Little Bird

Tell her I am a mummy, living in the depths of my desolate tomb, numb from love, astounded by beauty and terrified by darkness and emptiness. Tell her that her eyes are my conviction, her smile is my bondage and her words are music from a harp, playing smoothly close but beyond reach. Let her know that my heart niggles, my mind flops and my life is a dry pond that once had cool water running deep.

 

 

Give her my letters when you see her, take out your smart phone and record the giggles she makes as she reads. Let her read out the poems I have written for her, line by line absorbing the weight of words and the emotions of the context. If words like annihilate and stimuli confuse her in pronunciation, do not help her through, stay put as she struggles to get the right pronunciation, do not laugh, she hates that and her wrath is legendary among her tribe.

 

 

Give her my love, vast as the Ocean, wide as the Nile, long as Mugabe’s presidential term and soft as wool from sheep. Write it, draw it, paint it, sing it or narrate it, make sure you mold it just right, neither adding out or leaving behind any emotion.

 

 

Let the hundreds of miles standing between us not baffle her. Remind her that the Red Sea once stood between the Israelites and Canaan yet they still got to the Promised Land. And when she bends down in prayer, eavesdrop on her conversation with God, let me know whatever she needs and I will deliver it to her door like Jumia Shopping Mall.

 

 

Remind her of the fights we had, then maybe she will obtain a perspective about this love. Like superheroes create super villains, like the beauty of Helen, led a thousand ship to the beach of Troy, like good inspires evil and like politicians mobilize riots, death and poverty of their own countrymen so do these nasty gruesome fights propel our love.

 

 

Draw her tears when she lies on her bed in the evening after a day’s work when she gets lonely, feeling the desire for something she once had. Make sure the pencil shading does not misrepresent the tight hug she gives her teddy bear while she naps, against her bosom. Leave the room when she awakes in the morning and realizes that Teddy has no broad chest, Teddy has no deep breaths and Teddy never hugs her back like his life depends on hers. At this point, her sadness outweighs the sins of hell and the glory of heaven. Run, run while you still can.

 

 

And when she is bored, amuse her with your audience as she narrates her ordeals. She loves her stories and her stories are often to the very detail. Listen! Please make sure you do. Do not be like me, I failed to listen, I gazed at my laptop while she spoke, I walked out on her as she spoke, now I only have a distant memory of her tales. Her childhood tales in the sloppy hills of Eastern Kenya, her responsibilities in primary schools, her struggles in high school and her wildness in university.

 

 

At this point, she will inquire about me. Keep the details frail and dreary. Lie that I am doing fine, tell her twenty-two is just a few days away and it never looked so good. That I am focused, objective and got my shit in order. Girls love men like that. Tell her that, because I hope to be that soon although it is very difficult to see the stars when my eyes are always cloudy. Still, her memories are embedded in my brain like shrapnel. Love music makes me flinch like it is tinged with bitterness and regret that stings my wounds like juice from a lemon.

 

 

Then walk away, bid you goodbyes and cross the Red Sea back to me, little bird. Bring me everything you got on her. Display it before my eyes that I might see and feel love boiling in my veins and my heart throbbing with ineffable anticipation. You will not have brought her back to me but a piece will have to do just fine, at least for now.

 

Feature Photo: Joe Kimani.

 

 

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Dennis Peters

 

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Survival by Esther Wanene

Sometimes you take a long morning jog, longer than the arm of the law, to clear your head, but then you meet a boy called Kaniaru who has been in the streets for three nights since his mother woke up and just left. Vanished into thin air like our tax money.  Kaniaru asks you if you have seen his mother, in long blue dress and a PCEA women council head band and it crushes your heart like soft toffee. You end up terminating your morning jog with a heart heavier than the sins of hell.

Other times you buy a shoe, a classy Kardashian heel that you have been salivating over since forever and you put it on two days, now it has a sagging ass like a sinking ferry in your closet. You will never put it on ever again. Sometimes, you think to yourself that you have been eating shitty food for a week, so tonight you decide to go natural, boil some Nduma, make some Ethiopian brown rice and add a good old avocado. You put the Nduma to cook and because they take time you place your head on the couch. These are the times you fall asleep like a baby and you wake up to a smoking house and brown Ndumas like Satan roasting our politicians in eternal fire. These days you sleep hungry.

