Thursday, July 15, 2010

Milk, Bread, Matchbox

I could feel his eyes on me as I walked to the shop

Coins jingled in my school shorts

Darkness was falling

It was my favourite time of the day

Milk, bread, matchbox

I whispered over and over again

I was six

I could hear his stride behind me

I could feel his step in my core

Everyone else seemed to fade

The sky turned a notch darker

My step was suddenly faster

My young body was slowly running out of breath

As I turned the last corner

His hand fell on my shoulder

I felt something sharp dig in my ribs

‘Don’t you dare scream’, his hoarse voice croaked

As he pulled down my grey school shorts

A searing pain shot up my spine

And I remembered my mother’s now useless warnings

‘Nobody should ever touch you back there’

Her sweet voice rang clear as spring water

My body was painfully rigid

Fighting the searing knife

Tightening, Fighting

Fighting, Tightening

I could hear the little boy’s voice

Milk,

Bread,

Matchbox

As he limped painfully back home

I could hear the coins jingling

In his grey school shorts

Milk

Bread

Matchbox

Darkness had fallen

(c) PoP 14 Jul 2010

Saturday, November 07, 2009

At The T-Junction

there are times
when you stand alone
all you thought you had is smoke
your dreams have reached a dead-end
and your buoyant step is stilled
there are times
when you don’t stop to listen
your decisions are a slap in the face
and it’s time to live by the choices you have made
there are times
when you reach the cross-roads
you are torn between family and self
wearied by your own knowledge
vexed by the wisdom of sages
there are times
when all you have
is the lane you choose to take
and you realize that your journey is dictated
not by signs at the intersection
but by the decisions
y ou are constantly making

©PoP 6th Nov 09

Friday, October 02, 2009

Paper Walls

How

Could we leave

We, who lived in paper houses

Whose hearts fear firmly gripped

 How

Could we leave

The ones we buried in shallow graves

Those children born of sadness

Fed only on their mother’s grief

 How

Could we believe

In promises filled with gaping holes

Where would we go

We who live

In a country made of paper walls

 

©PoP 2 Oct 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Politician

Politician

 

He sang when we sang

Rotund belly defying gravity’s pull

He cried with us, in the rubble of our burnt shacks

She held our babies, wiped their drippy noses

He sang our songs and listened to our stories

She even prayed with us, in front of our shanties and plastic houses

We believed him when he said he’d be back

He’d be back with warm blankets, utensils and food

With shoes, old mattresses and second hand clothes

Donations from kind-hearted ones

We saw her on the black and white televisions in shop windows

We saw him soliciting for our cause

Tears dangling precariously from her eyes

We waited

We knew she would come

We waited

Hoping this time he wouldn’t backtrack

On this promise, like he had numerous times

We waited…

PoP

18 Sep. 09

Speak not…

My poetry is written in dark ink

On paper as black as the woolly night

She lies painfully in my belly, head down

I scream, I heave and bear down

I curse. I pray and heave some more

She’s tearing me apart.  I scream.

Written in blood, each word painfully carved

I’m painless, passionless, endless

I am blood and bone

I’m lonely, alone.  All feeling is gone

My eyes can no longer see

This dark night mocks me

 PoP

18 Sep. 09

Friday, March 27, 2009

African Woman

Dark as the favourite cooking pot
Strong as the river rock scorched by the African sun
Wise as the stars in a darkened sky
Beautiful, where only God can see

She’s trudged for miles on hardened soles
Her skin, from pale to a near dark-blue
She’s laughed with each new birth
Cried when life sunk back to the Giver’s womb

Brown like the chocolatey earth
Her sunken cheeks a sign
Of sages whispering age old wisdom
And years of culture and tradition

She’s raised freedom fighters
The blood of a people’s freedom runs in her veins
She’s held back her own aspirations
To nurse her children and feed her nation

Fair, like the bark of the African teak
Cheeks wrinkled with laughter lines
Swing of wide hips that have birthed giants
Smiles tease the milk-white teeth behind kind lips

She’s walked where many don’t dare tread
And sat up nights wiping fever-chilled brows
She’s bent from years of carrying food, wood, children
Her fingers and toes are extensions of the earth

