Brother [Poem] by Issa Dioume

I Write This For You

My dearest brother, for you I do grieve
As a days’ light was stripped away by night
Wrongfully, bereaved
Leaving you many a hurdle in sight
And your garden-tears briskly mourning eves.

Our Lady Fortune, this whimsical goon
Veiled by a jet-black restless cloaked-sky
Mindlessly, before noon
Coating our dear world’s hair, a darker dye
Has wrongly robbed one of life, much too soon

In what was pilfered lies what is gifted
Where fire has passed, so too must there grow ash
Salt waves, and sand below
When it’s dark and there’s no moon: you thrash
Yet wind still does blow and has just shifted

Therein lies hope in absence of hope-thoughts,
Therein lies sweet life in absence of life
Joy devoid of scope
Toils betwixt you and the now over strife
Beseeching brother to view past blue knots

Which ’round your hands dangle like wrung bangles
Woven with flows of thread binding you to-
– Your blue mind-street angles
Hiding from your sight red-roads where cows moo
Which all good memories do bespangle

Tear that grief away, let it fly today
And beneath souvenirs of him grinning
Like the cold heated-snow, you are brewing
Let it atrophy, and then I will say

My dearest brother, for you I do smile
Knowing you had the rarely chanced upon
Friend to rest on even just for a while
A most indissoluble truth beyond –

…. – even time and space,  now life’s breath is gone

The Healing, Part.1 [ Short-Story Series] by Issa Dioume

During the war, we fought on opposite sides – two factions divided by a common hate for one another – we killed one another’s’ friends, relatives and childhood. We were 12 and we had been told we were fighting a holy war. A war which would grant us revenge. A war which would eradicate the pain in our hearts from losing loved ones, the more enemies’ throat we slit the closer we got. We were told it could only end with one side obliterated. A war which would make us happy. Which was all we wanted.

No side came out victorious, only more blood and pain. Only more hatred layered with sadness. Only more of the same. Then, out of the blue, the war ended. And, it was over. We were told to pack and leave. Left alone, both in our twenties, clueless as to what to do next. The uselessness of what we had done struck us. We had not changed anything. The pain was there, only stronger. Looking back we saw solely the regret of a now long gone childhood. We were left stranded with no skills aside from how to expedite bullets from the barrels of guns to pierce flesh.

At a loss for what to do and where to go. I frantically searched for activities I could do. Dancing, singing and Dj-ing. The sound kept the noises in my ear quiet. One day, I saw a flier glued to a wall. The wall was slightly burnt, scars left from the battles.

It read:

Healing and discussion center for all children who participated as soldiers in the war. We are here to hear and help you. Please come share your story.

I snickered at the flier. At the time, realisation of ramifications of the war on myself had not yet come over my mind. I lingered in a state of absolute denial. However, I went. Out of sheer curiosity. Who would be there? Would anyone even come?

We met in a small hut outside town. The place had a beautiful garden and serving as entrance was a large arch covered in vines and flowers which twirled and intertwined over the archway. I arrived and saw the inner parts of the construct. There were no chairs. Only small red pillows sitting in a perfect ⭕️ circle. I was the first to arrive. So, I simply sat there and waited a while. A fresh smell of earth and grass abounds the air of this little hut, I noted.

Gradually, I heard footsteps making there way through the garden and into the hut. I was on my back, laying down sprawled on the ground, arms stretched. I turned my head to see who had come. And then, I saw him.

That man. The one I had searched for everyday on the battlefield. The reason I had gone through that hell. He gave a short bow with his head, acknowledging my presence then sat cross-legged across from me. I stood up and stared into his eyes. He stared back. We said nothing. A minute passed and then two and then five. Still, we said nothing. We stared. His eyes gleamed shortly as though he had just recalled something. Within myself I felt an overflowing fountain of lava nearing implosion. He was the man I had wanted to kill. His face had been splattered on many posters during the war. He had been the leader of the squad which had killed my family. I scrutinised him carefully and realised he was around my age. Perhaps a year or two more at best. Then suddenly:

I lunged towards him, going straight for his throat […]

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