A short address to the poet in me

Oh my

what is this I feel

stirrings of the writer in me, long since thought dead

Now, as in the past, reborn with the setting sun and melancholic tunes

How I love you, oh innermost part of me. Source of all my creativity, peace and poet’s unbound joy.

That you were a dame, I would embrace you and  warm kisses plant upon your cheeks that be smoother than honey.

Never depart from me, though my mind ever mundane and technical become.

Yet in my quiet alone moments always be there, poet in me.

A welcome companion, more than a hobby. A welcome reminder of childhood and wild imagination.

Never leave me

Advertisements

Here’s what I think about Tinashe’s “The Leap”

The stunning singer needs no introduction. She got me listening with her single “2 on” featuring Schoolboy Q  and suddenly I was all over the Net looking for more of her musical creations.  Then I bumped into “The Leap”. Fans of “The Hunger Games” movie franchise will instantly recognize that this is a contributing track to The Mockingjay- Part 1 soundtrack.

It’s tune has been variously described as “self-deprecating” and “macabre” even “heartbreaking, chilling and vulnerable” by Maria Sherman. It’s slow and haunting with pockets of fast-paced beats that rapidly build up to make your heart tick. Now combine that with siren-like vocals about taking the jump – there’s a deathly attraction.

The lyrics are even more interesting.

[Verse 1]

Day after day I’m waiting

Sitting around here poised and ready

Why do I feel so numb?

Heal me now, still when I feel most lonely

There will be people all around me

Shuffling past my eyes

So I live in my head

Regrets

[Pre-chorus]

Leave ‘em on the floor, wrap ‘em in  an old black sheet

I’m gonna set it all ablaze, watch it burn to ash and dust

Looking for a sign, karma’s coming back for us

I was waiting on you, waiting on you

[Chorus]

The leap, leap, leap

Don’t look, don’t look down

Leap

(Ooh hurry up don’t miss your chance)

Leap

(Time is running out the clock ain’t gon’ stop for no man)

Leap

For you, for me

[Verse 2]

Night after night I’m suffering

Months have gone by it seems like dozens

Why do I feel so numb?

Hear me now

If you’re the man you claim to be

Why do you drain the life right out of me?

Never make a move, never make a change

I needed, I needed, I needed, to make a shift of faith

[Pre-chorus] + [Chorus]

Superficially, the lyrics are depressing. A woman is addressing a man, possibly her lover. She is expressing her pain and claims the man is killing her (Verse 2). Apparently the man lacks initiative. He never makes a move, never makes a change. There is a constant reference to the past when the couple had a chance to jump. The woman urged the man to take the leap with her for both their sakes (Chorus), but the man couldn’t do it so they never jumped. The woman thinks they should have, she feels they missed their chance and now she’s struggling with regret (Verse 1). She has become detached, is lonely and somehow feels they’re going to be punished for that mistake,”… karma’s coming back for us”.

Bearing in mind the dark and revolutionary context of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part I it is clear that the song is ominously cautionary. It is not hard to see the parallelism between the couple in the song and  people who would refuse to rebel against the Capitol. “The Leap” is basically telling us that if those people refuse to join the fight they’re going to live to regret it; by day oppressed by the authorities and at night tormented by ghosts and a crushing feeling of having failed their dead brothers. Taken strictly in that context, “The Leap” is therefore a cleverly disguised- yes you guessed it- revolutionary song. You see, if you want people to fight with you you can explicitly urge them to, as in “The Hanging Tree”, or you can implicitly warn them of the consequences of not joining the fight.

Finally, leap as a verb means to jump from a surface, but used here as “The leap” implies usage as a noun. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines leap as a noun as “a choice made in an area of ultimate concern”. That’s where this song becomes so relevant to all of us and proves its ingenuity.  We make choices every day, some more important than others, and we all eventually find that something (it could be a person too) that makes life worth it. When we find our reason for living we have to choose to be brave enough to grab it or risk losing it and meaning for our lives. That is the ultimate message of “The Leap”; don’t let your chance pass you by.

Don’t look, don’t look down

Leap

(Ooh hurry up don’t miss your chance)

Leap

Watch The Throne

This is not my own creation. However, I decided to post it here because I especially loved the easy rhyme which it achieves and the sense of pride and self-purpose that radiates through the lines. Indeed there is no greater joy than when one discovers that one thing they were literally born to do. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche “amor fati”.

