Celebrating East African Writing!

I Said a Prayer

I said a prayer

For my mother to heal from cancer;

On bended knees the heavens I implored,

Her dear life to be forgiven and restored,

Her pain to be taken utterly away;

But she continued to waste and to wither

Till in the gloomy ground to rest she lay.


I said a prayer

For my brother to become as clever as a lawyer;

With teary eyes the heavens I beseeched,

His steps to guide, his heart to be enriched;

But studies he quit and drugs he embraced,

And in alcohol a friend forever he found

Till in the coffin I tucked him death-draped.


I said a prayer

For me after school to find an employer;

Prostrate before the heavens helpless I cried

My efforts to bless, my fair fruits magnified;

But for years and years the city I trudged,

Scorned, rejected; spurned, dejected,

Till with hunger and despair became I drugged.


I said a prayer

For my darling woman to become not a betrayer;

Head bowed, knees supple, the heavens I entreated,

Our love to strengthen, our hearts to simplify, oh I pleaded;

But off she took; with our unborn she packed and left;

Penniless and jinxed are you, she yelled, Heaven hates you!

Not by such a God-forsaken coward do I wish to be kept!


Desolate beyond death, I looked fixedly up onto the sky

And with a bitter soul and a hopeless heart asked God why:

Why my wretchedness, my damnation, why His silence?

Why the desolation, the anguish, why the violence?

Were my scarlet sins unforgivable, never ever to be made snow?

Were my painful prayers sweet music to His unmatched throne

So that never was I their tone to change and happiness to know?


The heavens opened, the august gate rendered ajar;

And thus came down the Creator’s voice from afar:

Were you with me when laid I the footing of the earth?

Have you intelligence to measure its gigantic girth?

Know you the tiny trifling jigger?

Know you how it determines its time to breed?

Tell me, son of man, if your understanding is bigger!


And I, failing in judgment,

Thinking the heavens only my misery to augment,

Thinking the earth and the jigger had nought to do with my doom,

Looked searchingly for a means to enter my tomb;

I deemed such a fatal fate only an eternal rest would allay:

A rope, a stool, a tree—and, dangling, eyes wide, tongue lolling,

Limbs limp, I saw the darkest of darkness on a vast display.

© Peter Nena


7 comments on “I Said a Prayer

  1. Peter Nena
    April 28, 2014

    Thank you for shortlisting my poem. I upload weird fiction at You are welcome to visit.


  2. peter kimani
    June 13, 2014

    very good work,keep up.


  3. Peter Nena
    June 14, 2014

    Thanks, man. It was inspired by the Book of Job. Especially at the point where God answers him.


  4. Maria Wanjiru
    August 11, 2014

    A wonderful masterpiece!


  5. Peter Nena
    August 20, 2014

    Thank you, Mary.


  6. dweezer19
    April 19, 2016

    This is an amazing, heartfelt piece. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Peter Nena
    January 20, 2017

    Cheryl, did you just read it again? It’s so full of forced rhymes that these days I never mention it. But thanks, my friend. Have an awesome weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

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