Book: Secrets Of My Heart

[Book Review]

Love, Sex, and Relationship

“Secrets of My Heart”

By Doris Allimadi, London, UK
iUniverse, 2013.

67 Pages. $10.95

Reviewed by Nvasekie N. Konneh

Reading the poems in “Secrets of My Heart” by Doris Allimadi will take you through the ups and downs of love, sex and relationship.

The poems are powerful enough to make you feel the low and the high points of a relationship. Some are sensual enough to make you feel like you are having your groove on or as what the Jamaican dance hall king, Yellow Man calls “Bedroom Mazuka.”

Of this anthology of poems, it’s hard to make a selection of which one is the best. They are all masterfully-crafted by the poet to have strong effect on readers’ emotion. Though it’s difficult to select one poem from the bunch as the best, for the purpose of this review, I have chosen three which are a dimensional reflection of the theme of the collectivity of the poems.

In that order, let’s start with the poem the poet wrote as a tribute to her mother who passed away in 2008. The title of this poem is “Light in the Darkness.”

Her mother, the rock of the family is her light when she’s “engulfed by darkness.”

In reaction to the passing of this solid rock of the family, she says, “Mama, I never imagined my heart could break like this.” Yes, we all know that in life we celebrate birth of new life and we are saddened when life is gone from among us, knowing we will never see that life again.

Even though we know that death is the finality of life, it can be very difficult to accept death, especially when its victims are our fathers or mothers who brought us into this world. So in this poem Doris is expressing her romantic feeling of her mother as well as sadness over her passing. We all can relate to this.

Except for some rare instances, mothers are nurturers, they are loving and when the whole world goes against us, our mothers are shelter under whose protective canopy we seek refuge. At any time of our life when our “protector in chief” leaves us on that journey of no return, we feel vulnerable.

So we can understand when the poet says in the last line  of “Light in the Darkness, Mama, my heart has never mended.” But even in death, Doris expects her mother to be her protector as she writes, “Each time I look up at the skies, I imagine that you are looking down at me, protecting me, guiding me through life.”

Now let’s go straight to the poem titled “Garden.” This one fascinates me so much that I feel obliged to share with my readers in its entirety. Here we go:

Go through my garden

But go slow

Know my garden well

And love it well.

Marvel at its beauty and unravel the mystery

But go slow

Come lie down with me

And enjoy the fruit of my garden

Touch me,

Love me

Touch me

Let ecstasy be mine and yours

Hear me moan

Call out your name again and again

When you go through my garden.

When one reads a poem, it makes you imagine all sorts of things. The garden here is everything about our lovers we need to know; especially their bodies. We are supposed to know our lovers’ bodies and places of the bodies to touch to bring them to the point of satisfaction.

So the speaker in this poem is pleading to her lover to “touch me, love me, hear me moan, call out your name again and again.” How good and pleasant it will be if this was a lyric of a beautiful sensual music that we can listen to when we are in the heat of the night with our lovers.

There is a saying that “hell has no fury like a woman scorned.” When she is pushed to this point she can only bounce back to give you back what she has taken from you for so long. So the tone of the poem “The Tables Have Turned” is exactly that.

Kind of like when Tupac said, “revenge is the sweetest thing next to getting p***.” In the first two lines of “The Tables Have Turned,” an enraged woman says, “Yes, I flipped the script, the tables have turned.”

As she goes on further, she says, “When I started playing with your emotions, telling lies, and doing the dirt, tell me what hurts the most” Without waiting for the answer to that question, she goes on further, “Is it when I come home, lay next to you, with someone else on my mind…I know it’s killing you.”

Still not given the chance to her victim to plead or say something, she goes on further: my tears are now dry; yours are just beginning to fall.” I guess it’s at that point the man accused her of doing him wrong, to which she says, “You say you can’t believe I did you wrong, yes, I said the exact same thing to you,” and then ending the poem with the same line, “Yes, I flipped the script.”

These poems are brave, fierce and romantic at the same time; the sheer beauty of wordsmithship will enlighten readers.

As I read through I kept looking at the photo of the poet to see if I could see the braveness exhibited in these poems in her eyes. Lots of questions popped up in my head: “What’s the motivation behind publishing this romantic poetry collection?”

According to her: “I have always had a flair for words. I love toying with words, saying in 5 lines what I could have said in two! I would say that I have been writing significantly from my early teens but purely for my enjoyment, I had never considered being a published author.”

Maybe from reading these poems, one may conclude that Dee, her nickname, who hails from a prominent Ugandan political family only writes romantic poetry?

“I was president of my Drama Club where I wrote and acted plays and sang,” she recalls, of her Secondary school days in Uganda. “The singing was never good and nothing has changed there.”

Dee says Secrets of My Heart “was written during a very tumultuous time in my life. Yes, some of the poems are autobiographical.”

But don’t just define her by these poems. She writes about a variety of subjects that appeal to her. Over the years she has written articles some of which have been published in The Blackstar News, a New York-based newspaper published by her brother Milton. She has also written several children books, one of which is “Mother Duck.”

“My dearly beloved and now departed mother Alice, was battling cancer and my relationship was dying,” she recalls. “Outwardly, no one could tell because the smile never left my face, but inside I too was dying. I took to pen and paper in the dead of nights and poured my heart out. So this book was written for a very specific reason, therapeutic reason. I am glad that I did because I believe that it allowed me to express myself without having to sit down and confide in anyone, professionally or otherwise.”

Reactions to the poems have been fairly mixed. For some they are “frightfully romantic, heart breaking.” Some have gone to the extreme by calling it “soft porn!”

She said the soft porn reference came from a “church minister.”

While still in the process of promoting this book, Doris is undertaking other literary projects including, Secrets Of My Heart 2 which according to her, “finds me healed and the happiest I have ever been.”

Secrets Of My Heart is available through online book stores such as Amazon or Barns & Noble.


About the reviewer: Nvasekie Konneh is the author of The Land of My Father’s Birth, a memoir of the Liberian civil war. He’s also a nine year veteran of the US Navy. Nvasekie Konneh has written extensively on Liberian and African social cultural and political issues. His articles have been widely published in the US, Africa, and Europe. He can be reached at 267-407-5735 or [email protected]



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