Saturday, 29 October 2011

Ten Poetry Quotes

1.     I get depressed when I look around me in our Kenyan schools. It is the same lethargy towards poetry as if it were some form of a dinosaur that was placed right in the middle of our Literature classrooms. What students forget is that poetry is not a punishment disguised in an examination question but the rhythm of life.

2.     In this era where everything is commercialised, I am usually asked why I haven’t published or why I don’t want to cash in on my poetry. Being a skill, an art which must be nurtured, I feel that I should continue applying my mind to writing poetry until such a time when I won’t go to publishers but publishers will come to me.

3.     Of all the writing experiences I have had so far, none excites my imagination than the art of writing poetry. An idea froths in my mind, brewing up and spilling on my blog. I always feel inclined to write a poem as if it was a sacred duty. Once a poem has been freed from my mind and heart, then and only then, can I rest.

4.     When friends ask  me where my poetry will be in the next 10 years, I always put up a broad smile and tell them that they don’t need to be anywhere in the next 10 years because once I have written them they are immortalized.

5.     God in His wisdom gave me the gift of writing poetry because He thought that my body and arms were not strong enough to physically demonstrate the power of my words. It is a good deal. If you come to think of it, a line of my poem can be a verb that can shake the strongest of men, an adjective that can paint the saddest picture of a tyrant and a conjunction to piece together the most scathing diatribe. But I don’t intend my poems to be such but to soothe and encourage and motivate because this world is full of so much pain that we don’t need to add more to it.

6.     I always pray to Tororot, the God of the Rising Sun, that I should not lose the clarity of my vision. All around me, I am filled with a lot of humour. While others are busy calling this life dull, I find this to be a plain joke. I once stared at two lizards on my wall for almost one hour and all this time so many questions were running through my mind.

7.     I am not very sure about what the weather would be tomorrow or what will pop up in the news. All I am sure about is that whether it rains or not or the news are good or bad, I will somehow join the dots and pieces, the odds and ends and capture that moment. This is what I call poetry.

8.     My teachers have told me that there is no way one can have more than one conversation at the same time. I beg to differ. As I sit here, I am conversing with so many people at the same time and somehow there is harmony to all this. I find congruence to all of them.

9.     Of all the accomplishments I can boast of in life, speaking to your heart takes pride of place. There are so many irritating balderdash floating within us. If out of all these, a line of my poetry hit the soft spots of your heart, that is the best commendation I can hope for as a poet.

10.  Let the echoes of the hills continue to reverberate. And let us, the pilgrims, assemble at the foothills and catch the whispers in our hearts. The echoes are not limited in time. The message never gets stale.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Celebrating One Year Anniversary: The Year That Was

(27th October 2010- 27th October 2011)

Echoes of the Hills will be one year old one second after Midnight tonight. Tomorrow, the 27th October 2011, will be a different day. I really hope that the echoes will show that difference!

To celebrate this achievement, let us be pilgrims to the hills and see what is on offer. (Well, I thank a friend Michael Onsando who through another friend came up with the various headings below.)

1.      My Most Popular Poem

From the page views, February1984 carries the day with 142 Page views . Hot on pursuit is  My Feet This Way That Way with122 Page Views. The third is Where is Dedan’s Body? With 107 Page Views.

February 1984 depicts a horror of what happened in Kenya in what has been called "The Wagalla Massacre". The ghosts of the past are unrelenting. It is one of those poems that weighed upon me heavily as I wrote and it deserves to be rightfully at position one.

My Feet This Way That Way sneaked its way into the race and came second. Honestly speaking, I don't know how it managed this far. May be I could be missing on some things.

Where's Dedan's Body? is a poem that attracted the attention of my role model Philo Ikonya. As a patriot, I felt that I needed to give a voice to what Dedan fought for. It is good that his voice was heard if the hits are anything to go by.

2.      Poem that Didn’t get the attention it deserved

This is a difficult one. Well, owing to the kind of message that Echoes of the Hills wanted to drive across, these three poem were given a raw deal in terms of views they received, comments they benefited from and the popularity they deserved. 