African woman
Applause alone will not do
Praise alone will not do
Ululations surely will not do

African woman,
She carries the world in her bosom
She balances the sun on her head
She supervises the rise and fall of the moon

We recognize you!
We recognize you, African woman

PoP 27 M ar 03

Monday, February 23, 2009

Precipice

I recognize this place
I have been here before
This place of muffled sounds
Unspoken words
And feelings unfelt

I taste the scent of deceit
Waiting to be unleashed
Of words born
Then violently killed
Smoldering and leaving hazy ash

I see threats
In expressionless eyes
Changing visions
And dreams like rain
Falling from the sky

I know this place
Where words
Clutch your throat like a vice
And thoughts of peace
Are poisons
Suffocating the mind

I recognize this place
One time
I stood upon this very precipice

PoP – 24 Jan 09

Backward Glance

I could tell
From
The uncertainty in your smile
The shadow in your eyes
Each forced ‘I love you too’

Innumerable private trips
Hushed up voices
Clandestine calls
Short text messages
Read and quickly erased
Long days at the office
Silences at home

My gut twisted and turned
Filled with bile
Every touch, moan,
Each horny groan
Every look
Each word you spoke
Reverberated
False! False!

Then the test
Of my loyalty
My stupidity
Positive! Positive!
Of your deceit
Your illicit affair
Positive! Positive!
Of my love
Sick
Lying putrefying at your feet

PoP
23 Feb. 09

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Raped

Last night a woman was raped two doors down from my room. She was raped several times, beaten and thrown out of the room at 3:47am on a cold Thursday morning. But that is my story, not hers.

At 3.45am, screams rent the air at the hostel. Sounds like mini thunder echoed down the stark corridor; fear filled my heart. Cautiously opening my door and peeking out, I was met with a scene reminescent of times gone by but still all too familiar. The sounds I had heard could now be attributed to slaps from the stout white man to the face of a lithe black young girl. This scene hit me like a ton of bricks and it felt like my blood had crept up suddenly, landing, hot like molten lava in my head. Fury lit the lava in a split second and all traces of sleep and reasoning disappeared.

The young girl said, amid shouts and screams, that she was a prostitute. Her client, the white man, had refused to pay her and was beating her in order for her to leave. Sooner than one could say cat, a stout watchman was by her side, manhandling her towards the way out. "Where were you when he picked me up, negotiated and slept with me? Where were you when my mother prostituted to feed my siblings and I? Will you pay me, now that you want me to leave? Will you give me a place to spend the rest of the night, she asked, amid sobs, screams and a rapidly blackening eye. In the meantime, the white man had silently closed the door behind him, undoubtedly to coil like a satisfied cat under the warm blankets.

"Don't manhandle me. Treat me with respect. Stop! Stop pushing me; at least let me leave with my pride". Mercifully the burly guard let her walk away on her own.

Why wasn't the man asked to leave the very Christian hostel in which we were staying, despite her loud requests that the management allows them to sort out their dilemma outside the premises?

Last night a woman was raped; raped several times by poverty, discrimination, disempowerment, inequality... Last night a woman was raped two doors down from my room. That is my story and I'm sticking to it.

(c) PoP

Monday, August 18, 2008

Resonance

I wish you could hear my heart speak
It would tell you how it feels
How it tries to still
The never ending fears
Born of years of trials and strife
Just to live another day

It would tell you how clearly it hears
The silent voice of your aching heart
And how it wants to place its hand in yours
and say "it will be well, it will be well"
How though its love may dip and spike
It's always tenderly present
It is always there

PoP 18 August 2008

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Woman On The Brink

If I could be everything you want
Give you all you need
Deliver your fantasies
Give in to your every whim

If I was perfect in every way
Coiffered and regally threaded
Measured in my walk and talk
Ideal in strength, true in depth.

If I could be all these and more
How would you appreciate
The difference in woman and man
Or learn what true love is
Would you see the gift of me
In the shadow of your mirage

Would you not know yourself
Your effect on me
Would you not see yourself
In my pleasure
And sometimes in my pain


PoP
09.08.08

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'M BACK

After being displaced in the recent Naivasha violence, I'm back. Still struggling with my footing, but back to the blogosphere.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Is Justice Perverted By Economic Power?

