By Jacquie Mwaura

So yesterday life decided to hand me another one of its harsh reality slaps. I just realized I’d been suffering with functional depression for the past 10 months. 10 months. Yaani a baby was conceived, carried to full term and came into the world while I was struggling to get by. I was updating a very close friend of mine about a recent conversation I had with a mutual friend.

The irony of all this is that in as much as I’m in the mental health field, I still have stigma attached to seeking professional mental health services.

In this state of high functioning depression, your life seems to be going pretty well. After all they’re people suffering from a lot worse. You may have a supportive network but there’s a little voice that tells you they just wouldn’t understand. Your family may not really know what’s…

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A Foreboding

There’s a thing that’s coming to this town
It hasn’t been seen and no one’s heard a sound
Picture the tension, breaths held
Limbs of plastic and bodies glued still
Notice the watchmen, their faces a show of will
They watch for anything but that which must
And will
They know and they don’t
It will and it won’t
Forget the end, forget the start
Forget the pull on the trigger
Never mind if it hits its mark
Spare that poor soul and take your mind back
Take that thing with you
Into the barrel, past the big bang
Before the spark, lift just slightly the hammer
Let the whole thing hang
If it won’t hold let it stammer

In that moment before it all comes down
A glass before it hits the floor
It looks like they’re holding their ground
But they can’t tell the roof from the wall
And they don’t know themselves or their might
Yet they seem ready for war
But what’s on its way is not a fight
It’s a song on the verge of tears
On its tune ride all of its fears
It cries out in terror
Getting sweeter and sweeter still
A warning that’s afraid to scream
So it escapes through the night
piercing and shrill

Like the fire demon tired of all the strife
So it went to the house that gave it life
Got caught in the very moment it was born
A little boy in the middle of a room
Walls closing in on him, a radiant tomb
The ceiling painted like a sunrise
If it could only make him open his eyes
But his eyelids were glued against each other
So painfully so that he could only shut them tighter
And oh did he fight to disappear
But the demon knew the ending
And it cried out as it reached for him
Maybe it could fling him just out of reach

When the lie is this great it won’t come out
And when the townspeople speak they won’t let be heard
That one truth they wouldn’t want to hear themselves
Silently the dogs bark at frozen demons
The moon rushes across a cloudy sky
The wind won’t even pretend with that mournful nonsense
It is too cold to even die
And everybody knows what’s coming to them
And they don’t
It is
And it is not


Sad Beautiful Tragic


Nine a.m in the streets of Nairobi was a bitch. It was almost as bitchy as five p.m but everyone was a little less angry and a bit more eager. So, their pushes were friendly pushes but pushes all the same. He noticed the way they shoved him before he realized how he felt about them. As he hoped from a matatu to another, he cursed the pleasures of morning sex and hoped he would make the office by at least nine thirty. It was his third week and this was the fifth time he was late. And like on all the other similarly miserable days, there was a meeting scheduled for that morning. He remembered how everyone was always telling him to get a place nearer to his workplace and how he’d not even thought about it. He thought, because apparently all he could do was think of all…

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The Hill of Lonely Trees

I was sitting by a lonely tree. The tree had only me.
It said something. It said to me, why have you come to me?
I spoke to it, I said dear tree, I only came to see.
It sighed and swayed. Aside, it said.
Here’s how this came to be.
And we got up and climbed on up the hill of lonely trees.


Counting crows

I’m seated on a rooftop

I’m counting crows

Clouds are gathering

It’s getting cold

It’s going to fall soon,

The birds are saying.

I’ll be seated on a rooftop

Counting you crows


I’m waving good bye

At who? no one knows

If I waver here’s why

I don’t want you to go

As I stare at the sky

And there’s nothing I see

I have to believe

I simply have to. Believe


I felt the air cool before

the wind picked up pace

She said it smelled like a storm

But I was laden with faith

I watered plants with a song

They yielded fruit for my ear

The farmer knew all along

The wind blew along


I built a house of my fears

It kept me safe from my fears

There I hid with my fears

And longed for my fears

I should have run from my fears

And ran to my fears

I saw the clouds gather on

Who would protect you my fears?


So now I stand on the edge

A step and it is the end

But she did not smell a flood

She never smells wrong

Will she curse at the rain?

Will it soak her in pain?

The rain’s in our blood

I’ll help her cherish the song


I cannot stand that you’re gone

I’ll never move on

I hope I’m grown as it gets

Happier than I let on

Will I seek shelter as it falls?

Perish the thought

I’m seated on a rooftop

I’m counting crows

The Stewmaker

This is how the story ends

In a steaming pot churning and turning

On a fire that’s cold uncaringly burning

With the Stewmaker watching, teaching and learning

The smell will stuff his nose the smoke will sting his eyes

The steam will scald his skin the stew will catch his lies

A world was busy turning day after day on its own

Night after night on itself. Wrong after right on their own

Its people were changing.