I hope you find the poem entertaining as well.

 

By Kevin Onyiego

I remember, on that morning

Waking while the rain was pouring

Eye-game weak, everything else so bleak

Brain- game strong, a sense of belong

 

Looking up at the ceiling

Then jotting down something exciting

Eight lines later, I read and ponder

Eighteen years it took to discover

My style, impetuous

My flow, scrumptious

This is no skill, this shit can kill

 

Hands trembling, face grinning

As a jest, the pinch test

On my face a grimace

This is no dream

Everything is as it seems

Oh my,

A king has been born

The Hanging Tree : Song of The Revolution

the hanging tree

Photo: tumblr

I admit that’s the best part of the movie for me. I’m talking about that part in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 where Katniss, Kyle and the film crew sit down by the river in District Twelve having a bite then Pollux, an Avox who had his tongue cut out by the Capitol for being a rebel, signals to Katniss to sing something to the Mockingjays. Katniss takes a deep breathe then lays it on my ear- and it’s been hovering there ever since. So I decided I had to write something about it.

It’s more than just a catchy song, here are the lyrics:

Are you, are you

Coming to the tree

Where they strung up a man, they said murdered three

Strange things did happen here

No stranger would it be

If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree

 

Are you, are you

Coming to the tree

Where the dead man called out for his love to flee.

Strange things did happen here

No stranger would it be

If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

 

Are you, are you

Coming to the tree

Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free.

Strange things did happen here

No stranger would it be

If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree

 

Are you, are you

Coming to the tree

Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me

Strange things did happen here

No stranger would it be

If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree

The first stanza makes me think of a lover, calling out to his significant other to set up a clandestine date at midnight. It basically reads “Hey, are you coming? You know, to that tree where they hung up that guy. Say midnight? It’s as good a place as any to meet” .

Now,in verse two we get a little more detail about the man who was hang on that tree.

“…the dead man called out for his love to flee.”

That’s eerie, a talking corpse. Assuming- in the world of this song of course- that corpses can talk maybe the corpse’s lover was involved in the murders he’s accused of and he is telling her to run. To escape before the authorities catch her and hang her as well or meet out some other form of punishment.

In the third stanza things start to get really weird. It becomes clear that the voice in the song, the voice singing the song is that of the corpse itself! Look at this:

Are you, are you

Coming to the tree

Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free.

So the dead man is telling his lover to run to  the tree, not away from it. Freedom for both of them lies in death – hanging together on that tree. This still seems to make sense, after all, we have all heard stories of lovers who would rather die together than live in a world where they were apart from each other. Romeo and Juliet springs to mind at this time.

The final verse serves to merely confirm my suspicions. The hanging corpse definitely wants his lover to join him

Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me

In that light “The Hanging Tree” has to be one of the most  depressing love songs I have ever heard. But wait, we are not done just yet.  To get the intended meaning of any song the context in which it is sung is just as important as the words of the song itself. Context creates meaning. Consider the fact that the rebels use Katniss’ song to inspire the other Districts to join the revolution- to fight against the Capitol. Now let me take you back to the first stanza:

“…

Where they strung up a man, they said murdered three

We don’t really know that the corpse is guilty. It is only said that he murdered three people. This is probably an allusion to the lies and defamation told by the ruling class about the rebels to justify the act of silencing them. Next, consider the time of the scheduled meeting:

“…If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree

There is something secretive going on here. People meeting at such odd hours are definitely planning something. Maybe they’re trying to elope- or bring down the government.

Finally:

“…

Strange things did happen here

No stranger would it be…

I believe these two lines are a reference to past revolutions in the society of Panem. They basically read “We’ve had revolutions before, what’s one more?”

In summary, the “Hanging Tree” is a haunting revolutionary’s song, a call to arms. Decoded it reads, “Come brothers, join the fight. We’ve revolted before in the past, so why should we put up with the injustices of this government? Better dead and free than alive and oppressed.”

Nightlife

One in the morning

I’m seated upright in my bed, surrounded by a cacophony

The sounds of Juja nightlife

It is Friday after all, or rather it was- an hour ago

“I’m so drunk!”

