Monthly Archives: March 2012

Love As A Lesson

You are amazing

My heart skips with delight

Laughter tosses my head back

My feet kick into the happy air

You are a magician

Spinning tales I’ve never heard

Painting a new world

Touching every fibre of my being

Drawing out desires

I didn’t even know were there

Wrapping me up in wonder

You will be my friend


Beneath the spark you smoulder

You only see the ashes

An ugly face. A crooked body

A twisted soul. A deformed spirit

You don’t know who you are

Voices in your head start shouting

You run all over town

talking too much

Holding onto my skirt

until it rips

I can’t breath

My heart gets very still

My cool eyes meet your frantic ones

You can no longer be my friend


My firm stride shrugs my head

I swing far and wide

Darts fly from my mouth

People see me and run

I go home alone

The TV talks but refuses to hear me

Rice looks lonely on one plate

The phone will not sing

My lips curl downwards

A frown curves over my brow

My wide knobbed feet drag

I look into the mirror

You look back at me

We agree to be kind





Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Elizabeth. Named after the Queen of England

Raini. After A Russian royal

Patrice Lumumba. Because his struggle would not be in vain

Brian. To forget the British

English names can also come from America

African parents naming children

to be part of a bigger and better world

The cackling toddler’s laughter makes the baby anew

Pudgy, cuddly, cutie little Princess

Mmmpah.. mmpah.. sweet Munti Lulu

Strong superman, the little Daddy

Kamathai, Kamathai, Kamathai ka mummy

I was mummy’s boy before I fell into the humiliation of hatred

I was daddy’s little girl before I met you


On the Nairobi-Frankfurt you throw food at me

Like this old aeroplane, you couldn’t be bothered

Pulling me out of line, in Europe, to keep others safe

In America, you place change on the counter

Our hands of different shades must not touch

Am Elizabeth but the Queen’s dog gets better treatment

In Nairobi you can hear me but in New York you will not

Subtitles on the English that I’ve spoken all of my life

Sesame Street, 60 minutes, Will and Grace. What is mine?

Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Grateful Dead. Who is mine?

Black, Hispanic, White, Mixed. Who am I?


I am Atieno, the beauty of the full moon

Arap Somoei who was not afraid of the white man

Ole Senani. I came home with the lion’s head

Wamuyu like my hardworking aunt

Jaote for all the proud people of Africa

Try pronouncing my name

you who calls me a nobody

I am a somebody from a wonderful somewhere

With a heritage as rich as kente cloth

You think only of yourself but we eat pilau off one tray

We built the pyramids while you were swinging on trees

Don’t mess with me, these scars are from a lion hunt


The great river a red river of our Tutsi blood

War weary eyes succumb to hunger at home in Somalia

My Congolese aunt is fodder in the rape capital of the world

My Kenyan namesake is accused of crimes against humanity

Shame weighs on my neck and I can no longer lift my head

I cross the street and hide when I see you

But you and I are human and need to buy food

When we are at the store, our eyes meet

Your eyes are the blue of understanding

Mine are brown with gratitude

Our glance, a gripping bond, stripped of all but our humanity

My father was right, you were always my brother

And I will call you by my name




Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Bloody Burdens

Aunt Betty breaks into a phony smile

You hug the façade and kiss the lie

At 40 you’ve met her ten times

Her words cannot create a bond

She grips your hand tightly

and says your skirt is too short

Her Lord has been faithful

But its’ you who must find her son a job

You sell cakes from your kitchen

Her ignorance demands a date in an office

You are late and need the bathroom

Aunt Betty’s age has the right of goodbye

You strain in this tango of falsehood


Uncle John is the Head-of-the-Family

His duty a five minute call

He laughs at your baking ‘cottage industry’

