Short Stories 004: Ambition

His stomach was still trembling: last meals are never digested. The bitter taste of bile, now stuck to the roof of his mouth, proved impossible to rinse out. Drinking water only sharpened the inflammation in his throat: did death have to be so distasteful? He could feel the emptiness his stomach; desolate, scorched. His mouth was dry. A sudden thirst had overcome him. He looked at his watch. There was ten minutes left: time to move.

The disabled toilets at the station seemed so big. He’d never been inside one. Now, looking at himself in the lowered mirror, he couldn’t help noticing how everything seemed louder. He could hear the buzz of the hand dryers in the adjacent toilets, the footsteps of people walking in and out, as well as the slam of the door closing in their wake: all as silence compared to the thumping from his heart. Again he looked at his watch. Eight minutes to go; time to move.

Water mixed with sweat dripped down his face – it was a new face, he tried to find within it the things he would normally recognize. The eyes weren’t the same. these pupils were broader and darker, fuller, more intense, more worried, free, sad, sorry, angry, anguished, uncertain. This face was thinner; where had his cheeks gone? This beard was new. With a deep breath he closed his eyes. Exhaling, he opened them to his watch. Six minutes to go: time to move.

His hand reached for the door handle. The dryers began to buzz. He hesitated. Took a few deliberate breaths while waiting for the footsteps to pass. The less people he saw the easier it would be. The door slammed and the footsteps passed, it was time to move. He looked at his watch: five minutes to go.

The door opened. He’d hoped it would resist. The ticket queue had subsided. Left to the barriers. Oyster ready. His heart beat louder. He could feel his veins pulsate, echoing his straining heart. Right to the escalators. He tried not to make any eye contact. Under another deep breath, he closed his eyes. Once more opening them to his watch; three minutes to go. Just enough time for a prayer.

His stomach churned. His hands trembled as they felt through his coat pocket. It was in there somewhere. Right onto the platform.

Another deep breath. His feet felt weak. His head felt heavy. The bag on his back felt heavy. He could hear the ticks. He checked his watch again; thirty seconds to go. He was in the right place.

Another deep breath. He sat on the floor. His head was pounding. His stomach wrenching. He could hear the ticks. He checked his watch again; twenty seconds to go.

Did death have to be so distasteful?

Another deep breath. He ignored the people now staring at him. His heartbeat was all he could hear. His stomach was in knots. He could feel the ticks. He checked his watch. ‘for the last time,’ he hoped. Ten seconds to go.

 

One last breath. Eyes closed.

 

Tick!

 

Tick!

 

Tick!

 

Tick!

 

Tick!

 

Silence.

 

© Denis Adide 2009

 

 

Intimate with Fear

“The world is not a safe place to live in. We shiver in separate cells in enclosed cities, shoulders hunched, barely keeping the panic below the surface of the skin, daily drinking shock along with our morning coffee, fearing the torches being set to our buildings, the attacks in the streets. Shutting down.” Gloria Anzaldua – Borderlands.

 

Surely there exists another way!

Poetry 06: Temps Perdu

Tempus Perdu

“I have to go, there is nothing for
me here but more of the same.
I can’t stay.”

“What am I supposed to do?
What would you have me say?”

(Twice he tried to reach for his shoes in vain,
Twice she feigned a sob, the tears a veil
She wore over her motives. A motif
Of quietened pains that now in chains held
His heart, and hands, and feet.)

“Nothing… everything … anything …
And nothing. Just let me go”

 

© Denis Adide 2010

In search of lost time

Relationships depend on intimacy, which can be easily marred if the seeds of distrust are allowed to germinate. Openness, in respect to sharing time and sentiments, is the only way to maintain intimacy. Forgiveness becomes harder the more one deviates from the discipline of commitment. The poem begins at a point of no return: when the poison of a lie has damaged the root of togetherness (gotta love the phrases).

Stage 001: On the bridge!

ACT 1

Scene 1

ALFIERI:

What you have is an illusion, a whisper, nothing more. You’re clinging onto a dream old friend: Let it go.

EDDIE:

If a whisper, how loud: I hear nothing else, if a breath, how profound: I feel nothing else… You call it a dream but it haunts my waking steps. I can, but cannot and must; let it go

© Denis Adide 2011

 

ps: Might be worth having a look at Arthur Millers A View From The Bridge.

Poetry 004: Autumn

 

Autumn

His hands clung to his walking stick
As though to loosen his grip
Would loosen his fraying flesh’s
Clasp on life.
Wrung was his skin by the wind.
His clothes, more a burden than a help,
As sails swung from his trembling trunk.
Watching was his helpless wife
As with a yelp he gave up,
Was blown within a fingertip of the salvaging scaffold,
And tipping past the barriers fell
Into the ditch left by the tea-sipping road-workers.
Teary his spouse, wrestling her umbrella
Walked toward his grave.

Her hands too feeble to save.

In haste I came to stay the hearse
The bride to death, clung onto her purse.