At times, you get into a relationship with a tall dark and handsome young man, who charming prince in the streets and a mind stopper in the sheets, then at the culmination of the relationship it is you seated on the same couch, with eyes, red as crimson sobbing of a love that happened but left too much a scar than you would like to speak of. 

Sometimes, most times, all times, shit does not work out. Ladies, Gentlemen, Esther Wanene.

 

Survival

He was nothing like the rest

There was a mystery about him that I longed to unravel

A man who’s face was stone

But deep down a fragile heart surrounded by walls he had chosen to build up.

He loved me, no, not with his heart but with an iron fist.

My masochist self would always want to run, but not leave.

The frustration, the fights…our polluted love seemed to oddly satisfy me

Maybe I stayed because I couldn’t entertain the thought of being alone.

He was a hurricane made of form and habit,

a narcissistic demon in whom I searched for the angel within until the last minute.

I proved my love for him time and time again while

He just stood there claiming love, offering nothing more than his clouded mind, a pocket full of lies and a heart unable to receive love.

I tried to breakdown the walls he built up, but he continued building them up.

With all my effort I seemed to have been feeding his ego day in day out

because he spent his days “reflecting” between a pair of thirsty thighs and claiming to be the ruler of the vaginal kingdoms of many

I stood in the sidewalks carrying all the hurt praying that he’d prove love, profess his fucking adoration.

My heart grew callous from all the maltreatment and months after my departure,

I lay on my bed tonight surrounded by a whirlwind of peace,

as I realize I didn’t need him to survive after all.

© Esther Wanene

Feature photo by Mukiri Gitiri

At Wits End by Esther Wanene

Death has touched me and left me wearied bones,
I’ve wandered into a place where most things taste like air,
I’m still trying to find hope in my snow globe soul,
But all I find is sorrow contained within the remains of my torn heart.

 
Here I am crossing burnt bridges, just trying to survive without you,
I’m dancing with my rain with a sword through my heart,
drowning in my own melancholy,
The sky wears white and sings in absent hymns since you died,
Installing a permanent winter in my soul.

 
You promised you’d always be here daddy,
but you raced toward the finish line forgetting I was along for the ride.
On our last phone call when you said ‘See you soon’ I didn’t know your ‘soon’ meant an eternity.
Time froze the minute you left,
leaving me frozen like a statue and chipping piece by piece.

 
I never had the chance to tell you this;
You were an amazing father and I’ll always love you,
It’s a shame I gave you a rose only after you were long gone.
I will carry your memories and bury them inside the lake of my heart and within me, they will forever dwell.
You belong in the museum hearts of the world’s finest dad’s.
Rest in peace daddy.

 

 

©Esther Wanene

The Clouds Coming in

RIP Karol Njeri

RIP Karol Njeri

Tears that have been shed are barely enough

Questions to the guy above asking when he is going to show up

For the clouds that gather scare the low-lives below

Death could pounce on them, devour everything that stinks of their existence

They do not know whether to sit and wait for the clouds to subside

Or build lives and homes susceptible to crumbling and total annihilation

These clouds, these clouds bring no parties with them

Nothing is merry with the music that plays in the background

Merry has been cocooned with the smell of blood, red as crimson

The music sings:

‘Dear lord you took so many of my people’

But the good book says he gives life not take

I still ask

If she is going to come back

Fill the days with laughter and harvest

Cleanse us from the darkness that grows within us

Make food tasteful as it was once was

Mirrors as attractive as they used to be

And word-plays as appealing as there are meant to be.

