Saturday, 27 August 2011

I wrote this poem in the rain

For a prompt of Poetry Tow Truck # 35 Rain

Mid-day Sun. Ironically, a surprise rain
Which caught everyone off-guard
And what a sight!
Sheets of rain, blades of sun rays
Scents of wet earth
Upon which a curious soul retorted:
A hyena must be giving birth right now
Because only then does it rain in the sun

Making Sense

For a prompt of Mag pie Tales Mag 77

Outside the tavern, they haggled
Inside, drunken patrons’ din floated
Curiously, the breathe of drunken stupor
Retained a semblance of ratio decidendi

Mysterious Faces

For a prompt of Magpie Tales Mag 79

Photo supplied by Tess Kincaid of Magpie Tales

Of what belied of their gay faces
A sweeping glance couldn’t pick
More so, on a moving train
Yet, in those blithe countenances
Lay a mystery, a nagging knowledge
Unbeknownst  to a curious gaze

Because it diffuses

For a prompt by Poets United. The Thursday Think Tank #63- Something Stinks

“Kinsman,” he ventured,
“I smell of burning feathers doused in paraffin”
And as he said this, his wrinkled nose
Dilated, constricted, dilated again
“But,” he continued, “my nose hasn’t picked
A smell so vile as that of a liar’s;
His breath hits the pit of your stomach
Mixed with cheap honesty and adulterated
Upon which I said:
“You talk big, sir, speak from my level”
“Look at it this way:
The rancid smell of a lying tongue
Escapes the barricaded walls of a mouth
Why so?”
“I don’t know”
“Because it diffuses, my son, it diffuses
Bad smells have layers and levels
Like ethyl mercaptan, they stink to high heavens!
You smell pungent things everywhere in the city
From the broken sewer to festering wounds of
Beggars lying in the sun
In the evening, behind your closed doors
You will see the mouth of a politician open
Spitting tommyrot and carrion
For the next three hours you will spray air freshener
And see little or no result!”

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

L is for Land

 Prompt of Poets United The Thursday Think Tank #62 The Third Letter of Your First Name

My first name is Salem. The Third letter is L. L it is. Here we go

I noticed today that the letter L
Appeared in both my names
I couldn't think of a befitting word

Like Land
Where my umblical cord lays buried
Betwixt the graves of my forefathers
And the ancestral oron tree

For which they sat under
And shared tobacco
That tree still stands

Near it is a colonial slab
Where my kinsmen were jailed
The Chief and the D.O sit on it

On important occasions
Perhaps symbolically to belittle that past


I chanced upon this writing on a Nissan’s rear:



Lorot Son of the Hills’ Notes:

I saw this on a Nissan Matatu in Mtwapa, Mombasa on 20th August 2011.


In his heydays, he bestraddled
All the hip night spots--
Lambada, Tembo, Bobz—
Cash flowed from his pocket
Like the tits of a Friesian cow
He visited the Pirates Beach, cruised
In glass boats, wore dark sunglasses,
Tipped the beach boys in thousands
For he had won a lottery

But now, you see him
A haggard frame abused with cocaine
He strolls aimlessly, a pale shadow of his former self
Sometimes you find him in Mtwapa
With a wistful look of a retired soldier
Or he could be spotted staring at Nakumatt
As if to relive his former glory

Monday, 15 August 2011

If I should Die

#117  Carry on Tuesday

Task: To use the opening line of Rupert Brooke’s poem “The Soldier” in which he expresses movingly his love for England
                                             *                *                *             *              *

If I should die,
Think only this of me:
My soul lived for Kenya
In taarab, genge and reggae
It dwelt in the Mara and Fort Jesus

If I should die,
My thoughts be scattered
To console the bones of Marsabit women
In unbridled compassion, yet
Let them scorch conscience of tyrannies

If I should die,
Keep in good stead, keep your eyes
To my playful self, mourn me not,
Read me “Death, Be not Proud”
For I will be in
good company of immortals;

Losing Sight

For a prompt of Carry on Tuesday #118

“An eye for an eye will make the whole world go blind”
-Mahatma Gandhi
Task: To use the first five words

*      *         *        *

An eye for an eye
You see plucked pupils everywhere
Resented souls, poisoned intentions
As these dark sockets find beauty
In the glaring pupils of the glazed souls
It irritates, it mocks blindness!