Solemn I thrust my hand to the nabe
“Fuck off! … Fuck off you ape!” He said

© Denis Adide 2010

 

Color: The Falling Leaves

It had been a cold and windy day. I was on my way home from university. there was a gaping hole in the pavement bordered by the plastic barriers that the road-workers had left when they clocked out. I remember thinking, as I made my way past the hole, that with the wind as strong as it was blowing, it wouldn’t take much to blow someone into the whole. It was at this point that the idea for the poem crossed my mind.

The dominant thought while fleshing the concept of Autumn had to with the manner in which human tragedy is colorless: we, like the leaves, all lose color and fall. The hole provided the scene within which to show how futile as well as ignorant racism can be.


Short Stories 002: Once Bitten!

Once Bitten

He lies there dying; a knife sticking out from his chest. There’s blood all over his jacket; it seems to fit in with the look of disbelief on his face. He can feel his grasp on the bunch of roses ease and with a slight sigh he let’s go. As his eyes turn upwards he only has time to whisper one last thing.

“I love you… Woman… I always have”.

She, kneeling right next to him, is somehow cool. She wears a collected countenance that seems somehow enchanted by the event. Her right hand, fully covered in blood, reaches for the phone she had earlier dropped. There is just enough time to watch as his pupils dilate. She holds his right hand in her left, clasps it to her cheek and smiles at him. He slowly stops breathing. She blinks, letting loose a solitary tear which rolls down her left cheek. After a moment spent staring into his lifeless eyes, she allows her attention to drift to her phone.

A few minutes later the sound of sirens startles her. She again turns her stare from his eyes and, kissing his hand, arises and picks up the roses before walking into the kitchen.

“Love!” she whispers in a huff to herself. “You don’t know the meaning of the word man!” she adds with a hint of malice…

TBC

© Denis Adide 2009

 

Poetry 003: The Proposal

The proposal

She took the rose I gave her, tied the stalk with a silk string
And hung it from her windowsill to dry;
Its petals still accented by the scent of early spring.
She smiled. “These flowers, my love, tell a lie,
For they do not have the life to which they cling,
Their crimson clothes for affection die.”
Slumped I stood, “What a reply!”,
And couldn’t tell her I’d bought the ring.

© Denis Adide 2010


Proposing

In my experience so far – which I don’t think differs from any – I have been victim to the strange way in which men and women, in speaking the same language, misunderstand each other. Thinking on this pointed me toward the fears that I had – and still do have – about openly expressing how I felt to a woman. How everything they did or said affected what I was about to say. The proposal is such a story, where love – and the celebration that it should carry – is lost in the vacuum of things either unsaid, or misunderstood. It is a solemn poem that like the hidden ring, speaks of concealed emotions and thoughts lost on the threshold of commitment because of fastly fading sentiments that are as dead as the flowers. Love, more immortal than the dying plants or the fears that hamper, is sorrowfully lost in the small moments. This poem is for all the men, who like me, never reached the height of romance in their proposals. It is a word to our respective women: our actions will never fully incapsulate our sentiments, bare with us.

Poetry 002: Love is…

Love is

Love is your strength failing,
Drooping slowly as a flake of snow from grey sky
To melt upon her cheek.
Love is the last dish in the sink,
The pair-less sock stranded on the radiator,
The half empty glass of wine
The dance last night,
And the song you won’t forget
While love is asleep.
Love is a cold fingertip, lightly slid along a naked back.
Love is her warmth lingering with the scent she carries,
Feeling an empty bed while Love is using your toothbrush.

© Denis Adide 2010

 

 

Finding what Love is…

Largely inspired by the cartoons shown here, this poem is a collage of images that somewhat sum up what Love is: both the disciplined action of loving as well as the intangible sentiment.

Poetry 011: Invisible

Invisible

I called them my own; and said they’d know me
Yet all I’d seen was by the flickering head-lights
As the car sped through the forgotten roads
That led away from the city’s concrete shores.
My eyes, as did the slowly emerging stars,
Twinkled over the darkening moors.

I saw their backs, burdened with belongings,
Strained by the weight of the journey ahead;
Arched like the oldest branches of a willow.
Their faces, sudden with the passing light,
Cascades of dust caked, tearless visages;
Uncertain but fearlessly walking into the night.

As the sun ran and hid – for his job was done –
Their faces, like their dusty footprints, vanished.
The roads, once full, had gradually emptied:
I suppose in the darkness, light assailed.
What stained my thoughts were the random apparitions
That with the singing crickets ushered in the night.

My mind wondered as the thoughts of home
– For I was home but in some sense away –
With its paved pathways and streetlights,
Busses, trams, trains, pubs, and corner-shop cafe’s,
Malls, multistory car-parks, greens and squares,
Loosened the snares for slumber’s wake

And then, emerging from the darkness, a child.
He, in tattered garments, pushed a red wheelbarrow.
His bold head and small frame ample to the chore;
I caught a glimpse of his unwrapped sole
As the driver slowed down to avoid a pothole
Then sped off past the pair of tired limbs.

For nights I studied the little red wheelbarrow
With its tiny rubber wheel and worn out handles;
All that was within its burrow was rust,
And the many scars from years of use.
He’d however, like the city and my name, faded
Past the speeding car back into the dark.

