You Must Leave Your Beard Behind -for Fidel Castro

You Must Leave Your Beard Behind

– For Fidel Castro

Many find their fun at the fount of blood,

like Herod’s messengers

returning with venom-coated evidence

of their own efficiencies

But the winds find theirs as they kiss the cedars

that bear your epitaphs, in bold

your epitaphs, set to salsa

Many Herods sought you, Fidel

but like wanton kids, all they got

was the tail of the wall gecko

as the creature bailed out

to return to his trade of fortune telling…

…that bulwarks, cast in concrete

held back raging seas

but failed to hinder the hands that turned the guillotine

robbing graveyards of their proverbial silence:

as griefs writ in wreaths

of Marxism-leninism memorabilia

mingle with cry of crushed grass

..the turf of elephant fights…

when one ism bids to outdo the other.

But you, wild cat of the caribbes

you touted no isms,

you merely washed your people’s feet

feet, where once were stumps

A thousand breastplates torment their wearers

a billion bulletproofs

encase their victims

but they are lighter than a sketch of scarecrows

before the winds of fate

But you, captain of the caribbes

all you wore was

a parchment

of your people’s love

cast around you

like a spell, and

fending off the furious fusillades

of your foes, as their arrows

ricocheted off the dome of their doomsday predictions

long before Moncada Garrison

long after Sierra Maestra

Ill-winds may rock the boats of history, but

they still berth in benevolent shores

the same armada that rubbled cast iron barricades

could do so scant against

paean-spinning peasants

filling the atmosphere like anti-missile shields,

folks feigning madness and swearing:

  • Give us Fidel or give us death!

King of the Caribbes,

your knighthood is inviolate,

Not six-a-penny bought:

you earned your epaulet

With scars that courage wrought

But all journeys must end, alas

the straws that fuel the feet of the snail-hunter at night

must one day run out of own fuel,

the proverb-minter

himself a proverb in another’s tongue

Now you must journey to the city

where revolution is anathema

where dachas diminishing, and castles a-plenty

where crowns outnumber bags of legends

on the chequered tracks of tortoises

Carriage horse of the Caribbes

you may hear orgies of elegies

from the same tongues that toggled your denunciation songs:

when they rend the sky with their twenty one gun salutes

plug your ears to cannons

Some will exhume ancestral bones

turning the trumpets for the Internationale

to pseudo-prophets for their tribal agenda

when they rend the sky with their twenty one gun salutes

plug your ears to their cannons

They may entomb you in mausoleums grander

than the taj mahal

Let them deck you in kente

and serenade you in a soirée of sonatas

When they rend the sky with their twenty one gun salutes

Plug your ears to their cannons

And you must leave your beard behind

This is no journey with jungle boots

No rucksacks, no fatigue

Walk straight,

Walk nimble

Merge into your hallowed place

in the pantheon.



Hand to mouth

We live

on the precipice of cuticles held up to sky-ed goddesses

pupils scan the horizon

map every detail

That’s when you see all:

the contours

the depressions

the scalded after-flesh

the vast universe of the fingerprint

dotted, with hills and valleys

cities seething from see-through promises

regime of anopheles politicians

THAT, is the precursor to nail-biting departures

to the entry port of bloated lips

as stranded tour guides make you a mince meat

a mouth-watering specimen, to data collectors

at NISER. Rib cage enthusiasts, like philatelists

have seen you at the mouth of atrophied rivers

but you return to the thumbnail

too tongue-tied to pay lip service to theoretical dinners

many live in denial,

some live in doubt

we live from hand to mouth.

Shout at the Walled



Today, I’m carrying a spare throat to the farm:

not a hoe, not a sickle,

with brute faith I guard my loins

and trudge to the point where


I set up my camp


To shout down the world

The world, as you know, is the pump-price-of-fuel


Nkkhm: a bird emerges from a hole,

like car from an underground garage,

then flees

O no – it’s a cricket!

Kruuu, a frog comes running, scared stiff

Like a concubine’s chewing’ stick

Then a redneck

All these just because I cleared my throat!

So what’s going to give when I start my shout?


I blow a shout through my ram horn

A shout of rugged airs. But it doesn’t even rumple the calico

Of the bouncers at the planets’ politburo.


I climb mount Armstrong, Louis Armstrong

And shape my cheeks like his mini-universe

and blow, blow, blow

But every shout, every decibel of outrage

Only manages to send the world to a higher orbit

The world, as you know, is the pump-price-of-fuel


Far away it spins

Beyond the reach of tear gas-and-cloud

Beyond the reach of delinquent stars splintered from the Big Bang

Beyond the reach of the spin doctors, paid

Handsomely, very handsomely

To say, very nicely,

In scented sentences

with nicotined lips

That the world is doing just fine

The world, as you know, is the pump-price-of-fuel


What a fatal love for their urbane airs.

Their elaborate gesticulations surely

Have more to do with the karat content of their cufflinks

Than the other point they want us to see:

How little it matters if, they

Started off as dieticians and ended up morticians

– it’s the same number of syllables!


That’s even before they switch on their charm

Backed by a history of histograms

And declare, with the assurance of the rarity of their perfumes

That the world is doing just fine

That many would look back, soon

And say, from marble graveyards

That this was the economist’s finest hour.







Why are you disturbing the peace of the world?
– No, dad.
No to what?
– Peace of the world.
No to peace? This day of all days?
– No to disturbing the peace.
O,  I see:
Why then are your cries raised to devil decibels?
– Aaa… aaaa… aaa hum! Eeee…eee …eee   hum!

I say cease that cry. There shall  no chicken be killed
in this house today. Thou shalt not kill:
what number is that among the Ten Commandments?
– Commandment Number 6, Exodus 20 verse 13
Bible scholar extraordinaire! Why then do you bay for blood?
– Christmas, dad.
Go tell that to Emperor Constantine!
From Plutarch to Balzac
all the greats have shunned the bazaar
end of his fraud.
– But you taught us in Sunday school…
Yes, that  the Christ fulfilled his ministry
did he do that on the altar of chicken blood?
Ok, show me one verse of the scriptures
where our Lord was caught in a chicken mood.
Go ask the Fὕhrer what blighted the wheels of his blitzkrieg
and  Napoleon Bonaparte what botched his blinding of Europe
or  Shaka the Zulu what froze his Mfecane machine
Thoughts of chicken lap! (and you know my hunch is near-infallible!)
This chicken thing is a fraud, son

– Aaa… aaaa… aaa hum! Eeee…eee …eee   hum!
I say wipe your tears
this is the season of peace
a time to meld with Dalai Lama
a sturdier disciple, I think
than all them chicken-merry revellers
– Aaa… aaaa… aaa hum! Eeee…eee …eee   hum!

Go on, wipe ‘em;  next year’ll be better
– Better? No gift of long tales?
No gift of long tales.
A volcanic mountain
borrowed a mound of earth
from a molehill
and when it was payday
the debtor erupted in a dissonance of tall tales:

about  treasury heists
heists so high on the richter scale
they task the digit limit of our calculators.
Long tales
about goons feasting, unscathable
in oil lagoons
about public budgets and private jets
and chiefly, about TSA
and other life-taunting sagas.