Here is emptiness. Here is a mouth after a recent excavation, black with soot, devoid of kisses. Here are hands, trembling against the soft ache of morning, here are eyes, wet, wide, half-full of sky and loneliness. Here is belly, back, femur, spine, ragged and smooth all at once, all at once. Here are dreams, ink black and speckled, lost behind the eyes. Here is a muted elegy, crow’s feet feathered over the eyes like lace. Here are the last strains of a dirge, wild, discordant, free.
As a collection of poetry and prose, Phantoms as Euphemisms for Disaster explores the many faces of loss. Not only the loss of love, but loss of language, culture, identity and self. The book seamlessly navigates the silences between harrowing conversations, to realizations about growing up, about grief and how to deal with loss, to the reawakening of tenderness, hope and awareness in the innate power of self. This is a fantastic collection for anyone who appreciates a unique voice, beautiful language and the ache and sweetness that is living.
'My grandfather is a giant of a man, big bones, big voice, big heart. Last December we sat under the pink sky and watched the stars come in. Nine years of absence coalesced into that minute, that second. He pointed to Orion in the night sky, soft voiced he told my sisters and I how our ancestors, the Maasai followed the stars to rainy seasons, followed the heavens to water.
We sat on the side of a tarmac road riddled with open holes and stared at the same vast existence that his father, and his father before had read with unerring precision, how they mapped out seasons according to stars and the open sky.
In that sliver of time, caught between full light and full dark my bones melted against my skin. To know that last century, last millennia, a small epoch in this corner of earth my grandfather (a hundred generations ago, and a hundred more) stood open face to the dark sky and followed the three spiked belt to water, to dry land, to blood, to earth. To know that he followed Orion home.'
N.L. Shompole was born in Kenya. Cassiopeia at Midnight is her first comprehensive compilation of poems exploring themes of love, vanity, loss, hope and the human condition as found in mythology, literature and real life.
Aptly begins with ‘the softhearted guard their hearts fiercely’ peels layers of the heart in slow, painstaking detail. Each poem feels like a window into another world, a world of vivid color, sounds and emotions. Anatomy of Surrender features select poems from the yearlong project Twelve Names for December, a project that was born out of a moment and spanned 365 days as N.L. Shompole carefully detailed the world.