Son of the Hills, Look to the Hills

For Sunday Scribblings' prompt #276 Captivate

Son of the Hills, look to the hills,
For they know the dirges of the orphaned monkeys
And hunted hyraxes; sorrow to them is not new
Yet, times without fail, their peaks stand aloft
Roots of eroded stunted trees claw at the boulders
As the winds hoarsely whisper to caves, the tales of the hills
Are told, of its majesties; forget not of this, Son of the Hills.

Come Back, My Bull

For Sunday Scribblings prompt #279 Distant

Come back, my bull,
I wake up every morning
And stand at the homestead
Hoping I will see you coming
With an arrow in your hands
And bravery in your footsteps

Come back, my bull,
My heart is getting cold
I need you in my arms again
Its been many moons now
Come back, my bull

Standing Ovation

For a prompt of  Sunday Scribblings # 278 Standing Ovation

The up-coming comedian
Hit up his punch-line, lingered around
For a standing ovation
None was forthcoming
So, as a trick, he ventured:
“ Let us be on our feet,
We need to pray for the comedy industry
Because ovation is like a vocation
You reflect before acting”

In Pursuit of Happiness

For a prompt of Sunday Scribblings #279 Pleasure 

Have you ever felt that tickling sensation on your feet
And felt like to scratch it but just sat idly?

Have you heard your stomach rumble
In a meeting, and all you did was to shuffle your feet?

Have you rubbed a feather inside your ears
Softly, ever so softly and closed your eyes in pleasure?

Have you felt so hungry
And suddenly gate-crushed into a barbecue party?

Have you listened to the best music
And all you could do was to tap your feet and drone along?

Have you  laid your hands on a legal thriller
Flipped pages over and over, forgetting to lock your door?

Have you been tickled by the character of your novel
And all you did was to laugh again and again like a man possessed?

Have you felt so lazy
And all you did was to keep your eyes open to save on your energy?

Have you once felt so stupid that it made you happy
Looking at yourself in the mirror and gave it a firm handshake?

Have you walked in the streets and felt like
Your phone had  been stolen, then felt it and smiled?

Have you felt good reading the last line of a boring book
And believed that you had read the book?


 From a prompt #280 Sunday Scribblings Forward

He always postulated that a time will come
When by rubbing against heads, thoughts could be shared

He wrote in his book
That the world would be ruled by dangerous fools

He warned that man will destroy himself
In search of perfection and going all high-tech

He warned, he postulated, he theorized
And trapped in his stubble was a conviction
That surprised many

May be he was right
May be he was wrong

The Apparition

(For the Poets United's The Thursday Think Tank #61 - She)

My sight of her sticks out—like a sore thumb
The kamdelen-infested eyes, bare-feet
Parched mouth—words of sorrow
Spoken, frail frame of wasted body

Thought I, weighed down by
The sultry air this woman carried:
Where was her elegance of kidong’a?
Which wind would flutter her lorwaa?

From a corner of a shop I watched her
Carrying a malnourished baby
She could have been 14
Yet she could have been 40!

You my Elders, unshackle her
Free her! Untie her!
You my Elders, bring back her innocence!
Bring cheer to her face!

You the owners of traditions
You are busy hunting the egrets
Unaware of the vultures hovering over your heads
One day, Kacheliba Hill will rebel!

