Skip to content

Can You Tell Me? & What Is It?

January 29, 2009

(From Yilma Tafere Tasew)

Can You Tell Me?

The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?
How my Mum is doing? Is Mum hungry
Thirsty? Sick? In agony? Naked?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

Our small cottage
Is it strong like before, or tilting?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

Is my Mum’s hair full of grey?
Her face wrinkled?
Strong enough to collect firewood?
Has she planted cabbage, pumpkins, potato like before?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

Is my brother alive
Who was forced to join the army ‘National Service’?
Is my sister who eloped coming back to visit Mum?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

What’s my Mother’s income?
Is she brewing local liqueur, beer, ‘Tela Arecki’?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

Our neighbours,
Emama Fatuma, Ababa Tolcha
Emama Aselefech, Ababa Zerayie
The rest, are they alive or dead?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

The green fertile field where I grew up
Playing, looking after cattle
Shaded by acacia trees
Does it exist?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

The attractive rivers of the village
Springs: Tegona, Tercha, Dekisa, Melebo
Are they really flowing like before?
Across the village, towards uneasy distance
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

Is Alamirew still there with his ‘Washint’
Entertaining the village
Or deceased, like my uncle?
And the other strong, sentimental people of the village?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

Are there social gatherings?
Evening campfires?
Coffee ceremonies? Story telling?
That harmony – is it there?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

The folklore, the riddles, the games I played
With friends of childhood
Are they in existence?
Or are they replaced by new ‘Play Games’?
By federalism, democracy, tribalism
Being imposed on the villagers to be played
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

Are people punished who don’t play this ‘new game’?
Like before, like the time of ‘fashion play?
‘Socialism – Communism’
Are they arrested, killed?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

Do you know if Mum is alive or dead?
Joined my father?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

Do you know Mum’s feeling about me?
Her flesh, blood, elder son
Her hope, support when she ‘retired’
Whose name is changed in time
‘REFUGEE’
Who expects charity of twelve beans?
Two weeks rationing
Who is pushed to the edge of this planet?
Who is buried alive under the sandy desert?
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

Whatever happened to Mum?
Sadness or joy? Tell me!
Let me know, I am dying to know
But no energy for grief, no drop of energy
Good to know, to burn to ash
Knowing, Burning! Burning, knowing!
For ‘normal’ life
Knowing is a choice for refugees
To throw away
Dry leaf. Dry stream of draining life
Tear one chapter of hope
Destroy every time
To cool down the desert heat
Save haemoglobin
Of last breath
No shock! No surprise!
All feelings drained away
By the scorching sun
Been long
Since I drained
The shining moon
Surrounded, guarded by twinkling stars
Can you tell me?

CAN YOU TELL ME!
CAN YOU TELL ME!
CAN YOU TELL ME!

________________________________________

WHAT IS IT?

0011

A colourless
Paint,
A distance between

You and me

* * *

What is it?
A snow
Which can’t melt
Hindering us
How? Why?
It penetrates,
Separating us
Has gone up
Beyond our
Consciousness

* * *

What is it?
A vacuum
Which seems
A wall
For us
Long distance
Boundary

* * *

What is it?
I yearn to hold, hug
You,
You strive to reach
me,
A shroud
In the middle
Blocking the air
On top of our
Heads

* * *

What is it?
The shroud which covered
The massacre
Of our people
Which buried
us alive

* * *

What is it?
A cup of death
Which heroes drink
Within a pool.
Or a poison
To execute us
Alive
Once and for all
To bury us
In our soil
Leaving us
Only with small
Breath

* * *

What is it?
Their cup of
Luxury
On our suffering
Useless lives
Tarmac,
A cloud which
Can’t give us
Rain.

* * *

What is it?
A ghost from
Our people
Hunting us
Adding salt
To our wounds,
Injuries.

* * *

What is it?
Goddamned hermit
Who makes us
Fight, kill
Massacre
each other.

* * *

What is it?
Their instrument
To reach us
To find out
From us
Undiscovered agony
Misery
Which can bring
Us more suffering
Than this.

* * *

What is it?
Some kind of game
Which they play
To control our
Consciousness, thinking
To determine our
Fate,
To weaken us,
To destroy us.

* * *

What is it?
Something beyond
Comprehension,
Untouchable
Unreachable
Being stagnant
Between us,
For centuries.

* * *

What is it?
A glass wall
Unbreakable,
Making us
Melt down
With broken heart
At home,
In exile diaspora.

* * *

What is it?
Evil spirit
Which make us
Kill each other
Create long lasting
Hatracy
Tribal war
Unresolved conflict
Evil spirit
Laugh, makes fun
On our suffering,
Catalyst who coaches
The show,
The tragedy of
Our drama.

* * *

What is it?
The curse our
Ancestors
Who lived in
Harmony
Who have guts
Vile
To avoid evil,
To punish us
For not doing
What they have
Done,
Keeping on track
Human integrity.

* * *

What is it?
The mythology behind
All this
What does this
Signify?
What does this
Represent?
Which philosophy,
Ideology?
A picture more than
A million words,
This puzzle
Game of
Stupid life!!!
What is it?
What is it?
What is it?
________________________________________
Wellington, New Zealand
25 April 2003

To contact the author:
Yilma Tafere Tasew BA
Harmonious Future of Black Africa
Poet, Activist, Writer
Freelance Lecturer
Refugee and African Issues

PO Box 27319
Marion Square
Wellington
New Zealand
+64 4 3829602
+64 21 0442676
smileyilma@xtra.co.nz
http://www.africanajournal.org

From → Uncategorized

3 Comments
  1. Yilma Tafere Tasew permalink

    I just wanted to have feed back for this two poems

  2. Hama Tuma permalink

    Keep it up brother.

  3. fretsidiq permalink

    it takes a human mind, nostalgic of memories, with awe and elation! what a marvelous endeavor reminiscent of what the senses withhold for eaon. And the contents are fathomable by heart and grasped by the spirit. though, the naked mind doesnt comprehend the totality of the message. For all those who are ready to respond to that higher calling but short of achieving it ’cause of adverse challenges, the message is ringing in their psych every second . so, i say to those who delve into the nature of life, know thyself in relation to others-parents, brothers and sisters, the hoods, and the soil where you sprouted from. otherwise, all is vanity and to what avail is our purpose of existence in this life? thanks for this profound poetry…sir. keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: