Incident At Sakina

                 (An Arusha Story)

arusha city pic1

 I’m deep in the music, lost in the sound,

 foot beating the time, fingers playing the strings,

 that sing their soft song of f sharp to d,

 the notes in between, that lingering e.

 then came a shriek, then the screams, a quick rush of feet, 

 beneath the blue sky, through the green of the trees, 

 then a silence as loud as a lioness’ roar,

 that froze my fingers right on the edge, 

 heart pounding, just listening, to shouts, to loud moans ,

 the running of feet, the noise of a crowd,

 then me running too, from door to the gate,

 to that scatter of rags that lay on the road,

 where we gathered in awe of the presence of  death;

‘mangoes, that’s what she sold,’ 

‘she was so old, and so poor’

‘the car came haraka,’

‘he came at her fast, and disappeared quick’, 

‘thrown high in the air.

 ‘like a leaf on the wind,”

“pole sana, so sorry’

“sikitika,”so sad,’

“vipi, dada? Unasaema?”

‘what’s up sister, you say what’

“ay mbali sana,, ay very bad.’

‘hey what’s up with her brother?’

 “just dead, man, ala, this old Maasai,

 ‘twende, let’s go, look, forget it my brother,

 ‘life is too short and we gotta go,”

  so they left, the crying, the wailing, 

  the blood  pooled at our feet

  as women pushed past me, then the police,

  all dressed in white and very polite,

  then we all turned away, to carry on life,

  without gods, a purpose, 

  to face out own fate.

Libyan Lament

dead_migrants_on_italy_shore

The air was hot, and thick to breathe,
The sun was red, and weeping,
The day they fled the burning town,
The stench of death still reeking,

Machines they came,
From cloudless skies,
Then came the sound of thunder,
Then flash of light,
Then blast of flame,
That tore their life asunder,

They ran in fear from NATO’s hate,
To the ocean’s cooling breeze,
And looked across the waters,
To the nations of those seas,
But saw no trace of Christian grace,
No tears, no kind reprieve,
Just jackal smiles and TV cheers,
That hailed a nation’s fate.

Tricked, betrayed, begrimed they slept,
On desert shores, abandoned,
For weeks their hopeless vigil kept,
Despair so deep it maddened,
It almost drove them to the rope,
Until they heard the captain’s words,
“My ship she puts to sea tonight,
But for that there is a price,
For my ship is named and named quite right,
The hopeless ones Last Hope.”

They paid him all their money,
They paid with acts of shame,
And then they prayed to silent gods
For words “We sail” that came.

The captain smelled of drink and death,
And smiled with dark-stained teeth,
He told them, ‘I’ve your money,
Now please descend beneath’,
He gave commands,
The crew obeyed,
And threw them down the hold,
To stench of oil,
And human waste,
The young, the frail, the old.

The engines throbbed, the people moaned,
In darkness deep they crossed the sea,
That led them from old Tripoli,
To the shores of Italy,

The night grew long,
The sea rebelled,
With wind and thunder drumming,
The waves rose high, the captain drank,
The crew climbed ropes taut humming,

They tried their best to save the ship,
To save themselves, and all,
They fought the storm,
They fought the wall
They fought with all they had,
But Neptune wove a ghastly wave,
That broke her back in two,
And down she went,
That good Last Hope,
To the cold and calm below.

The lonely dead soon washed ashore,
In twos and threes and more,
On foreign sands they rolled and lay,
On every bay and shore,
As TV sprouted tragic tales,
And asked, “who is to blame”?
But no answer dared they give,
And so no answer came.

Old Mount Meru

arusha city pic1

.It sees them all with eternal eyes,

The street boy, the shop girl, the thief,

The man in the bar, the girl in the car,

The morani, the proud, the ones with no chance,

The ones still clinging to dreams,

or to prophets, to Jesus, Mohammed,

The real and the fake,

The searchers, the desperate,

It watches them all,

In the town, in the fields,

Their broken hearts withered,

Like old falling leaves,

Floating, twisting, endlessly down,

To the sad waiting earth, arms open,

Comforting, imploring, while they struggle

For lives beyond anyone’s reach,

Greeting the day with brave, bitter smiles,

From the hopelessness of hope,

Among the green shining hills,

Where, unseen, uncaring, in silence,

Roams the leopard on long, ancient paths,

Where Arusha Town rests below old Mount Meru.