A Kitui Infidelity
The chicken disappeared before midday – no cluck,
no fluttering of feathers – but the owner didn’t notice.
Over lunch, he ate his muthokoi, oblivious, anticipating dinner,
how the houseboy would dispatch it with a twisting of the neck
then pluck it downwards as the blood drip-dripped to earth,
and then the soaking it in brine, the roast, the tearing of the legs
the biting down…
Yet it already had departed. It was not an inside job, but maybe was,
and so the servants were interrogated. Someone got the blame,
was found and beaten, so severely that the cop’s arrival saved him
from a lynching – stones and tyres, and sticks and matches.
What went woefully unnoticed was the nail, the telltale fingernail
of her who stretched her digit to condemn him – how a downy feather
fluttered. What a wife.
Standard 7, 1992
A green acrylic water pipe.
Mwalimu shouted, ‘This will hurt
your wife much more than me’,
and then the strikes; he called them
‘Blessings’. So the blessed boy
zipped his trousers, fixed his belt
and laughed it off with all his friends
as he had shrugged it off before,
his buttocks humorously sore.
Some ten years later, he would
smack her in her FUCKING
LAUGHING FACE!, for wearing green.
Greed at the Safari Lodge
Peace on Earth? For sure, but at the moment
I’d be satisfied with sausages, some tender garlic mushrooms
and a soft-poached egg on toast.
One can’t have everything, so ditch Goodwill to All
and hash that brown, pour juice and coffee, yet
eschew the pointless halved and grilled tomato.
Love Thy Neighbour? Yes, I will, if he can
smoke me up a kipper as the morning sun plays
Chopsticks on my frantic knife and fork.
Don’t heal the leper; give me twists of salt and pepper.
Say ‘Ephphatha’? No, it’s bacon that I’m after.
Praise the merciful Samaritan? I will, if he’s a frying pan.
‘The chicken or the beef, sir?’ Mozart’s or Faure’s Requiem? Christianity or Islam? Kiswahili or Kikamba? Kale or Spinach? Beheading or the Firing Squad? Fossil Fuels or Sunlight?
Some Being will, I’m certain,
fall to Earth and, in our absence,
find a CD labelled ‘Byrd’, so place its
palm against the plastic and,
it’s likely, take a moment
to regret that we destroyed our-
selves with this or that whatever, then –
I’m sure of it – with just one voice
will sing out Byrd’s Four Voices
to the corners of the galaxy,
quite ignorant that Palestrina’s Mass
For Pope Marcelli would be
infinitely sweeter; also, unaware –
and definitely better off not knowing –
that such squabbles over trifles
were the reason that we died.
About the Author:
Stephen Derwent Partington (SDP) writes from Machakos County, where he works as a school principal. He is the former poetry editor of Kwani?, and has published two collections of poetry, most recently How to Euthanise a Cactus (Cinnamon, UK), which features diverse pieces on our post-election violence of 2007/08. His eccentric monograph on post-2003 Kenyan poetry can be found, free to download, here: http://www.kwani.org/file/SDP-Mad-Vennyan-Poets-Essay.pdf