LATE MORNING: Poems From Tanzania


Across the field
To dawn at sea

A corner in the midday sun
Beneath the sky at night

Alone within his heart

The warrior waits for death
The watchman waits for dawn

To this have I been called
To wait on God
A moment forever
In expectancy of surprise

(Makiungu 1981)

The Rag

It was used
To clear the floor
Of muddy footprints
On rainy days

Thrown out upon
The weeks and months
Of harsh winters

The home of worms and snails
Till taken in
Soaked and worn
To help the fire
In some strange way

Then set aflame

(Makiungu 1982)

Late Morning (For Maura)

How many times
You peeped into the room
(when I was sleeping late)
Wishing, thinking
We could be together

And how were you to know
That when I sit beside you
Look into your eyes
Or come home to you
I am filled
With silent peace, content
With the look of
An expectant mother
Knowing I have arrived
Safe to sleep

Once I thundered
Childish fury in your face
And chased away
Your first lover
By staying too close

As you bore it
With my teenage oddity
And adult depression
Letting me wash my clothes
In the bath
To work it off

And you understood
My silence
As you understood
My presence
As you understand

(Galapo 1985)


Dripped once
With drenching dew
Now dried
And parched
These mountain slopes
My soul
Straining upward

I've longed for You
With clouded passion
Shade and shield
From the sharp sword of fate

All my life
I'm always almost there
Almost always
Missing You

In night-like absences
In the dark
The shadow
Of You standing by
To rescue me
From hands too strong

Would you spirit me away
To cool cloisters
Tasting Your thirst for me
In full flood
And silence


She came to me
In the night
When our mourning
Had long since ceased
And taking me by the hand
She walked me
In the light
Smiling, speaking
But I heard not a word

Never have I seen
A star so bright
Nor a moonlit night
So beautiful

And I wonder
Who am I
That I should dream

(Galapo 1985)


I often thought
You should have been a monk
With your silent ways

And in a thunder-stormed room in Rome
One night I was afraid
and wished you were there
Sleeping through it all
Like you used to do at home

If you had gone to a monastery
There would never have been
Those China factory days in Sunner
Walking down Pearse Avenue
Where I got to know you
Or Friday evening chats
And pints in Jacksons or wherever

If you were a monk
You wouldn't be Dad
Nor would I be me
And I'd still be afraid
Of thunder!

(Galapo 1985)

I Wonder

A dawn that brings
No sunshine
Keeps me in bed
If tomorrow
Will let me fathom
What I still don't understand
At dusk
That the sun
Has made its journey
Through the sky
While the news repeats
What it's always said
That we've repeated
What we've always done

And I wonder
About tomorrow
- will it make more sense,
Will there ever be peace?

(Galapo 1985)

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