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


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