Like Water, by IBé

Carry on bag
From shore to shore
Too heavy for this cargo.
15 years from good bye
Before memory leaves me
I’d need these shoes to walk back to my father.
He gave them to me;
At the airport
Before walking 10 miles barefoot to his six feet under.
When I got the phone call
All I had was this handkerchief my sister made me.
She pricked her fingers a thousand times
To stitch her name across the bottom.
I just want to keep that promise.

Mr. Custom Officer,
Don’t confiscate by bag.
The dry leaves and white powder stuff
Are ingredients to conjure my mother in my new kitchen.
Mr. Officer,
That Koran is not a ticket to a twisted hero’s journey.
For ten year a cane taught me
To memorize fifteen-hundred years old poems
In a language not my own–
Now I just yawn for a touch, even that,
To tell me I’m not alone.

You never know the distance
Between good bye and hello
Until one is far gone
The other is nowhere to be found;
You are stuck,
In the middle,
Your arm is not long enough to belt the globe.
Eyes don’t sing, anymore;
They stare.
I’m just scared,
Cold under the midday sun–
They don’t make them like they used to.

Trust me, I know.

I have crossed deserts in search of swamps;
Swept over cities,
And brought peaks to valleys.
I have walked until my soles bled,
Crawled until they healed;
Marched to the end of time….
There are no angels in heaven,
Demons in hell;
Just humans trying to cross over,
Climb another mountain….
I’m just another traveler
Awaiting my next destination…


When you leave home
The only way to find home
Is never to look back.
But few of us are that strong.

IBé was born in Kankan, Guinea and grew up between Koindu (Sierra Leone), Evanston (Illinois) and St. Cloud (Minnesota). Naturally, he lives in “The Middle of the Atlantic”… with a mailing address in Minneapolis, MN. IBé is the recipient of a 2010 Midwestern Voices Award, a 2009 Urban Griots’ Cultural Award, a 2005 Jerome/SASE Verve Grant, and a 2004 Minnesota Academy Award nominee for Best Spoken Word. IBé writes that which he sometimes finds hard to say. Spoken word helps him say it. He is the author of “Bridge AcrossAtlantic”, a collection of poems about life between Africa and America.