On Walls

We like to set up walls,
between spaces.
Such that, you can face someone
and not know they are there.

With a whole wall between you
you, needn’t care.
The wall is the illusion, and
the actualisation of a barrier.

With it there,
You needn’t know the other person
is there.
Because of it, you don’t.

Dear Mama

I have to confess,

     it is strange to write to you,

As every time I step on stage,

I take you with me too.

In English enunciations crisp as morning dew

In sing speaking Kiswahili,

That play lulabys and bed time stories,

My first imaginative and schollarly journeys,

My earliest memories,

Are you.

You are omnipresent to my existance.

 

To the extent that, when I get on stage,

Talking to you gives me a sense

Of talking to oneself.

 

I am only able to take you with me on stage,

Because you gave and gave and gave,

So today I would just like to say

Thank you.

Proud Roots

cropped-img-20180613-wa000611.jpgSometimes, when I dream,
I wake up as nothing short of
A Proud African Woman.

But, I’ve always been short.

And I can’t paint my skin,
anymore than I can stop
myself from being human.

So, that leaves me just short of
consenting to pride,
because my lightness reminds
of times that had signs that said
“Europeans Only”

Even though my father was not born here
and arrived with nothing
except the will to explore,
and a soul so full of hard work,
that he broke off a piece and used it to make me,
Me.

Night Terrors

My family, is huge,
There are so many husbands and even more wives.
My dad had to build us a whole neighborhood,
Because of his family’s size.
We kids, are too many to count, though we’ve tried.
But before we finish counting, more kids have been born,
more kids have died.

There are times, when a hand full of us would go out,
just to shop, or to school, and bullets ended their lives,
but for the most part, our terrors, are more likely a job from inside.
You see, our family is too big to get on. And our names too easily divide.
Those named on dads side, start with W, and those named after mums, have their own letters.
From my mum, the boys are O and the girls are A, So they call my mum Mama O
Then there’s Mama L, Mama S, Mama K, and Mama M.
A long time ago, before our Mamas were born, all the families fought in a war.
They fought together, but when it was over, Dads family got the most.
And so, out of inequalities, a feud was started,
between those who did, and didn’t share in the spoils.

Our night terrors are nasty. Once, Mama, my mama had twins, named from dads side,
And they went over to our cousins to spend the night. They were only five.
In the night, our cousins did unspeakable things to little Winnie, on the floor by her bed side.
Then burnt both Winnie and William, in their room. They said the room had no use after they had spent the night.
Nine years ago, was the worst, all our houses became smoke
and blood, until, we were all told not to speak of it.
But in the night, these memories haunt, lips sealed, we see each other different.

The other day, we found toy tires, burning in the hall way.
Yes, we managed to walk around them. But the smoke, did well to remind
that burning and bleeding, are things that run in our family.
We are much more in danger, from within.
Than outside.

As She Should Be

Cucu and I would take trips,
To see, The Animal Orphanage,
“Nairobi is cold.” She would say to me.
Still, I would beg, for those bright red,
Red Devil ice lollies, that would paint my lips red.
We would watch lion cubs,
Stretch and stick out their tongues,
They looked like teddies.
 

Mama would take me to Forty Thieves,
There was this fallen tree on the beach,
We as kids, would run down,
sunny, sand dusted stairs to reach
and compete for who could climb it first,
and get to the branch, that thrust up, and out.
So we could swing from it,
Or stand on it and sing from it;
 

“I’m the King of the Castle,
You’re the dirty rascle!
Nyenyenye Boooooboooo!”
 

It’s ironic how, even then,
We stood atop fallen pieces of
mother earth, to pretend Lord
over each other.
 

I visited again, in my teens,
The tree, then sunk beneath
sand, so the castle branch
was so low, I could sit on it.
The stairs were buried too.
The last time I visited,
Just the tip of that swinging branch,
Peeked
At a Forty Thieves
that is now half the size.
The sea and sand having
Claimed back property.
 

‘Daddy took me snorkelling!
In Tiwi Beach!’
And we would see kaleidoscope
Coral reef, with uncountable multi-coloured fish
Darting between
Their rippled surfaces.
We visited again, him, my brother, my sister and I,
last year. All we could do was
watch out for sea urchins.
 

As adults, we clamber,
With the Kings of the earth
Pumping the most fumes above us,
No filter,
Streaming live threads and trends,
as we ‘forget’ not to litter.
Besides us, little footprints patter,
Licking lollies, and dropping
Wrappers.
 

My daughter is starting to walk.
I wonder,
How will I explain, hurricane,
Katrina to her, once it’s happened again
and again.
While we are yet to stop making the same mistakes?
 

I will tell my grand children,
Stories of Giants, who had
giant teeth, we called tusks,
Big enough to carry three children on.
They will laugh.
But I will not find it funny
Because although I’ll love to see them smile,
They will find my stories senile,
For dwelling on historical times,
When Rhinos existed in real life.
 

I will tell them about a fallen
tree, that by then, sits sunk and
salty, decomposing.
Possibly along with the Neem,
And taller trees, that hold up
Ladder bridges for the Colobus monkeys
Safe passage across Diani’s main street.
 

Our mother earth is not human,
Were she person, she would
Be buried already.
Under the weight of
her selfish children.
That said,
It is finite, what she can take.
While we errect gardenless mansions on her riverbeds
and look on benevolent, as
entire islands are under threat
of the clear indications
that we are pushing hard
for her boughs to break.
 

Truth be told, to be mother,
Is a thing of beauty.
We don’t have to make her
look haggard, then
fault
her continuity.
And there is hope, in here,
Everywhere I look.
 

If all the wold needs, is
For us to make the right decisions
In rooms like these.
Then we are here
To save the sea
From emissions,
To save the land
From the sea.
 

Because it should be more,
than a dream,
That our great great great
Grandchildren
Get to be
On an Earth, that is still
 

Beautiful.

As She Should Be.

 

It Continues

This world fills airwaves
With angry sounds about
Ancestor slaves.
Hushshshes, the
Stories of modern day
Babies, girls, boys, immigrants
Whose dreams aren’t worth the
Price of a hearse.

Promises of modeling, nursing,
Teaching, citizen-ship in
Lands of dreams. Europe
Or the Middle East.
Running from sparse opportunities,
And oppressive regimes
From Kenya , Russia, The Philippines,
North Korea, into arms
Much more dangerous than
Immigration offices.

Drugged, beaten, Raped,
Nameless slaves,
With no one to tell their story.
With no Maya Angelou to cry
Out for pride or victory.
#BlackLivesMatter seems
Too reactionary, because the
Silencing of today’s Black slaves
is the true life story.

They are not all Black,
They are all voiceless.
Forced into quiet by the
constant present threat of
violence.

The most depressing bit,
Is that it would not be possible
If
It were not surrounded by neighbours
Who condone.
Allow.
It
to continue.

Mummy Tummy

When I place my hand on
the roundness of my tummy,
I touch the space that means
I am called ‘Mummy’.
So nikifunga shuka
Ndio kiuno irudi
Do side bends, or sit ups,
Its not from shame, or because
I’m unhappy
It’s just to claim
my frame, as my own.
Because I do own my own,
my own lane,
And my appearance has nothing
to do with my claim to fame.

The next time you pass a
mirror, or a reflective glass pane,
Don’t forget to put your back
straight, head up.
Face the day with the whole of your name,
Because every single grain
of you is exactly where
it should be.