 Pestle and Mortar is a call to peace, Sometimes in April an inspired poem from the Rwandan Genocide and Your Honour, I Plead Quilty is a commentary on the justice system. Pegged on these themes, I felt that those three poems above cry out for attention.

3.      The Poem Whose success surprised me

 I   I must be quick to add that there's something wrong about mentioning success of a poem whose main theme was to eulogize somebody. But I look at it differently. When the poem is there to celebrate somebody's life and achievements, then the mention of the word success should not attract disapproval.

     Therefore, the poem that comfortably takes pride of place is Fare Thee Well (Eulogizing Professor Wangari Maathai. I had published my condolence on my icon's Official Facebook wall. It was quoted on the CNN's website and later in the Daily Nation Newspaper. More importantly, it created to me important links to people who are in the environmental world and on a personal note it buttressed my love for nature and the environment.

4.      My Most Controversial Poem

They are many especially on the political labels. Suffice it to say that 'controversial' here means that the poem spoke of truth as I perceive without fear.

On the lead is Blame it on Me.

I cannot trace Cry, Beloved Kenya, Cry. This should have come as second.Even a search in google can't trace it. That is how controversial the poem is!

5.      The Poem I am Most Proud of

 I mostly write poems on social justice. In this respect, therefore, a poem that captures well a social message or commentary about the society carries the day.

Thus, Child of Shame  leads.

My attempt at Martin Luther King Jnr's I Have a Dream in I Have a Dream: Lorot's Version.

On that note, the comment box, Facebook Fanpage, twitter and inboxes are now open to receive your birthday messages. Thank you for being the reader of Echoes of the Hills. It is your support that has enabled this blog this far.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Ismail, My Words Will Carry Your Message


( This poem is a gift to Ismail. Ismail is in Greece, a forgotten soul sleeping in the streets. I learnt about this through a friend on Facebook. Ismail fled from Somalia at age 13. He is an orphan. The first time I read about his story I had to stop and ask myself, "How much can a human being take?" The worst part was that he had been trafficked to Greece on a lie that he would meet his brother. There is a Facebook Page that tells of his story succinctly. There is a bigger story I find in Ismail. It is the story of the tenacity of the human spirit. But may be this story might be robbed away from us if it flickers and dies away....A kind word or any help of whatever kind in the situation will be welcome. Ismail's Birthday Wish Facebook Fanpage is a good place to whisper hope to this soul. He needs it.)

"I am a student and a poet, Ismail. I believe in God. He dwells in us. It is upon Him that we rely for sustenance. He is the Great God. Life must be tough for you, Ismail, and reading what you are going through, you will be in my thoughts. You are a phoenix, you can rise from the ashes. Your story will strike the heart of one good soul and will be carried in the souls of men and women. Your story will be the story of hope amongst human foibles, strength amid weaknesses in our society's structures. You are the indefatigable one, Ismail. Ceris, an angel, has carried your candle. Your light will shine through."
                                                 - Lorot Salem, on Ismail's Facebook Fanpage ( Written on 22/10/2011)

Ismail, true to your name,
Allah has heard your cry.

Your people say
Meel waa laga muuqdaa amba
Waa laga maqnaada waxa weeyaan
Which in the English tongue
Says go hard or go yard.

Go hard.

But how does one go hard?
Ismail, you have been to the valley of the shadow of death
Seen hideous faces in the tunnels of pretence
Felt blood clot in your veins
Faced cruel masks peel off
To tear at your heart
To pierce the shreds of what once your heart was.

You have been a Somali boy on the run
Like a fugitive, pursued by a dark spirit
Loved but not loved
Hated and hated enough
How much can a human be hated
As to be left to die?
How much should a person be lied to?

Yes, this word HUMAN TRAFFICKED.
We sit in our comfortable houses
Watch in the news that a statistic had been trafficked
Depressing news, no doubt
We flip through the channels
It makes for an entertainment
A little distraction from our busy lives.

Ismail is in Greece.
Ismail has been fleeced of human love.
Ismail is our story.
Ismail is this story.
Ismail is you.

