We played on into the night

 

I wish we had played on into the night,
African cowboys with not much,
Else to do,

I wish we had challenged the fish in the sea and,
Called out to the Bison,

My father and his band,
And his

-strike while the iron is hot-

Jive,

Johnstone, his brother,
On the drums,
Kicking up a riot,

Sarah the lead,
Crooning about her rescue from a,
Very bad man,

Lydia,
Lead back-up,

Flinging in the,
‘Alleluiahs’, and
‘Godda-let-it-be’s!

Samuel,
A doctor dying of AIDS,
Breathing life into a tin-metal harmonica,

‘Alleluhia,’

Rocking the old man at the end of the bar,
And the couple at the table, fighting with their lips,

I think heard it coming when he fumbled the line,
And I wish we had played on all night.

 

 

 

 

Sunday

 

They say that Africans,
Will have to fight for a place on the bus,

So I am pulling out all the stops.

I am burning incense and,
Turning out closets,
-exorcising demons-

I am fumigating my life,
Throwing out old clothes and,
Trying to gain favour,

-surely children were not meant for the streets,
Nor nations meant for war-

I have found sack cloth and ash and,
I intend to,

Gouge flesh with home-made irons
Flagellate until I bleed sin,
All over the carpet.

There will be gnashing of teeth,
And great wailing,
-effort must be made-

I shall identify,
Church pews with nails and,
Kneel!

But the spotlight keeps missing me,
And I manage only to elicit,

Splendid chuckles from my nephew.

 

 

 

 

***

 

 

Shitsugane Olembo is an African film director and a part of the Kenyan literary community at http://kwani.org. He seeks to write poetry that vibrates with humor and personality, and to remind us that identity and point of view can connect us all in surprising ways. He lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya.

 

 

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