Berbera al Somali

by JKS Makokha

The body of the ancient sea city
bathes daily in the Gulf of Aden.
Memories from the Holy Books
of the wide open wounds of Job
loom large in you as you behold
scores upon scores of pot holes
afflicting the torn and tired lanes
criss-crossing the old Somali port.

Broken minarets tower the town
with houses made of coral stones
crumbling under memories of war
holding on to each other so close
like families of frightened refugees
sometimes separated from others
by shacks of nylon on dried sticks
under which shelters some citizens
drinking sugary tea with camel milk
or smoking with their kettles on fire
or cleaning russian rifles with jeep oil.

Herds of camels crowd around town
listening in silence as the gulf sings
or following their old thoughts slowly
in tune with their cud-filled mouths.
Underneath them doze lazy hounds
that sometimes snap at buzzing flies
or stand up, shake and eat their tails
spitting ticks into the scorched sand
before trotting off to unknown places.

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