Life As Fiction

“I read. I work. I travel. And I do not fall in love.”

Jul 17


One day your silence will no longer speak to me
Shrink at the heat of my challenge
Swallow my frenzied yelps at the universe
I dance upon the graves of my mistakes
I wear cursed missed opportunities in my hair

One day your silence will no longer speak to me
Your gaze focused on nothing
My anger rising in a plume of dust
You walk by me envisioning streets free of my spirit
I will eat you up one lie at a time but one day…

One day your silence will no longer speak to me.
(Mbithe Mosa, "Sewn shut")


Journal entry 170704

I’m going offline permanently. That is, no more posting to twitter or tumblr, though these accounts will remain alive/available/visible even though inactive.

I seem to have spent the past three and a half years crafting an on-line literary persona that would, I hoped, appeal to a specific person whom I hoped to eventually meet. In reality, the most I hoped for was to merely be permitted a glimpse of Her planet from time to time.

This experiment was an unmitigated disaster. It has made me a neurotic, "psycho male writer". (My obsessive male stalker tendencies—always misframed as “love”—have only been exacerbated.)

The past year has been an astonishing accretion of profound mistakes. I see that now. I understand it now. As men tend to do, I wreaked havoc and spread massive amounts of pain to those closest to me. It’s only right, then, that I also suffer. As is the habit of all masculinist oppressors, I found myself wanting my own pain recognised, validated, and healed by the very person whom I wounded.

A friend correctly noted that I went out looking for pain, then complained when I got it. I should be saying, “thank you,” and meaning it.

I don’t mind all the other life failures, but this specific one matters more than I ever imagined it could. I imagined this specific person into an entire galactic deity in my life and mind, imagining that I was always writing for or to her, desperately awaiting her approval. (Who exactly goes and reads, indexes, catalogues every single one of another person’s tweets from the past four years? Who memorises another person’s throwaway tweets chapter and verse? This is neurotic behaviour. I can’t even believe this is me. All the time I’ve spent doing this…)

This specific person mattered. Again, men are always saying this when they fuck up, after years of savaging other men and women whom they swiftly turn around and claim “didn’t matter”.

"S/he means nothing to me. You’re the one I want." My god! I, a man, said the words, as though their truth could ever be Her truth. I acted in concert with those words. I did what I hoped was ethical. Yeah, right. Whatever, man.

"You mean the world to me," is something I, a man, say and mean, and yet, I see that, as it is about to be read or automatically deleted by its recipient, those words become vapid in transit and what returns to me, is all in them—my words—that is vacuous.

"I love you." A phrase I’ve been taught to understand as being terroristic. A gruesome imposition of body and politics. “But I mean those words. I am sincere.” Yes, indeed, all misogynists are very sincere about their love for women.

What was I, a man, demanding from this person, a womyn? I have no idea. My inability to articulate my demand could only be read as an expansive, ever expanding demand for everything she couldn’t bear to give or part with or share. I understand that what I was demanding was intolerable, violent, unbearable, deathly.

My turning 30 was supposed to be a celebration of my various, albeit minor, successes, Her triumphs and insuperable resilience, our brand new love. To have been forced to spend that birthday alone turns this year into a harbinger I can’t stop contemplating. I don’t want to be doomed.

I fell in love with a man who filled the space which She was packing up and leaving while I was fawning over Her. I did not know how to speak of how dependent on him I had become, and had no opportunity to do so before he left. The two of them, in tandem.

I need to find the secret to moving on. Others seem to do it (and have done it) effortlessly. Some are able to move on even before they announce that they have moved on. The dust in their wake is the sudden announcement that they were gone before anything began. Kenyan life is entirely about "accept and move on," then why have I been unable to imbibe this basic lesson that is inscribed with blood into our soil?

I was reading the wrong script. I’ve always been a crappy screenwriter, anyway.

“Despite the limited achievements of feminist struggles, the structure of straight coupledom still represents an appropriation of the physical and psychic energy of women to benefit men. And insofar as gay people recreate the straight couple, this structure of violence, domination and emotional paucity is what they are recreating. Whatever Beyoncé says about not making a big deal out of the little things, marriage is no more the logical full extension of sexual desire than prison is the utmost expression of sheltering from a rainstorm.” Hannah Black, "The Loves of Others"

“Let me tell you: one day you will renounce your exile, and you will go back home, and your mother will take out the finest china, and your father will slaughter a sprightly cockerel for you, and the neighbours will bring some potluck, and your sister will wear her navy blue PE wrapper, and your brother will eat with a spoon instead of squelching rice and soup through the spaces between his fingers. And you, you will have to tell them stories about places not-here, about people that soaked their table napkins in Jik Bleach and talked about London as though London was a place one could reach by hopping onto an Akamba bus and driving by Nakuru and Kisumu and Kakamega and finding themselves there.
You will tell your people about men that did not slit melons up into slices but split them into halves and ate each of the halves out with a spoon, about women that held each other’s hands around street lamps in town and skipped about, showing snippets of grey Mother’s Union bloomers as they sang:
Kijembe ni kikali, param-param
Kilikata mwalimu, param-param
You think that your people belong to you, that they will always have a place for you
in their minds and their hearts. You think that your people will always look forward to your return.
Maybe the day you go back home to your people you will have to sit in a wicker chair on the veranda and smoke alone because, although they may have wanted to have you back, no one really meant for you to stay.”

Caine Prize Winner Okwiri Oduor’s My Father’s Head 

(via franticcurls)

“The Black homosexual is hard pressed to gain audience among his heterosexual brothers; even if he is more talented, he is inhibited by his silence or his admissions. This is what the race has depended on in being able to erase homosexuality from our recorded history. The “chosen” history. But the sacred constructions of silence are futile exercises in denial. We will not go away with our issues of sexuality. We are coming home. It is not enough to tell us that one was a brilliant poet, scientist, educator, or rebel. Whom did he love? It makes a difference. I can’t become a whole man simply on what is fed to me: watered-down versions of Black life in America. I need the ass-splitting truth to be told, so I will have something pure to emulate, a reason to remain loyal.”

Essex Hemphill, Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry (via theblacksophisticate)

Whom did he love? It can make a difference.

(via theblacksophisticate)

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