THOUGHTS BEFORE CONFINEMENT…
As mountain-high walls hold us
we pathetically face a humiliating search
the senior warder roars callously
Suruali zote chini!*
and hastily, the heavily tattooed
bank robbers, serial killers, rapists… join the long queue
where I, a radical poet of protest cum human rights activist
confined for double counts of treason
stand facing the nozzles of the artillery!
From a distance, the so called hardcore convicts
stare at us, making all sorts of faces as
they hang around the intimidating metallic gates;
with demanding sunken eyes, they grab
a new inmate by the neck
in the watch of prison warders
Oh, how fast my dread for them is proven!
I see them squeeze the life out of the young man
and ostensibly fight over him
as another ruthless one bangs his skull against the wall
but his miserable call for help
is drowned by the hordes of inmates milling around the jail
Wee! Isn’t this secure unit hell on earth?
Then, an awful warder opens the horrifying metallic gates
leading another lot of convicts
as he swings the whip on his terrible hand,
geared up to inject the dose of order into them
and seldom thrashes some like worthless creatures
for supposedly upsetting his peace of mind, in his line of duty!
I then see emaciated inmates in rags,
handcuffs from arms to legs, being pulled out
of jail, it seems they’ve contracted pneumonia…
and as they enter the monstrous Mariamu** set for general infirmary
the senior warder thunders irritably
Climb quicker before I shatter your limbs!
Oh, can’t they soften the sentence?
Tell me, who on earth will beseech God for me…
since minutes from now, I have to join these
horrible friends… how I feel like a lead terrorist
being thrust into the hands of the hangman!
Oh Lord dear
will I really bear life behind bars?
* Kiswahili statement meaning ‘all pants down!’
** A local name for a prison truck that transports prisoners.
Kariuki wa Nyamu is an emerging poet from Kenya. He attended the prestigious Makerere University in Uganda for his BA in English, Literature and Education. He is a radio playwright, editor and high school teacher. He has won creative writing competitions at school, university and national level. Apart from poetry and radio plays, he also writes film scripts, short stories, satirical essays and fiction for Children. His poetry is published widely both in print and online, such as in *A Thousand Voices Rising,* *Boda Boda Anthem and Other Poems, Best New African Poets 2015 Anthology**,* *Jalada Africa 04: The Language Issue-Bonus Edition, **Love, Travel, and *also forthcoming in* Multi-Verse: Kenyan Poetry in English Since 2003,* *Experimental Writing: Volume 1, Africa Vs Latin America Anthology*, *Babishai Niwe Children’s Poetry Anthology,* *Poetry Potion 10, Best New African Poets 2016 Anthology,*
among others. He is presently pursuing a Master of Arts in Literature at Kenyatta University, Kenya.