We Were Rich.

We were rich

The loveliest picture in my mind

Was mama in the kitchen

Of her gaped teeth smile

We were rich

The rest of the world didn’t matter

Only thoughts of food and play

Delighted on bitter herbs and smoked fish

Our bellies were warm upon mats

And our heads on folded arms

Soft till morning light

But thanks to adulthood

You are now miserable

Poor in joy and spirit

To you little things matter not

Clouded with thoughts of wealth and plenty

You thankless dissatisfied souls

Detached from what is beauty and pure

And I am appalled

At how easy you thought

It could be to bribe me

To join your wretched lot

Little letters

I am writing little letters

Of love lost or won

Of moments gone but dear

Of such memories vivid and true

Every cubic inch of paper

Every atomic drop of ink

Laden with vastness of heart

And boundless goodwill

And just like the benevolent rain

Falls on all yards alike

So shall I deliver my little letters

On every door mat

Under every bed pillow

To easen all dawns

Of a healing world

 

 

Ode of sorrow

The old rusty church bells chimes

Summoning teary mourners

Grieving the death of my joy

A requiem mass of my own composition

Don’t talk to me of cheer

Tether away happy thoughts

On the edge of a grand canyon

 

Here I am scrolled in a ball

By my lonesome fireplace

Mourning memories lost in past fires

Rebuking ghosts dancing in the flames

Away with you painted faces

I have no fear to feed you.

For me and happiness are estranged lovers

And now I got nothing to lose

Free from the burden of choice

Found sorrow a more faithful company

 

Leaves are falling all around

Drying in the back alleys

In the dark corners

Where like forbidden lovers

I and joy once conversed without words

I shall gather the dried leaves

And cremate my diseased bliss

Urn its pale ashes

Place it in keen watch

And pray it were phoenix

 

 

The working man

I wanted to see the world

Drift on its adventurous waves

Follow careless whispers

Love high placed women

Have my heart cracked beyond mending

Sing my poems in a thousand tongues

Enlist for a dying course

And get consumed a young man

By the flames of mine own passion

But I buried that selfish self

When I held the fruit of my loins

And now not only my mouth to feed

So I work wood

Break rocks

Clear fields

Lay bricks

Sweat every inch of my veins

To return home a working man

To paint her cradle

With the blood of my nailed palms

To moisture her clay dolls

With my sacred tears

See her tiny feet dance

To the tunes of my flute

Alas! The whole world is in her eyes

I need not traverse the globe

Any past illusions of beauty is naught

For me a fairy is begot

A violet by thorny ground

And oh the difference to me.

The Patriot

On the dry coastal plains

A boy runs after his herd of goats

On the very paths where ages past

Clanking of resounding chains could be heard

From the banks of the Indian Ocean

To the plains of the Tsavo

When folks at muzzle point approached the shore

With misty eyes and bound limbs

Leaving behind blood stained corals

From backs torn and weary of lashes

And bare soles struck on rocks

What weeping and wailing

As defiant men flunged themselves into the waters

How many mothers wept for their dead children

Their arms raised to the skies

As the sails disappeared

Into the edge of the sounding sea

And in the terror of those decks

All were brothers in pain

Let my dreadlocks touch the soft of my lower back

And no blade ever know the rugged of my cheeks

For I am paying tribute to heroes

Who braved the cold of the forest’s heart

Whose blood from the river source did flow

Down to unite the highlands, lakes and plains

And from their unity and noble sacrifice

A republic was born.

And all were brothers in Glory

From the sweaty breakers of rock

To the muddy tenders of crop

From the noisy traders of it

To the smelly scrappers of fish

And the sap coloured palms of the tea picker

Around the table of God like lambs rejoiced

And commenced the breaking of bread.

If our forefathers could see you now

Your faces beaming with greed

Alienating fellow countrymen

For the language of their tongue

And places of their birth

Your greasy indifferent hands

Locking out alm seekers in the cold

If our sold ancestors could see you now

In their graves of ocean beds

The wave crests would touch the sky

As they would turn in violent anger

For you have failed to learn from their pain

If our freedom heroes could see you now

From the stomach of the highlands

Mount Kenya would break with a noise like thunder

For you, destructive fat warms

Have bored the fruits of their glory

Brothers, so man and man should be

We differ in life

But in dust all alike

And so shade him from the sun

Embrace the dirt of his rugged shirt

Stroke his dusty hair

And on your knees upon our Father’s feet

Together in peace adore

And dance around the tent of God

Like calves rejoice

This is a summon

An imperative

If you will worship

War no more.

Dont’ think me mad

Don’t think me mad

When I stand with sleepy eyes

Inhaling the passing breeze

Or when I stop amid our journey

To roll on the shaded afternoon grass

Marveling at its benefactors large trunk

Trying to seek its apex

Shielding my eyes from the sun

 

Don’t think me crazy

I beg of you

When I try counting colours on a parrot

Or the stripes on a raging beast

Or when I stay late in the night

Freezing water just to see it thaw

Lighting candles just to watch them burn

 

Don’t think me insane

When I lunge myself to the depths of Victoria

To swim with the best of them

Bear with me my friend

I know no better

And I know no worthier living

 

You complain days without end

How life has been cruel to you

Yet by the road to your gate

Wild fruits drop to rot

And you question my sanity

When with outstretched arms I ran

To embrace the bosom of Mother Nature

 

Go on ahead my friend

I will join you down the road

When this squirrel notices my gaze

And leaps to bushes beyond.

 

 

A Rose In Misery

Ages past since she had dreams

All died when she came to this forsaken land

With a pitiful bundle of belongings

Crushing under a heavier weight betrayal

Traded for cattle and grain

Sold into servitude

To this ruins overgrown with weed

Bulges of crossless graves

Of sages long dead.

 

For they found the mean swine a wife

He had battered the first

Scared the second,

And now the third

Just a frightened little frame

A picture of helplessness

A rose plucked before her time

Bruising its petals

 

He gave her a basket and hoe

Pointed to the farm and market

And there she knew

Her sons will be herders of sheep

And her daughters will share her fate

 

She now floats through life

With an impassive seasonal bedfellow

A damp hearth born of leaking roofs

Mud walls letting sunbeams in

Bead necklaces the only colour in her life

 

Hands wrinkled but strong

Wakes each day to her exhausted garden

Where she tenderly weeds her livelihood

And bitterly buries her broken dreams

 

PS; pencil art illustration by Kizito Arts