Wrestling with chi: A duet

by Noel Ihebuzor and Susan Daniels

my chi is a muse, impish
invisible fellow lurking
behind my ears and my tongue
whispering when I am not ready
sauntering away when I am

mine whispers words in woven gold flights
spiraling from blood to my ears
as my eyes open; dream-writing, I call it
and the words melt in daylight like mist
before I have reached for my pen

quicksilver, erratic
unpredictable, nagging like a stubborn dream
on those days when fresh minty words stream
down my running fingers
and then only to turn off the faucet
when incipient joy in showering in the deluge
of singing is huge

they gift us in fragments, suggestions.
if they gave us the keyed music
of the harp strung underneath particles
always vibrating, could our ears
hold the whole song?

then those days when in mischief
it fills me with words in riot
words that rage at thought
thoughts that resist rhythm
lines that refuse order, grating
words, thoughts in drunken stagger
limping clubfoot, clumsy clod

those words that sound like beginning poetry
that go nowhere, or spiral into nonsense:
pretending I am a tree/transmission shock
jamming the frequency/my head
is a crowded place to peek into.  hum the words
my personal goddess, and I will follow
blindly, my pen scribbling your joke
and this poet the butt of it

the seasons come and go
leaves sprout, bloom and drop
but my chi remains unchanging
driving, firing, inspiring and
sometimes tiring and
despairing me

ridden and driven by laughing children
impossible to catch, and should we try?
no, better to sound the songs
of invisible fingers strumming heartstrings
like mandolins that sometimes fall flat
for their amusement

my chi and I are Siamese twins
linked at the junction of mind, soul and heart
chasing our wants amidst chi’s obdurate wonts

yes, linked and bound, but not by a short thread
she tugs me awake, jumping rope
with the cord that feeds us both, but I cannot
wake her, cannot call her to me–no, I am her dog
leashed by that link,
sometimes running at the snap of a finger
begging for strokes and scraps

chi, your hands will not choke my throat when I proclaim
your wandering and meandering ways
twins are equals, social and spiritual
I resist bullies, and I call you that not
but can the palm no matter how large blot out the rays of the moon
my truths about you stand erect, an iroko for all to see
and despite your sobering entreaties,
these truths I cannot not hide nor suppress

I have no proverbs to suggest urgency
better than these; but yes, let us call out
trickery for what it is, and play each other
without binding, in a dance
instead of a chase, so we both smile in victory;
not a rout but a tie, in a game well-played by both

but though I rage, I fear that in the end
you and I shall meet at the junction of road
where compromise and conciliation habit
productive, just like I wish for us
for you need me and I need you
and the world would be poorer if our voices died
or we choked each other in moments
of well deserved rage and resentment

***This was FUN!  Noel and I wrote this with one pass-off each.  The chi here represents a personal god, in this case, two personal gods that alternately pester their poet-hosts and then gift them with beautiful poetry/songs.  You can read that as a muse, if you would rather.  As in all our duets, I am italicized, Noel is bolded.

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in duet with Noel Ihebuzor, Duets with Noel Ihebuzor, New Free Verse and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Wrestling with chi: A duet

  1. Boomie Bol says:

    I can almost see you both reciting or reading this to an audience. Well done!!!

    • Thanks, Boomie! Anyone that can explain to me how to pass a recording around electronically to add to that is WordPress friendly, and I am game to try reading this! Noel–you up for that?

  2. davidtrudel says:

    Great flow to this duet, not a blend, but complementary voices harmonizing together.

  3. Our chis were at their best today! How else does one explain that we could pull this off in less than 90 mins from start to finish? For this wonderful facilitation, my chi has qualified for a cup of foaming fresh palm wine (a Canadian friend who tasted it aptly decribed fresh palm wine as the nectar of the gods) plus a treat of yam roast laced with red palm oil!

  4. mimijk says:

    I love this conversation that you have with each other…your energies so aligned and so different, yet in perfect rhythm.

  5. Ian Moone says:

    really nice and did I see a reference to sting theory? particles vibrating

  6. A powerful perfect unison; your words create a fine melody together. Your chis are fully awake and blessing you both.

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