africa poems

 God Wind (Lamu, Kenya, 2006)

The women in the water, and they drinking up the sea

The baby for the slaughter – he smile up to you and me

The tourist in the floater, speeding off to take their ease,

Me I’m walking by the water and I’m feeling the sea breeze.

That’s like destiny, a mystery

The God Wind got a hold on me

The sand crabs walking at my feet

Slip into holes – don’t know where they lead.

How come everything duality?

My body ache for raw simplicity

The women drinking up the sea,

They regurgitate a kiss for me

The child lies murdered at my feet

And the God Wind blows to history,

Yeah the God Wind blows to history.

The Wind and the Man (Lamu, Kenya, Jan. 2006)

Palm trees sway, leaves shiver,

Bounce, tickle the air

Fisherman on barnacle spattered rock

Swings a line to the waves

The wind-whipped white-winged waves


Raucously around the brown man’s legs;

Long slender affairs, half hidden in billowing shorts

Sharp jerk

Flash of flapping silver glitters in the daylight

Brown legs crouch, study the catch,

Eye to fisheye

Still. Then jerks – a frisson of fear

Catches the neck; twist, snap, and the hook goes free. Dropped on the deck to die.

A seagull hovers overhead, pulled sideways by the wind.

Fat Chancer (Khartoum, Sudan, 2005)

You’ve got to make enough money to feed your family

Any way you can, any way you can.

‘Cos life’s no picnic, you don’t know you’re born son

So you play the game and you beat the man.

Keep your eye on the ball and your back to the wall

And don’t show your hand, or you’re in the can.

If you don’t ask questions and keep your head down,

Then you’ll sleep in satin not before too long.

Now look at me, I’ve an SUV

And a home in Spain and a place in France

I like a good vintage and a tome on history,

And I love my kids, don’t get me wrong

But I came from nothing, a fighter from the street

Punched above my weight; I’m a self-made man

You say there’s people starving, I don’t write the rules son,

The system keeps them down? Well, not this one

You’ve got to make enough money to feed your family

Any way you can.

When you’re two… (Khartoum, 2005)

There’s nothing you can’t do

When you’re two.

There’s nothing you can’t be

When you’re free from ideology

And you’re best friend’s a toy monkey.

You brim with the gleaming potential of a dewy May morning

But the cracks between your toes need inspecting.

Ethiopian mountainside (Simian Mountains, Ethiopia, Nov. 2005)

Night falls on the mountainside

In the sky the freshness of a star

Steep valley ridges lose their shape

Their rippling contours merge to black.

The last warmth of sunlight glows on the ridge opposite

And slowly the orange disintegrates to tawny white.

If you look closely you can see it happen,

Watch the world transform before you – timeless moment.

On the far side of the valley fires burn in the darkness

Later on, they will peter out and disappear into the night.

The White Desert (Egypt, 2005)

The sun drops in the desert

The only sound, the scratch of pen on paper:

This orange globe falls so fast in this strange lunar land

Its faint afterglow hangs in the air like an echo, and is gone.

Queer obelisks sprout from the ground

Ancient limestone runes moulded by time

Proud blue sky loses its lustre and turns smoky white

And soon it will be night, soon it will be night.


About flowbert

Journalist investigating extreme experiences of solitude. View all posts by flowbert

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