Four Poems by Wafula p’Khisa
Wrestling the giant
the world stood still and watched in awe
a man stuffed in a toilet like shit, and denied the breast of his land
for bleating like a goat at a feast of wolves
who asked him to dress in white, and storm the streets – sadly decorated
with blood of Pendos & Musandos & Stephanies
mowed down, for the giant to rise?
the air was awfully littered with balderdash
fired dangerously, like bullets in a war-torn failed state
“let go our general,” we pleaded, behind steel guards of our privacy
“…though he’s tattooed with known ancestral marks;
his heart bleeds for glory of the other world…” they growled
“I’m not boarding…!” jah-nyando cried
the steel whip struck harder, binding him to fate
with urgent packaging, like perishable goods, and deposited to end of world.
Then, we gathered in desolate homes & empty battle-streets
to celebrate unexpected hand-cheque – a seasonal flowering of last bullets
We rolled in mud & grass, cheering them to sing of beauty & splendour in lands unbeknownst to us
another basket was torn, then beastly waters swept a generation in sugoi
trees stopped bearing, but who’s steel nerves to cry in town?
nobody wrestles a giant with bear hands, and lives in piece.
a premature sunset (for Innocent Bukhuni)
when a giant, aged iroko tree falls in our homestead
we don’t cry bitterly, for the nestlings left in the cold
would be mature enough to endure the jungle heat & hunger;
but when dry thunder strikes a blossoming palm tree, and sips its life with cruelty
excruciating pain grips our hearts, and tears blind our eyes.
i fumbled to gather my little fragments, scattered on the beach
by the blast of news of your untimely exit
as angry waves sped away with your breath– echoing afar like a dying song
of childhood memories, we sang whilst playing in mama’s kitchen
I remembered your forest of dreams, lying fallow for eternity
and blood froze in my veins
You withered in our hands, a young shoot– just stretching out of the testa without warning us, to measure new suits for the festivity!
so in silence the sun, moon and the stars communed
and agreed to disappear from the map of the sky for a while
to ease the pain of witnessing a premature shoot swallowed by the soil
the sky wept bitterly, wetting us in vulnerable places;
But we stood still, arrested by your unmoving eyes
to let you– the only dancer to bow out before the sounding of the last drum
go in honour.
a suicide petition (for Winnie Jerop)
a tall, bronze man – in a golden leather jacket
awaited, laughing his teeth out, in a distant future
to crown you, weaver of fragments of his tattered heart
then proceed to chase wind, in the London marathon, for more medals
to build a nest of gold or silver– home for your colourful dreams.
a kid, trapped in web of mystic times, like a dying fly
cried for birth; warmly embraced & dressed in shades of white
falling off the palm tree, we watered in the garden of your memory
and sang your name across ages with pride.
but, you leapt ahead of time
and changed destiny, with a mere thread
that swallowed your tender life;
leaving the bronze man wifeless, the kid motherless & donors of your genes childless
how do you want them wipe tears easily, and rise after this blow?
a society that buries an infant is dead!
…and us? stuck between cold seas & reigning storms
bear the pinch of incompleteness. But why, daughter of the hills?
Was the sea rough & sickening? or the smell of daylight awful?
Was the moon missing in the universe of your dreams?
or love died in your hands before dawn?
Oh girl, some roads are better not taken!
the path i must take
I lost sight of the labyrinth, weaved with strands of innocence
Upon falling in the hot frying pan of adulthood
The future withdraws its warm hands, when I dash for it
to escape threatening woes of the present sun
Yester scars evaporate, upon seeing your golden rays of love
shining upon the path I must take, to meet destiny in peace.
The lone path greets us with a choking narrowness, every step we take
The wild wind stretches threateningly, tearing hope into bits
I feel a tremor beneath your breast, and wetness in your eyes
Aki dear, you can’t break down, when daybreak smiles ahead
We must wrestle the night, to see dreams bear fruits
The future frowns most, at them fearing to mend
broken paths of the present!
A thousand songs I shall sing, by the silent village stream
To warm your heart; and smile a thousand times
A thousand rivers I waded through, enduring severe snake bites
A thousand times I lost myself, in dark alleys of evil hearts
Before redemption, conjoining my scattered pieces
was a task you painfully undertook
like refilling a cup with spilled milk!
Wafula p’Khisa is a poet, writer and teacher from Kenya. He studied English, Literature & Education at Moi University. His work has been published in The Legendary (issue 48), Aubade Magazine (issue 1), The Seattle Star,The Beacon (ebook anthology), Scarlet Leaf Review, Antarctica Journal, NYSAI Press, AfricanWriter.com, Best ‘New’ African Poets 2015 Anthology, VoicesNet.com, The Pendulum, Mgv2 Magazine, Lunaris Review, Best ‘New’ African Poets 2016 Anthology, PPP Ezine (vol 2, issue 1), Advaitam Speaks Literary Journal (vol 2, issue 1), Basil O’ Flaherty Journal, Emanations (issue 2), The New Ink Review, Better Than Starbucks Magazine (April issue,2018), Disgrace Land (ebook anthology on Zimbabwe), Tuck Magazine and Best ‘New’ African Poets 2017 anthology. His work has also been published in French. He blogs here.