the mud the ruts the rust the dust the

peaceful raucous the busy kiosk corner

to corner the overcast

mornings the roadside colors

cloths plants makaa markets pots

the long 6 o’clock walk homes

shoes polished to perfect the smoke

the smog the mauve nocturnal shawl of

lovers drunkards addicts the mountains

of plastic layered on backs and the trailing packs of

the saviours of stray dogs       the scanty

monkeys marabous parrots and the

unapologetic more than the lack of

the tink the laughter of things falling apart now

put back together remastered

the side by side stack on stack of mabati

the eyes the mouths the smiles looking up

from the slums seen from the satellites

the evening faces alive in the flames

of slow burning paraffin lamps

the living in the eternal hope of

the closeness the contact of

one or a thousand brushed souls

the calls of churches mosques beggars peddlers

the short rains the long ones the gutters

clumped in last night’s outpours of wings

the clogged up roads of unrelenting

matatus makangas bodas sculptures canvases carwashes

puddles potholes flooded bits and bobs of lives and homes

the artful porters of mkekokotenis the ‘honey suckers’ bottlenecks

and thorny roadblocks the inventive cops the justice

of the thronging mobs the ingenuity

of scrap-work animals playgrounds sounds

recycled rattling toy wheels bicycles trains

the hard work of the hot sun and the simple

incomparable joy of the act   the bewilderment

the sheng the slang the language that shifts

adapts and gathers new meanings in minutes

the vendors of flowers sugar cane maindi

the recorded loop of the lady making soap rat poison

the sellers of everythingunderthesun who put-down

and-pack up inaninstant and yes Binyavanga, I will mention

the weekend-long drums spilling rhythms into weeks months

dreams distances children beating beginning back

into existence

the swaying the clasping the clapping of hands

the weaves of last week scattered delicate on the streets

the carefree the make believes

the purpling sea of seasonal jacarandas and the pink ocean of bombax

the trees pasted with posters of politicians astrologers mugangas

magicians crafting all sorts of advice curses potions

the malayas massage parlours the cheating husbands

the bittersweet chewers of miraa mugoka spit

mixed with njugus P.K. and the once notorious big G

the sewers of pride theft corruption the not so

sly shadows of greed deceit abandon covered up

in the name of god the loss of what was

the boisterous dawn and the continuing on

despite the despites a rekindling in the noise

the voices the toils the resiliencies of body

the life of

the poem without pause the impossible

song of Nairobi


Cut the Key/ The Key Cutter

Do not give me the key, I fear

I will lose it. Leave it tucked in

some tree some beach some

clifftop some peace

ful pocket of existence to

muddy, rust and salt. Be

picked up by some other

lusting for nothing someone

walking on the pathless dust I

once stomped upon. This


is of and of no

great importance. The idea

of a key opens nothing but


imprisonment. keeps us


just out of reach. Yes this idea

of seeking keeps us


missing, keeps us from




the key is already within us

seeking us,


sleep silly,



there is only stillness

in the insignificant

Crumbs and Stardust

Some sun of truth

some root-

less tooth

some future-

less word some

fruit unchewed


pour of juice


some outward arc

some lung of blue


some loosening pull of

pulse. Some gulf

of raw focus

some crumb of


some porous pellucid              /pellucid draw

some roadside plover

of hope, some phantom

of shore



to hold      some


pool some stream some



some surface some meaning some thought to


come into


some point of view


The Core

I am the amaranth and

the ant on the stalk


I am the grey hornbill

and the lone pebble on the floor


I am the red tailed colobus

and the half-eaten cob corn


I am color In the basking agama

and I am the rotting paw-paw


no, I am

unnoticed by it all, I am

lesser than what I saw