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.

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

SAGE OF MUMBO

His age is that of the eternal rocks beneath

old dry bones under thick skin

Eyes with Body as black as a jar of tar

He must have been curved out of the African Ebony

chiseled out of the volcanic rocks

he who has rested on the bossom of mother Africa

he must have been there when the continents drifted.

He must have witnessed the rage of volcanoes

This dinosaur structure of a man is aged.

Had he any religion it was his own

had he any tenderness adversity shot it dead

All about him are tales of his conflict with nature

rough hands struck against rocks

scarred skin born of thorny thickets

clawed pendant of the beast of the savanna

A remnant of our forefathers

the pureness of early wisdom

the awe of ancient knowledge

How he knows of the earth this hermit

creatures that fly, walk and crawl upon it

direction of safari ants

the chattering of monkeys on the eve of rain

the soil’s aroma when it pours

the miracle herbs and poison ivy

the stillness of the dark night

a tamer of the wild who can not be tamed

too foul to be the seat of a soul

His kin must have fled to warmer caves

or to fight white aliens ashore

come to bring western civilization to this savage land

to their detriment a futile attempt.

This may be why he is so desolate

pitiful tortured cruelty in his gentle eyes

He the last of the old religion

stayed long enough to see civilization crush it

what is civilization to him but his perdition

they crushed his lair among the rocks down the hill

for precious stones a lot less special to him than dust

they fell the immortal buttressed boughs

the games of his childhood

the seat of his youth

I don’t think death scares him at all.

I have seen despair in his eyes

and a curve on his lips

that wretched smile that embraces death

the enigmatic smile that knows what you don’t

and pity that you wont

know the secret of the honeybees

the travels of the fresh morning dew

The sad songs of the dark winged Owich Kongulo

all these will be lost with him when he dies

the earth will lie lightest on his bones.

If I come across his bones by the riverside

I will make a flute of his ribs

that listened to the songs enclosed in his heart

I will make a goblet of his skull

to drink from the fountain wisdom.