Robert Rhodes, ' This was written by hand so you can feel it next to your heart (3).' Ink and acrylic on Arches paper.

Robert Rhodes, ‘ This was written by hand so you can feel it next to your heart (3).’ Ink and acrylic on Arches paper.

 

This post is part 2 in the series “Call Me Down the Rain” (the first post is here).

Preface:

This series first unfolded during the first week of July, 2015, when I posted “Call Me Down the Rain” on my Facebook page as a response to another round of attacks by Boko Haram in Jos and other locations in northern Nigeria. Poet j.lewis responded with a poem, and it became a conversation, with poet amu nnadi contacting me to add his poem “we fled jos” to the sequence. Poet and artist Robert Rhodes gave us permission to use one of his paintings as an accompaniment, and we are grateful to Creative Thresholds for bringing this conversation to wider audience.

–Laura M Kaminski, July 2015

 

drought

the air stands still and watches
as thirsty clouds drift, looking for water
an ocean, a river, or a lake perhaps
in whose familiar smile they will rekindle passion
in whose fevered shivering and chattering
they will find enough fetish for tears
enough shadow on bleached faces for refreshing

but the baked earth is too hard hearted
to stir the wind into this ritual of remembrance
leaves lie inert, their souls drained of humour
so they lie about, without language or memory
that can tell day, the high priest, how cowries
lost their voice and potency to the sun

here and there trees lean into themselves
eating their last memories, the last harvest
their hair is wispy weak, like a malnourished child’s
a few empty nests tell of stilled tweets
and all the fairweather friends who pressed the block button
and went seeking other friendlier walls,
their lean branches are spread out in supplication
begging for friendship or a drop of water
in which lie the translucence of rebirth

like a herd of starving cattle
burdened by humps of thirsty anecdotes
days come and go, panting, swallowing air
seeking like the clouds
a waterhole in which it can dip
the head of this angry sun
so clouds may cry with relief
so all the leaves may wipe their brow
and smile again, the air sighing,
so all the birds that migrated may return
and it is a new season

amu nnadi
a field of echoes
2015

==

how far to jos

there are no more guides
no one who will walk with me
past bloody fields
along the dusty highway
to j-town so
i make my way
alone

stranger to this country
but not to violence
the callous killings
for any or no reason
that leave us gaping
grasping at any hope
that someone we know
will have been spared
and we flee
if not in body
then in spirit
seeking peace
seeking hope

the burden of so much death
is heavy on my soul
and the miles are hard
on my feet
on my heart
i dare not stop
i cannot stop remembering
the faces in the news
the childless father
the motherless child
the stunned survivors

i stumble, fall, and
a graying man approaches
cautiously extends
one hand to help me up
the other busy
with a begging bowl
i try to fill with water
fill instead with tears
as he offers a quiet
blessing on my journey

he knows, he says
how far it is
to jos

j.lewis

==

this road is earth

i am this road
that goes on and on
gathering memories
as vehicles, wreckage and tar,
on both sides trees stand
taciturn, entranced
having journeyed from afar
to stand by the arena of roadsides
and watch all of life speed past
with loud presumptuous noises

sometimes you would see them
shake their leaves in disbelief
their blood white sap of shock
at how easily time and moments
and their diverse seasons
and lost lessons fly past
or crash into a crushed heap
of aborted journeys

i do not begin
where the first word is uttered
nor end, just because
before me
a hill rises as a full stop
or before us a river lays her traps
of drowned dreams
euphoric with ripples, bounding
with waves, boundless

i become a ship laden with memorials
or a gull travelling the expanse
buoyed by air and the currents
crying with my plaintive poems
of the vastness of earth and spirit
and how we do not end
when we find land again
or a branch of eternity

for we are this road
we neither begin nor end
when for us dawns break
our wings break, hearts break
or mud breaks our fall,
and with yearning and purity
earth breaks her silence
with eulogies of blood and wind

amu nnadi
a field of echoes
2015

==

funeral dance

we write as though
bagpipes were calling
scraping their tunes along
seacliffs and moors, calling
come,
come join the minor key–
turn slowly together
to mourn this latest
life gone out

we do not answer instantly
but let the sad notes linger
hollowing our hearts
until the walls are paper-thin
and we hold our breath
against the danger
that they may tear through
bleed us, drain us
dry as the clay
of this shallow grave

we begin a low droning
hymn of humankind
step closer to hear
the contrapuntal verses
of pain, tears, and hope
letting the unfettered
feet of each line
form their own impromptu
funeral dance

j.lewis

==

let this be enough

this is what is given us:
we sing despite chapped lips,
write despite the tears that drip and thin
the ink, attempt to rinse away
the grief that thickly chokes our words

this is what is given us:
our feet move slowly
as if the only destination
left is an exit, not an entrance
and we stumble as we dance

this is what is given us
so let this be enough:
we fashion the drum we will play
for God and practice, even when
we do not see the stars

–Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba)

 

About the Poets:

j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, and nurse practitioner. His poetry and music reflect the difficulty and joy of human interactions, sometimes drawing inspiration from his decades of experience in healthcare. When he is not writing, composing, or diagnosing, he is likely on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California.

amu nnadi is a philosopher who describes himself as a lover of love and the elements. He insists on writing poetry without capital letters and full stops, declaring that poetry is life itself and is the spirit of God working through humanity to extend creation and enrich life. As he says: “life is a seamless stream of many commas but no stops. Poetry is bigger in all estimation than man.” Recent collections include ‘ihejuruonu’ and ‘through the window of a sandcastle’. He is currently working on ‘a field of echoes’, due for publication in 2015.

Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba) grew up in northern Nigeria, went to school in New Orleans, and currently lives in rural Missouri. She is an Associate Editor at Right Hand Pointing and an occasional contributor to Via Negativa. Recent collections include And Yes, I Dance and Considering Luminescence; she is currently working on Dance Here.

Robert Rhodes is a poet and artist. We are grateful to him for allowing us to use his artwork as an accompaniment for this series. The painting is titled: ‘ This was written by hand so you can feel it next to your heart (3).’ Ink and acrylic on Arches paper.

 

 

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Categories: Art, Writing

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3 Comments on “Call Me Down the Rain, Part 2”

  1. July 23, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    Reblogged this on The Ark of Identity and commented:
    This is the second part of the two part series.

    Like

  2. July 26, 2015 at 9:07 am #

    Reblogged this on Utopian Fragments and commented:
    Poetic dialogue over a topic which is getting way too little attention in our shores.
    This is part two, make sure to jump over to check part one as well.

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Call Me Down the Rain | Melissa D. Johnston - August 16, 2015

    […] Creative Thresholds has the entire series, in two parts: “Call Me Down the Rain” and “Call Me Down the Rain, Part 2.” Artist Robert Rhodes’s paintings accompany the two posts. Please visit and experience the […]

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