ART CHECK

Three poems in the season of Covid-19

How many graves shall we count tonight? Poet meditates

In Summary

• Poetry inspired by the continent and the world of the age the poet exists in

Wanjohi wa Makokha
Wanjohi wa Makokha
Image: JUSTUS MAKOKHA

Meditations

By Wanjohi wa Makokha

Mattocks make many a cemetery neat

Out of their effort, see flower gardens

Those, which comfort new gravestones

 

A poet walks like a shadow of the moon

Counting all stars crowning skies of 2020

For each, he assigns a name of numbers

 

How many graves shall we count tonight?

Graves that make mattocks uproot flowers

To make space, to host humans and corona.

 

Not a noise exists louder than life

By Wanjohi Wa Makokha

Masked... our planet spins with unease

The axis is old but new is its reflection

Comets, they come to us only to depart

Pandemics, too, and their pandemonium

Yet, the earth spins ever, almost forever

On it's axis as aged as the dawn of time

An owl hoots into this celestial twilight

Under the allure, of the azure dying sun

A news bulletin, races in the cyber space

Into the nerves of this quarantined infant

The noise of televisions unmasking Covid

Is as new as the baby's pulses on the skull

And yet two things remain as old as time

The earth on its axis, and its eternal dance

For, come what new is, still spins the earth

In the silence of space, noiseless but alive.

 

By Thoughts I Read These Clouds

By Wanjohi Wa Makokha

The clouds above, by thoughts I read

The ones clustered above: 19th Covid

Which holds our nations in embraces

The clouds above a crematorium, see

The ones that rise with human smoke

As bodies burn bright like white skies

The clouds above a cemetery of ashes

The ones that create a crown of angst

On the heads of this nation in sickness

By thoughts I read these clouds of here

Like the signs that litter nights of history

Where Life survived violent creation day

And as Death walks the pages of today

Both in old print and digital footprints

We read the clouds and survive as Hope.

 

Wanjohi wa Makokha is the pseudonym under which the Kenyan literary critic and scholar Dr JKS Makokha writes and publishes his poetry. He considers himself simply as a poet from Africa, whose poetic inspiration draws from the continent and the world of the age he exists in. His first book of poems, Nest of Stones (Langaa: 2010) was published under the same name. It has since won several accolades from writers, such as Micere Mugo (who wrote its foreword), Shailja Patel, Susan Kiguli, Ali Jimale Ahmed and Binyavanga Wainaina. On May 6, 2010, Wanjohi presented Nest of Stones to the world via a public reading at the Listros Galerie in Berlin under the auspices of Africavenir. His next book of verse is well under preparation. He has taught literature in Germany, Somalia and Kenya and currently teaches Literature and Theatre at Kenyatta University. [email protected]