They danced in the rain and hid from the sun

But not for want of reason the sun was dying

To kill them in the day and bury them in the light

But these people, so contrary, they’d bury them in the night

They would burn the living and scorn the dead

They razed the forest from which they came

And raised their young in the ash falling like rain

Everywhere he turned a people without persons

And he was lost in the crowd a pawn in a losing game

If it’s suicide you’re after there’s an old family recipe

It’s slow and painful… You’d enjoy it immensely

But if not son then take this life well salted

And wait child, wait until they’re all dead

At the very least let your death find you alive

But no, he simply could not

Wait until the air was too heavy to breathe

And life was too scary to grieve because

The dead were a lucky lot

And he had everything to die for

The question was how

I’ll go with a stir I’m a galaxy not a star

I’ll turn this world around instead of burn it to the ground

Instead of spiral out of control this one will spin on a wheel

I will hold it all together life will need me and I’ll live forever

A whisper began and then a chant

A ripple that turned into a wave

A world was slowly turning day after day on its own

Night after night on itself. Right after wrong on their own

Its people were changing.

There was disorder there was dust

There was hunger and there was lust

The air was too heavy to breathe

Could it be? Had he become

An instrument of the decadence he wished to overcome?

He told himself no and he let the world know

He led the world, no?

And so

The smell did stuff his nose and the smoke stung his eyes

The steam peeled off his skin and the stew did catch his lies.

The Thirteen Ghosts

“To Let”, “To Let”, but they’d never let me go.

The haunted house is not really their home.

My dreams and nightmares are not really my own.

They’d never leave me, but hey, I’m never alone.

Small wonder I’m ever alone, small chance I’ll never feel grown.

Plenty of years to figure out I need people,

Plenty of time and people will never need me.

So I talk to the wraith. He knows without me he’s gone.

He sucks the life out of me but I’ve heard how cruel this planet can be.

And I’m too immature and way to corruptible, see?

Hell yeah, you only live once; nobody knows that like death.

But the elements insist I must live.

They say I must leave the company of myself and me.

Such ignorant elements, we’re way more than that.

I’ve got Joey though, and he’ll be wherever I go.

Even the Phantom of the Opera’s got nothing on him.

He’s mean to me with such style and finesse

that I can only hope to ape him at best.

And the rest is history, let’s say. And I apologise

to that one girl, especially. My manner could have been better.

You were my school and my test, and I failed miserably.

Now guess who’s here to comfort me.

Joey’s brother, Joey. Smartass Joey.

Imagine Hitler had a sense of humour, or Chris Rock a sense of evil?

Mull it around. That’s Joey’s brother, Joey.

He tells me what to say around people who don’t know me.

And the words pour out, and then the laughter rolls out,

The victim concedes but Joey will still knock his lights out.

And he listens only to one Joey with the weird ideas.

Ofttimes they roam the netherworld with an army of clowns

looking for people to murder or a village to pillage.

But there’s one who tells me to apologise, insists I try to love.

And what am I if I don’t listen to a white sheet with holes in it?

What’s to lose? Don’t threaten me with lonely, I’ve been it.

So this is me pretending to have a heart.

I hope you’re happy now, saint Joey the Compassionate.

This is where irony strikes.

You have plans and the plans have you by the neck.

And Joey the Pessimist paints a picture of my life.

I just shake my head at his terrible art.

If he must shatter my dreams, he’d best learn to hold a brush.

This is when I high-five Joey the Delusional.

There was a time when I was the second smartest kid I knew.

The smartest was Joey, Joey the genius.

Prepubescent me shouted, “Show me where he is!”

I couldn’t stand competition, plus I’d watched Jet Li’s ‘The One’.

I haven’t seen him since; him and my ability to be coherent.

Joey says he’s in the future, plotting to return and be ‘The One’.

So now I wander these lands with an empty space in my head.

Sometimes I’m the center of attention, courtesy of Joey the Significant.

Other times he’s too busy being self important and I’m left with Joey the Insignificant.

So I’m left begging Joey the invisible to help me disappear.

Then it’s me, my ghosts and an entire planet out to get us.

Well, they vanish when I need money, all except Joey the Broke.

Oh, and Vitruvius from the Lego Movie. “WOOOOOO…”

How To Kill a Poet

Broken bones, heartbreaking poems,

And heartbroken poets trying to break bone.

They said things that almost broke my funny bone

But I yet smiled. Tragedies are a joke.

They painted the world dark red, and gave us tears to drink,

Stuffed rocks of salt down our throats and filled our IVs with ink,

Flipped the world upside down so New Zealand was old,

And preached such venom to grammar, she woke from her coma.

Bold or stupid.

And still they wrote, still they spoke, these new chiefs.

Shouted in the streets till the avenues would lose sleep,

Till the skyscrapers peered down from the blue sheets,

For this day, they’d see crowned the new king of loose leaf.

When the ink ran out, they filled their pens with blood,

And when the paper was filled they tore at the walls.

Oh what a colourful day for their sorrowful ways.

Yet still I felt joy. The end was at hand.

Then a low rumble was heard, and a bright light from the right

I said, stay humble my heart, and walked away to the left

And like flies to a lamp, they ran for the light

creepy headlightsIf only they weren’t about their rights, if only they had left.

My job there was done. Yet another for the shelves.

How to kill a poet, let them kill themselves.