Disfigured Utopia

I have been unaware of the thing around face

Holding my breath

Me di m’ahuoden; I have used my strength

To murder feelings and steal joy from dirty places

To build metallic idols of certain lifestyles and wooden gods of youthful dreams

Y3 kuto dabiaa ; we worship always

This cloth around my face has made the air different

I am lightheaded; I am fiction and pulp

I am a memory of when Akosua Broni first saw me as a failure

And all the times I live up to it

M’at) asaase; I have bought space

In hearts and empty places

Still, I have invented new ways to misplace them

I remain homeless

Ab)damnii nso adanfo ni ab)damfo); a madman has mad friends

Unfortunately I have reached an insanity that isolates

Mi sum) n) f33 n) shi m) ko m) ko sum) mi; I loved everything but no one, no body loved me.

I gathered tears and my shaky near-death breath(from the thing around my face)

I gathered self-told lies and lurking fears that have been the closest to me

And built

This Defaced Utopia I live in

Utopia: a place where everything is perfect

The real name of Akosua Broni is Gifty Dennis

xoxo,

the impaired utopian.

How come you don’t call anymore

I’m standing at the edge of a pile

Of thoughts and memories,, of shattered Guinness bottles and cigarette butts

back to being 14

Inserting strange objects into my skin

9 piercings chased by banned pills//

18 hundred days in dansoman

Smokey winds blowing on our young faces

Muddy roads sullying our uniform hems

You won all the Tetris games on my mother’s Nokia

I was your fan page ,,

You are my earthquake

So why don’t you call anymore?

? ??

did i call too often?

did i miss-mix signals??

did you get sick of the 3 million and 25 times I held your hand???

0247902628

Sophia’s Beauty Salon

Can you see them?

In the space ?

small planets//

// of stories broken women “plaited” whiles they “told” their hair

Some don’t have to say a word

You can see their stories on their head

Hair thinning; breaking in the heat

Grey streaks running through the remaining strands

The rich dark hair of a newly wed

Gathered in a straight halo captured by a rubber band

The loud mismatched colored hair of confused mismatched emotions :::::

Belonging to our 15-year old neighbor Elizabeth

iPhone 13 knockoff; snapping in the corner

The 2 year old weave-on strapped on her head

Covering secrets, hiding what is really there

Cheers to the running stories in Sophia’s Beauty Salon

What Is Left of Us

Dearly Beloved,, we have gathered here today

To wakekeep a love which should have died

But keeps breathing, hurting, wasting away lives

Aseye and Larbi kept this hot stone they called love to their chests

Searing their hearts, nurturing it, growing it

till their skins were half-charred

we will not know, who made who half-dead so they can look alike

they sit in pain, they will not separate

they stand damaged together, ignoring that being apart will make them better

These addicts,, these roots

that choose burning flowers over loneliness

Even when this is all that is left of them

the old owners of the damaged fridge in the image above, the same friends of Aseye and Larbi.

What they don’t tell You about Love

Vivian why? Aswear this life will never be better for you.

Yesterday, if you asked Vivian to describe how a man looked after he peeled off his clothes, you would be surprised to hear her words. In her own room, she has never even looked at her naked body for more than 3 seconds. An awkward, plain girl who spent her jhs and secondary school sidestepping ‘ashawo’ life. The little saint went to church armed with ‘end of the world’ books ‘hell is real’ books to warn the Sunday school boys and girls who explored their bodies in corners. Vivian joined prayer camps with her long skirts and every single cedi saved. Nyame som nkoaaa nso w’any3 nu yie; Worshipping God but you did it wrong. If that wasn’t it Vivian then what went wrong? You were going to be a doctor who saved lives from both death and hell.

Vivian was 27 when she met King. By that time the Christian books had changed to ‘How to be a real woman,’ What a man needs from a woman‘, ‘24 ways to achieve true independence’. The long skirts have become customized sheer dresses ordered from Instagram. You had built you body and used to find a part of yourself. King knows the story from old friends. Your Sunday School friends; it haunts you Vivian but they still spoke about how strange you are. He thinks you outgrew that phase but it is still a shadow following you. Something you cannot entirely shake of. So you go to the extremes to forget about this old self. Something that really shouldn’t bother you but you have nightmares about it.

King came in at the perfect time, as if he and the universe had been plotting. You did not get the master’s scholarship, your mother’s kidney had failed her and we were going through a rough patch but still Vivian, I was always there. Was it his swagger? Or his age? That he was younger? Maybe you just wanted something new, a breath of fresh air? Yes, I knew about it and I let you. But I did not see it coming this far. What did you whisper to him at night to make it all like this? You gave him some of our love.

