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“Sublimation” by Bethuel Muthee

“Sublimation” by Bethuel Muthee



Tired of dying light and shadows,
An escape we thought warmed
Evenly all our frost.

Dealing and losing at Solitaire
A bright casino with old men
Confines me to a screen

She waved. I caught it
And waved back to a photo of her
On her throne.

Between us, silence and reflections
Of glances. Walking out and
Dressing in their masks.

Pardon Me

It was meant to be polite.
That chocolate melting,
Loving how you said it:

Putting it on.
Pardon me.
Pick up the call.
Accident. Frantic.

Formless floating.
Watching our reflections
Those withered names.
Thank you for your loss.

Pardon me.
Screams and encroaching blur.

An exclamation with invitations mountainside.
That landscape.
Howl back.
Presences with end.


Men of dreams.
A new understanding of ghosts.

The same day you want to gouge out your eyes:
A blind man tapping across the road as a lorry flies his way.

What do you see now?

The 45 rolls on,
Day 45 of stasis.

Who took those photographs?
Pretty posters of souls on sale.

What does stopping to love mean?
That crooning. They kill her every time.

The search is honest:
The truth is dumb.

Gone gone men.

A series of paintings:
Eyes. A hand. Love hearts.

You have to remember he said.
Memories of a future lived too soon.

A smile:

Idols burning themselves up,
Smell of incense and fighting to hold on.

Let me learn the drugs of my city.
My drug.

Let men fight –
Museums for your disappearance.

Conversations with half-ghosts,
A photograph: a negative print.

That sound
The echo of who you were.



Maybe because we rinsed our mouths
With paint water –
Love spitting out lies.

What I heard:
Tone down on heart.

Making up videos in our heads:
A disco tune and ashtrays.
Blowing away – tap! tap!

Home is not a place anywhere, he said.
Word went round.
A photo and a prayer.
Damn he blew way.

Getting lost in holes.
That man has written my city,
It crawls on you: an aftertaste.
Everything goes in slant
Walking with one hand on the ground.


They take their time trying to fix time – real slow –
To teach Absence how punctual how punctual she has to be.
Floating above, shuffling days like a deck of cards
Dealing out appearances to each player.

A party, a daily celebration – a feast of fools.
Hovering fools and foolish hearts.
Back to the beginning, an origin –
Night and day become one;

Heaven swallowing itself, clouds drawn in with a slurp;
Twinkling death; thunder burped as an afterthought.
A fiery sermon continues
When two sevens clash.

This beginning of elevation,
Suspension from earth or fire: happy songs.
Tunes that drown an end
When frozen cockerels attempt a crow.

Mornings are for thinking of growing up.
Nights are for escape,
Nights are for the birth of joy.

Keep the Lost Weekend as bedside bible.
Never read it. It is a reminder –
Like a Bible.

Your mind. You’re walking around the room,
I’m watching you.
A beer for two.

I don’t know your existence.
Your eyes say disappear.
We smile and know the truth.

It never was a simple good-bye.
You hate simplicity
So you said – no dying – every time.

We built ourselves like a Tetris town,
Fit the pieces in
Then watch the bottom crumble.

Bethuel Muthee is a Kenyan poet.

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