And boasts of his new Mercedes Benz

Your tongue tastes the vomit

But asks for more poisoned counsel

On the sixth minute he ends the talk

of your broken right leg

Your son shouldn’t have been shot at Christmas

Uncle John will not leave his treat on the beach

The Head-of-the-Family is pissing in your face

Instead of turning your back, you open your mouth

Unable to cut off a toxic bloodline


You can’t hear her

You can see her clearly

Her mouth gestures violently like a criminal

as she riffles through your desk

Lucy your daughter slaps your hand

when you reach for the papers

Suited men hunch over the table like bears

the day the nurse does not return

An over salted stew signals a harsh world

Where you see the dentist when you cry

The music is loud and the laughter louder

A thirst inducing racket behind your locked door

In the morning Lucy laughs at you

through wisps of wicked smoke

When she turns

You raise the hammer to her head

And strike

As many times as she made you cry



Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Domestic Work

It’s got to be done. Urgently

A heap of dirty laundry. Critical

A dirty floor. Too much

A pile of dirty dishes. Overwhelming

Domestic work as an emergency

The need to clean feels like saving a life


One sweep, one scrub at a time

Doing dishes a journey, one step at a time

Clouds of dirt. Murky water

Creating a mess in order to make it clean

Music pounds to the rhythm of a breaking back

Sweat pours when ushered in by the beating heart

Why is so little paid for such great labour?

It’s a great man who can do this daily


Pots gleaming like a broad smile

A shining floor wide with possibilities

Clean clothes flattering like free people

A sparkling stove, as an open invitation

Deep joy born of sweeping and scrubbing

Domestic relief resuscitating life back




Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


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The coward schemes in the dark

Avoiding the burden of the light

The flirtatious email drops like a bomb

The traitor is a man without a heart

With his bare hands he tears me apart

Our union now a slimy maggot filled sandwich

I stand straight after this full body blow

My lover has turned into a ruthless stranger

If I keel over he will kick me when am down


They visit me in my bed

I wake with tightly clasped hands

and stiffly outstretched arms

This is a high voltage betrayal

Blinded by tears I can’t see a future

My heart so broken it physically aches

I ask him to call me, visit me and be mine again

He calls me after visiting her

Talks to her while visiting me

Our friendship is worn thin

by the scrapping of his heavy boots

He is walking all over my bleeding heart

that is now cracked wide open


I eat, run and sleep

and my heart is slowly fitted back together

I ventilate until there are no more stories to air

Now all I can remember

is that he cooked my meals

That I lay on his lawn with no shirt on

The winner does not take it all

The traitor is drunk with vomit on his clothes

He left me but pain never deserts him

His waking days filled with a thousand fights

I vow never to be unkind




Posted by on March 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Someone tell CNN

I dream to see my daughter grow

and got up with an aching tooth

rushing all the way on foot

beyond the bus station

across Uhuru highway

to clean a home that’s in my care

and please the boss who pays my daughter’s fare

after flying guests from far and near

whose eyes dart in fear

as they watch CNN scream

Violence In Kenya

when what I saw was a man

throw a grenade

within his range.



I dream to see my baby win



Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Reading the Newspaper

China reigns on our roads, bridges and ports

while Guangzhou hospitals reject a Kenyan at night

She lies silently in her casket

with money sullenly in her pocket

China is good, bad, rich and poor

Busy shovelling food into a billion mouths

China kisses and slaps at the same time

We will have no rights until the Chinese have a few


Health workers are on the streets

nursing their grievances

Donkeys never wear white

The dying poor die faster

On national TV

The health system is run over

by fat pigs whose doctors are overseas

The patient would rather the ward dictator in white

Better to bribe her than lie in your shit


British sportsmen will not shake hands at the Olympics

They must win and not lose out to diseases

Hygiene is this competition’s technique

The hosts will keep hands behind their backs

Wave or nod when you see your British friend

To hell with good manners

The bumbling at FIFA,

will not be repeated at home in London


Prostitution remains illegal

The prostitute is a dirty criminal

But officers may not rape and beat her

Nairobi has been taken over by naked thighs

Recently joined by cute men who swing at the hip

A Sex Workers Alliance

Conservatives and liberals tug for our opinion

Our conscience is pricked but the Alliance still bleeds


Lira rocks kwaito at Blankets and Wine

Shaffie the radioman has a new look

Anto and his Paragasha band are ready for New York

Old and new money gets drunk on a Maasai Blanket

Artists live their dreams

Designer dresses show their moves

We love this groove


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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


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