Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Self Portrait In Verse

When asked what I do for a living, I tend to lead with
"Truth be told, I'm really just a failed pineapple farmer"
When pressed, I then add that the bio reads "Technologist,
Omnivorous reader, sometime writer, and music lover"

The leading volley normally never fails to disarm
It leaves an opening, and then I can turn on the charm
It softens me up, this mix of false modesty and imperfection
I'm a connoisseur of the strange architecture of misdirection

The backup option too, while accurate, is a diversion
It tells its own story but adds to the confusion
Truth be told (again), I favor words as protection
Fugitive glimpses of the self, the art of omission

The Akan conception of self will get invoked
Even if most of my life, I've been an exiled soul
But some are very keen on the curriculum vitae
Or that American innovation, the resume


I write books of toli covering life in the torrid zone
Occasionally self referential, one hopes they can stand alone
Densely linked manifestations of hypertext dreams
Focusing on small things, dark matters, and whimsy

Ask not what I do, but focus on what I write
Ask not what I hate, I only know what irks me
Ask not what I love, but behold what I praise
The normalcy project is what I try to navigate

These words are, again, a diversion from the heart of the matter
I'm a man of the hills, a word fugitive that's hard to capture
While these days, you'll find me tending to my pandemic garden
I'm happiest reading a book, not too far from Aburi Gardens

Something whimsical by way of Hilaire Belloc
Or Caribbean, say Zee Edgell or Derek Walcott
Some biting satire, think Evelyn Waugh or Saki
Kwesi Brew for soul insurance or Chinua Achebe

Perhaps some afrofuturist young turk, you know the names, but nothing too dark
I'm a sucker for genre pieces by Octavia Butler and Richard Stark
Or James Ellroy, give me American Tabloid, here's to bad men
Indiscriminate, really, so long as the writer knows how to wield the pen

And there'll be music, my enthusiasms are well known
The urban griot soundtrack: soul and jazz with funk undertones
The blues feature, all the African genres, and hip hop
Gospel too, basically all who use music as a weapon

Academia is long in the rear view mirror
I saw more than enough of that life from my father
The Wife, a historian, has access to a great university library
I live as an omnivorous reader and cause good trouble dispensing toli

And that's the natural extent of my ambition
To luxuriate in the safe harbor of deflection
That while I might present as chief toli monger
I'm really just a failed pineapple farmer

Aburi house view

Chief Toli Monger, a playlist

A self portrait in music. It coheres for me but your mileage might vary. We start and finish with Burning Spear's Man in the Hills album, the maroon soundtrack. (spotify version)


Timing is everything
Observers are worried

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Writing log: May 4, 2021

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