I hear a familiar voice say in the adjacent apartment

“Oh my God I am sooo drunk!”

Her voice is familiar because she’s my neighbor

Or at least we stay in the same apartment…

 

Speaking of neighbors

Did I mention the furious party raging right next door?

Hivo ndo kunaendanga” * is seriously threatening to bring down the roof

I don’t mean figuratively either

No wonder I’m writing poems in the dead of night

 

It’s like this every Friday night

After all this is Juja, isn’t it?

Where the campus girls, the booze and the reefer are all free and plenty

I look around calmly in my room-

And puke

 

I think back to what some old lady told me sometime back

You know how old people are

They like to talk- so long as they get anyone who’ll give them half the attention

In my day we didn’t have all this alcohol and drugs and kutumiana**

Back then, when two people were a couple you knew it was a serious thing and everyone respected that

They’d move in together and a baby  would soon follow

But they always made it work and marriage was a very real possibility

I think we had more love then

And because that’s a rare thing these days

The human nature, ever fragile and searching, must bury itself in whatever affection outrageous amounts of alcohol can  bring

I thought her stupid then

Now I’m beginning to think myself the fool

 

The party sounds blare on, ever louder.

Relentless

I roll over and force myself to sleep

It is a pathetic and troubled sleep tonight.


* Hivo ndo Kunaendanga – a popular Kiswahili rap song in Kenya

**kutumiana-  a Kiswahili word. Translated it means “ using one another” ,often with a negative connotation

If I Became a Ghost

Are-Ghosts-RealJust so we’re clear on this, I DON’T believe in ghosts; specters of the dead cursed forever to lonely haunts. Besides what I actually believe, there is overwhelming evidence of the existence of such beings, on the internet at least. Literature also abounds with stories of phantom armies, ghost trains, phantom ships and even ghost animals. Remember “Casper the Friendly Ghost”? Or how about The Flying Dutchman, made so famous by “The Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise?

No doubt ghosts,real or not, continue to fascinate the collective conscious of the human race and we may never hear enough about them. Maybe this stems from an innate desire to believe that there is more to life, to us, than the bodies we presently inhabit. That death is not the end. That the soul, if there be such a thing, “goes on”.

Enough theorizing.  Ghosts, like all things, are not exempt from the poet’s ever wandering mind. The work below was inspired by more than a few episodes of the popular TV show Supernatural and borrows a lot of its style from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Try not to freak out too much!

 

If I became a ghost

I would soar with lightning rapidity

To the peak of the highest mountain

From there behold all the earth

Spread out beneath me.

Then I would jump

And let fall with hideous gravitational attraction-

 

If my soul be truly immortal

Or truly dead, to Death repulsive,

I then would sink to the deepest deep

and wrap myself in utter blackness and waves

Behold what the Almighty hath hid

With kingly stature and highest disdain

Walk over the valleys and plains of the deep.

 

I would eye wonders and treasures man yet living has never known

For a horse would be the whale,

In Poseidon fashion I would charge and stir up the waters

Then, with terrible fury erupting, like a woman scorned, or as the volcanoes of old-

with all enraged water hot at my heels-

I would blanket the coast

and sound like thunder through the raging tempest

 

Invisible, I would dine with statesmen and presidents

and recline with celebrities of the highest renown

At the self same time, through dreams as vivid as daylight

engage the most scholarly minds

and from Spirits learn of knowledge to mortal man forbid.

Through the eons I would endure, seated sure on my throne of all wisdom, all knowledge

All would be the power.

 

And when the sun darkens before my eyes,

When Eternity begins to look the despised enemy

I would fly into space

Into the blackest blackhole fling myself

Though the fall last countless years and the abyss seem bottomless

Yet finally I would die

and into nothingness pass my immortal jewel.

The Devil Went Down To Georgia : A Song Analysis

So the Devil goes to Georgia and meets this kid what calls himself Johnny. And the Devil says, “Look here kid, I got me a real fancy-looking, sweet- as- pie, golden fiddle and I’m willing to bet you this here fiddle that I can play this baby better than you ever could.”

“Really Mister?”, says Johnny who fancies himself the best fiddle player in all of Georgia, heck, in all the universe.

