BN Poetry Award: A Poem We Would Rather Forget by Sanya Noel (Kenya)

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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  • A Poem We Would Rather Forget
  • BN Poetry Award
  • Sanya Noel
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