It’s 4am and you’re awake like your body’s been paged.
You’re wondering if it will be worth it to sleep for 30 more minutes before starting your day.
They’re playing a senseless song on the radio and it feels like such a waste of airplay.
So you tuck yourself in to rest your brain.
You’re off to work again.
Standing in a queue behind an old man who’s complaining about his daily wage
You can afford a taxi to work and back home everyday
But what’s the point of wearing good shoes when they’re still going to leave your toes pained?
The country has gone to so much shit you’ve almost lost hope
Issues pile up every day and everybody silently stares like a people
who have seen so much death that they’ve become desensitized by new deaths.
You’re irritated by every little thing, even the way your boss’s overfed kids play
And you realize with terror that while you were grieving for your lost dreams,
time was whiling away
But it’s not so bad,
You’re in love with a boy in the city, it will be 11 months in June
He doesn’t smile at you like you’re something special
and send you good morning texts like he used to
But that’s fine
You haven’t heard your biological clock ticking yet,
You’re only preparing for when it sounds louder than a church bell
And when the day ends you take off your clothes and stare at yourself in the mirror
Wishing you could hang your skin and bones on the dressing chair
Disgusted with yourself for going to bed for yet another night,
having such brilliant ambitions but no results.
And on the other side of town there’s a boy living in a man’s body
Gutted by the fact that he’s a multi-faceted god who can’t bring to life his own subjects.
A king Midas who can turn everybody’s copper to gold.
Everybody but his own.
And he feels he’s labored so hard that surely, he has a price to claim
He thought that by now his name would be stuck on the lips of people but he can’t even get them to
remember his name.
And he doesn’t want to wake up anymore
because what’s the point of getting out of bed when you’re going to get back in it?
What’s the point of aiming any higher when you can’t even win the small battles?
And you can recognize me from the crowd because you can see me in you.
Hope sounds like a faint rumour
Like someone tried shouting it from the back of the room,
but even his throat could tell it was a lie
So it stifled it before the word could come out.
We’re young but we feel old and ancient
Our talent is snuffed out before it lights a small dark corner
We’re a token of a broken generation whose souls
have gotten used to living wounded.
But it’s not too late to try again.
I know because I swore seeing another sun rise would be a miracle
Now look at me, letting the rays bounce off my face.
I know because we’re always walking into the fire like we’ve never been burnt
I know there’s hope because there’s an echo of God in a roomful of sin.
I am the second best poet not enough people have heard of
The first; that was God,
for carving out a body so perfect
I develop insecurity on behalf of other people.
I have been crying oceans into pages
Praying to God in sign language
Begging to make sense of just one life.
Yet there’s something about the way an open wound aggregates
and remodels to repair itself,
that tells me that we’re here for much more than getting lost.
So this is for the ones who can’t keep the rules
For ones who wear far too many faces to hide their blues
For the ones sleeping off their lives and living in their dreams
For the poor souls who’ve forgotten how to dream
For those who are burning with mania and calling it brilliance
For those swatting demons off their backs and making it look like a new dance
For us who were told the world was ours and then crippled so we had to crawl
For the contrived, depressed and ready to concede a draw
For the ones who are falling out of exhaustion and calling it a catching of the holy ghost
For the ones sniffing fear and pretending like it’s a healthy dose
Come, hold my hand, let’s walk into the light.
And by God, you’ll see,
You’ll see how amazing you’re meant to be.
Courtesy of the author
Link to the Italian translation
Ama Asantewa Diaka is a Ghanaian poet, storyteller, and spoken word artist who performs as Poetra Asantewa. She is the author of the chapbook, “You Too Will Know Me” and her debut poetry collection is entitled “Woman, eat me whole” (Ecco, 2022). Her latest work, “Someone Birthed them Broken” – a collection of short stories – will be published by Amistad in 2024.
Mental illness and body perception stand out as her favourite topics to share with her readers. All her verses are framed in a fair dose of feminism, intended as “refusing to confine [oneself] within the lines of society’s definition of who, what and how [one] should be simply because of gender“.
She is also the founder of Black Girls Glow, a feminist nonprofit organization fostering collaborations among women artists and examining ways that art can build community, and Tampered Press, a Ghanaian literary and arts journal.
She performed for the first time in Italy at “Parole in folle” in Padova and Bologna, with the above poem, “Capitalism” and the previously unpublished “In which I tell you all the reasons I don’t want to exist and you tell me to remember“.