Coimbra, 2021
“My words have escaped”

I whisper to the empty box they bursted opened

At first

I feared they would choke

to their first taste of air

But they didn’t

I closed my eyes

and sighed in relief

Then I stayed silent

Just so I could hear them echo

Just so I could hold them in my arms

Just so I could hear them breathe

They couldn’t stand

the chains they have been tide to

They couldn’t stand

to watch me suffer

for leaving them unsaid

They are free now

Now they sing to lonely stars

They yell at injustice till it breaks

They hold the lost and the lonely

They help other words escape

[Luísa Tibana, Coimbra, Spring 2021]

Ideology eyes

Maceió, 2018
You are not born with ideology
But you will only die without it
If you don’t live at all

I was born with a nose too small
Glasses dangle there for a little
And eventually
fall off

I guess I thought the same would happen
To ideology glasses 
But I was wrong
Because they are not glasses at all

I don’t know when it happened
if it was
at the age of five
or four
When my eyes were replaced

The world was colourful
and pure
Then things turned to
black, white and grey

There is not much I can do 
So often
I see a trash can
as a plate of food
Because its content 
will agree with me

You are not born with ideology
But you will only die without it
If you don’t live 

It’s ironic I know
being a prisoner 
of my own eyes
But most of the time there is nothing I can do

I then search for different lenses
in conversations and books
So I don’t limit myself
to what my eyes can see
I’ve accepted now
No matter what I do
I can’t ever escape from ideology

[Luísa Tibana, Coimbra, Spring 2021]

Ticking clock

London, 2014
The clock ticks
“What makes a poem a poem?”
I asked myself as I brushed my teeth
I am so overwhelmed
My eyes weight heavy
There is nothing I would rather do now
than go to sleep

But I am here
The clock ticks
As I drown in questions
I can’t answer

Poetry to me now 
is silence
Not rhythm 
Not sounds
Not even words

The clock ticks
And I awake up
Suddenly silence weights heavier
than my yesterday’s eyes
Now there is nothing in silence
But loneliness

The clock ticks
And just like that
Poetry is gone
It faded away as the sun
decided it was time to shine

But who would have guessed?
The clock ticks
And poetry 
finds itself in other forms

I wonder 
if as the clock ticks
there are moments
I become poetry too.

[Luísa Tibana, Coimbra, Winter 2021]

Natural language

Paris, 2014
“Language is natural”, they say
As if there isn’t a few drops of blood
on every line I write 
As if my poems were created
out of thin air
not early mornings
not sleepless nights
As if I have never cried over 
the mediocrity of my work

“Language is natural”, they tell me
And suddenly
My head feels heavy
My hands tremble 
My arms feel sore
As I think back
to all the words
I so carefully put together
but got me nowhere
“Language is natural”, they yell
Not realising 
they are silencing
all the people who landed me a hand
and all the books that got me here

“Language is natural”, they insist
As if I am
so effortlessly
bringing words together
crafting them 
out of breath

[Luísa Tibana, Coimbra, Spring 2021]

A letter to my writer’s block

–  ❊ –

Dear Writer’s Block,

It’s not you, it’s me.
It’s finally me.
I’m not saying I didn’t feel safe hiding on your shadow,
because I did way more than I should. 

I believed you. 
I believed when you said you only wanted the best for me. 
I can still feel my pencil weighing between my fingers. 
I can still feel my hands tremble 
every time I remember the things you used to do. 

I remember the way you would come to me 
your footsteps sounded like raindrops 
dancing on my roof. 
I remember how you would press your fingers against my throat 
until no word could find its way out,
and whisper that writing was a spark of magic lost long ago 
like fairy tales 
and Christmas mornings
all pieces of us we leave behind as we grow up.

There is no going back now.
My words have escaped. 
Now they’re yelling at the void, 
to sunflowers and lonely stars 

I’m no longer running after you every time there’s something I’m afraid to say
I’m no longer letting you wrap your arms around me

I’ll lock the door, 
I’ll shut the windows 
every time I hear you coming with the wind 

Forget my name. 
Forget my way home, 
the way into my skin. 
Goodbye now 
I’ve missed me

[Luísa Tibana, Maceió, Autumn 2019]

Ville de Québec, 2017