Lorot Son of the Hills’ Notes:

Kamdelen- Pokot for dirt in the eyes.
Kidong’a- A pokot traditional dance.
Lorwaa- A Pokot traditional dress.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Cry, Beloved Kenya, Cry

Cry, Beloved Kenya, Cry
Cry for your country, Cry
What do you have to show
For ashen faces and babies dying on sands?
But it is good headlines
To read of deaths from hunger
Good news to see how far
We have come from
And are in the same league with Singapore
Neck by neck from Independence days
You see, hunger is the mainstay of our economy
Isn’t it entertaining to watch babies suckling from dead mothers?
Must be classic comedy
To see first hand somebody die clasping at a beggar’s bowl
Of course those are side-shows
Not as big as 2012 or Hague or Constitution
And I agree, totally
After all, these deaths happen every year
And we could be sure about them next year
For these people love dying!
They enjoy it! See it in their faces, I bet
They could do it again and again ( I mean dying)

May be you should not cry, Beloved Kenya
You could export hunger to other regions
You see, change of tact
Recall the athletes, forget the road rehabilitation
Run ads in the telly
“Kenya is your hunger destination”
Play the clips of malnourished babies
Play videos of starving characters on the throes of death
Do it big time
Then boast of the tourists

Make Turkana your capital
Create a Metropolitan City in Northern Kenya
Create Hunger Ministry
To make sure that many die of hunger

And at the end of the year
To clapping citizens, tell them:
“Our hunger turn-over grew in double digits
As you are well aware
In this year alone
3,000 died
We plan to make it
5,000 by next year”

May be you should not cry
Beloved Kenya
Everything is in control
Hunger should be your pillars of development
Combined with forward planning
We are well on track
Let us do this again
Next year at a time like this
Hunger is here to stay!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

A Day in the Life of a Nomad

4.00 a.m

Cow-bells outside
An occasional howl
Everything is peaceful
The village is calm and sleepy

5 a.m

Mothers milking cows at cow-sheds
The low of cows
Life is catching up
The village is waking up

7 a.m

Basking in the sun, taking tea
Counting cows and seeing them off
These cows needs to be rid of ticks
Time they were taken for cattle dip

9 a.m

Busy brushing teeth with kamsityan
Singing songs of my bull
The cows are grazing
It is me, my cows and my world
I am all peaceful

10 a.m

Gathered at baraza
Chief has a message
From serikali
Half asleep, resting my head on ng’achar
Looks like I will spend the whole day here
Supay Kokwo,” Kirwokin greets
“Mmmmh,” we respond
“Bad news people, you stole from Turkana
It is in K.B.C and everywhere
I am in hot soup”
Age-old animosity
Tired culture
Spoilt image
Time folks went to school
Stopped this polygamy circus
Changed from nomadism to “somadism”
It is crazy!

1 p.m

Still half-awake, half-asleep under oron tree
Fellow old man is telling me how he first tasted rice
At the D.C’s compound
Then we hear a case of stolen donkey
Most complicated case
We listen on and on and on

5 a.m

I sprint from the baraza
Cut through thorn trees and shrubs
To go look for my cows
I pass through the market-place to buy tobacco
To keep the nostrils of an old man busy
Then I drive my cows home
Whistling and singing my bull songs

7 p.m

Seated at the aperit
With fellow old men
Fire lit to scare away witches
And to keep the stomach of old men
Warm and cared-for
We keep our guns at the ready
And sleep in the cold

Lorot Son of the Hills’ Notes

Kamsityan- A traditional toothbrush from a tree branch mostly from select trees.

Baraza- a Public gathering where information to the community is disseminated; a Kiswahili word.

Serikali- Kiswahili word for government.

Ng’achar-A Pokot traditional stool.

Supay kokwo- A form of Pokot greeting especially when addressing a large gathering of people.

Kirwokin- Pokot name for a chief.

Oron- a Tarmarind tree, most Pokot gatherings in Kacheliba are done under this tree.

Aperit- A resting place for Pokot men outside in the compound where fire is lit and from which they keep watch of their cows.