Is justice a word used at the whim of politicians or is it something real and tangible, something for the Kenyan to have hope in? Can justice be divorced from power in Kenyan politics as it stands today?

I now see in practice all my lessons on class and class analysis at work.

The other day, ODM talked about economic boycott. At a time when the country will be facing an economic meltdown one way or another anyway, this came as a great relief, sparing the people from the running battles experienced in various parts of the country.

No sooner had this been said, that the statement was quickly retracted and replaced by more talk of ‘peaceful’ demonstrations in the new week. So why was the suggestion of economic boycott shot down so fast?

I watched Kibaki take notes during a meeting with businessmen calling at State House to plead their case. Or maybe each had brought his bill and promissory chit for payback of support during the elections. If it weren’t so sad, it would have been funny. I’m sure Raila has had his day with the businessmen too. He is one of them. So why was the call for economic boycott called?

It takes me back to a hot afternoon at a study group, listening to comrades discussing class and class struggle. That study group positioned me to better recognise class and class analysis at work.

The most power hungry class are the ruling class. They are also the tightest class – they will not easily let anyone get in, nor will they annihilate or prosecute one of their own. Like parasites,through dominance and exploitation, they rely on the other classes to accumulate more power . This class has the most economic power, giving it enough political influence to ensure government policies are in tune with their interests. This class does not respect the interests of the other classes. In Kenya, this small class of people constitute and/or massively support the power elite.

Take the 2002 electioneering, when Raila, Kibaki, Ngilu and the others promised Kenyans that they would take Moi to court for his corrupt ways and that they would bring back the wealth that had been stashed abroad, using it to build a stronger Kenya. They, of the promises of Goldenberg money being brought back home, of Anglo Leasing, passport contracts, are the ones now fighting for better spoils and/or holding on tightly to them. Once ensconced in power, none of their promises have or will ever become a reality as long as the promises touch on their class. The ruling class are bonded tightly by economic power both in times of peace and strife.

And so what if Kiambu businesses selling vegetables to Kisumu is not working in these violent times? Sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, they will go into the guns business or get the next government contract to supply more tear gas canisters, or whatever it is that sells at the time!

As more Kenyans are shot through their plastic walls, and more children stay out of school, you can remain certain that there will be no economic boycotts of any kind. Raila stands to lose as much as Kibaki. The class will not accept such huge losses. As usual, none of them cares whether the common Kenyan lives or dies. For justice, when married to this economically greedy class, dissipates.

PoP 22 Jan 08

Friday, January 18, 2008

Picture Of Trepidation

I cried this morning
Not that it is something I haven’t done before
In the cloud of fear that is burning up our hopes
Or that I haven’t walked around sad-faced
Solemnly wondering where our cards will fall

I cried, as every woman (and man) probably did
Watching that terrified woman wail on TV last night
Watching her hug the unfeeling lamp post
As she screamed for the country she once knew

I cried this morning
Looking at pictures of terrified Kenyan children
Open mouthed and horrified at the men with guns
Their innocence shattered as they
Watch their fathers burn their country
I wondered, how do they feel
Seeing everything disintegrating

I cried when I saw the picture of that man
In a red T-shirt carrying a tiny infant
On the crook of his shoulder
Walking beside an army truck

PoP 18 Jan 2008

A Response To E...

This is an email response to a friend...

E,
We are well. Just watching the situation as it deteriorates.

I respect your opinion but beg to differ with you in saying that Raila will bring in a free port like Dubai, build Kisumu, etc. If Raila is meant to be the president of Kenya, it gives me no joy him building Kisumu if he doesn't build Nyeri, Narok, Embu, Meru, Kitui, North Eastern, Coast, and all the towns, cities and villages in Kenya because then, what will the difference be between him and the other dictators? Maybe he will bring small change, just like Kibaki did, but in my view he is NOT the rainmaker. As long as this class continues to rule, the masses remain in deep shit. With the Railas, Rutos, Kibakis, Kenyattas, Mois in power, Kenya has not yet attained true democracy.

