Celebrating East African Writing!

Cying for a Death Bed


Isn’t it a bad way to die when a crook with a cock-head hits from back?

Spraying bullets at you,

Or having to at stare this fellow in the face as he shoots you

First at the place between your legs, then your tummy

Waiting for you to move closer to the wall,

Then smears the wall with your head-blood

He gives Fatuma’s husband, that man who loaned you money to take Amina to form one

The same dosage, only rougher, more ruthlessly, violently!!


Mzee Juma was from the Kiosk

He had negotiated with the shopkeeper for one hour to get Unga for his hungry family

Still chanting prayers to Allah when the bullet halved his spine

No time to look back, no time to remember, few minutes to die

He dies holding the 1kg packet of Unga firmly

Hoping his wife will find it and cook some porridge

And get some energy to wail, and, cry for him



Don’t you find it cooler at the death bed, far much better than the blood bathe

Unable to remember the decades,

With a blurred image of the war in Burma, many worlds ago

Telling your sons not to fight for the plots

Listening to the slowing heart-beat, giving you a few more seconds

Then closing your eyes, dreaming the last dream, the last dream

Family and friends won’t wait for some Lenku to say it is some Raila

Or some president to read a poorly written speech by a university student

With long empty words, empty words, emptier than a bachelor’s fringe.


You see, man,

Matata, the NSIS guy deployed here became a mnazi addict

His trousers smell the pee unwashed for days

And his mouth will scare the mortician, when he dies

Afande and his friends always walk to the shore, to wait for the fishermen

They take kitu kidogo. Everything is theirs, even the fishes in the deep seas

Then they swirl their potbellies to the brothel

Pummel their way to the girls sent by their mums to sleep for Unga

Threaten them. Make violent sex to them. Without a penny!

As baldhead gunmen spray bullets to Mpeketoni, the bank, the hotel and the grotesque police station!



The TV in the new pub showed an advert which fights crime

Safety is me, safety is you. Nope, safety is them

I hear once the cameras are put up here

Those hell-bent baldheads will get scared and run sea caves

Then the commissioner’s car will be removed that black thing which makes us not to see him

And we will be safe. Peaceful.

Man before then we will die, die and die, till the news reach state house

And the helicopter gets repaired to bring the cameras.

Man, I will go home early, such that when they come to kill me

I will be on bed, fast asleep. Then I will die on my death bed.


© Bantu Kivai


3 comments on “Cying for a Death Bed

  1. Codesheddy
    September 15, 2014

    Vivid, deep illustration, great poetry. Man, it is safer, to die having written about it, death must be awful, death that grins at you in every safe place.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. muthoniemmy
    September 15, 2014

    beautiful horror. This is typically Kenya


  3. elovepoetry
    September 15, 2014

    Great work here, Bantu. This is the kind of stuff that should be noticed by slips through the cracks.

    In between the lines is the beauty of this art
    and the part
    That I like in poetry.


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