I didn’t even know you were on a dating site. With a picture I took of you on our date as a the profile and a bunch of lies written under it. You hate pets and cooking. Why did you feel the need to lie to the internet. I was enough for you. I gave you everything. Who are you Vivian? You don’t even like sneakers but it is there as ‘total sneakerhead’.

It started when you got scared about how unstable he and I were becoming. You said Ghanaian men are mad. Yes, Ghanaian men are mad. But I wasn’t the one who secretly saved nude videos and pictures on Snapchat using other apps. I was not the one who followed you everywhere hopping on motors and alighting taxis to track your every move. I called to warn you, to beg you to return to me and that is when you called me possessive and toxic. Me? After he hit you night and day and night again when you did the least thing. Vivian, why? Why didn’t we run?

Now we are standing here in the middle of trees burying King’s body. Why Vivian? You have made this thing you promised me, you gave me, called love; that we said was full of joy and free of pain. This is what it has done. For you Vivian. You did not tell me about this side of love.

Mami Wata(a): a forgotten story from Ghana

They say the spirits were once people, and gods, men. That is why Gyamfua kept appealing to them; whispering fervently, begging them to remember how brittle the skin was. How it broke and chipped. She wanted to reach out to the little boy beside her but she felt weak, she felt detached from her limbs. But the boy hadn’t moved for at least nine hours now and she couldn’t tell if he was breathing.

5th August, 1701– Gold Coast.

If the people knew that this very night, America would be their new village they would have come ready. But unaware, the people laughed and ate instead of stashing food, husbands ignored their wives; they would miss lovemaking. Children chased after lizards and shadows; they would forget what it meant to be young. In-laws battled with in-laws; they would wish for even the most distant family to comfort them, to remind them of blood.

 Gyamfua sat on her stool, her auntie roping threads around her hair, telling her the story of fire and water and how their love destroyed the first world. “Nsuo(Water) had just turned into a woman, the most beautiful woman in the world and all the other gods had come to ask for her hand in marriage. Water was wild, uncontained, she asked the gods to play a game to win her hand in married. That is how Asase, Mmframa, Owuo, and Ogya all became a part of the game. There was a creature who owned three of the most beautiful hearts. It was called Nkomaa it never gave its hearts out. It was a dangerous spirit that could weaken a god and Water wanted all three hearts. Asase, the god of earth, built the most beautiful place on earth to lure the creature. He paved it with diamonds from the core of the earth, centered at a most beautiful place where the sky, water and land meet but the creature was not pleased. God of air, Mmframa made the most glorious pair of wings for the creature, from the wings of angels and extinct birds but still Nkomaa held on to the hearts. Owuo, god of the dead offered her an army of souls that could not be killed but the creature, Nkomaa was not looking for an army. Finally, Ogya, god of fire spent days thinking and thinking of how to get the hearts. He thought ‘what do hearts want?’ ‘LOVE!’ So Ogya gave expensive gifts to Water. Nsuo was annoyed that Ogya was not playing the game because she wanted him to win. The fire in his eyes called for the rivers with her to boil. The orange-red lust of his flames set her ablaze. Soon, they spent nights together; water quenching fire, fire burning water. The other gods turned against Ogya, they captured Nsuo for allowing him cheat. Ogya’s plan was working. He rushed to Nkomaa, the sacred creature. He begged her for the hearts to win his lover back……and Nkomaa gave them to him. But the other gods would not allow the game to end. They held the lovers apart and caused chaos.They……”

Before she could finish, a scream rung out. Their neighbor came running. There were white men coming; they were taking us. Gyamfua was confused, with her half-braided her she run behind a growing bush. She didn’t see where her aunt passed. Everyone was running everywhere, there were shots from guns, there were blood curdling yelps from women. That is what she heard and saw before she blacked out.

25th November, 1701- On board a ship.

Yes, the boy was dead. Gyamfua did not know him but that did not ease the pain. The men came for his body in the afternoon and you all knew they threw him into the ocean.You were scared of the night, of the men when they come, to repeat the horrible horrible things they had done. You were about to cry till they opened the door and shoved her in. She came in singing, in a voice that was balm to the ear.