Serious Grass Business

(Prompt: Poets United Thursday Think Tank #59 Grass )

Let me wear camel-skin pair of shoes
Walk the walk of a herdsman
With far-flung clouds teasing above him
And the mist of hope lost
In a sweltering heat

What will I feel?
If I had an AK-47 on my back
A dozen arrows and the right instinct
Pray, from what will they protect me from
Unless I shot at the heaven’s tap?

He will walk on and on, that herdsman
To the point of listening to his footsteps
And after many days
Behold, he will lead his cows
To a no-man’s-land
Where one minute egrets
Abound and the next vultures prey
Life and death
For many months
This will go on
This little hobby of looking for grass.

C) Lorot Salem 2011

Journal of a Pokot Market Boy

(Prompt: Poets United Thursday Think Tank #60 Market Days

Lorwaa-dressed pretty Pokot girls
Men on shuka, cattle bells heard from afar
Mitumba sellers, Rock hotel abuzz
Blaring loudspeakers of crusading pastors
The concealed whistles of lomedos wooing their girls
Car horns, vegetable vendors, shop sellers
It is market day, Kacheliba

It is a one-day affair
On a Sunday.

A week long dazed small town
Comes to life
Once again
Cattle sold in the open
Hot tea served defiant of the midday sun
Feet oiled yet get dusty all the same
Loafers strolling aimlessly with prodding sticks
Clever goats partaking of maize vendors’ ‘wares’
Bicycle riders with missing bells
Careful buyers bargaining for hours
Patient vendors sweating in the sun
Sugarcane packed under ses tree
Thirsty bestraddlers of the market
Crouching on their knee-caps to drink from kisima
O, Kacheliba Market Sunday!

C) Lorot Salem 2011

My Grandma and I

We sit at night with my grandma
A glowing tin-lamp
She a happy old folk
And I her grandson
“Please be calling me,” she says,
“Because you make my night’s sleep so happy and easy”
She finds joy in small things
She tells me to read hard
So that she boasts to others of having “officers”
She knows M-PESA
Tells me how she “signed” beside her name
Yet granny never went to school

She notices that I have added some weight
Tells me, “Grandson, Nairobi has kept you well”
Her wish is that when Tororot calls her
They will count her grandchildren and great grandchildren
She has the figures now and keeps adding them
From her voice, she would be happier if they were more

“Read hard grandson,” she tells me,
“the world nowadays feeds those who have gone to school”
Then I show her four books
I tell her “All these are in my head—all of them”
She looks at them bewildered
“All these, grandson? Not a small fight, this!”
Grandma never dreams of big things
She wants a new mattress and a blanket
And may be a lesso
She wants to be visited by all her grandchildren
Like her neighbour’s grandchildren
She wants a new iron roof over her head
This will make her happy, she says

I give her 200 shillings
She breaks into a dance
Spits into my hands, says prayers to me
Tells me, “Let my saliva smoothen your paths
Whatever is dry, let it be wet and soft”
Grandma sings out
Then stops and says, “Grandson, I hope I will be
There to see you eat at the shade”
“Get your first salary,” She foresees, “then bring it to me
I will bless you, your granary will never be empty”

Then as sleep crept upon her
I walked her to her hut
In the dark night, Grandma and I walked,
Side by side, with a phone lighting her way
It was about to rain
And as she stepped into her hut
I stood there, smiling
Consumed in her “halo” presence
“I love you grandma,” I whispered
The night carried away those words
It felt so good, it felt so nice

C) Lorot Salem 2011

Lorot Son of the Hills’ Notes

I actually wrote this poem on 1st August 2011, a day after a wonderful night spent with my grandmother. That night will be etched in my memory. I particularly remember her wonderful stories. She said that she had been sent some money through M-PESA, a local money transfer facility in Kenya. It is a requirement that the recipient signs beside ones name. Now, grandmother ( she has never seen the inside of a class), gets hold of the pen and demonstrates how she signs her signature in the fashion of how the educated do. Funny Koko.

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