Archive for December, 2010

MIGHTY SUN: A Poem

MIGHTY SUN: A Poem

by Denis Kabi

Mighty sun, who created you?

Ever since I was a child, aged about five,

and looked up to the sky

with my curious pair of eyes,

and my inquisitive mind,

I always saw this round bright thing

drifting slowly across the sky.

It starts its journey very early in the morning,

rising from behind the darkness of the eastern horizon.

Gradually the skies of the east

turn from a dark blue hue,

into a pale grey tint, and, like magic,

a magnificent shade of ever-brightening yellow

fills that part of the sky.

On a cloudless dawn,

the patch of yellow on the eastern sky

is shaped like an arch,

much like the drooping mouth

of an unhappy smiley face.

The yellow arch is anxious to expand

and spread itself across the expanse of sky,

quickly eating up the dark hues

of the night gone by.

At the centre of the ever expanding arch,

there’s a lighted patch,

a smaller arch.

The smaller arch is at first mild enough

to be viewed with naked eyes,

but as minutes elapse,

it grows so bright that I can’t look at it

with my naked eyes.

My mother always told me

never to look directly at the sun.

“It will burn your eyes and you’ll go blind,”

she’d caution me.

But some kids in the neighbourhood,

kids who are my playmates,

taught me how to look at the sun

without burning my eyes.

“Use a negative photography film –

the brownish rectangular thing

found at the back of pictures in family albums,”

the kids advised me.

“By holding the negative in front of one eye

– and closing the other eye –

you can look at the sun directly!”

I have searched through the backs of the pictures

of my family’s photo album,

and found a rectangular brownish film

– what the kids described as a ‘negative.’

It has a series of squared holes along its flanks.

I make a mental note

not to look through those holes

when I’m viewing the sun directly

with my naked eyes.

Now I hold the negative in front of my right eye.

My left eye is tightly closed.

I position the negative close to my open eye,

so that I don’t mistakenly look through

the series of squared holes on its flanks.

Through the brownish film,

I look at the bright arch

emerging from behind the dark wavy line

of the eastern horizon.

At first I observe a semi-circle of bright light

emerging from the dark line of the horizon.

Then the semi-circle slowly grows into a half-circle;

then into a three-quarter circle;

and eventually into a perfectly round

circle of bright light.

I’m awed by its magnificence,

intrigued by the magic of sunrise,

fascinated by the dramatic revelation of the mighty sun,

yet fearful of its powerful light.

Wow! I gasp. Wow!

Mighty sun, who created you?

Were you created by the One,

the One who was here before the beginning of time;

the One  created the universe;

the One who was moving over the ocean

that covered the formless desolate dark earth?

Were you created by the One,

the One who commanded, “Let there be light”

– and light appeared;

the One who was pleased with what He saw

and separated the light from the darkness,

naming the light “Day”

and the darkness “Night”?

I’ve grown older, aged about ten,

and when I look into the clear blue sky

with my curious pair of eyes

and my inquisitive mind,

I see the round bright thing

drifting slowly across the sky.

It’s hanging in the sky,

halfway between the point of sunrise,

and the peak of midday.

It’s white hot

and is in a hurry to lose

its early morning mildness.

It would be a wonderful day

to go shooting birds with my catapult.

So I rush back into our house

and grab my catapult.

The catapult is fashioned out of a Y-shaped stick

and strips of black rubber

cut from a bicycle’s inner tube.

Schools closed a week or so ago

and we have a one month long holiday.

Oh, how I’m enjoying not going to school!

I leave the house and stroll around

the dusty roads of the hilly neighbourhood I live in.

I have my catapult clutched tightly in my hands,

my right hand’s fingers wrapped around

the stem of the Y-shaped weapon,

and my left hand’s fingers grasping

the little patch of leather

where the smooth rounded gravel stone is lodged.

As I walk slowly along the dusty roads,

I keep picking smooth, rounded stones from the road.

I put the stones

into the bulging pockets of my khaki shorts.

The pockets are bulging

because of the bunch of rounded stones

that I’ve collected.

