The Tower Journal

Mike Demba

I owe it all to my Mama!

Dear Ma,
you may have forgotten but I will never
for even before the world knew me, you knew I was clever
for even before I met Pops you were my hive
for over two hundred and seventy days we shared a world
you contained me in the only space I will ever call my own
a pre owned incubator always set aside for me to dwell in

you may have forgotten but I will never forget
for I recollect the times you kept me company
the gentle rubs each time I kicked to giggle hello
your slow pliable movement each time I needed to change sides
the warmth coming from your heart each time I seek sun
the rich nourishment you allowed me to glut as I grew my little bones

Ma, you may have forgotten but I will never forget
the maternal sickness I often dished out from my form’ing self laid back, gave it a rest and took no pill
the off the clock times I was up and ready to play mustered up some energy and played touch
the countless times I triggered the trips to the Ladies room got up on your swollen feet and took the voyage.
the visible stretch marks I inflicted upon your evenly toned skin gently rubbed cocoa butter on and said no word
the zest that I hoaxed off your taste buds sprinkled a little lime and maintained your appetite

the only moment I wanna wash off my mind is the agony you went through...
the pain you had to bear the day I was born
the malady and distress of this event not taking place in a hospital
no epidural no paracetamol just a local midwife and her warm towel
traditionally done, with no man to hold your hands
you produced enough clout to thrust me through
with tears and a wide smile you held me in your arms
as I wailed and rebelled at our direct line nipped at umbilical cord
you must be the genius behind wireless coz our connection didn’t go with it

I see you nipping my cheeks and asking how I remember all this
I say I know all this from the way I’ve seen you live your life
you have five of your own but a mother to many
we all have watched you selflessly share all that you own
we’ve witnessed your countless deeds of kindness and earnestness
we all have fed off of your wisdom on how to fit in this jungle of a world
In my soon to be thirty years of existence I’ve not witnessed you hurt a single soul
you’ve counseled, comforted, inspired and encouraged young mothers and older ones alike
you’re loving caring giving and always willing- an angel on earth, a model to mothers

If your humility keeps you forgetting that you’re all this to me and many
please always remember I love you and I will never waver
I am proud to call you Mother and will forever be indebted to you.
oh how I wish I could read you this letter.

Thank you Mama,

this is your son, Miee...!

Nothing to Something

It’s 10am
I’m starting with nothing, just a blank mind and empty pockets
I’m putting pen and pencil on paper right now with nothing to scribble
I mean fingers on keys right now with nothing in mind
Trying to open doors through this key-board with nothing that’s mine
Typing and hitting ‘Backspace’ with knuckles yet no door is opening

All of a sudden now my mind goes way back, way back when...

I opened my first bank account with the student minimum of $10 on that cold January morning in ‘04
it was embarrassing but the excitement of owning a card with my name on it masked it all
that call came in, Fall of ‘04 “you can’t come back unless you pay us”
can’t register for classes, immigration status dropped to Illegal Alien
It took 8 long months of no school, no income, no proceeds or progress of any kind
my days turning to nights, the silence of the night being my only comfort so I stayed up and awake
day after day I walked almost 2 miles to split the cost of a transportation
while convincing my mind there’s no better way to stay fit
my 05’ 06’ 07’ ‘08 ‘09 job required enduring 8 hour winter nights in open air
maintaining a white smile especially when it snows rains and sleets
the setback of ‘08 hit hard after the wistful news of my Pops passing sailed in
I had to step up and be my Mom’s husband with nothing to offer but more tears

I started writing allo’ this on a blank page now I have something
That was all the beginning now I can’t say I have nothing
the great feeling of having a story for my offsprings makes it all worthwhile
I will be showing off if I write all the nothings that are something right now
I will be So’ungrateful if I fail to mention who I owe my all’things to

it didn’t take a lot to muster something to write about so I’ll keep typing
it took a lot to get to where I am right now so I’ll keep running
it took her a lot of vigils for the Lord to answer so Mama’ll keep praying
it took money from Pops death to pay them what they claimed I owed
but I refuse to be thankful for his death!

an uneventful timeline is not what I am interested in
a meaningful lifetime is what I’m invested in
so while I sometimes sink in thoughts of my painful past
I will put all my focus on the promise of my potential present
just so that I’ll stay afloat to reap the harvest of my fruitful future
It’s 12:22pm
I knew it would go from AM to PM but I never stopped!

Why’s he gone?

Five of his own but a father to many
A life of his own but one he shared with the world
Strived on his own but provided for all
Believed in God and lead us all to Him.
Achieved his dream of planting strong seeds, us!

I feel like a seed he tossed far away to go germinate into a tree
My young little roots fondled onto a foreign soil…
Across the ocean from him I blossom with an evergreen pigment-
While Daddy withered and dwindled like a poisoned Oak.
In a strange land I hoped and prayed for the day that our roots will connect-
While Daddy’s roots enfeebled giving up on a healthy stem.

Wicked and deadly Cancer hit my Oak hard
Scattering a hard structure to pieces-
Pieces useful for nothing but a wooden casket-
A casket well polished for nothing but a dark entombment-
Entombment to an Oak tree that once shadowed a lineage.

With every strike of the wind my weak branches shook
Whispering silent questions reflected on every leaf that connects to my soul
How could this be?
Who handles the clock?
Why him?
Why would a tree that stretches all its branches to neighbors be cut off?
Why does a tree that provides shade for ground creatures have to go leafless?
Why does a tree that has been a magnet to the rain have to leave the soil dry?
Why does a tree with singing birds and agile playful monkeys end up lifeless?
Why does a tree that smiles back at the sun and reflect the moon be deprived of love?
Why is Cancer so damn cruel!?!
I’m not writing a poem
I’m just crying out- WHY?

Tribute to Pops

July 1st
...use to be like every other day
now not any ordinary day
now it's a day we celebrate his life on earth
it was a day I experienced nothing worth a celebration
it was a bright sunny day, my end of the globe
it was beautiful calm morning, I recall
it was one of those days you celebrate life as a gift
it was the day the gift was taken!

July 1st '08
...up sometime after eight unlike my ordinary day
Up awake and waiting, my chest pounded as my phone vibrated from the trigger of an unknown number
Knowing where it was coming from yet not knowing what the voice will bring
“I know you already heard” was what pierced my ear as I said Hello…
From the trembling voice of a brand new Widow, my Mother!
My heart sank to my stomach
My blood rushed to my forehead as my eyes stormed with tears
My knees weakened as every joint and ligament in me, gave up!
My phone dropped as Mama listened, the world listened to the silence of my world
I gasped for air as I feel my lungs deflate to the loudness of my wail
I fell on my face and lost the strength to turn as my friends came to my rescue.

July 1st 2008
When most would have asked for a last word
Where some will wish for a one final hug
And a lot will pay for a good bye…
All I wanted was one last “fist-bump”
Cruel Angel of death thought that was too much to ask
Took him away, unannounced!!
Papa, it’s July 1st again
…and if you are on your Facebook page in heaven, again…
Please smile and hit “LIKE”
Your Family loves you till we meet again!

Copyright © 2014 Mike Demba

Michael DembaMike Demba recently graduated at Suffolk University, Boston, with an Information Systems degree (May 2014). He started this process pursuing an Economics & International Relations degree 10 years ago and found himself making many adjustments and changes, involuntarily, throughout this journey. His experiences are reflected in many of the pieces he writes, if not all, because writing, for a long time, has been the only tool he relies on for letting it out. He's never considered himself a poet; writing helps him turn his thoughts into a picture, in his mind at least. He has been exploiting that secret since he discovered it. He's never had his writing published, not because anything he writes is private, but because he didn't think anybody would be interested.

He works for a software company as an IT Analyst at the moment. His dream is to be a College Professor one day, and computers are not what he wants to pass on to students, funnily enough.  He is approaching half his life, and computers are all he knows.

The Tower Journal
Spring/Summer 2014