Friday, February 4, 2011


this is where i need to be...out There. cracklin' leadwood fires, an old kettle and the morning star ridiculously bright, the smell of dust and wood smoke. yes.
BUT (chantal always said whenever you put but in a sentence it deletes everything before it) i have to be here. driving to and fro from cricket matches, rugby matches, tennis matches, cowboy parties. this is only achievable with music. i plug my iPod into my ears and away i go and the rest of the world becomes like a movie.

sometimes it ain't so pretty. like last week end when i saw a motorcyclist spread all over the tarmac (yes, another toyo daladala incident) in the headlights, blood deep purple pool around him and wide eyes in a flash as we passed. i can't remember which song i was listening to. it wasn't Dawn's Highway...the polaroid is in my head though and in my children's heads.

' Indians scattered on dawn's highway bleeding
Ghosts crowd the young child's fragile eggshell mind.

Me and my -ah- mother and father - and a
Grandmother and a grandfather - were driving through
The desert, at dawn, and a truck load of Indian
Workers had either hit another car, or just - I don't
Know what happened - but there were Indians scattered
All over the highway, bleeding to death.

So the car pulls up and stops. That was the first time
I tasted fear. I musta' been about four - like a child is
Like a flower, his head is just floating in the
Breeze, man.
The reaction I get now thinking about it, looking
Back - is that the souls of the ghosts of those dead
Indians...maybe one or two of 'em...were just
Running around freaking out, and just leaped into my
Soul. And they're still in there. ' - The Doors

this is going to be short and sweet, oh bestests. i am here BUT back at work. which is like a wet rag to anything creative. school sucks all of that up. but i am here, being terribly distracted by the outrageous blooming blood red of the bougainvillea in the dry. how is it possible? how is it possible i have cartwheels in my heart after everything? and i have written two new poems. one is funny. one is not. not at all. in fact, the latter demands that i see a therapist, i'm sure. get my head checked out. or maybe it's my heart? he'll tell me. anyway (this is different from but) i think we all tend to take life far too seriously - so what the hell - i'll kick my heels at it all and keep on rockin' in the free world, what little is left of it.

it is still very hot and dry. white days which burn everything in their wake. no rain. nothing at all. when the wind picks up from the north, the sky becomes yellow and pink from maasailand dust, a wall of it, like an haboub. at night the stars are red, fat and dusty. i don't even climb under the sheets anymore but lie awake on top, watching the mosquito net flutter and dance ghost like in the wind and the shadows of the windows like rib cages on the ceiling, startled by the whoop of the maasai young 'uns running over the hills, wondering how they make that particular sound and why? no counting sheep on this hill. until it all merges into dreams. until the white morning wakes me again, the owls scratching before dawn on the old tin roof, their hooting old and other worldly. and its back to school and the brilliant blood red bougainvillea.
maisha tu, as we say here. that's life, eh? and i ain't puttin' no but sirree.

Kitchen Board: Sometime last month. January 2011.

toodely y'all. bisous X.X.X. firecracker red ones,yeah x j


Elizabeth said...

Dear Janelle,
I've said it before, but you are the best writer out there in Blogland.
Your stories read like poems ( a great deal more like poems than some of the stuff that purports to be poems --'nuff said!)
Yes, the content is horribly disturbing. Bad stuff does get fixed in your brain and never vanishes --says she of the bland, protected life.
(Blanked out the whole trip to India after the child was run down by the motorbike and the bikers were pulled off their bike by men from the village with clubs and
then the women were wailing.

You do seem to balance suburban mum-dom with
Africa wildness with difficulty and grace.

much love from here
where we are freezing our asses off.....
and Robert has shingles.....hee hee

Heather said...

I agree with everything Elizabeth just said! You are an inspiration and your words are pure poetry. I look forward to your blog like no other. I sent you a poem awhile back, 'bout the dog. Still don't really comment on blogs so my identity/blog is in the making ? but just had to leave you another quote...