The rounded stones are my ‘bullets’.

I soon spot a yellow-breasted weaverbird,

high up in one of the tall, leafy trees

lining the dusty, rocky road.

I crouch and tiptoe stealthily across the road,

and stand under the branch

where the weaverbird is perched.

It is singing noisily.

Stealthily I raise my catapult

and point at the yellow, noisy bird.

Like a rifle’s sight,

I position the moribund bird

on the crotch of the Y-shaped weapon.

When I start to pull the leather patch

and hopefully shoot down the weaverbird,

the brightness of the sun above

starts to interfere with my view.

Now I can’t see a thing!

The sun is too bright

and its glare temporarily blinds me.

I’ve pulled back the leather patch

– which contains a rounded stone –

as far back as the strips of rubber will allow.

Though I can barely see the weaverbird,

I part my fingers and release the stone.

The weaverbird is very clever and sees me;

it can see the Y-shaped thing I’m holding.

The bird deduces that I don’t mean it well.

It instantly jumps from the branch

and sings a loud song of alarm

as it flits away across the sky,

and disappears behind a clutch of tall trees,

a good distance from where I am.

The stone I’ve just released hits the branch,

exactly where the bird was perched,

and ricochets with a loud ping!

Angered by my ruined attempt

to shoot down the weaverbird,

I turn to the sun.

But I cannot stare at it directly,

for it’s too bright to look at.

“I’m angry with you, Sun!” I tell it.

“You ruined my shot. Now look, the bird has escaped!”

Mighty sun, who created you?

Were you created by the One,

the One who commanded, “Let there be a dome

to divide the water and to keep in two separate places”

– and it was done;

the One who made a dome,

and it separated the water under it

from the water above it?

Were you created by the One,

the One who named the dome “Sky”?

I’ve grown older, aged about fifteen,

and when I look into the clear blue sky,

with my curious pair of eyes

and my inquisitive mind,

I see the round bright thing

drifting across the sky.

It’s hanging in the sky,

directly above my head,

at the highest point of its arched path.

It is midday

and the bright thing is blazing,

having lost its morning mildness.

It would be a wonderful day

to get my drawing materials

– coloured pencils, white papers,

coloured pens, graphite-tipped pencils –

and go sit under the cool shade of a tree

and while away

the sweltering afternoon drawing pictures.

Pictures of yellow-breasted weaverbirds

perched on the branch of a tall tree singing.

Pictures of yellow-barked, towering acacia trees,

their trunks swaying stiffly in the blowing wind.

Pictures of the yellow sun

rising from the eastern horizon,

casting its bright spell over the earth,

ready to rule the day

till its inevitable setting.

Pictures of a yellow-shirted lad,

sitting on a rock

under the shade of a leafy loquat tree,

just outside his house,

scribbling the white paper on his lap

with black and coloured pencils,

lost in the imaginative world of art.

The act of making art

is probably the most pleasurable experience

that a human mind can know.

For a few wonderful seconds

– or minutes, or hours –

the artist’s mind departs

from the shoreline of reality

and sails into the vast wavy ocean of fantasy.

One does not need a sea-going vessel

to explore the vast, wavy ocean of fantasy.

No, one can swim in it,

if they want to.

They can float aimlessly,

if they want to.

They can even walk on the water,

if they want to.

One can dive deep into the ocean and explore

the strange realm under the surface.

Gargantuan under-sea mountains rule the lands below;

deep, dark valleys compliment the mountains,

their depths too scary to explore;

the under-sea creatures are cartoonish,

nothing like is seen on-shore;

the plants too are strange and rubbery,

swaying rhythmically to the unseen ocean currents.

One can float up to the ocean surface and swim

to the islands and islets dotting the vast ocean,

and explore their interiors.

Parrots and hornbills rule

the crests of the tall trees,

squawking and screeching;

apes and monkeys rule

the boughs of the huge trees,

hopping and jumping;

antelopes and gazelles rule

the vast grassy plains,

roaming and wandering;

iguanas and salamanders rule

the open spaces close to waterways,

wobbling and waddling;

tarantulas and giant roaches rule

the covert spaces underneath everything,

creeping and crawling.

