We were driving down the highway
Me on the steering wheel
You next to me
I see your face freeze
As my sister from the back
Merrily touches your hair
Grabbing into it, massaging your skull
“It really feels like sheep’s’ wool!
You’re our family’s little black sheep, sweetie!”
It painfully reminds me
Of how I learned
That I was racist,
When we first met
I used to tell you:
“I don’t think Germans are racist.”
And specifically, I wasn’t racist, of course.
We don’t really have much of a history with Black people in Germany, do we?
What are even the stereotypes we hold of Blacks?
I couldn’t see any issue.
Racists are those Americans
Where policemen shoot Blacks without proper reason
Or the South Africans
With their long history of Apartheid
But with time
I learned to understand the kind of racism
That left scars in your heart
Isn’t just the punch in the face
The angry yell
Or the shot of a gun
The hundred unthoughtful remarks
The curious gazes
And the closed doors
That you encounter
Because of the colour of your skin
The frizzy hair
The full lips
When I say:
You dance so well
You got the rhythm in your blood
Probably from your tribal festivals
When the photos I bring back home
Portrait only the mud huts of the Massai
But not the skyscrapers of Nairobi
When I say
You’re so good in bed
Much more driven by your instincts
Wild, like an animal
That feeds stereotypes
Tells the same old story
Of Africa as the uncivilised continent
With people close to nature
So head-driven like us
So materialistic like us
Cause in the end
What does that mean?
Underdeveloped, underprivileged and less intelligent
Just put in a different way
Ignorance is bliss
Are those who are unintended racists
Ignorant of the pain they cause
The catch 22 is this:
The ignorant doesn’t know about his ignorance
I was ignorant
And I learned my lessons
The world will only become a less racist place
Who is racists without intend
Gets the chance to learn their lesson
That even well-intended, even curious remarks
Can cause another scar
Awareness can only happen
By making what may seem obvious
Visible to those
Who don’t see it,
(Painting: Sam Spratt)
When I’m mad, I’m like a storm
In the evening of a hot summer day
My angry voice
Awakes the neighbours
Makes people shudder
Vases, like lightning, hit the ground
My lust a humid day in the jungle
My arms like lianas
Wild and untameable
Grabbing what they long for
The smell of plants and the earth
The song of birds, the roar of a feline
All senses focussed
Sweat dripping down the body
My sadness is like the monsoon
In a big Indian town
It pours and pours
and won’t stop
Mascara runs down my cheeks
Like the splashes of a dirty puddle
On a white summer dress
The vortex of misery
Is sweeping down the streets
We are two
You and me
I’m like the seasons
Change is unavoidable
Hope and fear, love and hate
I try them on and let them pass
Like the leavy dress of a tree
They come and go
Are not a fan of seasons
When the thunder hits your ear
You say I’m dramatic
The heat of the jungle makes you drowsy
And you want to move back to colder climates
The running tears of the monsoon
Leave you overwhelmed, soaked and uneasy
I’m too much for you
You’d be much better off
In a stable climate
Composed and understanding
Like sunny California maybe
But I can’t help myself
I am what I am
With all the intensity
With all the brutal force
And with all the passion
You could be a caring witness
And provide a space
For me to go through my emotions
Natural spectacles aren’t about you
They are about myself
I don’t demand a reaction
I demand acceptance
Embrace the authenticity in it
Embrace me as I am
Painting: Henri Rousseau
Here’s the thing with pain
It is like a spider,
Weaving its net around you,
So tight that you lose your breath,
It’s like a scorpion,
Pushing its poisonous sting into you,
Racing heartbeat, shock
It’s like a boa,
Absorbing you with its massive jaws,
Eating you alive
But then it’s not,
Because you’re in charge
It’s up to you to end it at any point
You can decide to see it not as pain,
But as a challenge
An opportunity for growth
Marcus Aurelius once said:
“Choose not to be harmed -
and you won’t feel harmed
Don’t feel harmed -
And you haven’t been ”
So why would you ever decide to feel harmed?