"i know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream"
~ van gogh

please keep spinning your magic : )

Janelle said...

gee whizz! THANKS elizabeth and heather! x j

Val said...

its like when people say "he's a nice guy but....."

another mind zinging, heart filling, dream whirling post

those pictures do tend to stick and haunt for a while, but the blood red bougainvillea offers continuity. i love how the colours shimmer on those bougies


Reya Mellicker said...

I see that we are on a wavelength. I'm telling you that solstice eclipse changed something, somethings.

I would LOVE to read your poems. As for needing therapy, who of substance doesn't, I ask you?? Well??

The ipod is great. It does turn life into a movie with a very specific soundtrack. For me, too, it makes possible a sense of compassion for all the ambitious suits on the subway, bragging loudly to each other about their latest triumph in Congress or business. But I can't hear a word they're saying - I smile at them sweetly and turn up the volume.

Love to you.

Mama Shujaa said...

Dada Janelli,

Kama all of the previous commentors, I love your blog na I must also add my sumni mbili. Raw, pure, beauty and horror all mixed, mchanganyiko maalum; your students are lucky.

I too just this year, very late in life, realized that my iPod is necessary. Can't tune things out by myself anymore...LOL. Pole sana about the dala dala accident.

Mingi Love,

Mama Shujaa

Janelle said...

thanks val. yeah exactly - she's reeeeallly lovely BUT...hah. x

and love to you too reya...whoat the poetry..doing it under a pseudonym..too shy to post it here.. thanks for swingin' by, tho! x j

asante sana! my students don't think so...typical teenagers..only rorris thinks she's lucky...and collins and natou and hawa and cariena and maria...i'll give them extra points in their tests...hehhe

Amanda said...

raw, pure, beauty and horror all mixed.

mama shujaa's got it right. another bang-up post janelle me dear.

and that thing about the ipod? why do we feel more in control of our world when we set it to our very own soundtrack?

Lori ann said...

work is a wet rag to anything creative. omg, that is my new saying.
i feel this too. i want to be out at the islands with my husband, or to the desert or plains when he goes (for photos, his work)or i want to be in my space making. but, for work.

i think you should write a book, make a million billion dollars and then sit by the cracklin fire and write some more. if you like.

Janelle said...

hey amanda - but DO we feel more in control with the iPod? i feel a lovely distance - like i'm removed and observing...seperate almost...x j

oh lori yes i would SO like...! x j

Angela said...

They are teenagers, BUT they adore you, the other way around here. Students cannot admit it, but they KNOW when someone is REAL. Why aren`t you just want you want to be, Janelli - courageous and creative and poem-posting and writing your book?! (I have at least just dared to order my blog-book, in two volumes, with all the photos. Don`t have to show anyone if I don`t want to, only perhaps my grandchildren).
But if you write your book like your blog, with all those ideas and stars and spotted-horse and crackling-fire-stories, no red thread, just life as it is - I`d buy it!! For 30 €, and if 10 000 bloggers would, too, you`d be close to rich, huh?

Angela said...

Huh? Silly sentence. Why aren`t you just WHAT you want to be, is the question, and maybe a repitition is what is needed. Why? Warum nicht? Shyness is no excuse. Or rather, she is shy BUT she just finished her fantastic book. How does that sound?!

Janelle said...

oh i ain't shy of writing a book...but i'm not posting any poetry'll go in a book too! thanks for swingin' by geli! x j

Bill said...

Ah, how long ago did I suggest you write that book? At least do a small book, short stories are fine and fit your style of writing.

You have a knack for writing dream-like stories. That's a rare gift. Your life story is complex, rich and rare...and, sadly the world is in short supply of magic, so why not express yourself.

Family Affairs said...

I will just have to put you in my film and then we can both be famous and write to our hearts content - I will write my Mickey Mouse stuff and you will write proper heart felt stuff and we shall drink gin and ignore the children = I will bring my eldest - he can drive them all to football and rugby matches xx