One can then jump into the ocean,

and swim to Siberia,

to look at jagged glaciers lining the horizon,

fluffy, white polar bears sliding

on their big, fat bellies down a snowy slope;

and also see vast frozen lakes,

where otters have made holes in the ice,

holes that give them access to food

in the sea below,

and air in the atmosphere above.

One can jump back into the ocean,

and swim to the Arabian peninsular

to look at the vast sandy deserts,

pale plump desert snakes rolling on their bellies

down a wind-swept sand dune;

and also see lush oases

dotted with swaying palm and date trees.

One can jump again into the ocean,

and swim to South America,

to look at the Amazon River,

dark anacondas gliding on their sleek bellies

over the surface of the vast river;

and also see the lush Amazon jungle,

where pale white macaws flit back and forth

across the sky over the towering trees,

engaged in elaborate mating rituals.

But the sun is scorching my skin,

for it has drifted slowly across the sky,

and its light and heat

has exposed the cool shade of the loquat tree

that I’m taking shelter under.

I have to move the rock I’m sitting on farther back.

The artist’s mind departs

from the vastly unexplored world of fantasy

and reluctantly drifts back

into the landmass of unimaginative reality.

It would have been a wonderful day

to draw pictures, but I can’t indulge in my hobby,

because I’m in school,

barely awake,

sitting through a torturous double period

of a mathematics lesson.

Lunch break is coming up

after the math lesson,

and I look forward to leaving the classroom

and going outside

to sit in a cool shade of a tree,

and watch the mystifying heat shimmers of the sun

rising from the grassy grounds.

Mighty sun, who created you?

Were you created by the One,

the One who commanded,

“Let the water below the sky

come together in one place,

so that the land will appear”

– and it was done;

the One who named the land “Earth”,

and the water which had come together

He named “Sea”

– and was pleased with what He saw?

Were you created by the One,

the One who commanded,

“Let the earth produce all kinds of plants,

those that bear grain,

and those that bear fruit”

– and it was done,

so the earth produced all kinds of plants;

the One who was pleased with what He saw?

I’ve grown older, aged about twenty,

and when I look into the clear blue sky,

with my curious pair of eyes

and my inquisitive mind,

I see the round bright thing

drifting across the sky.

It’s hanging in the sky,

halfway between the peak of midday

and the dark line of the western horizon.

It’s yellowish now,

gradually losing its brightness and heat.

It seems subdued,

eager to reach the horizon,

and sink behind it,

and hide its face.

It would be a wonderful day

to take a walk

to the top of the green, knuckled hills of Ngong’,

and sit there at the apexes

and have a 360 degree view of the region.

So I depart from home

and stride at a moderate pace

through the winding, intertwined, dusty, rocky

roads and pathways

leading to the top of the grassy, green hills.

The roads and pathways cut through

residential neighbourhoods,

and past a small bustling town,

and open-air marketplace and bus terminus,

and past a health centre and a police station

and district officer’s office;

and up a steep, red dust road

lined with thorny, green hedges and trees;

and past a small church;

and past a steel barrier and a ticketing office

(I’m on foot, therefore I’m not required

to pay an entry fee);

and eventually I walk up a grassy, green slope

to the apex of one of the knuckles of the series of hills.

A gust of whistling wind blows over me

and I feel like a blade of grass.

If I wasn’t heavy enough,

the wind would have carried me away!

I stand with my feet astride,

to steady myself

as I behold the view,

the magnificent view before my eyes.

Slowly I begin to turn

on my pivot point,

studying the outstretched landscape

which curves downwards

in the distant, purplish, misty horizon.

In the northern horizon

I can see the tops of Nairobi CBD’s tallest buildings,

sticking out of the curving horizon.

I strain my eyes,

searching for the iconic three peaks

of Mount Kenya in the purplish fog

hanging over the northern horizon,

but I can’t see the peaks of the great mountain.

It’s too far away, I presume.

