Learn How to Smile

If I was from Africa

I would smile

If I was from Africa

I would be rich

If I was from Africa

I would do everything

If I was from Africa

I would dance

Africa is the richest continent in the world

We are all from there

Learn how to smile



my soul is stained on the pen
that wrote this verse
jammed by a substance
that prevents me from song
but when will song
from me
prevent that?
I am not a cat in a hat
or a violet that’s blue
I am feeling rivulets of sound
that crash up against my insides
from the outside
that paint my ears red
like air does to blood
that paint my eyes red
when I shift my head to catch a glimpse
of the sweetness clouds make
I’m open to concave, reflecting,
digesting parts of time
whose rhythm does not acknowledge
that of the tick-tock
My words flood my brain
like my blood
like the rain
no breaths to complement the pulse they make
unless they breathe when they evaporate
like cotton candy which is never sweet
unless first you eat
the air around it
If I poured the ink from this pen on my tongue
could I tell if my words were sweet?


Arthur Ashe in My Mind

Arthur Ashe. I have to say that I don’t remember when he appeared to me but he appeared right on time, at a time when I must not have been fully aware of myself. His image and his energy on the screen made me wonder who he was. He was. He existed. He felt. He shared. I remember watching him and knowing that there was nothing in his mind that he would not share because it was genuinely felt. He knew who he was. Where he was. What he was doing. And why he was doing it. I cannot call it assured. It was more than that. Of an absolute being. Arthur Ashe is. Arthur Ashe lives. He is a force field. Something which cannot be overlooked or reinterpreted. Everyone knows what and where it is and what it is there for. That is something I miss. Having people to watch who express what and why they are here without having to explain it. You can see it in their art, their work. It is real.

Diary of a Mad Brown Afro Pick

A Real Afro Pick
The afro pick you see here has been with me for over a decade. I bought it in the open-air market of Cocody in Abidjan. The moment I saw it, I knew. It knew too. I eased up on it. I picked it up. I discussed it with the seller. ‘What kind of wood is it made of?’ ‘Who made it?’ ‘Where was it made?’ All these questions I didn’t really care the answers to because I knew it was mine and I was its. It was love at first tug. I had to however show a display of skepticism so as not to be haggled into a crazy American-look-like-rich-lady price.

Year after year, the pick never failed me. No regular comb could match it, withstand the test of over-curly exuberance I have on my head. Even it being wooden, it was water-resistant. Seemed like I could do anything to it and it was always there for me.

Alas, all this is to say that it finally broke. Or, I broke it. I guess it’s a matter of viewpoint. Was it inevitable or did I just not know what I had? Just because I could do everything to it, doesn’t mean I should have. Oh, what regret, for now I’ll have to buy a plastic afro pick made in America and that’s just not going to work for me. The wooden one will sense betrayal. It was all I ever wanted or needed and now after I’ve used it to ruin, I’m moving on. Should I try to fix it or should I just let it go?

Getting Old No Matter What

olderAt first, I thought my neighbors were just having a good time . . . . . all the time. Early in the morning, late at night, in the middle of the day, “Aaaaah” said over and over again in very provocative and now annoying fashion. It has been over a year since this started. Sometimes, I hear nothing. Sometimes, it’s obnoxiously a good time. Sometimes, I’m afraid to know what’s going on. How many times do they do it a day? Do they have jobs? Do I need to get another job – one that does not have me sitting at home translating documents or editing this upcoming book while listening to my neighbors live a life of daily, sexual revelry?

But, no. She has Alzheimer’s is what I found out and Alzheimer’s makes you whale and scream, throw out words and sounds in a repetitive yet unpredictable manner, and it can be a reflection of any kind of ailment or damage to the brain that the person with Alzheimer’s cannot otherwise express.

How must the husband feel? He must think that she is doing it on purpose, that she is trying to make him crazy. It’s making me crazy and I don’t even live with her. I can get up and leave. He can’t. He has to take care of her. What thoughts go through his head as his wife, who is obviously now experiencing much worse mental distress than him, is making him feel like he is the one coming down with Alzheimer’s?

I can’t imagine, don’t want to imagine, and now I no longer want to grow old. If Alzheimer’s is what awaits me, then I’m very afraid. However, some people grow old and never have to suffer through Alzheimer’s or any other critical disease. They simply carry out their life until their heart stops one day.

We often look at age as something that also defines us but, evidently age comes at each of us differently. That being the case, I will have to work hard to never let age define me, never let others define who I must be or what I must know because of any gray hairs that sprout up on my head. Why can’t you always be a child of wonder, wanting to learn, wanting to experience new things, wanting to stay in love, or even fall in love again? There are so many more experiences in life than any one full life can hold. Why would you stop growing no matter how old you get?