Tag Archives: Kenya

Sea Urchin, Kenya

Sea Urchin


I got up in the night,

foot pad on cold tile

an edge broken and crumbled, sharp,

and stood at the window

watching the near light turn blue,

watching the sea gap before sky

hardening from indigo

to verdigris,

its white reef ridge

a chalk line marking the end of sea,

watching limp frilled palm leaves shiver

over water,

breathing with the quiet dry rasp of tide on sand,

my foot still sore where the jet smooth needle


where it slipped through skin into flesh,

skewered and stayed

hard black

until Hero, the boy from the village,

peed a hot stream of acid yellow

which pooled on the sand

and I laughed

at its ordinariness.




Filed under poems, poetry, writing

Africa Cont.

Arrival at Mombasa


At Mombasa after rain the potholes pool red

blood spotting the runway,

shining like clots in the sideways zinc-glint of sun,

slicing through clouds the colour of bruises.


You’ve been here before. I know.

But not by air,

by open car, too-fast spraying rusted earth along dust roads

coming from Nairobi.

Too fast to smell the resin-high frangipane blossom

or pick mangoes,

growing wild as blackberries in a hedgerow.

Too fast to the cobalt sea.


Your knuckles are white-boned gripping my hand

thin skin soft stretched

as the wheels skid on rain,

but we slow to standing

and the scent of Kenya begins to seep in through the cracks:

a sweet tang of hot damp air,

of earth-mud and diesel.


Filed under poems, poetry, writing

New Year, New Poem


A still night

lit by paraffin and candle and camp fire.

An intimate pause with strangers

over white table cloths

in a clearing among trees next to the banks of a river.

We took our seats at table

so far from the north of England.

The fire red-licked our wine glasses and

painted red the artichokes

put before us by thin smiling men

with gilded skin.

We were deep in Kenyan countryside and there were artichokes

for supper.

The newly weds shrank into panicked whisper,

picked up their knives and forks and

put them down again.

Flashes of red vitriol flicked across the table.

It’s not the honeymoon she’d wanted:

it’s mud and monkeys

which sit on the concrete walls of the bathroom

and watch her naked with small black eyes

and steal her things

and laugh at her bareness

and just a man with a bow and arrow

between them and the jaws of an alligator

and unidentifiable insects floating,

decomposing in the pool:

insects with blue bodies, the size of birds.

And a bird the size of a goat

which clacks and pecks at her bed through the tent canvas.

And now something on her plate

which she doesn’t know what to do with.

I took some butter and let it slide down the sides

of my artichoke,

let it pool between the leaves

before I pulled the first leaf and scraped off its metallic flesh

quickly getting to the pale thin-silk leaves

and then to its core,

to its throat spearing choke.

I cut it away,

its shorn filaments pustule-dotted like the head of a sunflower.

And then they came,

the porcupines,

their bristles clicking like heels on parquet.

Three then four

and a small one

rooting, snuffling into the red Kenyan earth.


Filed under poems, poetry, writing