So the two make a deal, they’re going to see who  the better fiddle player is. If Johnny wins he gets to keep the golden fiddle, but if he loses,well, Old Scratch got to have his due right? And that be Johnny’s soul…

The Devil Went Down To Georgia

The devil went down to Georgia
He was lookin’ for a soul to steal
He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind
And he was willin’ to make a deal

When he came across this young man
Sawin’ on a fiddle and playin’ it hot
And the devil jumped up on a hickory stump
And said, “Boy, let me tell you what”

“I guess you didn’t know it but I’m a fiddle player, too
And if you’d care to take a dare, I’ll make a bet with you
Now, you play pretty good fiddle, boy, but give the devil his due
I’ll bet a fiddle of gold against your soul
‘Cause I think I’m better than you”

The boy said, “My name’s Johnny, and it might be a sin
But I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret
‘Cause I’m the best that’s ever been”

Johnny, rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard
‘Cause hell’s broke loose in Georgia and the devil deals the cards
And if you win you get this shiny fiddle made of gold
But if you lose, the devil gets your soul

The devil opened up his case and he said, “I’ll start this show”
And fire flew from his fingertips as he rosined up his bow
And he pulled the bow across the strings and it made an evil hiss
Then a band of demons joined in and it sounded somethin’ like this

When the devil finished, Johnny said
“Well, you’re pretty good, old son
But sit down in that chair right there
And let me show you how it’s done”

Fire on the mountain, run, boys, run
The devil’s in the house of the rising sun
Chicken in the bread pan pickin’ out dough
Granny, does your dog bite? No, child, no

The devil bowed his head because he knew that he’d been beat
And he laid that golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny’s feet
Johnny said, “Devil, just come on back if you ever want to try again
‘Cause I told you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best that’s ever been”

 

Well, here’s the thing, I think the devil let Johnny win. Have you heard the song? Here’s the video link. Generally,there’s a lot of disagreement about who won the bet- I think the devil’s piece was better than Johnny’s – but I believe who actually won is inconsequential because Johnny lost his soul to the devil that day. How? Pride. One of the seven cardinal sins.

See, this is the devil, the greatest trickster of all time. He wasn’t going to hang the fate of Johnny’s precious immortal soul on some stupid bet, no. He instead tempts Johnny to sin. Look at the third verse:

devil-went-down-to-georgia3“…

I’ll bet a fiddle of gold against your soul
‘Cause I think I’m better than you”

The challenge, boldly presented, is boldly taken up:

The boy said, “My name’s Johnny, and it might be a sin
But I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret
‘Cause I’m the best that’s ever been”

So Johnny is aware that what he is about to do could well be a sin  but he doesn’t give a rat’s ass because his status has been challenged. He has to,needs to, prove that “I’m the best that’s ever been”. And that’s the problem right there; self-conceit, pride. The very sin for which the devil was booted out of heaven.

Now notice how this whole contest is set-up, something Johnny clearly didn’t think  about, who’s going to decide who the winner is? Surely there has to be an impartial third party? An adjudicator. Or is the loser just “supposed” to know he has lost and eat humble pie? What would happen if either party did not concede defeat? Why, you’d have a classic case of the Mexican standoff, right? So there’s definitely something (pun intended) devilish about this whole setup.

Let’s skip to the final verse.

The devil bowed his head because he knew that he’d been beat
And he laid that golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny’s feet ”

Come on, is this the same devil we read about? This being had the balls to challenge God’s rule in heaven so what’s changed? How come he is all of a sudden willing to roll over and accept that he’s been “beat” by this human kid? Plus, flashback to the sinister desperation presented in verse one:

“…

He was lookin’ for a soul to steal
He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind”

He wasn’t going to let this one slip out of his hands. No, I bet there was an evil smile hidden in that face as it bowed to lay the golden fiddle at  Johnny’s feet. And what are Johnny’s final words?

“ …

Devil, just come on back if you ever want to try again
‘Cause I told you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best that’s ever been “

Clearly, Johnny’s pride gets a major boost after his beating the devil. Think about what such pride can do to a man. It is ruinous. He is likely to live the rest of his life the most arrogant son of a bit** that’s ever been – no heaven for Johnny. The devil stole Johnny’s soul in Georgia that day. What do you think?


Song: The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Artist: Charlie Daniels

Album: Miscellaneous

Genre: Country