Instead of choosing strength?
It’s the habit of suffering,
That we are so used to
The momentum of pity,
That drags us along
And jumping off that high-speed train
That the jump will set us free
Yet we decide to be
Captured by the spider
Stung by the scorpion
Swallowed by the boa
Again and again
Instead of choosing liberty
Which is a present reality
At any point
Open to us to embrace
Naked skin. Perfect intimacy, yet so far apart.
The side of my face tightly pressed against your chest.
Kaboom… Kaboom… Kaboom…
“Isn’t it crazy”, I say to you “that our life depends on the rhythmic cramps of this one big muscle in our chest? How the “person” inside us is just gone, when it stops beating?”
I imitate the pumping of a heart with my tiny fist.
Clench, release. Clench, release.
“Mmmhh”, you answer.
I shut up.
I know it’s not exactly a chatty moment, but I like the comfort I get from thinking aloud about topics that distract me from my deeper worries.
Your smell has changed since you came to my house.
From a fresh herb garden and the sea breeze running through the leaves of a coconut palm
To the scent of an angry tiger, moist and acidic.
Ain’t we a match made in heaven?
You tell me your past and I feel you’re talking about myself.
The struggles you went through, the decisions you took.
Your conscious effort to be more than what you were conditioned to be.
The choices you make and your reasoning behind it.
The relationships you foster and the freedom you are fighting for.
The freedom you demand, the freedom you give and the freedom you discover in the nature of being.
The sentences I start and you finish, the co-creation of understanding simplicity.
You clear your throat.
My attention switches back to the present moment, the bed we lie in.
Bliss and embarrassment collide.
So close, so far apart.
The pressure of expectation, the cosiness of your arms and the disenchantment between us.
I wanted you, didn’t I?
When we got to know each other, I wanted you, didn’t I?
When you hugged me, I wanted you, didn’t I?
When you kissed me, I wanted you, didn’t I?
When you ate me, I wanted you, didn’t I?
When you stepped out of bed to grab a condom, I wanted you didn’t I?
Lust is a fragile bond.
Triggered by the mysterious,
kindled by spontaneity,
inflamed by wanting gazes and welcoming touch.
Lust is a fragile bond.
Shaken by doubt,
Hit by reason,
Extinguished by worry.
A match made in heaven,
You’re my mirror.
In our aspirations as much as in our hesitation.
In our spiritual climax as much as in the erotic abyss.
Once upon a time,
I fell in love with a man
He was like the moon
His silver light calming my thoughts
Silent attraction, like a tidal force
Moving inner oceans
He was like my father
Considered and knowledgeable
He could explain the world to me
The history of foreign lands
And the origin of species
Both feet firmly on the ground
yet inspired by utopia
A rational poet,
a romantic scientist
Cultured and sophisticated
Once upon a time,
I fell I fell in love with a man
He was like the sun
His burning heat kissed my cheeks
Made me dizzy, gave me calenture
He was like my mother
Sensuous and intuitive
A creative soul,
seeing beyond the visible
Breaking down the walls of my preconceptions
His head in the clouds
yet making a change in people’s lives
A poetic fighter,
a rebellious artist,
Indomitable by societal norms
Once upon a time,
I asked “who am I?”
If I can find love
In two men with qualities so far apart,
Identify with all my heart
With such disparate worlds?
I’m a nighthawk in the moonlight
A seagull in the sunshine,
I’m my father’s daughter,
My mother’s child
Many different worlds unite in my chest
Identity is complex,
It changes, confuses
Why even try to define its boundaries,
if love can show me oneness of contraries?
