Three Poems by Ben Murigu

Black Houdini

For a while, he’s been missing our Mheshimiwa—
A shepherd unseen
A leader heard
A presence unfelt
A true, black Houdini.

Five party-branded calendars
Cheap and unseemly
Used and discarded
After having angered our visitors
Marred our living rooms.

No word from his honorable person
No help from his hired personnel.

No progress report on his projects
Stalled or otherwise
No newsworthy mentions
No fruitful radio discussions.

A Harvard-educated marine biologist
Who’s a mirage
A myth
A true lie, living and breathing—
A ghost in his classy government-issued office at Continental House
A stranger at his posh wananchi-built bungalow at Clay City.

Too sleepy to attend mass
Too busy to show up at weddings
Too hangovered to show up at harambees
Too alive to attend wakes.

It’s almost August again—
And, suddenly, he is back
Armed with a fresher plan
Blessed with a newer strategy
Powered by a clearer vision.

His red Lexus swiftly abandoned
He struts around in white sneakers and blue jeans
Oscillating from place to place like some pendulum
Attempting to sway three hundred thousand hearts
In three weeks.

Igniting crowds in near-perfect Swahili
Spewing promises in outrageously outdated Sheng— 

Smiling at men
Waving at women.

Hugging our wives
Winking at our mistresses.

Greeting our sons
Dancing with our daughters.

That come August
We shall, yet again, re-elect

What he fails to realize
Is that after one thousand eight hundred painful nights
Attempting to scare away burglars
With our screams so loud…

After sixty sorry months
Of smearing our runny noses with Robb
And failing miserably to mask that stomach-turning stench
Of sewage raw…

After five long years
Of skipping blind
Whilst putting off mysterious fires
With stored water forced quick into cracked plastic buckets…

And burying countless charred children
In hollow graves
Devoid of honor… 

We are tired
Of his brand of tragic magic
Fed up

Hold On

My crazy step-dad at the door once stood
Spoiling for a fight
Wound up real tight
Waking siblings
Alerting dogs
Taking with his every yell
Every damn ounce of beauty sleep.

My boring Math teacher at the door once stood
Grinning like some nut
Ready with a RAT
Waking classmates
Alerting colleagues
Shaking with his very presence
Every single goddamn muscle of mine.

My livid landlord at the door once stood
Spewing threats
Hurling insults
Waking neighbors
Alerting foes
Wiping with my remnant pride
The very floor he stood on.

Many years later at the door I stand
Blaming no-one
Hurting no-one
Living life glad and fulfilled
Because I somehow managed to hold on.

Gold Expires 

An epitaph
Glossy and shiny
Gracing the backyard.

A gem
Rare and priceless
Stolen from us.

A runner
Young and promising
Now forever stilled.

A wind
Weird and strong
Rustling the leaves.

An ache
Persistent and consistent
No longer dullable.

A pain
Fresh and raw
Oozing pure regret.

A blink
Slow and laboured
To stem the tide.

A sigh
Huge and loud
My throat escapes.

An epiphany
There and then:
Gold, too, expires. 

Ben Murigu is a versatile creative from Nairobi-Kenya who, while teaching high school English, has scripted numerous highly acclaimed commercial plays; self-published a fiction novel, Toy Soldiers; and, quite recently, gotten his works into Literary Cocktail Magazine, Worthing Flash, Bright Flash Literary Review, Lit eZine, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Fairy Charter, 50 Give or Take, Dear Booze, and Yours2Read.