Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Teacher Might Have Been Wrong

Teacher once said that our minds are great things.
They hold so much information, he said.
And I believed him.

But I have been in this great city for sometime
And I fear that Teacher might have been wrong.

A thief stole a lot of money
Meant to care for autistic children
We saw him foaming at the mouth
His eyes wore the guilt of his egregiousness
People forgot about the money
And now he leads them.

Our minds just occupy fleeting thoughts.
I remember how we were enraged
When somebody whipped out a gun
And shot a bystander who was eating potato
crips next to his six-year-old.
We shouted and tweeted about it
But while he slipped back to freedom
We couldn't remember the name of that bystander,
Or where the six-year-old is now.

Of course, remembering things makes people sick.
Like when a child was electrocuted in a shack
Because of live illegal electric wires connecting to the slum.
Like when beggar's bowls have been kicked in the streets
By harried city dwellers caught in the demon of  commercialized existence.
Like that hawker whose head was crushed with an askari's rungu.

The mind is good with algebra and calculus
and Montesquieu and Shakespeare
But when caught up in the heady waters
of life, the mind soon realizes that the only algebra
that matters is one that is more immediate
like hunger pangs
or the Landlord with mean-looking Estate Agents.

I have seen people in this city
talk to themselves, holding imaginary conversations
with their minds, unable to adjust to reality.

So no one writes books anymore
Because there is nothing to memorialize
And that the void now needs to be vaporized

The people in this city
live for now- their chicken cooked in five minutes flat
& words of love whispered now and forgotten
& sins forgiven and forgotten and committed and forgotten
& museums demolished to build shopping malls
& fast news, breaking news and gossips and tabloids
& faster technology and dying friendships

The man with the flute
used to sing at Nairobi Archives
many years ago
when people could hear the hum of their thoughts
He used to say,
You will miss me, you will miss my flute,
because this music I am playing
for free has been my breathe
Every time you hear it, it retraces your mind to
this place, the place where we all originated from.

C) Salem Lorot/ echoesofthehills 2017

for Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Memories



Sumana Roy said...

This poem is a huge chunk of life, very truthful & honest. Love the algebra portion & the man with the flute.

John Buchanan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sherry Blue Sky said...

When you write a poem, kiddo, it packs a punch. This poem is life, for certain, in all of its rush and bustle and the occasional fleeting moment of grace and wonder. I love the flute player, and his music which was breath and ease. I live for such moments and, where I live now, there are many. The pace is slow, the waves are infinite, and there is a sky-show going on every minute. I so love your writing, Grandson. And your worldview. You truly SEE the people who often go invisible.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

'Our minds just occupy fleeting thoughts' this is so true on so many levels..

Susan said...

"But when caught up in the heady waters
of life, the mind soon realizes that the only algebra
that matters is one that is more immediate . . ."

How ironic! You show the opposite in this amazing journey of a poem--how much greatness is lost when we live like you show in that breathless verse of living for now. It is possible that my poem for today, though very different, has the same meaning.

indybev said...

How eloquently you describe the pathos of many in your city. You are a voice of reality.

Marja said...

wow what a powerful poem which hits here and now with the harsh reality of life and the sadness how life has changed for the worse as many sell their soul for money as life indeed has become too fast and people don't take time anymore to listen to the beauty of the flute. Yes he will be missed.

Thotpurge said...

the only algebra
that matters is one that is more immediate
like hunger pangs... the race for survival, the fragmented attention spans, the fickle memories.. you've summed up city life very well.

Jae Rose said...

A powerful piece

Sarah Russell said...

A wonderful commentary on life in our society, and on what we choose to remember and to forget in the throes of living. Well done.

Salem Lorot said...

Thank you so much, good poet friends, for your thoughtful and positive comments. Let me visit your sites shortly. Sorry I was held with work.

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