Wednesday, March 1, 2023



War Is Like…


War is a rotten egg

that burst broken

Splashing its ordour

before our facades and faces

We run, choking

pinching our nostrils tightly

leaving behind

traces of our broken tears

Our mortal footsteps

sink beneath the earth

stained with trails of blood

We inter our

parents’ souls and bones

and cover their grey wisdom

with rubble and soil

We carry the ash

of our children’s dreams

blowing them off like wind

And on the pyre

we smoke up the souls of the generation

of our grandchildren.




Bullets and bombs

Rumble in Ukraine like thunderstorms

Our ancestors turn in their graves

Wailing, their tears

Flood in to fill the Dnieper


The morning sunlight

Illuminate shadows of ghosts

The horizon is red

Blood of heroes colour the skylines

Above the Hoverla and Breben

The music of birds in Uholka-Shyrokyi Luh

Fades slowly in the primeval beech forest


The stars at night

Unveil the fire of bullets

The song of the wind moan for Ukraine

On its own winged lips, it carries

Secrets of the enemy yonder



Spring out like bullets

Meteors shoot down the sky like bombs

Ashes, smoke, rocks and dust

Combine to bury the dead.


What Colour?


What colour can I paint

your name, oh corona?

In white like

a frozen snow?

or in red like blood?

What if I paint your name

in black

like a shroud?

or brown like a casket?

Let me paint the name

in grey

like the pyre

or blue

like a sad sea.


Most probably

I could paint your name in soil-brown colour

like a sepulture

with streaks of grey

on your delicate back and arms

like a dull cloud.


It Is Curfew Time !


the curfew time has come

Oh, hurry up -- faster!

police position themselves

in street corners

Ready to strike

Women hurriedly fold their wares

And rush to the storehouse

Children scream behind their mothers’ backs

As people run home from the market

The curfew time is here!


Matatus zoom past

hooting and beeping

Music speakers blare up

I say a hip! A hap! A hip to the hippie!

You don’t stop to rap to the bang bang boogie!

I rap to the beat nobody can rap!

those inside hold their heads in their palms

shut their eyes in pain

and curse the driver.

a pedestrian runs across the road carelessly

nearly being hit by the speeding motorists

street boys take advantage of the hustle and bustle:





a bag, a watch, a mobile phone

disappear behind tall buildings

into dark narrow alleys

It is curfew time!


Boda boda

Pick two passengers at a time

Three at once

Four at ago

Swoops down the road

Like an eagle



Snaking through the snarl-up

Driving on the sidewalk

Give way! Move! Give way! Move!

The mad man will shout

Sending pedestrians scampering for their lives

It is curfew time!


Shop-doors creak

and bang

grille shutters roll down

and hit the horizontal concrete base

with a thud

owners rush out

swinging bags on their shoulders

quickly enter their cars and zoom off

dust rises up in the distant hill

the sky’s blue dome turns brown

it is curfew time!


An old man is seen

Quickly-quickly, trudging home

Supporting himself with a walking stick

His mouth rapidly opens and shuts

Mumbling to himself

kurona! Kurona! Oh kurona!

He curses and condemns

He shakes his head

Fury and pain wrinkle his forehead

It is curfew time!


Yu-wi-iiii, yu-wi-iii, yu-wi-iiii

Police siren cuts the air

Wailing, like those old women in a corona funeral

People scramble

Road barricaded

Distortion, bribery, fine, jail-term

A huge snarl-up



Cursing! Condemning!

Corona misery eats deep

Eh! It is curfew time!


(Published in Between the Walls and Empty Spaces, Demer Press, Netherlands, 2022)

Matatus: Public Service Vehicles

Boda boda: Motorbike carrying passengers




CHRISTOPHER OKEMWA is a literature lecturer at Kisii University, Kenya. He has a PhD in performance poetry from Moi University, Kenya. He is the founder and current director of Kistrech International Poetry festival in Kenya ( His novella, Sabina and the Mystery of the Ogre, won the Canadian Burt Award for African Literature in 2015. Its sequel, Sabina the Rain Girl, was selected for the UN SDG 2 Zero Hunger reading list. Okemwa is the editor of Musings during a Time of Pandemic: A World Anthology of Poems on COVID-19, I Can’t Breathe: A Poetic Anthology of Social Justice & Coming out of Isolation: An Anthology of Poems on Triumph, Resilience and Hope. He is currently compiling an anthology titled UKRAINE: An Anthology of World Poetry.  He has written ten books of poetry and been translated to several languages. He has also translated four literary works of international poets from English to Swahili. He is the author of ten folktales of the Abagusii people of Kenya, three children’s storybooks, one play, two novels and four oral literature textbooks. E-Mail:, Website:


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