I can hear the unsaid words in your email that it is 'our' turn. Remember that for 24 years in was the 'turn' of the church torching Kales, and for a number of years before that the 'turn' of the Kikuyus, as has been their turn again for the last 5 years - if you have any friends from this communities, please tell me how those 'turns' have benefited them. Get your head out of the sand because unless you're Raila's close relative, you will continue to suffer like the multitudes of Kales and Kikuyus who voted along tribal lines.

I agree with you that it is not justified for Kibaki to be in leadership. My personal view is that whether he stole or won fair and square, it is just another indication of his greed that he should put Kenya through this turmoil. If he won, he must not be afraid of a repeat of the elections. This is no time to put his personal pride before the country - no one really cares about his pride. I don't agree with you on the wanton killings and 'peaceful' demonstrations. I know there are better ways to demostrate than to throw stones, burn businesses, houses and churches, displace people and cause general unrest. Through this demonstrations, one can tell how disorganized Raila's party is - are they going to rule the country in this manner? Scary!! If his party is what he promises, the blood of one Kenyan would be too precious; why does he then complain about shootings in Kisumu but not the hundreds that have been killed in Kericho, Eldoret, Kitale, Kibera, Mathare etc by panga welding, torch carrying cold blooded Luos and Kales - my conclusion, he doesn't give a flying f.... About Atieno or Wanjiku. I agree with his wanting justice served, but don't see myself walking in his gang because I think all he cares about is being president...please re-read para 1. The demonstrations, if better organized would yield better results. You say the politicians risk their lives for the majority - really? I didn't see Raila risking his life as he whizzed off in his bullet-proof air condition Landrover Discovery, escaping from the teargas and gunshots on Kenyatta Avenue yesterday or Kibaki coming out to calm the people and talk to his opponent to spare us more bloodshed. Be realistic, girl.

I assure you that you can support it now that you still have a job and a warm bed to sleep in. You will feel a lot different when you are homeless and living in fear at Burbuburu police station grounds. When you no longer have access to the few thousands that constitute your life savings, or when you can't find your kids, and your husband is lying on the grass dying of burn or gunshot wounds, or when the few precious things (certificates, clothes, etc) that you managed to salvage from your burning house are being rained on and turned to mushy unusable goo; or your close 'other tribe' friends will not give you even a sip of water for fear of their own lives. I assure you that then, you will not be quite as vehement about your support for Raila, or Kibaki. Your struggle will turn to a struggle of personal survival. Your support of Raila will turn into a horrid hate of anything politics as the majority know it - you will only be interested in finding your kids, burying your now dead husband, getting a warm place to sleep and a hot bowl of uji. Talk to a few displaced people, you will find that this is true.

Kenyans could find a way to boycott the 'opposition' rallies, shun tribal hate messages, and boycott the government initiatives until the two can meet and come to a stalemate. We should not allow the publicity they are getting because they relish it and fuel fires through it. Martha Karua and Michuki talk as if they live in another country (when the shit hits the fan they will go there and you will be left here still supporting Raila or Kibaki, by the way) and Raila uses every incident to fuel fires! We should boycott all things that give them this opportunity. Having been in several violent situations myself, I've always believed that there are ways to solve differences without violence.

Raila had so many people's support, not necessarily because he is such a wonderful and great leader, but because Kenyans were fed up of the Kibaki regime's turncoat tendencies, corruption, injustices to the people, and lies. Right now, I'm not sure I'd vote either Raila or Kibaki, with all that blood on their hands. They have the power to stop this before it gives birth to an even bigger monster. I assure you that when you are displaced and trapped in a country you no longer recognize as your own, all you will want is peace. Lies, stealing of elections, etc will soon NOT be people's immediate struggle. Letting it get this far only changes focus and priorities for the people. The violent rallies/demos are counter-productive; only bringing on more hatred for the ruling class and, unfortunately for Kenyans, further fuelling tribal differences. The government's failure to reel it in through agreeing to international mediation NOW will surely make it bloodier than a slaughterhouse - then we will probably all be dead and according to your email and undying support for Raila, justice will have been served.

There can be no meaningful dialogue, peace and justice without an end, first and foremost, to violence and bloodletting.