Rudyard Kipling is My Demon
Kovie Biakolo

If Not

I’ve read all those just so stories, Lord,
both your’s and Kipling’s too.
I discovered how the fear came and
I know I played the fool,
When I painted on the leopard’s spots
was any left for me?
If not I am without but darkness
I cannot find relief.

I was alive before you drew me,
before you fenced me in.
There in the testaments of torture
you wrote my skin again.
Can I scream my Hallelujahs
no black book in my head?
If not I’ve drunk the poison and
may be already dead.

I know I kept my head about me
but what was that about?
With so much screaming trapped inside of
no hole to let it out,
Can this voice of lilts and cadences
not ever learn to scream?
If not, I can find no song to sing
no matter how it seems.

I learned to force both heart and sinew
chin up and stare ahead,
read the crowds and hid in the pages
then followed where they led.
Can I start to dance to other tunes
which have yet to be born?
If not, they’ve never lost their winnings
long after they are gone.

I think of and dream the future past
forever count the cost
of serving my own turn as master
and hold without the loss.
Can’t I hold on to my loving friends
across the miles and years?
If not, I’ve squandered all my treasures,
the sum of all my fears.

Have I looked into the mirror long
to see the face I built?
Can I stare right through to bones inside
and make the mirror tilt
toward the light that lifts the colours
from tales about my youth?
If not, I needs must dig more deeply
to build a better truth.

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