“We are a long way from home, old mama,

  We the shoeshine boys, we are in the water

   Listen, you can bury me on my knees in the west or in the east

   But I will stay the Gold Coast bird, my heart will always be in the land

   I will sing with my black voice of old papa with wounds in his side

   I am Gold Coast, take me home

   My brother is calling for me, Brother,

   We will meet again soon

    For this I know not where I go but my black blood is strong

    I will make it back home”

Everyone stared at her singing. She looked so beautiful. Her skin was so light, it hurt your eyes to look directly at her. Her hair was locked in brown dreads, they fell over her eyes and she led the whole ship singing and reminiscing about a yesterday, when you were in your land. Her first night, she looked at you, she wore three pearl necklaces around her neck. She smiled and stood up, she did not call you Gyamfua but you stood and followed her. She took a small comb from inside her dress and unlocked the door. You were afraid, you did not understand, should you wake the others? Gyamfua looked at her, she stepped forward. Gyamfua followed. She floated, gracefully dodging the guards and ship staff. She crept behind boxes almost as of she was non-existent, merely a ghost. Somehow you made it to the kitchen, there was no one around. You and her stuffed your torn dresses with the leftovers, you packed tins of water between your thighs. Gyamfua hated the merry songs some of the drunk crew sung, of easy wealth and easy women and an easy life somewhere. You wondered where your aunt was, you prayed that she and your family were safe.

Her first night she fed the whole ship. There were grunts of satisfaction, burps of gratitude and you all sang again. You repeated the first night for a week. Sometimes you would wake up and she wasn’t there. Now you know why.

2nd December 1701; Dead Seas     3:00am

Gyamfua’s mouth was wide open when she saw the boats. She wanted to ask how but there was no time. The girl was rushing everyone into the boats. She was worried, it was the first time you had seen her with that expression. Everyone shuffled into position but a man caught the movement from the corner of his eye. He shouted. The ship lights came on, there was screaming again, there were bullets chasing after the screams. The girl stood in front of all of you. She cut the ropes and the two boats fell into the water. Gyamfua looked up to see her body inhaling the bullets, still she did not fall at once. She looked back at you and she sung. She told the water to carry you south, she told you to smile, she said you are going home. Then she fell into the water. You told your grandchildren you saw a large fish tail after she fell and you saw her smile as the body dove downwards. Everyone on the boat swore they saw the same thing happen to the girl with the watery voice.

When You Vanish

You said my demons meet

Promptly ,, 6:00pm

Every Tuesday to intercede for me

They do not want to fall again

And I keep pushing them

Muki, did we not start the fire together ??

In soul, in body, did we not burn for it ?

I do not understand

We are both Down to ashes

And you want to be new

You took my cross, your cross, you bent your back for it

Now we are here

You removed the nails you hid in between my sides

You nailed me across both of them

Muki I will take your sins, yes

I will remember them

Now you are new-born and I am dirt

For you, I will come again

Congo Black House

This is where we buried her

The little girl who loved you

With damaged teeth and cracked skin we let her down softly

We glued the letters she sent you till we dressed her in romantic inked papers

We dug a place by the window

Where she sat to watch you

And you brought flowers; plantain leaves from the next house

It’s hard to recognize me; I look so different dead

Younger, softer, warmer: yellow

This was suppose to be a union

From kisses stolen behind the door to rough insecure touches in front of it

She was ready to tell you the secret between her thighs

But the next day // You came with a new girl, and the funeral begun

I killed , you killed, we killed

My yellow self

Tudu, Accra, 5:39am

When I took this picture, it was raining in my head too

Cloudy thoughts gathered, with unnamed thunderous voices

It is a flood in here

I wore my skin as rain coat, no one else would give me theirs

The rain still soaked through, mixing with bones and blood

The pastor in the trotro wasn’t getting enough ‘Amens’

He reminded us of the God who bled for sins

And asked, ‘Heaven or Amelika’

But we both know that nowhere cool

A man with no name sat behind me

A woman with no face say beside himT

They held hands, unknown to each other

At 5:39 am, in a damaging yellow car heading to Makola

LUSTER/lʌstə/ one who hungers. synonym: true lover.

I’ve been drawing little nude fires

Licking at the lines on your neck

I like the way you wear your eyes

Smoky with a hint of readiness

Your first love was an experiment

Your second was still finding himself

Your third love was perfect; and you came ready to ruin

Your fourth love was dangerous

You never got out of bed, you were always out of breath

It’s the way you kill time baby girl

Letting it bleed severely

You want to stay in moments forever

You always want love

It’s way your skin is thirsty and your hands are never steady

It’s the way your heart likes plastic surgery; breaking;fixing;breaking

It’s the way you love

The way you are loved

I don’t think you understand.

Or maybe you do

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