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Let the Old Man Speak: Poetry by Odhiambo Kaumah


Bring her home son
The lady who has won the heart of Onyango, my son
Bring her home son
Let not the rumor of her beauty clog my ageing ears
Bring her home son
Let me set my eyes on her while I still live
Bring her home son
The mother to my grandchildren
The daughter to my in-laws
Let me spend the last of my wealth for her dowry
Let her presence in my home remind me of Raila the unbeaten bull.
Let the joy she brings to this home remind me of Nyong’o the ebullient ram.
Let the first of her son in my home remind me of Oneko the potent he-goat.

Bring her home son,
For old is gold
Sold to the bold
Those who dare the cold
To grasp and hold
Never in pain, to let go their purchase
Nor in fear, to let go their chase

Onyango my son, bring her home in this time
When our milk gourds are drying on the fence
Not when our granaries are full of millet
Not when our farms are green with maize
Not when our ranch breaks from bull fights
Not when the waters of our river vomit fish
Not when your mother is strong enough to weed her kitchen farm
Not when am strong enough to take the cows to the plains
Not when your younger brother is old enough to soak himself

Bring her home son
This girl who has won your heart
Let me see if she be hurt
When this grass-roof be still your hut
And this reed still be your mat
And this slenderness still be your fat
And these rags still be your smart

For a woman is a treasure
Not to a man should bring pressure
But in her smile the pleasure
Of her hands brings be out of measure
Of her mouth says be bounty of peace
And her plans be good, her man to please

My son, men have loved women before
The light in their eyes and the snares of their voices
The size of their legs and the shape of their behind
The softness of their palms and the beauty of their faces
The taste in their names and the color of their clothes

But son, bring not home a beautiful face
No, not a sweet voice nor a bright eye
No, not a soft palm nor a hilly behind
No, not a big name nor a beautiful dress
Bring her home a helper, from her efforts find anchorage
Bring her home a mentor, from her roots find courage
For son, life is one
When in the name of love, you perish,
Not again this life below sun shall you live
And of death knows none
So son, do not invite pain into your house



You, the untouched breast
Round and fleshy like the pumpkin hiding in the bush
No other hand knows where you are within those clothes
No mouth can testify the abundance of your nourishment
Water slides past your blunt nipples without a second thought
No soap smears itself on you with care
You are nobody’s treasure
You are not touched
You, the cursed breast
Plump and soft like the head of a bastard
Soft hands walk on you when the moon is high
Locked in the arms of your own type
They touch you like you should not be touched
Leak you like the king does not leak the queen
You groan and breath deep, enjoying the air of freedom
Freedom to be touched by your own hand
Attached to the arms of the one
With untouched breast.
You, the abandoned breast
Standing tall to call across the valley
Longing to be touched
The strong arms to touch are touching the wall
Casting shadows of muscles untapped
Not weakened by the weight of the fishing net
Nor fatigued by the in-compressible bicycle pump
Just weak, weak enough to carry only a free chain
While the old has no son for his son
You, the unnatural breast
Dancing out of the chest you belong
Like the sky has not done to the earth at the horizon
Like the tree does not do the earth till death
Like the sun has not done to brightness at day
Where is tomorrow without a touch?
The pain-pleasured touch,
Or the spontaneous bite when upon your laps,
Life lies satisfied.



I know this cold; I’ve seen this cold before
Settled on the feeble leaves of the grass
Reluctantly gathering its mass upon the pliant leaves
Waiting for the first heat of sun to leave
Poor grass!
Eaten by cold in the night and lonely at day
When leaves spread themselves to be scorched

I know this cold; I’ve seen this cold before
Gathered in your icy body
Embraced within the length of your arms
Waiting for me to arrive
Before we can shake it off in the dark
Curdled, bound by the waxy darkness
Closed, opened by the sizes of our hearts
Waiting for the day to chase us away

I know this cold; I’ve seen this cold before
Hanged on your voice
Cooked by the many strides I made, away
Chocked in the tick-tock of the clock
Waiting for the wheel to roll
Before it can melt like the snows
Wetting my barrels

This cold that goes and goes not
Afraid of what the sun will say
When in morning, the world finds it dovetailed,
Hanging on a dry, dry grass
The grass where every foot has walked
The fallen, fallen grass,
Which won’t lift itself up again
What will the day say?
About the night I took too long to come
Or the day I went too far to come

Poems © Odhiambo Kaumah
Image: remixed

Odhiambo Kaumah
Odhiambo Kaumah
Odhiambo Kaumah is a Kenyan born Secondary school teacher of Mathematics and Chemistry. Besides, he is a poet and creative writer whose works have been performed at the Kenyan Music Festival to the national level. His poetry has a deep foundation in the culture of the Luo Community of Kenya intertwined with universal philosophies of an ethical African society. He also writes motivational stories based on students’ life, some of which have been published in the Global Students Integrity Centre magazine.


  1. wonderful Mr Odhiambo Kaumah, this has just made me get to love your books more and more ,mayh God keep blessing you to give us more books to read as we adverse on the poet and learn more……..i guess you be the role model to our sons and daughters, thanks and may blessings following always

    Asuna junior.

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