If only I could write of what he feels right now
The pain choking in his throat
The challenges of sleeping in the streets
You will know Ismail is not a statistic
Perhaps you will get a glimpse of his life

Age 13 should be a time
When we let our youthful ‘braggadocio’ show
To flex a little of unseen biceps
To walk around with a funny style

Not for Ismail.

Age 13 was a time
When these ‘luxuries’ were stolen from him
Robbed of the pleasures of this life
Thrust into the uncertain road
In search of life
In search of life

Age 16 should be a time
When you are in High School
Struggling with gradients and physics
Making the most of life
Having some clue of what lies ahead
Assured of some roadmap, some path

Not for Ismail.

Age 16 is a chilly wind
Blowing on Ismail in Greece
A stained dream, a nightmare
An uncertain winding path
In the streets.

Ismail, I promised myself
To tell your story
I don’t have gold to offer
But I have words
Words that will carry your story through
Words that will rise beyond a whisper
To rise above the din of human’s worries
To resound into a cacophony
That will stir a human heart
To cast your story anew
Perhaps to carry it again
Over and over, over and over
To ridicule human trafficking
To share in your pain
To celebrate your hope

Ismail, this is the birthday gift I offer to you
Immortalized in these words I write
Hopeful that one day you will not sleep in the streets
Positive that Somalia will nurse you in her arms

In you, Ismail, I see the hope of mankind
What is money worth without faith?
What is shelter worth to the mysteries of the universe?
What can compare resilience?

So, keep on keeping on
You are brave, you are strong
You have been running for far too long
Soon, you will rest
My words are with you.

Ismail, true to your name,
Allah has heard your cry.


Please feel free to share this poem. By doing this, you will be doing two things: One, you will be giving a voice to Ismail's plight. Secondly, and more importantly, you will be fighting human trafficking in your own small way. Let us hope that what Ismail is passing through will be a thing of the past.

Epigramme: The Lazy Bystander

The lazy bystander saw dust blow
He looked askance and never cared to know
Whenceupon a curious reporter scuttled past
To inquire on how it happened, to leave him aghast!

Epigramme: Poets

Epigrammes consist of a rhyming couplet or quatrain. They are satirical and witty. Their defining characteristic is brevity.

My example:

God created poets, poets and words He created them,
For one could not live without the other.

Acrostic: Bonoko

Bad death that was!
Of an innocent soul
Nipped from the bud too soon
On false claims of possessing a fake gun
Killed on broad daylight in the streets
O, the perils of being a civilian!


This poem was inspired by a video doing the rounds in Youtube called "BONOKO". It is a statement given by an innocent bystander who witnesses the police shoot an innocent person and "wekelea" him a "bonoko" ( a fake gun). It is a serious social commentary of extrajudicial killings told in a subtle, hilarious, satirical and playful manner.

Acrostic: Echoes of the Hills

Echoes is all that we hear
Coursing though our beings
Housing well kept cave secrets
Over the plains of human emotions
Endearing pilgrims to the Path of Truth
Secrets carried beyond a whisper

O, Pilgrim
Face the hills, be ennobled!

Though you be enfeebled
Ennobled you should be!

How then should your spirits waver?
If your feet be at the foothills
Lest they be the wandering footsteps on a quicksand
Let me know then, Pilgrim,
Such soaring sights you are afraid to plunge to.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Three Triolets: Celebrating Mashujaa Day

Exit Limericks. Enter Triolets!

This poetry form (pronounced tree-o-lay), a French verse form, has its features as:

8         a)   8 lines
T          b)  2 rhymes
5         c)   5 of the 8 lines are repeated or are refrain lines
           d)   First line repeats at the 4th and 7th lines
            e)  Second line repeats at the 8th line

It is due to the repetition of the first line at the 4th and 7th line that the triolet gets its name.
The triolet’s rhyme scheme is ABaAabAB.

An example:

How Great My Grief   
By Thomas Hardy

How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee!
- Have the slow years not brought to view
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Nor memory shaped old times anew,
    Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee
How great my grief, my joys how few,
    Since first it was my fate to know thee?

That is enough.

