Home Literature Poetry Poems on Somaliland by Kenyan writer JKS Makokha
Poems on Somaliland by Kenyan writer JKS Makokha PDF Print E-mail
Written by JKS Makokha   
Sunday, 14 March 2010 23:46

Poems on Somaliland by Kenyan writer JKS Makokha



1:  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.

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.

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.

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.





























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.



Yes. Berbera bends and forever bathes
on the green shores of the Gulf of Aden
where men and animal sometimes ease
weights of their refuse while some kids
swim and others fish or collect sea weed
when the ebb is low and the sun mellow.
The sound of an incoming ship or frigate
intermittently interrupts visitors’ thoughts
as one stands on a deserted army lorry
and gazes at the distant ancient tombolo
where stands the lone light house at the
very gate of the harbour like a sentinel
monitoring keenly arrivals and departures.

Dusks come like a very stealthy war ship
catching all by surprise from their siestas
bringing with it the high ebb and activity.
The languorous religious calls of muezzins
seethe across and above the old harbour
asking all to saunter mosque-ward or fall
on their knees facing Mecca al Mukarama
and worship as have their own ancestors
for a millennia perhaps more on the streets
of the old city on the horn of the continent.



As Berbera wakes from its day doze at dusk,
a lone expatriate moves with two shadows
towards his eating place by the restless sea.
His hired body guard – a khat-dazed ex-cop
now at the service of the ruling government -
follows him behind and in their strange silence
each understands the thoughts of the other or
so their match hotel-wards in union appears.
Other flowing white or black muslin gowns and
their shadows float by or nearby under lamps
hung on the eaves of the houses by the lanes.



Midnight will approach amidst song and sound
as the darkness below becomes more feminine
and like Berbera herself speaks of her mystery
or her forbidden memory or her forgotten glory.
A tiny voice comes into you – Berbera’s voice-
recites the tales of strife, struggle, resilience,
filling you with feelings for a city and her folks
as they sleep on their thin raffia mats or even
as they sit by their transistor radio holding guns
chewing khat with sugary tea under nylon shacks,
their dark eyes alert too, ready for enemies of hope.



































Sipping Lipton tea on a calm Aden morning
As the scents of daylight caressed their noses
They sat first in prayer then without talking.
It was the first morning after their new classes.
She had come to them in the middle of midnight
Like a ghost from the battle nights behind him
The rainy night had hid her, made her steps light
Dream! Nightmare! he heard a voice in him scream
They then sat in a distance of silence in deep darkness
Chewing new khat as they conversed without a word.
Drops of drizzle droned them ballads of homesickness.
As their unspoken feelings became as soft as their cud
They stood up and opened the window of the army hut
Then stood near each other gazing at each others heart.











































In Berbera on sunny beaches of black sand
Weekenders – expatriates and Berberawi –
Frolic freely, swim in low ebb or just stand
But bodies of Somali women are not free.
They gaze behind dark glasses and niqabs
At the male muscle ripples in the blue sea
Or at the sailing sea gulls, crawling crabs
Unfreed to swim free by an Islamic decree?
My artistic mind wonders whether or not
They too would like to swim without gowns
Especially on afternoons that are hellish hot
And enchantresses come from heated towns!
Oh! What thoughts of mischief assail me now
Memory do let me be or seek you a new row?









































The chartered Cessna ditches like a thirsty bird
After six hours of flight across troubled Somalia.
Specks of bronze and ivory litter miles of the land
Looking like a sprawled fresco of a fabled arcadia
Illustrating a page of a story from Alfu lela U Lela.
The mind plays silly games as light and height fused
As the plane's sweeeeeps descend us ever loooower.
Miss Pilot requests for landing but is again refused.
She curses in loud, crackling Kalenjin without apology
Then heads to the Nasso Hablud twin hills out of town
Announcing to her freight of expatriates in an analogy
How the breasts of Harghessa near them further down
Are symbolic to the proud people of Somaliland below
Who demand all, respect for their native soil to show.









































A mighty rock art forged by Mother Nature
And her own husband, Time, has been named
Adam and Eve in local Somalilander orature.
It stares West to Harghessa as its crust flamed
Forever by a punishing sun, turns grey with age
It has stood by the way to Berbera since Creation
Or so the lore is now created by my bodyguard sage.
The toothless smile on Eve evokes nameless emotion
But not that of Adam staring at us in silent stare.
Two Ethiopian khat trucks whiz by, bugles blaring
As wild winds across the cacti and acacia swear.
The expatriate urinates as he drifts in his staring
To the lonesome expanse of the arid escarpment
And new mirages of their ever distant encampment.









































In August 11, 1940, Major-General Godwin-Austen
Commenced his defence of Berbera around Assa Hills.
Italian battle tanks from Zeila were zooming in, in tens,
As Mussolinists tightened their clamp on the ragged hills.
British Punjab Regiment, KAR and Black Watch battalion
Were soon in their bloodiest battle as bullets and rocks flee
Across heads without bodies on this azure dawn of damnation.
The Major-General wailed as his troops were cut without pity
By the relentless De Simone and his ferocious Abyssinian band.
Casualties mounted and so did cursing, bursting, burning hearts!
As the Northern Rhodesian Regiment lost their last Mill Hill stand
And the Italians mowed these sweating units down parts by parts
Folklore says this is when that terrible Omar Kujoog did pounce
In with Berberawi back up enabling Britain backwards to bounce.









































About the Poet


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.



Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2010 23:21