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AkuAko-Fertility-Dolls

You can tell by the shape of the pieces
The trailing blood and the aura of warmth
That there was once a heart here
And the winds of memory floating by
Still fan the flame that raged in it

You can gauge from the markings on the walls
The piercing font and the scrambled letters
That a name was etched by cupid’s arrow
And the sunset glow of the text
Still hints of a golden history

You can sense from the tremble of the chambers
The undying pulse and the scent of a beloved
That the heart once danced to a dreamer’s beat
And the hollow ring of wedding bells
Still haunts what could have been

You can taste in the beads of water
The pouring rain and the salty puddles
That tears are words the heart can’t express
And the cloud that sheds them
Still leaves “goodbye” behind

You can see in the drag of finger prints
The gathering mass and the mist of sweat
That someone is slowly collecting the pieces
But the feeling that used to live here
Still hides in the shadows of the heart.

 

Poem originally published on BN Poetry Awards Website. The BN Poetry Award is a project of the BN Poetry Foundation, founded by Ugandan writer, Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva. The BN Poetry Award is the only annual African Poetry Prize originating from within the continent for African poets. It started as an annual poetry competition for Ugandan women in 2008 and in 2014 extended to the continent, also to include men. The winning prize this year was 1,000 US dollars for the winner, a fully paid trip to The Storymoja Festival in Nairobi and an autographed copy of Wheels, a poetry collection by Kwame Dawes. The top 10 poets each received a copy of Wheels and attended either  Storymoja Festival or the Ake Arts and Book Festival.

 

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Image by Noumbissi Constantin via African Digital Arts.

About the Author

Portrait - Tom JalioTom Jalio was born and bred in Kenya. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of Nairobi. As an editor for Master Publishing, he has helped produce nearly 20 fiction and non-fiction titles. He attended the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair under the auspices of the Kenya ICT Board’s Tandaa digital content grant. Tom is a soft-spoken introvert who finds his voice in the written word. He sees humour in the mundane and poetry in the tragic, and expresses that in his writings. He’s mostly done creative nonfiction but is now venturing to literary fiction. His features, short stories, and poems have been published in over ten magazines, newspapers, and anthologies.

 

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

4 Responses to “There Was Once Something Special Here | by Tom Jalio | Winner of BN Poetry Prize” Subscribe

  1. oluwaseun December 2, 2014 at 2:45 am #

    He’s like…me in 10 years! His email/ social media details are not included, ainehi. I really like the poem. From the first stanza, I knew it would be beautiful…

  2. Nambozo December 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Oluwasen, He is on twitter: @tjalio.

    Thanks Brittle paper.

  3. PHILEMON OYUGI February 4, 2015 at 1:53 am #

    Tom, your poem is amazing! I love the phrase ” That tears are words the heart can’t express And the cloud that sheds them Still leaves “goodbye” behind”.

    I’ll bet that many readers are going to be able to relate to this!

    Kudos!

  4. Gita Spiller December 18, 2016 at 4:58 am #

    I have never read a poem with such powerful emotion, and so well contrived.

Leave a Reply

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