Intoxication can barely hide the grief

Neither can sleep

For in sleep she is our daughter, our friend, our wife, our granddaughter

My sister, my best friend, mom and on my speed dial

So I open my eyes out wide and hold in the melancholy from spilling through my eyes

No more tears need to be shed

It will make the enemy catch an odor of distress

Plus men do not shed tears

Because their eyes are made of hard iron

Their souls of rigid diamond and their empty hearts of a hollow polyester

But upon a revolution, great nations are built

Upon tragedy a platform, a comfortable step to rise like a bad idea

A chance to smile

And see clouds as quenching life hanging low ready to rekindle us

Rejuvenate our souls that upon music we place our dances

We are sons and daughters of the universe

No less than the trees and the stars

With us lies power to nurture strength of the spirit to shield us in sudden misfortune

The zeal and fire power to defend ourselves against an enemy that plays unfair

We have the duty to make ourselves happy and mean it

Move ourselves from low-lives to people that matter

Make it count for each beating heart that stopped during the journey

Redemption, for the clouds are coming in

They have to find empty jars to fill

Germinating life with a desire to plant itself on the ground

Not broken ones tired, with red eyes like pieces of crap

Or grass that turned brown and gave up

We miss you Karol.
You should not have left us like that.

In Memory of Karoline Njeri.
Rest In Peace Sis.

Dennis Peters

Dennis Peters

Five thirty Sunset

Five thirty Sunset

Five thirty sunset sweet as it can be.

Rays fall on the land a light christening everything with its beautiful Orange colors.

A young girl sits by her supposed balcony only that there is just but the supporting pillar.

Thoughts of the world,
love to the young lad a love that is her world her life.

Five thirty sunset but in a world made smaller by technology she feels still but very distant.

She doesn’t want to stare at her piece of junk phone all day.

No… She had rather touch, laugh, stare in an unforgiving reverie the world.

A really warm world it is that way.

Where laughters are audible, you know the ones that make that drum deep down the ear vibrate with realness.

Where one can tell of somebody’s love by the look in their eyes but not by a three letter sentence followed by an icon with hearts as it’s eyes.

Only God knows how many have been sent to others like she.

Five thirty sunset there is more to you I know, but am just but a young one in lack of wisdom conflicting ideas of everything in her little unsettled heart.

Maybe I will get to more of what you are my new pearl my Five thirty sunset .

edit
Carol Lavigne Warui.
carollavignewarui@gmail.com

The dusty television

Clean_Me_Screen

Everyone stares at the television with paramount scepticism. The government did this, the government did that, who stole from who, who was unfounded during a press conference and who cut what in Nyeri. You see, Nyeri has become the Kabonyi of every headline. While the country insists on making good headlines we, the Nyerians show up with all kinds of tom foolery and shenanigans all sexually related and it is like a car crush you just cannot look away! But Nyeri is home now, no outsider can understand the language of the ridge. All you hear is raucous sounds yet what we the people of the ridge gather is a simple cry of for help. I digress.

The father clears his throat and spreads his legs on his favourite couch. A couch no one else can dare to sit on because it is labelled ‘DAD’ and it kind of looks like him. The mother sips her tea and clutches her sweater calmly her eyes an epitome of deep thoughts and experience. The kids sit, on the seats directly next to the television, two boys and two girls. Sporadically the teenage daughter will get a text or a call from a prospective boyfriend and the father will glare at her from the corner of his eyes. These boys trying to steal his daughters from him before they are even done with puberty, he utterly resents this and would literally necklace them with a nylon rope if he could but he tries to keep calm and look cool. He does not want to be the old-fashioned dad but the sparkle of indignation can barely be concealed. Then everybody watches on.

It’s the president’s time to speak on the television. He is furious about illicit brews, he just cannot fathom why his subjects are so irrational when it comes to getting drunk. These young people will just drink about anything to get drunk, formalin and methanol combined. He will not say that though, his PR advised against this. The dad turns again uncomfortably in his seat perhaps it reminds him of him in his young ages when he was quite fond of the bottle. He wonders if his sons will be drunks too, definitely not Alex the second born but Jim the last born will definitely be a drunkard, he looks like he will take a lot of whisky. He brushes this thought off and makes a critic statement to his wife about the way the government has been handling this issue which sparkles a discussion for about ten minutes.