In the eastern horizon,

I can see the tops of numerous trees

– a forest, I suppose –

and in the distance a big hump,

which I guess is a hill.

I strain my eyes,

searching for the shimmering waters

of the Indian Ocean in the bluish mist

hanging over the eastern horizon,

but I can’t see the shimmering waters of the great ocean.

It’s too far away, I presume.

In the southern horizon,

I can see the dark blue mass

of the unmistakable Mount Kilimanjaro.

It’s uniquely shaped.

Unlike most mountains,

this one is not cone-shaped.

It’s shaped like the top of a fedora hat.

I strain my eyes,

searching for the snow-capped top

of Mount Kilimanjaro in the purplish fog

hanging over the southern horizon,

but I cannot see the snow-capped top

of the great mountain.

I guess it is because the snow

has gradually melted away

due to the troubling phenomenon

that the environment experts are calling ‘global warming.’

In the western horizon

I can see a vast grassland plain

stretching out to the curving horizon.

I’m guessing that that is the renowned

Maasai Mara Game Reserve,

the place where the spectacle of wildebeests

making a riotous annual crossing

over the Mara River, happens.

I strain my eyes,

searching for the bluish mass

that is Lake Victoria in the purplish fog

hanging over the western horizon,

but I cannot see the bluish mass of the great lake.

It’s too far away, I presume.

So I turn again and face the north.

In the hillocks on the foreground

of the unfolding landscape,

I try to locate my family’s house.

Numerous houses dot

the slopes of the hillocks,

their multi-coloured roof tiles

and rectangular hedge-fenced compounds

seeming like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Numerous tall trees

planted along the perimeter fences

of the numerous compounds of the houses

on the hillock,

obscure the view of my family’s house.

I make a mental note

to borrow a binoculars and bring it with me

the next time I visit the peaks

of the grassy, green, knuckled hills.

But I see that dusk is fast approaching.

It’s starting to get dark,

and I’d better start my journey back to my home.

I don’t want to find out

what types of wild animals and people

come out at dusk

to roam over the tops of these hills.

The sun is hanging low over the western horizon,

and its heat is mild and soothing,

and I consciously enjoy this

as I stride back home,

weaving through the winding,

intertwined, dusty, rocky roads and pathways.

Mighty sun, who created you?

Were you created by the One,

the One who commanded,

“Let lights appear in the sky

to separate day from night

and to show the time when days,

years and seasons begin,

so that they will shine in the sky

to give light to the earth”

– and it was done?

Were you created by the One who

made the two larger lights,

the sun to rule over the day,

and the moon to rule over the night;

the One who made the stars,

and placed lights in the sky

to shine on the earth,

to rule over the day and the night,

and to separate light from darkness;

the One who was pleased with what He saw?

I’ve grown older, aged about twenty-five,

and when I look into the clear, dark sky,

with my curious pair of eyes

and my inquisitive mind,

I see the round bright thing

almost touching the dark undulating line

of the western horizon.

It’s a fiery orange ball

and is in a hurry to vanish

behind the horizon.

Oh, how amazing it is

to finally be able to look directly at it

without getting my eyes harmed.

Sunset seems to be the only time of day

when one can behold

this enchanting orb of light

with one’s naked eyes,

as it hastens to conceal itself

behind the dark, wavy horizon.

It would be a wonderful day

to stand on the balcony of our house

and just savour this moment,

this dramatic setting of the fiery orange orb.

Millimeter by millimeter it slips

behind the wavy, dark horizon,

its orange brightness tinting

the western horizon with a pale, reddish hue,

a hue which extends outwards into a wide arc.

The wide, pale red arc nicely blends

with the dark blue of the sections of the sky

that are not close to the west.

The fiery orange orb is now three-quarters of a circle.

Millimeter by millimeter it slips

behind the wavy, dark horizon,

and a series of twinkling little stars appear

on the lighted, reddish sky just above it.

It’s as if the twinkling little stars

are glad to see the fiery orange orb vanish

– disappear for the length of the night.

It’s only in the darkness of the night

that most little stars are visible.

