how do you spell lonely? | a poem by Neo Musangi

• Photo Source: Pinterest

who first taught you the many meanings of lonely? was it the fold in your heart/ that ironed itself out/ in the presence of bad company?
or, the day your father left your mother’s tears of a permanent absence, or, your siblings’ silent indifference?

how do you spell lonely?

will you die alone, or in the company of thirteen other souls screaming?
what will they do with a body that won’t stop leaking?
will they ask you to clean after yourself,
or hire underpaid hands schooled in YESes?
how will they carry your body on the day you die alone, Zampano?
will they wrap it in a body bag, or in a soiled duvet screaming of germs?

hands will touch your genitals
flapping the lips of your vulva
call your penis a clitoris,
(dead, you say nothing),

your friends keep dying/of a chronic illness called suicide or innocence,
so, to whom did you ever belong?
what life did you ever have /but for the slices of death in-between?
because you are what exactly?
come lie to me
wrap your head around my chest & call me fuckface
give me a chance to make another mistake
nasikia ati ukimangana na msee amemarry/ hiyo story/ huwezi sema (lakini pia machali wengine huwa ovyo.
—Here, I return to colonial essentialisms—
5. leo ndio ile siku nilikuwa nakushow ya mauwongo. ngori!
6. andifuni indaba mna. ndiyeke tu, ndiyakucela, enkosi
7. remind me who you are, again
8. tell me what name it is that you respond to, again
9. tell me what happens/ when you open your thighs to strangers/ and close your heart to lovers, again
10. tell me, in all the languages in your mouth, what words we shall use in your eulogy

(do not give me your heart, i can’t take care of mine);
(i eat hearts for breakfast; hide yours)

si mse angenishow hii storo inaeza kuwa complicated hivi!

this is bizarre,
my brain won’t stop laughing,
at me.
Neo Sinoxolo Musangi was born at an undisclosed place in Kenya sometime between 1980 and 1982, but not in 1981. Musangi is essentially an experimental performance artist, a self-taught photographer and a poet whose practice is a never-ending conversation about gender, madness and place.

Musangi has an earlier life in Johannesburg and has Lusaka ambitions. They live, cry and play in Nairobi, blogs about it on and rants at @sinoxolomusangi.

[Gender pronouns: They/Neo.]

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