I called them my own; and said they’d know me,
Yet all I’d seen was by the flickering head-lights
As the driver slowed down to avoid a pothole.

© Denis Adide 2010

On Invisible

The idea of a sestina and it’s somewhat enclosed space, the six quatrains and final tercet, greatly interested me. I was, at the time of the assignment, reading through Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which is a frame narrative. This couple with frame that the form provided inspired me to write a narrative.

On one level, this poem is about the character’s loss of/search for identity. Being from the “moors” and yet living in the city, the character’s perceptions of himself as well as his sorroundings are challenged on this car journey. The contrasting of light and dark as well as the natural and the constructed were to highlight this search within him for that core – internal individual – that was apart from what he had grown to experience. That all he sees in this more natural world is by artificial light was to highlight the futility of his search. I tried to make it such that his ‘own’, including nature here represented by sunlight, would not know him. He would thus, like the boy with the wheelbarrow, be left invisible in the darkness of a constructed reality.

Moreover, this poem is also about the great divide between the developed nations and the undeveloped nations, the imposition of ‘civility’

with it’s disregard for what, in a sense, took place in the darkness, and the resulting struggle for national as well as individual identity. Again here I chose to contrast the darkness and the light, submersing the images and concepts that they develop into the earlier mentioned discourse on identity. The child pushing the wheelbarrow

, a symbol of development, disappears into the night: a highlighting of the unseen struggle to adapt to a different, and new, way of life for many. The child’s ambitions to be a part of modernity are here carried.

This poem is also about the invisible children of Northern Uganda (thus the title) and the effects of post-independent conflicts on the younger generations.

Poetry 001: The Princess and Me!


I met a princess once
Here eyes were heavy
Weighed down by the many
Tears that refused to drop.

Her journey’d made her dress old,
the frightful cold beheld her toes,
Feigning, slipper-less and mourning,
Dances that ached when remembered

Tired, she stopped when I croaked
Stretched her fingers toward me,
Knuckles notched from forgotten rings,
And bowed to speak.

Though her long hair glowed,
And her small hands trembled,
And her lips quivered when she spoke,
Her voice made my heart, enchanted, stop.

Brows sullen, she told a tale
Of old fails, and how she was,
Under the moon, left to sail
Alone across the expanses.

Her tears welled, and flowed,
And she wept when I listened.
Slowly the glow, once hidden
Behind her solemn graces, glistened.

It hurt and healed to find
And ear for the life she’d lost.
Cheered, teary, she bowed again,
And kissed me, and then smiling,
Croaked!

© Denis Adide 2009

The branches

I spent the latter half of today with an eight month old baby in an office that was eighty percent female. You would have thought it a nightmare, to have all the swooners pass by and take their fair share of the baby’s chuckle. It was however, a lot of fun because he was great company to have. Unlike the rest of us there, he was open, unguarded and honest about how he felt. He farted when he felt like it, cried when he felt sad or deprived, laughed when he found something funny, and never once hid his desire to learn new things. I ended the evening, on my way away from the child – someone else was going to look after him now – comforted away from the anxiety surrounding my own children (potentially on their way via stalks from heaven): it seems the biggest swooner of the day was myself.

The comfort however, was twinned with an aching heart. There was a thought emerging, a concern for the millions of children who – in that very vulnerable phase of life – are left to endure extreme hardships. It felt in my heart – and this is the image I had – as though the adult hidden inside that small body was being pounded out of shape by the various circumstances that the child was forced to go through – circumstances that we, society and their parents, are supposed to shelter them from. There was a sorrow for the abused, neglected, forgotten, as well as murdered children. This sunk me and almost brought me to tears – I didn’t cry though, I stopped for a minute to compose myself, tears didn’t seem becoming of a tall, hooded, black man.

To all the parents – potential and actual – think on this. I heard it said somewhere that we are possibly the only animals that require others in their species to survive for the first ten or so years of life. Nearly all other animals can survive on their own after the first year. We however require assistance for much longer. That level of fragility is one that we should look to cater for and cradle with as much love, affection, and care as our human potential can muster. It’s far from a question of instinct, our brains are more developed than the rest of the animal species: there is the depth and wealth of love that we must tap into and discipline ourselves in the acknowledgement of our weakness, with a view to change or seek assistance. It takes two to conceive but more than two to parent: we are all hollow in some areas, knit the web that’ll cradle our children.

To the rest of us ‘adults’, here is a thought. Why is it that as we grow older, the things we lose are the very things that kept us happy? I was shocked at my dishonesty when close to tears I turned away from view and took a few breaths: the image of composure was one I was desperate to keep; as though weakness was somehow an inhuman trait. What happened to the nakedness of out youth: the tears and laughter, the dependency and honesty, the vulnerability that made us carefree, and the peaceful sleep. In my experience, they are cultured away by the rod of pretence. The more we learn deception and pretence, the more we mask who we are, using the tools to our freedom to hide our scars – when our scars are the marks that make us uniquely beautiful.

I yearn to be attached again to that child inside, to be free again; attached to branches of life: unique and yet part of something bigger. Happy and honest, that’s the aim.

Adideism number one.

“Love fiercely, freely, and without compromise; but begin with yourself”