The brightness of the daytime sun

renders them invisible.

But now it is their time to shine,

to enjoy twinkling in the dark night.

The fiery orange orb is now half of a circle.

Millimeter by millimeter it slips

behind the wavy, dark horizon,

and inspires the birds to start singing

their evening songs,

songs that are melancholic,

as if mourning the end of the day.

A fleet of migrating white birds

flit across the sky

heading from north to south,

aligned behind each other,

and forming a wobbly, not-so-neat capital V

across the sky.

Crickets and other nocturnal creatures

soon emerge and start their spirited sing-song,

energizing the fading songs

of the retiring daytime creatures,

taking over the nightly role

of being the soundtrack of the earth.

The fiery orange orb is now quarter of a circle.

Millimeter by millimeter it slips

behind the wavy, dark horizon,

and prompts the occupants of the residential houses,

and the numerous shops of the town centre,

to switch on the electric bulbs and tubes

of their respective buildings.

One by one,

I observe with amusement from the top of the hill,

as the electric bulbs and tubes of the countless buildings

in the vicinity light up,

reminiscent of Christmas lights

on a lush, green Christmas tree.

Amber floodlights mounted on tall steel poles

are lit to light up

the small town on the foot of the green hills.

Multicoloured head and tail lamps

of countless motor vehicles

flit back and forth along the main tarmac road,

residents rushing to and from their homes.

The cluster of multicoloured lights of the little town

under the rising slope of the dark, knuckled hills

look really good at night.

The last quarter of the fiery orange orb finally vanishes!

A profound feeling of something like sorrow

envelopes me,

a feeling like that of a nursery school kid

observing his mother leaving the school gates

on his first day in the school.

It’s an unpleasant, empty feeling.

I don’t like it.

The reddish arc on the western horizon

is gradually eaten up

by the dark-blue, starry sky.

Soon the entire stretch of sky

is evenly coloured dark-blue,

with smudges of purple here and there.

It’s surreal.

There’s no hint that a fiery orange orb

sat on the horizon just a few minutes ago!

Mighty sun, who created you?

Were you created by the One,

the One who commanded,

“Let the water be filled

with many kinds of living beings,

and the air to be filled with birds”?

Were you created by the One,

the One who created the great sea monsters,

and all kinds of creatures that live in the water,

and all kinds of birds;

the One who was pleased with what He saw;

the One who blessed them all

and told the creatures that live in the water

to produce and to fill the sea;

the One who told the birds to increase in number?

Were you created by the One,

the One who commanded,

“Let the earth produce all kinds of animal life:

domestic and wild,

large and small”

– and it was done;

the One who made them all

and was pleased with what He saw?

I’ve grown older, aged about thirty,

and when I look at the vast, velvety, starry sky,

with my curious pair of eyes

and my inquisitive mind,

I see a round, bright, white thing

drifting slowly across the sky.

It has just emerged from behind

the curving, dark, eastern horizon.

It’s mild and silvery

and is pleasant to look at.

Its light is mild and cannot harm one’s eyes,

if one looks at it with naked eyes.

It casts a faint grey glow

over the hilly vicinity.

I like it!

It’s called the moon

– the appointed ruler of the night.

It would be a wonderful night,

to get a Good Book and my pencil and my writing pad,

and go sit on the verandah of our house

and read and write a poem or two;

A poem about my dreams,

my grand dreams of becoming a published,

critically acclaimed, award- winning, bestselling author;

A poem about predestination:

My recent realization that…

Everything that happens in this world

happens at the time God chooses,

for He sets the time for birth

and the time for death,

the time for planting

and the time for pulling up,

the time for killing

and the time for healing,

the time for tearing down

and the time for building,

the time for sorrow

and the time for joy,

the time for mourning

and the time for dancing,

the time for making love

and the time for not making love,

the time for kissing

and the time for not kissing,

the time for finding

and the time for losing,

the time for saving

and the time for throwing away,

the time for tearing

and the time for mending,

the time for silence

and the time for talk,

the time for love

and the time for hate,

the time for war

and the time for peace;

A poem about human nature versus spiritual nature:

For those who live as their human nature tells them to,

have their minds controlled by what human nature wants;

but those who live as the Spirit tells them to,

have their minds controlled by what the Spirit wants.

