by Akin Jeje
If we could’ve improve the past, Robert Nesta Marley would still be singings songs of freedom, an’ Zimbabwe would truly be free. If we had disproved the past, Gangs and drugs would have zipped by, Fast, All our youth gassed on graduate degrees. We have not completely failed the aspirations Of our parents, many now deceased, With professions, families and properties, Yet beyond is the Promised Land, As we wander through Nomadlands, Nomanslands, Decades past our King’s prophetic decree. We strive to be, But what are we, but awash In the acrid bitterness of history? Our Passover Is adorned by the bricks and mortar We built for others. Astringent herbs We savor, milling miles through deserts Falling prodigal to golden idols. Will fatted calves still await Our arrival? I plead guilty to charges criminal and uncivil That I have underserved the people. My selfishness and short sight Has wreaked an existential blight. We were a generation borne into frustration. Too many expired long before retirement. Even away from strife of the streets, we were rafters, Rife with disease, fruits of overwork, leisure without relief, Lesser idols than Whitney, Prince and Michael Fervent figures skating over a bottomless grief. Turned back on the TV, Innocent lad, black, wrong address, Blasted twice, bitter relic, white, In Kansas City, Missouri. Further north, Chi-Town last week, Thousands of the youth dem, Burned, bashed, twerked, blazed and blazed Most everything, In desperate pursuit of release. It could’ve been better, It could’ve always been more, Than this. What is it now, What is it here, That We actually achieved?
KQ’s Literature Director, and Canadian poet, Akin Jeje, has featured his work internationally, including Hong Kong where he lives. In addition to the Kinsman Quarterly, Jeje is a regular contributor to Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. His first collection, Smoked Pearl, was published in 2010 and long listed for the 2009 International Proverse Prize. Other works include, “Ping Shan Heritage Trail” in the WHERE ELSE: An International Hong Kong Poetry Anthology (April 2023) and the full poetry manuscript, write about here.