In the ten minutes, Larry Madowo continues to read other news. He gets consternated at the number of deaths he has been reading from his touch-pad, the car accidents, the murders and accidental terminations of life. It’s a dark day at the newsroom. The guy who did his makeup tried to brighten his mood and face with powder and lipstick but the only thing bright in that newsroom are the lights. So many deaths and Madowo gets infuriated by the government’s response. There must be something the guys at the big offices could have done, why then do they have that big salary? But he tries to keep his mood unbroken and informative to his dear viewers. At some point he thinks for running for a public office and make change himself or just immigrate to the United States where life is perfect. Larry reads on.

His camera guy and behind the scenes crew is not having it easier either. During a commercial break, they lean on the studio walls and engage in a devastated conversation about a recent fire in Gikomba Market where a number lost their lives and millions of stock was ground to ash unapologetically. Was it the Al-Shabab? Are we doing right broadcasting military information or will they revolt to a revenge attack in an equal measure. Nobody understands the desolation of news people because they are not offered an option to turn off the television when the news aggravates them. The government! The damn government should do something! The commercial break comes to an end and the timer ticks ‘ON AIR’.

Mother disagrees with Father’s sentiments every little bit but she knows she cannot win so concedes to what her husband says. Her cup is almost empty, she reaches the thermos flask and pours more content to her cup. Somehow she wishes she could have something stronger than caffeine.

Everything is not okay

This is not how we were brought up

Are the kids going to turn out okay?

She battles all this notions in her head. The eldest daughter Susan has a boyfriend already at fourteen, Alex is not doing any good at school, Eva is good, at least for now and Jim listens to no one! He has his father’s comportments foot to toe.

Must be this new technology that is spoiling them, our days were never like this.

She declares out loud but her husband is busy watching the sports news to notice the distress in her voice. She goes back to her thoughts.

The schools! The schools are even giving them laptops! They are the ones spoiling our kids.

She concludes. She yawns. It is almost ten and the news broadcast is almost coming to a terminus. She asks the kids to go to bed and tucks Jim in but not before she sings a song she got from her mother to him. Within no time Jim is asleep. Eva takes a minute to scribble something on her pink diary. I cannot see what she writes but with that smile plastered all over her face it is definitely about a boy. Susan does not sleep of course without a call to her boyfriend.

Lights out in ten minutes!

Mother shouts. And the lights go out after four minutes. She walks back to the living room to find her husband already off to bed. She is distraught by the disparity growing between them as time progresses. One more cup of tea and she turns to go to bed but first she turns off the television now showing commercials, she pauses midway. It’s a durex advertisement, she stares in disbelief at the sexual advances been aired to advertise a condom.

See… This is what I am talking about! The stupid government should do something about this!

Affronted she shuts down the telly, then the lights consecutively and walks to her bedroom. Dad is already asleep with a light snore, an embodiment of how overworked he is at his civil-service job. Mother gets to bed and turns off the lights. It is dark now, utterly dark. There is no moon and the stars can hardly been seen. The dogs moan louder today and the cats run on the roof probably mating in the cold. The wind blows unapologetically to declare the level of unrest outside the house. So many logs on the teary eyes of outsiders but inside, nobody looks closely at the television. The speck that dominated in the eyes of the insiders.

So many watchers but nobody takes the time to look at how dusty the television was! Will someone dust the telly tomorrow?

The Writer:

Njenga Wa Njenga

Njenga Wa Njenga

Feet Steady

Not much has been said

Just a glitter in her amber eyes

That reflects her golden heart

Beauty as brilliant as dew in glittering sun

Blue-black dress, sophistication that tops the charts

Making gentle winds and waters near

Make music to lonely ear

As I silently profess love in a heartbeat song

To her smile wide as the sky

And gentle face in sleep

Taking my breath away

Feelings unbridled

Vows to protect her until my last breath

Cares and questions as your parents

Fun, spontaneous and adventurous as your siblings

Heart as warm as morning sun rays

And it fills me with bliss

Consequently;

To promise another your heart

Indefinitely takes acceptance of the ground

Feet Steady.

 

 

Dennis Peters