This poem is longlisted for BN Poetry Award.

thirty one years after the Wagalla Massacre
This is what you remember the butt of a gun landing to your mouth
and then the muzzle pushed
way down your throat
and all you could pray for
was for them to pull the trigger.
This is what happened they came for you in lorries
and you were innocent enough to think
that a Kenyan citizenship
would shield you from harm.
This is what followed they asked for your clan
but how could you tell that
saying you were of the Degodia Clan
was signing your own death warrant?
These are the memories naked bellies on the asphalt
and boots with guns
stepping on their heads and necks.

These are the memories gunshots ringing
and truncheons landing on chests
and the cracking of sternums
and the giving in of skulls.
These are the memories every sternum broken, was your sternum broken
every skull smashed in, was your skull smashed in
and every thud of a truncheon, was a thud to your soul.

This was your decision you were going to die anyway
but the fear in you
couldn’t let you die just lying on the ground.

This was your luck the terror made you run so fast
even the bullets couldn’t catch up with you.
This is your regret you wish you had died too
so you would be relieved of memories
of cracking sternums and skulls smashed in
of unheeded cries for mercy, and prayers to God.

This is what you wish for a chance to forget
that on this day, thirty one years ago
five thousand people were executed
by their own country.

These are your questions Do the dead move on?
Did the ground ever quench
its thirst for Somali blood?

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