chris@okemwa.com |

(Click on the titles to read the poems)
(Click on the titles to read the poems)

The Amazing Night

Sometimes I get so amazed when I watch the night
The way stars drop in on the dark bowl of the sky
And the moon clad in its burnished silver-streaked white
Peeps and hides behind sheep of clouds like a spy

I look at this one sheet of black—a mass of darkness
I find it a mystery that suffuses me with fear and horror
From its dark hollow space, its endless sea of emptiness
Could easily spring out a demon, an imp or a giant ogre

Or something simply wicked, malevolent and evil
That could devour me, consume or take away my soul
So I always peep thru the window to be sure no such devil
Spills into the room in its formidable amorphous prowl

I find it hard to imagine how the night comes to be:
The ominous silence that keeps vigil in every mini space
The opaque black that blinds eyes so that they don’t see
Its black furs and grey paints that make an intricate maze

The night is like a churning sea, an agitating ocean
I always see it spilling through the window on the wall
Submerging me in my bedroom in its furious motion
Suffocating and choking me up, leaving dead my soul

I get scared to imagine that someone, out of ill intention
Might one night get access to the giant clock of the universe
Then hold the gadget from moving, against Deity’s creation
Shall we live in darkness forever?--what hell shall be for us!

When I Die

When I die, my fair kin
Don’t burn my body
Don’t bury it either
Leave it to rot on the ground

Only put a little flower on it
But not the fragrant rose
For I might smell it and be happy
And wish to live again

When I breathe no more
My kind siblings
Sing me a song from the hymnal
But don’t choose number thirteen

For it might chant my ears
And warm my cold heart
Be reminiscent of joyful days
Making me wish to live again

When I kick the bucket
And stark becomes my body
Read me a little line from the bible
But don’t read the psalms

For you know I am a sinner
And have done little to mankind
And would want to do something for charities
Therefore wishing to live again

When I die, my fair world
Don’t cremate my body
Don’t, with hoes, inter me either
Leave it to waste on the ground.

Purgatorius Ignis

Hanging in this burning emptiness of retribution, between
Death and the final dwelling--in this condition of existence--
I move stealthily like a cat, perpetually on the balls of his
Feet; with the cat’s impression, indifferent aloofness,
My face drooped; in my eyes no light at all. I cry,
                                                    “I want affliction and fire!”

The soiled hamlet from whence I have come, voices rise
To cry for the pain and torture that my soul bore here
Aware that my spirit is not fully independent of the stains of
Mundane effects of wrong-doing, its consequences; neither
Sufficiently evil to be fated for abyss; but keeps on strengthening
                                                                     Itself in sanctity here

Having no purifications--neither sacrament of baptism, nor
of penance--my venial sins weigh heavy on my soul
I cry for pain, fire, to suffer for the rewards of the divine abode--
A Garden of delights. I ask to be relieved of my
Earthly baggage; for the pain of joy to be completed, to feel
blissful mystery of Him

I find myself in that condition of mind and feelings
When reality gives place to reverie and merges with
The shadowy visions of the first stages of purgatorius ignis
I’ve carried, on clammy hands, venial sins, to be purged
Of them, being only momentary pain, then soon be on my
                                                          Way to Olympus

Here it comes, like a clap of thunder, or like a magic spell
Light one moment and darkness the next—a big fire!
Burning brightly, spreading everywhere. I scream, “burn me!”
I hear those assembled in the hamlet from whence I have
Come, singing, raising their sacrifices up for my sake--
To be purified.

Let Me Know

If I ever offended you
Discuss it with me, dear love
Don’t keep it in the heart for too long
Let me know of the mistake
I have made, dear love
That makes you pale, mute
If I once shouted at you
And you were flustered, dear love
It is because I cared, or so I thought
Let us talk with open minds
Of the flaws, the pitfalls
And mend the broken fences
Bring to an end this silence
And hear your voice again, dear love
As it always came to me.

Twilight on the Mead

There is silence in the mead, deep and sweet
Perfumed by sprawling blooms of chrysanthemums
The soft twilight lie fermenting on the green lush

Peace and fulfillment drape over clumps of shrubs
And the wooden paling and ripening guava trees
Veil in the aura and beauty of an orange sunset

The growing maize plants and finger millet
Kiss the thick jacket, embrace the warm slacks
Sorghum salute amicably as I scuffle across

Dots of vultures decorate the washed-blue welkin
Floating lazily through the air; the sky is clear
The moon is now rising, pale, but almost round.

Don’t Cry

If I die, don’t cry
Because I would become a rose flower
Grow in your flower garden
And exude fragrance
You will pick me during Christmas
Display me during birthdays
Smell me during wedding ceremonies
I will be part of you
So, if I die, don’t cry

If I die, don’t be grieved
Because I would become a bumpkin leaf
Grow in your vegetable garden
Pick me for supper in the evenings
Cook me in the kitchen at nights
I will be at the dining table with you
So, if I die, don’t be grieved

If I die, don’t moan
Because I will become rain
Fall down from the sky
Gather me by the gutters
And wash kitchen utensils with me
I will be in your kitchen
So, if I die, don’t moan

If I die, don’t scream
Because I will become a tree
Grow in the corner of our homestead
Cut me occasionally for firewood
Keep a heap of me in your kitchen
Make fire and cook ugali with me
I will be part of the household
So, if I die, don’t scream