PLAYLISTS AND LOVE STORIES: A LYRIC ESSAY by Henneh Kyereh Kwaku

You can tell a lot about a person by what’s on their playlist.
—Mark Rufallo

—Playlists
This Spotify playlist has songs I know & songs I have never heard. This is not a playlist I made, this is my friend’s playlist. These songs I’m listening to are songs she listens to On Repeat—which means a lot that she shared with the world. I am the world, one of the worlds. It won’t be wrong to say making a playlist is like employment or even school admissions in Ghana (& maybe everywhere)—very selective—your title matters & who’s recommending you. I look at the titles of the songs & they remind me of our conversations—how everything is linked. These titles put together will form a good poem—but this is not the day we write that poem.

—&
We became friends after we both performed at a Spoken Word event. We didn’t speak to each other on that day. We performed & left. But I cheered loudly like I do my friends because I had friended her the very moment I heard her wow us with her poem. I didn’t need permission to do that. I performed later, a poem with a line—I smell like sex—probably one of the silliest poems I’ve ever written even when all I do is write silly poems.


Days after the event, I asked the organizer for her contact but to ask her first if she was alright with that, I needed that permission because it was collaborative—I got to know later that she didn’t ask but gave me the contact. We started talking, I am still shy but I try, we try—we keep talking—we realize we have similar tastes in music. We realize we are so alike than unalike, we twin.

—Love stories
All I want to talk about today is not poems but how I want to love my friends intentionally & specifically. I try. Truth is I don’t feel it is ever enough. & this is not even about how they feel or they react to the ways I love them. I don’t want to just write poems for them—I want to meet their specific needs—I want to have a shoulder they can cry on, a palm they can high-five, a pillow they can always hug, a heart they can own, money they can spend & if they need a kiss, I’d be there.
***
I don’t want to have reason to think before I throw my head under the guillotine for them.
***
When I text them, I add more letters like, heyyyyyy loveeeeeeeeeeee, I’m gladddddddd, I’m sooooooooooo happyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, you knowwwwwwwwww, greatttttttttt! This is a ritual, each letter is like the stretch of a note in my favourite songs, each stretch is an extension of our lives. A prayer for increase & abundance.


I want to joy with them & joy with them & sad with them—I want us to help ourselves out of the sadness & put ourselves into the laugh. I want us to fly together, eat together—I want us to be & be. I want people to question our love & find no answers because we owe no one an explanation to how we love. I want us to not worry about what people think or say about us. Just loving & living.

—Playlists & love stories
The last three songs on this playlist are: Love like that, How it feels to fly & Need you—I haven’t listened to these songs yet. But that’s the message I need to say see you later! [Wait. Don’t forget, I’m still using that pirated Spotify app. I thought you should know, I mean I didn’t want to but if
they’re not going to make it available here, in Ghana—then, e’be as e’be!
***
When I look at the rejections in my mail & my submittable, instead of crying I thank God for all the good-good people, all the loves, all the fam, all the friends I’ve been blessed with because of poetry—people I wouldn’t have met if not for poetry. People I wouldn’t have had the chance to love in all the silly ways I love.


You—my loves, my everythings—I may not always remember how we met & how we friended but I will love you like that, how it feels to fly & I will need you—on this loving. I will need you. This is an assurance that I’m loving you to the very end—if there is & if there isn’t then I’m loving you forever. & whenever you’re awake at 2-something am or 3-something am or
whatever-time-something pm or am, know that wherever I be, I am loving you.

Bio: Henneh Kyereh Kwaku is a Ghanaian writer and the author of Revolution of the Scavengers, selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New Generation African Poets Chapbook Series. Twitter/IG: @kwaku_kyereh & Henneh Kyereh Kwaku on Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Post

HOME ALONE - By Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto

Wed Sep 2 , 2020
The rain started with a rush of wind which slashed open the pots sitting at the edge of the hut. Their covers were displaced as if the wind had been without food for days. It had been like this in my village, Nkwerre, for weeks. It was June, the beginning […]
%d bloggers like this: