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.

Continue reading “Berbera al Somali”

She

She
sits on the smaller square gravestone
throwing tiny pebbles of fine firestone
at me as she recites Quranic quatrains
after a pause that follows each throw.

She
looks at the azure horizon in the West
whispering of the agony in her hearts
one under her breast another in womb
after my plea for a midnight flight fails.

She
draws mud circles on the graveyard soil
calling each by a hundred names of God
each an invocation for my safe passage
after night falls and death comes for us.

She
leaves me standing on the grave of hope
moving towards a distant cliff in the dark
to end the two lives and a love despised
after she opts for shame rather than him.

JKS Makokha is a Kenyan writer living in Berlin, Germany. He is the author of Reading M.G. Vassanji: A Contextual Approach to Asian African Fiction (2009).  His poetry has been published in the Atonal Poetry Review, African Writing, The Journal of New Poetry and the Postcolonial Text and Stylus Poetry Journal.