Lucia Gbaya-Kanga

“from Palm Wine Blues: Delilah’s Lament”

9:21 pm:
oh! and again. it echoes through her. where did they go. recalls mist and morning. the curve of girl child’s bend over a pan. she was peeling yabas. her eyes welling beneath baby’s touch. darkness heavy as stone. lamenting sings. a soft drowning is death. empty forgotten scar. death is also life. cinder and blue married. covered blood. reduced it to a shade of sleep. trembling til trembling. quiets. focusing in on the twang. the light flickered. in kind and time. strummed out the thickness. til it scratched the tile. the fly hovered. mumbled into herself. running in rounds waiting. interrupted thought. breath. heavy pause. the waiting for a thing to enter. speaking of spells. skatting. scratching back of throat. in pieces she wrote:

( …coming home in a few days
plan to stay
a  while
…something to get into
lay easing minds
3:31 am:
to stutter it out the attempt. to say it as this to    repeat then   a  speaking   scattered[1]   as she  is after men had their fill; defeated and weary     eyes gouged and slain; once again     her name is evoked    used in name of: strategy cunning battle   once again      pawn and tool’s sorrow    will still her song    be one of pain    she is without   and without she cannot     but she does and without     that better part of self    touched tip of well and it was she   without   climbed inside and fell into dank hole searching for what she is    without     fell searching in soul of well    for better part      that climbed inside without      and fell into dank soul    and what is she without
asphalt gritty between teeth
cutting left bones cracked
eyes swollen
urine splashed surface
school gym dress
caked dry blood clotted
dragged dumped along
with dead

12:00 pm:
that day: girl child. six years old peeling yabas in the kitchen with older eight year old sister. ma was hanging the sheets outdoors. baby girl tied to back. saturday morning chores. then the men came in. divided mother and children up. amongst themselves. pulled at them. stripped the lappa. clawed away at ma’s insides. pulled down upon her thickened middle. they had been stalking her sway. too wide. too loose. so endless, their secrets had seemed to swallow themselves up in the waves of her motion. their shame had ached to fade. one. man-child spoke up. put it plainly. dense woman! this is mine to tell. her eyes close. gnashes teeth. screams herself into oblivion. to disappear. to vanish. children’s screams hover in the air. she had wished for them only to wilt away. she would tell them that pain is sun screeching for lack of night. death is a shade of sleep. loves, rest away into crimson. wane. but. the blows broke her. they beat her til bloodclot. suckled ma’s milk. stole her seeds; then blew the wetin sef  into the stratosphere. eyes closed. Open. Up Delilah Open. where did my little girls go? where have you left them? in the kitchen corner, girl child was peeling yabas. that day.

[1] the scattering or sowing of seeds/the crying times/looped sound/spliced/voice of one/in the wilderness/sphincter-like sounds/byte/sound/tight/sound/clash/invisible holocaust re-hash/re-fragmenting charcoal lines converge midway


Echo to Blue:

how you slay me    spin me out           make me spread myself wide. over ‘n over, i come

offering.   my plaintive wanting.        altar-like lingering.    whispered. stretched.    i confess:

have mercy blue, you.   have pulled it from me.   some milky soft crooning trembling

‘tween my toes.                       ‘tween my lips.                        ‘tween my open.

made me move.  contact high. hazy atmosphere.  hold myself tighter. still. moving.  a misty midnight blue into dusk: musk upon musk each.  upon each in trembling reach.  lanky arms draped shoulders fingered hips damp thigh into smooth and rough high.  you draw  from me til panting.    you say: breathe.     so, i breathe for you, blue.     breathe you in like my name   echo your sound. boss voice. so boss. calms this everyday hustle. makes my blue-green solid. then. melt. cascade.   so heavy. so echoed. so boss.  i moveinyou.  sweet purrin ‘n yearnin                 float into your mist.        lonesome nights, i hum this.    only thing these days. only thing. puts  me right. at ease. sink into it. slow-like, ‘n conjure your exhale. ‘til  slippin. ‘til i slip away.            a way. hushed sighs.   a way. heavy and mellowed, i.  bellow you through my pores.   make me fiend & whore   swaying loose in your rhyme i. /transform/sway slight/ly/lean/forward/sullen eyes dreamy/something/deep down in sorrow/rests/a moment/chest/mouth/open/sing/hear that/slow low before/ascending

oh blue. would you.    manifest i would be your only courtesan. gladly give. even. pick corn from your cobb. even. debone your fish. submit myself to your will. fill. your drinking glass ‘til overflowing. would be palm wine for you. heady n sweet. have memorized yr murmur’s contours. as you sleep.   but. we only.  part

tomeet and meetto part again

and beloved. i can only widen. whispered. wet.        ‘til you say breathe.     ‘til you call breath out   make it grunt.     bound i echo,    blue for you    suck sweat. spittle and sorrow.    uncurl into your song.      whisper my blueness into kept places.    ‘til shivers emerge and slacken my spine. make bone crack in time.     and i heave.    bass line pounded.     into my cupped moans.    trembling fingertips. i touch your    pulsating and fold. self into silhouette.    each upon each. bend and climb. drops of wet slide into clefts.  swallow the leftover dry.


you have turned me out.                     on purpose, i plaster my dreams.

across your walls.        scour the halls for your scent.             lick the vents in my dim lit   haze. cling to the speaker box.       crave.            shadow the air waves. til you come back

‘round ‘n

play me softly into sound…

In Sanity

Dear,Lipped the button and glass. You flicked it. Flicked til it wore. You
flicked til it wore thin. And when I sigh. Hyde. Highed and hidden. You hide
me and suck the marrow. Lipped the button and glass and I asked. Of it.
When. To touch your auburn and crimson. Blued and blacked. To touch it and
cringe. To also lick it as you lipped and hyde. And we were. In it yesterday
and you asked me to tremble tremble tremble…You tossed my one this way.
Explained it more. And the skin split peeling from the back. Lapped up the
remnants with your tongue. Wrung it back into my throat. And highed and
hide, And we were in it (yes today) and asked me to design my self and re. I
said you are moon in it and nja. You are nina with me. Sanded night. Palm
wine. Sweet and intoxicating. Bitter. Cutting. In places unsustained by
lies. L’ ombre de ton ombre. The shadow of your shadow. L’ombre de ton main.
The shadow of your hand. Said your Self. Said I am. In ways. Under your
heel. And trod. Over. Upon. Asked me to tremble tremble. Disassemble. This
assemble and connect. Tossed my one explained it more. Rode my murmur’s
contour. I asked. Said. I will. Curse the earth. After your death. Speak in
sane words. About us then.

Lover to loved.

Lucia Gbaya-Kanga is an English Instructor and has performed at various venues in Philadelphia and San Diego. Her work focuses on issues such as fragmentation, displacement, exile, war, and relationships between mother and child. Her recent publications can be found in Sunshine Noir, Chain (Issue 12: facts), and Pilot, and Lavandería – A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Word which she co-edited.

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