Volume Two, Issue 4

Ralph Cherbo Geeplay

Col. Kaepernick

This, to the commanding
officer who led his troops
to war, on one knee and
won in the trenches
on the battlefield
littered with
landmines. I held
your portrait sir, this
morning with trembling
palms, dressed sharply
in your uniform, gleaming
boots fastened to your feet.
I talk this over with
my son: who is this
Kaepernick, he asked,
so I dropped the topic.
Thought, he was too
young to understand
warfare and the men
who wage them. My
       honor to know a
       soldier of your
heroism seized me,
tells me, wars can be
won without people
being shot, just, by
asking, why? Volley
of bullets wouldn’t
have to penetrate
the bodies of men,
but can prick the
hollow apostates
of partisan whiff
on a day conscience
won, sparking a revolution
across the sub-continent.
       I fete you dear
officer, for your stealth.
The certificates of your
citizenship have been
studied and assumed
worthy, even by the
enemy you defeated.
The questions have
been asked on the
battlefront and at
headquarters by
field officers and
generals alike, barred
by their superiors from
whispering your name.
Probing: what does he
want, who is this man?
But on the subway,
morning and evening
trains commuters whisper
your muddled name still.
       Holding you in
       their hearts like
mothers hold
their babies.
I have slogged
the asphalts of
long memory
dedicated to
soldiers of your
tradition, like a
madman looking
through the relics
reserved for your
kind, searching for
your badge, and yes,
there it is. It hangs
right next to, Owens.
Surprised, then
yesterday my son
       came home. A
       basketball hikes
under his arm, giving
me a long winded look
like hot knife ready to
melt a lard, then he
knelt on his right
knee, saying nothing,
got up, and went to
his room, tears in
his eyes. I noticed
       also, he had
       began an afro.
He discovered you
on his own.
The salt in
his eyes, that
welled up his tears,
I report have since
been washed away.
Today, he is bolder
like the bull
that charges, but
calm like these ocean
waves once in revolt.
Oh Col., so he did come
to know you after all,
as I wished, because
underneath that fine
uniform draped in
medals beats the
heart of courage in steel.


My wife whispered: somebody,
go call Muna to come here.
Let her tell her dad what
she told me today. I asked:
What’s going on
behind those walls
in her room? Muna,
our daughter’s quiet
spoke louder than
her usual. Yes, a
       silence likened
       to a suicide note.
The obvious depression
you noticed, with suicide
written all over it, like a
flower that folds under
a burning heat, that
writes its own death
on the walls of its
garden somewhere
around the street.
The hashtags were
all on Facebook,
Twitter and in the
Times. It says
a veil on the
frontal fragments
of a china were
chiseled, even as
we hope for
beyond all this
preaching from the
pulpit, to protect
       the vulnerable.
       Only that each day
wears a mask and
bears the scars
in the echo chambers
of its halls, walls, and dark
alleys. Where a monster
did the unthinkable!
If Cosby is unmasked
under the thunderclaps
of drudgery, in a fine
suit and a white smile
       that stole our
       hearts, how
many more were out
there? She’s a victim
hiding in her room
under the clouds
and weight of her
own guilt. Her panties
ripped off by someone
she trusted. Who didn’t
care, because no one
was looking? Did he
       see the fear
       in her eyes
and the shrieks
in her voice that
said no! He went
on anyway and
broke her will
broke her spirit.
broke her virtue.
Take back the
light! Though the
bulb shines, and
bright pours on
my dining table,
       the recesses of
       my mind are
dark like the empty void
of a black hole. His bed
was the electric chair
on which she was
executed. She gave
up and let him kill
her, because his
greed was too
strong than his compassion,
his arms too strong to resist
and her story won’t count, so she
kept quiet, burning inside like a
furnace, while the world went on.

Farewell to Ellen

It rains so much in
Monrovia that a
day is like the
bloated dough
on a grey earthly
May, washing
over October. My
love, the sun, hides
in her bright den
refusing to be seen.
       Life comes to a slow
       twiggy motion; the
forest is breathing
with moisture, like
a hut puffing
smoke as a pipe.
While the creeks
bridged their ledges,
there is a seismic
run-down Waterside!
Enough, no more,
the sewage can take!
She is in my arms,
listening to the music
pounding the roof.
Still, calm, reading
Ebony Dust, though,
with lightning bolts
       yelling to be heard.
       The clatter is like
a rumble---tumbling
falling rockets. The
sorry corrugated zinc
holds her seams,
the bed is dry,
but the room
       is a puddle.
       The city is
cramp and damp,
like a soaked sponge
dripping with water.
The hustling contested
old city in an evening
fog, the Mesurado in
a bulge, taking Fanti
fishermen to and fro,
       to the edge of Westpoint.
       To love in the midst of mists,
of raging thunder under your
ears and an air filled with
blithering vermin, is to
drink a linctus in anger,
cooped in wretched
penury. So when the
wait, cannot wait to
be over, you my love
must endure, waiting
to part with the wrath
the rains imposed,
much needed however,
to calm the California
wildfires, gifted on
these shores, for
free. Now: you
       understand, then,
       the irony of nature!

Ralph Cherbo Geeplay: "I was born in Pleebo, Southeastern Liberia, West Africa. I published my first set of poems in 2009 in the Liberian Sea Breeze Journal, edited by Stephanie Horton. A Pan African poet, I write about Africa, the Liberian civil war, my Grebo heritage, and everything in between. I recently published my poetry in the Blue Lake Review, and the Adelaide Literary Magazine for which I was THE FINALIST OF THE ADELAIDE LITERARY AWARD FOR POETRY 2018. I am the editor of an online journal, The Liberian Listener, and live in Edmonton Alberta, Canada, with my family."

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