To be controlled by human nature results in death;

to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace;

A poem about the self-righteous:

Fools say to themselves, “There is no God!”

they are all corrupt,

and they have done terrible things;

there is no one who does what is right.

The Lord looks down from heaven

at mankind

to see if there are any who are wise,

any who worship him.

But they have all gone wrong;

they are all equally bad.

Not one of them does what is right,

not a single one;

A poem about the foolishness of trusting in riches:

I am not afraid in times of danger

when I am surrounded by enemies,

by evil men who trust in their riches

and boast of their great wealth.

A person can never redeem himself;

he cannot pay God the price for his life,

because the payment for a human life is too great.

What he could pay would never be enough

to keep him from the grave,

to let him live forever.

Anyone can see that even wise men die,

as well as foolish and stupid men.

They all leave their riches to their descendants.

Their graves are their homes forever;

there they stay for all time,

though they once had lands of their own.

A man’s greatness cannot keep him from death;

he will still die like the animals.

See what happens to those who trust in themselves,

the fate of those who are satisfied with their wealth

– they are doomed to die like sheep,

and Death will be their shepherd.

The righteous will triumph over them,

as their bodies quickly decay

in the world of the dead far from their homes.

But God will rescue me;

He will save me from the power of death;

A poem about God’s glory in creation:

How clearly the sky reveals God’s glory!

How plainly it shows what He has done!

Each day announces it to the following day;

each night repeats it to the next.

No speech or words are used,

no sound is heard;

yet their message goes out to all the world

and is heard to the ends of the earth.

God made a home in the sky for the sun;

it comes out in the morning like a happy bridegroom,

like an athlete eager to run a race.

It starts at one end of the sky

and goes across to the other.

Nothing can hide from its heat.

Mighty sun, who created you?

Were you created by the One,

the One who said,

“And now we will make human beings;

they will be like us and resemble us,

they will have power over the fish,

the birds, and all animals,

domestic and wild, large and small”?

Were you created by the One,

the One who created human beings,

making them to be like Himself;

the One who created them male and female,

and blessed them and said,

“Have many children, so that your descendants

will live all over the earth

and bring it under their control”;

the One who said,

“I am putting you in charge of the fish,

the birds, and all the wild animals;

I have provided all kinds of grain

and all kinds of fruit for you to eat;

but for all the wild animals and for all the birds

I have provided grass and leafy plants for food”

– and it was done;

the One who looked at everything He made,

and He was pleased?

Were you created by the One,

the One who on the seventh day

finished what He had been doing

and stopped working;

the One who blessed the seventh day

and set it apart as a special day,

because on that day He had completed

His creation and stopped working?

I’ve grown older, aged just over thirty,

and when I look at the vast, velvety, starry, sky

with my curious pair of eyes,

and my inquisitive mind,

I see a round bright thing,

drifting slowly across the sky.

It’s about to sink behind

the wavy, dark western horizon,

close to where the sun set hours ago.

It has acquired a pale yellow tinge,

and is still pleasant to look at.

Its light is always mild

and can never harm one’s eyes

if looked at with naked eyes.

It still casts a faint greyish glow

over the hilly vicinity.

I still like it,

this dazzling silver orb called the moon

– the appointed ruler of the night.

It would be a wonderful morning

to make a cup of tea and sip it

while reading a Good Book.

So I heat the water and brew a cup of tea,

and sit in my room, and pick up the beloved tome

and open it, and read from its pages.

A passage catches my eye:

‘In the days after that time of trouble

the sun will grow dark,

the moon will no longer shine,

the stars will fall from heaven,

and the powers in space

will be driven from their courses.

Then the Son of Man will appear,

coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

He will send the angels out

to the four corners of the earth

to gather God’s chosen people

from one end of the world to the other.’

Mighty Son, when will you come?

© Denis Kabi, 2010

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!!!

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