Call Me Down The Rain

Robert Rhodes, ‘Night map (1) so we can always find the way to one another.’ Acrylic, gouache and pencil on Arches paper.

Robert Rhodes, ‘Night map (1) so we can always find the way to one another.’ Acrylic, gouache and pencil on Arches paper.

 

Preface:

This series 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

 

Call Me Down the Rain

work-song honoring those attempting to return home to territory reclaimed from Boko Haram

I must dance a circle
bring the monsoon
call me down the rain

pray like someone greedy
give me give me give
more than my share

of this year’s water
bring it bring it bring
the water, carry me the river

call me down the rain
and flood the plateau, bring
rags and buckets to me

you will find me on
my knees and scrubbing
more than red dust

more than harmattan,
I must scrub the northland
clean down to the bedrock

how can we return
to farm and village, how
can we plant new crops

in this earth from which
we’ve lifted the broken
bodies of kin and country

washed them, taken them,
them all, to mourn and bury?
how can we till land

charred from bomb-blasts,
how can we plant when
we keep finding bullet-

casings in the soil?
our lips will not permit
yam and cassava grown

in blood-soaked dirt
to cross them, our bodies
will refuse such tainted

nourishment. no. you
must carry the Benue
here, bring bring me

water, call me down
the rain so I can first
scrub the stains

of blood and bitterness,
scrub until there’s
nothing left but dancing

here, until the stain is
gone from memory,
from sole and soul —
call me down the rain

–Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba)
(first published in Synchronized Chaos, forthcoming in Dance Here, 2015)

 

response to rain

.
news footage and online video
carefully avoided to skip the tears
i only see him in my mind
where she painted his struggling plea
knees in the red sand, bleeding
for every friend and countryman
pulled down, laid down too soon
.
i see the rain clouds forming
sense sentinal drops, then deluge
as nature bends to help him purge
the unnatural evil that claws
at everything, everyone he knows
.
i see his upturned face
wet with the thundering gift
grief and faith and gratitude
mixed in his tears, in the rain
and i cry with him, for him
for a county i don’t know
for brothers and sisters unmet
for the violence in my own streets
ceaseless, senseless death
wondering if there will be
enough rain to cleanse us all
.
j.lewis
7/4/2015

 

Laura to J.Lewis, 04-July-2015: Blessings on you and on your house.

Sometimes simple phrases are a prompt for a poem. When Laura said “Blessings on you and on your house,” I knew I wanted to respond in kind. Here is my response poem:

poem of blessing

your words flow in my thoughts
and in my veins, as though
you were my natural sister
not a stranger with a pen
who cuts me rapier wide
with every new description
of overwhelming sorrow
of overpowering joy

you are in my heart, my head
as familiar as the ones
around my supper table
around the hasty coffins
we have both seen filled
weeping for the silent days
empty of their laughter
empty of their love

your pain rolls down my face
until i cannot tell if
these are your tears or mine
your stories or my memories
and i know without pause
that knowing you, reading you
fills me with a fervent hope
for better tomorrows

and so i call a blessing down
as one might call the rain
on fields of drought
a blessing on your head
and on your house

j.lewis
7/4/2015

 

gathering blessings

with heartfelt thanks for two recent poems from James E Lewis, “response to rain” and “poem of blessing” — another mourning for Jos, 07-07-2015

it rains. i stand beneath these
lemon-gems, sunflowers two meters
tall, heads bent in grief above
me. drops slip down the yellow

petals of their cheeks to drench
my hair. my own body seems too
small, unable to create enough

tears for me to weep, insufficient
reservoir to handle all the news
of dying. oh, jos! i cannot cry
enough to rinse away the vision

of so many bodies stretched out
side to side, lives now stilled
wrapped head to toe in fabric,

small rectangles of paper placed
on each, weighted with a rock.
as messages arrive, i dance
the passage of those known to me,

and weep. my friend, lend me
your tears, that we may honour
known and unknown both, may wrap

and cover each of these still
bodies. many are now the last
ones of their bloodlines, have
no other family to mourn them.

lend me your tears that none
of these are left to make their
final passage without the tears
of kin to bless their way. jos!
my heart is hollowed, a begging
bowl, i hold it out to gather
blessings, catch the rain.

–Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba), 07-July-2015
(forthcoming in Dance Here, 2015)

 

we fled jos

for laura m kaminski (halima ayuba)

we fled jos when the catapult was merely hot
sending down hail, and katako was a purgatory
caught between heaven and hell, between
what was dreamed and the singeing of stones

the long walks to faringada at dawn, to share
those balls of peas, like green bullets, and carrots
sharpened as flints and dagas, the grey potatoes
and those cabbages hiding inside fold upon fold

memories and fading innocence of a thinning city
taught us how to turn casual strolls into a never
ending escape, the screams burning haram holes
into backs too scarred to fall into a trap forged

for pillars of salt, that lose their taste to hate;
today, laura, those stones have become bullets
they flower into thunder, bury their fiery heads
in soft flesh, and explode into flicking forked tongues

of despair, ceasing the heart of man and city
ah! jos grows too hot for warmth and embrace;
but how can we flee what festers in our hearts?
how can the heart not burn, our eyes not sing
when in us jos lives as city and lost companion?

how can we flee the love of its calm days, its
apple weather made for joy, sowed within us
which now fruit into acres and acres of kind
memories, as if once more faringada receives

all her broken farmers, with their wares of life?
how do you bury those picnic afternoons upon
shere hills, where man and cloud slept together
where the air, stoked and resolved, lustily sang
and all stirred leaves, and our thumping hearts

danced, and in the distance, like a fallen devotee
jos lay with her open arteries, invoking a mad god?
how can you truly flee what cannot leave you
for in our different places now, with stricken pens

we hold in ink the grief of love that coagulates
as blood, memoirs of our city, sad memories
of what dies, so poets can shed their singing
epitaphs, like this, with blood and angry stones

–amu nnadi, 07-07-2015
(forthcoming in ‘a field of echoes’, 2015)

 

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: ‘Night map (1) so we can always find the way to one another.’ Acrylic, gouache and pencil on Arches paper.

 

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Categories: Art, Writing

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7 Comments on “Call Me Down The Rain”

  1. July 23, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

    Reblogged this on The Ark of Identity.

    Like

  2. July 24, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

    Reblogged this on innocence1970's Blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. July 25, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    Very good you have given the space for this fire to burn and bring some more light into this subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mahmud Aminu Dikko
    July 4, 2016 at 8:17 am #

    The poem is beautiful and the picture of terror well painted, its a piece well done, ‘call me down the rain’. I love it.

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Call Me Down the Rain, Part 2 | Creative Thresholds - July 23, 2015

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

    Like

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

    […] the dialogue in poetry form from there. 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 […]

    Like

  3. Interview with Laura M Kaminski | THE STRONG LETTERS - January 2, 2016

    […] other writing, tributes to other poets, other people. Some of the poems in Dance Here were part of a poetic conversation with amu-nnadi and j.lewis at Creative Thresholds, with accompanying artwork by Robert Rhodes (who is also a poet).  I can never pay back the gift […]

    Like

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