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Staying too Close to the Sun: Poems by Wafula p’Khisa

old man


The womb of time is torn
leaving everything to fall out of place
A toddler fears the wrinkled face of its granny no more
upon realizing wrinkles & grey head aren’t wisdom
but pages and pages of lies and folly, wrapped discretely
to siphon life out of young shoots
and blow them off the land.

When Babu calls Uhuru ‘son of bitch’ thus
Who are you, poor earthling, to swear and curse?
He’s just, like a faithful ox, trying his tender neck in the rough yoke of Kenyanism
He’s just, like a village cockrel, singing a familiar song in a city of owls
He’s just, like a learned hooligan, upholding the ‘irreducible minimal’ tenets of hooliganism
Who cried when the Supreme god was insulted
for wiping a dark spot off the patched face of history
and the wisdom that’d crowned the king, once ago
publicly denounced ati ni ukora?

At times when a nurse’s distress call falls on deaf ears
Mounds of flesh (in garages) are left to meet sunset prematurely
Marriage vows, church sermons, school instructions & the national anthem
are laced with abuses
The king scratches his ass, and his generals threaten whoever salivates at their roasting maize
Why cry then, when I’ve smelly fingers or steal a chicken?
Wase, the moral diet is too costly for my age!

I once dreamed, while snoring under illusionary duvets of childhood innocence & stupidity
I’d own the world, a fuel guzzler, a mansion, a lucrative job
and a refined, spotless woman
I’m approaching sunset, with nothing except ugly scars & hairless head–
the benefit of staying too close to the Sun!
Butterflies hardly stray to my fold, and no flower grows under my foot
Even when I talk, everyone dies with laughter
and the chief turns cold, wild and disgusted
Am I sane, choking in a forest of madcaps?



I got new shoes, I’ll wear in Canaan
I got new clothes, I’ll wear in Canaan
I got a new bride, I’ll marry in Canaan
I got a new song, I’ll sing in Canaan
by the overflowing rivers of milk and honey.

But we’re stuck between the rough shores of Egypt
and the warm threshold of the land promised
The turbulent sea, with rising tides, thunders threats
and the beasts beneath its belly thirst for prey;
echoing the song of anger
Chanted by Pharaoh’s generals, as they wield blades ferociously.

We brace for the new dawn, after slaving, starving & wandering
In a wild, dark forest of domesticated beasts of impunity, corruption and arrogance
Our star steadily withers, from extreme violent treatment; after offering others to evil gods
To tear the limiting roof of the earth
for an eating dynasty of wolves, to reign without end.



We snatched the search for God from the poor
and transformed it into a profitable business
We erect evangelical kiosks everywhere on earth,
roam in open markets, destitute paradises
and comb God-forsaken villages;
with loudspeakers strapped round us
and bibles in our armpits:
distributing leaflets and screaming our lungs out.

We precariously hang onto matatus, to and fro
unintended destinations
to disrupt peace of passengers on transit
with threats of eminent doom
and cloud their minds with distorted scriptural quotes
then stretch out begging bowls for their dimes.

We found market in the media and the vast blogosphere
wherein we woo customers with brand adverts–
Issuing anointing oil, cooking miracles & administering semencrements
as purified & blessed elixir for eternal healing
to have flocks and flocks flowing into our folds.

They tread on strange paths en route to heaven
through our unorthodoxical assuaging of their desperate spiritual quest
We ask women to come bra-less and panty-less;
Because they shouldn’t hide from God anything
And to be open for his entry any time
We then caress and suck their dangling breasts
to squeeze out ailments and exorcise ghost demons!
We tell them: sow seeds
To earn blessings and experience instant miracles
Praying they get jobs, husbands, children, riches and healing
And support our ministries stand still and strong
To hawk god more and afar!

Poems © Wafula p’Khisa

Wafula p’Khisa
Wafula p’Khisa
Wafula p'Khisa is a poet, writer and teacher from Kenya. He studied English, Literature & Education at Moi University. His work has been published in The Legendary (issue 48), Aubade Magazine (issue 1), The Seattle Star, The Beacon (ebook anthology), Scarlet Leaf Review, Antarctica Journal, NYSAI Press,, Best 'New' African Poets 2015 Anthology,, The Pendulum, Mgv2 Magazine, Lunaris Review, Best 'New' African Poets 2016 Anthology, PPP Ezine (vol 2, issue 1), Advaitam Speaks Literary Journal (vol 2, issue 1), Basil O' Flaherty Journal, Emanations (issue 2), The New Ink Review, Better Than Starbucks Magazine (April issue,2018), Disgrace Land (ebook anthology on Zimbabwe), Tuck Magazine and Best 'New' African Poets 2017 anthology. His work has also been published in French.

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