(Painting by Rene Magritte)
My heart is longing for you,
Seeing you from afar,
living through all those fantasies
Of us together, happy, after all
Living in a continuum of "what if” and “when finally”
Surviving on a diet of well kept memories
Sweeter than honey, almost too sticky
When I look at photos and I see this perfect couple that we seem to be
Watch us in videos, so fond of each other
But then the reality looks different
The reality is a life on my own
A waiting state
As if I got lost in the large halls of King’s Cross station
Scared that my train has left without me long time ago
And I am just too ignorant to notice that it really has
Sweet bits of memory,
But what lies in between, really?
I’m putting myself on hold,
Preserving my precious love for the few occasional moments I spend with you
Are we even on the same page about our love?
I thought so, but then we weren't
My sweet dreams clash with how you really are,
Not just my lover, but a lover of women
Someone who doesn’t put his life on hold, just to make the memory of me more precious
But somebody who actively lives his life in between our occasional adventures
And yes, that may be a healthy thing to do
But we don’t get to choose where our heart takes us
At least I would not have chosen being stuck in a love
That feels so intense and so pointless at once
That makes my thoughts go round and round
The same drill everyday
These thoughts which are an interplay
Of burning hot and freezing cold
So intense that I sometimes scream into my pillow,
Scream so loud that my mind is muted
For a second, at least
Ups and downs,
Hate and love
Breaking free from you in one moment
And pledging my eternal loyalty to you in the next
Typing down emails full of accusations for the pain you make me feel
And never sending them
But a goodnight kiss instead
You want me to be easygoing
But see, I’m not
My morales are too high to be able to make peace with betrayal
And my intellect too sharp to ignore the flaws in your stories
The dates that don’t match, the numbers that don’t add up
I have become jealous, resentful
I have not chosen to go to this inner place
but the whirlwind of our relationship
has led me into parts of my soul that I never wanted to see
This intensity, these ups and downs,
When will they be over?
I picture you holding me in your arms, tightly
Calming me down,
saying “Now your heart is safe”
But even believing your words is not an option anymore
Too many times have they misled me
What can I do to find peace,
Tell me, what can I do?
(Photo: Tanja Schomann)
The air is so cold that I shiver.
The silence is so suffocating that I feel dizzy.
It's a dilemma where the borders of love, attachment and freedom have become blurred,
Where joy and pain seem inseparable.
There is a thin line between fighting for something special and clinging to a lost dream.
How do you know on which side of the line you are standing?
(Photos: Tanja Schomann)
This time is about...
... letting it evolve instead of pressing it into a shape.
... forgetting the idea that I know better what's good for you.
... saying goodbye to images that I created in my head.
... saying hello to reality.
Being instead of making.
Freedom instead of attachment.
Accepting instead of cursing.
(Sculpture and photos: Tanja Schomann)
I used to be a butterfly,
I used to move freely in the world,
From town to town,
Country to country,
Wherever the wind would take me
Sometimes I would rest for a while in somebody’s palm,
Take a breath,
Share some moments,
But I wouldn’t stay,
Because butterflies need to fly.
One day a man’s palm felt like more than a roadhouse to me,
It felt like a home,
I would still fly out into the world,
But I was always eager to return to him,
To his warmth and his shelter.
But he knew better than me,
He saw that I was a butterfly.
He didn’t even see my dreams,
Of resting in his palm forever,
My boredom with flying.
And then, when the breeze turned into a storm,
He failed to keep me safe.
I couldn’t hold onto his opened hand,
And the wind blew me away,
And here I am again, flying like a butterfly.
(Painting: Jackson Pollock)
When I look at you,
I see this trusting look in your eyes,
How you believe someone will catch you
When you fall
When I hear you play your guitar,
I can see your ambition
Your ambition to be just in the now
Live the moment
No need to plan
I see it from afar
It is not my world
My world is full of commitments
Of requirements and obstacles
And who’s competent to judge?
I see my world creeping up from behind
Stealing your innocence
Cracking your confidence
Or was it just naiveté anyways?
These worlds make my head dizzy
My heart heavy
Am I bringing you closer to reality?
Or further from creativity?
Spoiling or strengthening you?
And who’s competent to judge?
(Painting: Rene Magritte)