In celebrating MASHUJAA DAY (A Kenyan National Holiday to celebrate her heroes) to be held tomorrow, the 20th of October 2011, dear reader please accept this amateurish poems.

Quotes to set you off:

"Our children may learn about the heroes of the past. Our task is to make ourselves the architects of the future."
-Jomo Kenyatta, first president of Kenya, from an address given on Kenyatta Day, as quoted in Anita King's Quotations in Black, Greenwood Press 1981.

"There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne - bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive. One only feels really free when one can go in whatever direction one pleases over the plains, to get to the river at sundown and pitch one's camp, with the knowledge that one can fall asleep beneath other trees, with another view before one, the next night."

- Karen Blixen



Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu

Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu, we sing in the anthem,
Ilete Baraka kwetu, we call upon blessings
To rent the air of Kenya’s majesty
Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu, we sing in the anthem,
Venerating our Heroes for their homogeneity
Harambee! Harambee! We chant without blemish
Eee Mungu Nguvu Yetu, we sing in the anthem
Ilete Baraka kwetu, we call upon blessings


Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu- Words extracted from the National Anthem of Kenya which translate to “O God of All Creation”.
Ilete Baraka Kwetu- Words from the National Anthem. Bless this Our Land and Nation.
Harambee- A historical word in Kenya used to call upon people to come together for a common cause. It was commonly used by the former presidents of Kenya.


Dear Forgotten (S)hero Lurking in the Shadows

Dear forgotten (s)hero lurking in the shadows
I got your crumbled letter in a dustbin
Rotting away in waste of greed
Dear forgotten (s)hero lurking in the shadows
Now a forbidden fragrance amid filth
What is an artificial statue worth in Patrio-meter?
Dear forgotten (s)hero lurking in the shadows
Echoes of the hills will make your names sanguine


Of the Mara, the Maasai and Mombasa


When God created Kenya, He spoke thus:
“Let us create Mara, the Maasai and Mombasa”
And, having created them, He said it was good
When God created Kenya, He spoke thus:
“Now let us populate her with people most good”
Then God dotted it with wonderful vegetation and landscapes
When God created Kenya, He spoke thus:
“I envy Mara, the Maasai and Mombasa”.

Echoes of the Hills wishes all Kenyans a Happy Mashujaa Day. Let all (S)heroes celebrated and uncelebrated be in our thoughts. More importantly, let us strive to be (s)heroes in the small things in life because it is the humility in the small and obvious that we are magnified to the big and not-so-obvious.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Three Limericks

After a long weekend minus poetry, let us now turn to another poetry form. A limerick!

This poetry form contains five lines. The last words of the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme with each other (A), and the last words of the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other (B). 
Thus, it will be AABBA.

I read that limericks were made famous by Edward Lear, the famous author who wrote the “Book of Nonsense” in the 1800’s.

Did I say that limericks are associated with humour (though bawdy? Well, Echoes of the Hills is G-rated and none of those will appear here)? Well, I just said it.

Two examples and we are off to try a couple of limericks.

This is by Edward Lear:

There was a young man from Dundee,
Who got stung on the head by a wasp.
When asked if it hurt,
He said, “No not at all.
It can do it again if it likes!”


Yet another by the same poet.

There was an Old Man who supposed,
That the street door was partially closed;
But some very large rats,
Ate his coats and his hats,
While that futile old gentleman dozed

That is enough.
Now to my attempt.

Limerick # 1: Unnerving Tensions

Sometimes the nerves reveal hunger
Other times pent-up anger
But their parched throats murmur
Bitter lamentations to their mama
Life goes on, a dangerous blade of panga


Limerick #2: There Once Lived a Clown in Eastleigh

There once lived a clown in Eastleigh
Who made people laugh easily.
Another wag appeared on the scene
That made the first clown bitter ever since
That jaundiced-eyed man at Eastleigh


Limerick # 3: Lecturer of Mathematics

There was a lecturer I knew of Mathematics
Knowledgeable of calculus and semantics.
He carried pebbles and papers in his coat
To his estimation to keep his learners afloat
That harum-scarum lecturer of Mathematics.

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