Live On by Joyfrida Anindo

The road is tough and rough,
Corpses grow like weeds on bumps,
Live on, Don’t stop,
Avert your eyes where need be,
Don’t look them in the eye as they die,
They said,
But I couldn’t understand
Why they chose to look but not see,
Why they could see and not feel,
Why they could feel and do nothing,
Keep living,
They said…

About Joyfrida

This poetry was written by Joyfrida Anindo. She is a Kenyan lady who lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya.

You can visit Joyfrida’s blog and read more of her writing here:

Another great submission from Joyfrida! Check out her last submission, Cracks of Time, or visit the Submit page to submit your own writing. I’m especially keen to see good writing tips and poetry right now.

When We Lost Papa

When we lost papa, things got very hard very fast.

He was the strongest member of the family, both physically and mentally. He knew what he wanted and he knew how he could get it without ever having to do anything questionable or immoral. Unlike mama, who has always been nervous and slow, he had made decisions quickly and with undeniable confidence. Papa had been fit, healthy, able, and smart.

That had not made him a match for the speeding car that had come off the road on a tight bend and ploughed straight into him.

Once the shock and the horror of that terrible day had started to fade enough for mama to think straight, we had the funeral. After the funeral had taken place, we got the chance to look at our lives and see where we could go with what we had left. That was when we had come to the realisation that, despite how hard papa had worked throughout his life, we were going to run out of money in a short amount of time.

When that happened, we would have nothing.

Mama had raised three children and had not worked in over fifteen years, since my birth. I was the oldest, though still at school. My youngest sibling, my sister, was only three. Mama tried to find a job that would allow her to juggle family life too, but to no avail. So, I left school and lied about my age to do work for some shady guy who got me occasional jobs as long as I never asked him anything or appeared too interested. Sometimes, it would seem legitimate enough, like building and repair projects, but other times it was driving people to secret locations and delivering packages discreetly.

It was hard to make ends meet for the four of us, so after a while I started to accept more of the dodgy – and better paid – jobs. I had betrayed papa’s good reputation and honesty, but I had done it to protect the family that he would have wanted me to look after when he was gone, and that was what justified it for me.

Then came the day when my brother, two years younger than me, came to the realisation that we needed more money if we were going to remain in the home that papa had bought. My brother asked me to get him work of his own. I wish I had sent him away. I wish I had told him no. I wish I had decided I would be happy to starve if it would stop my brother from becoming life me. The problem was that I had started something that was going to start affecting the rest of my family – and I had not seen that until it was too late.

We all missed papa, but it was irrelevant that he would have wanted better for us. We knew nothing more than the scum and the villainy and the fear that we had become used to. Every single job could have been the last one, the one when the police had caught us or a rival gang had attacked us, and yet we kept making it home without a scratch. We were beyond lucky.

I would cuddle my sister at night and tell her stories about papa. I would tell her how good papa had been. I was convinced that if I could demonstrate how far her two brothers had drifted from his perfect behaviour, then she would grow up and see how wrong we were. I would whisper to her, when mama was not around, that she should run away.

When my sister grew up to hate me and what I had become, I loved her all the more. It broke mama’s heart to see her leave, but I was happy – she was the only one of us who managed to get out. The knowledge that my sister had a real chance to make positive changes in her life was the greatest feeling in the world.

Even though I had turned my back on the man who papa had been, something had still shone through the darkness that had grown within me. I had done what I could to lessen my betrayal of his memory.


The imagery in this is very touching. A beautiful but sad memory of love.

trimmed words

two halves, unbroken lie

I see you in the walls
painted white in dark blotches
metallic doors bearing numbers
unlike any we’ve known:
a cathedral of a person,
a temple within and without

in the hills, distant cries
echoing shadows on palms
thick skin, full of mirrors and delights
a nose like a freckle beneath your blue eyes
as buffaloes roam, they run
break hallows and streets with their hooves
march down mountains and jump
atop clouds behind which whistles hide

in the rain, mere drizzle
like a blooming plant seething again;
roots stuck deeply in the past
(which is ours,
which has you in it, unlike now
unlike today), a constant promise
to be, hide, play wolves
let the river run

in notes flown astray
like a flock–
sparrows casting shadows on the earth,
carried away by the sprinkling rain
drenching my yellow heart,
my stomach full of paint–

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Sometime Sunshine

I really enjoyed this poem. Sometimes, we try to cling onto something that doesn’t actually belong to us anymore, and we feel as though nothing can ever properly replace it.

On The Heath

traces linger
like fingerprints on the windowpane
before the rain

no tears – only pain
as fragile as droplets from the sprinkler
in the wind

losing count of the years
can’t believe how long it’s been
yet every now and then I still yearn for your radiance
my sometime sunshine

I have a burning desire
even though I know you’ll never again
light my fire

and on days when I have encounters
I find I’m reluctant to give my all
and can’t help but tread carefully
as if upon a quagmire

© Heath Muchena, 2016

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while we sleep

I love this. Such a great piece.

unbolt me

there exists a horizon that has kissed a lambent sun
like the sun of my youth
and tho’ the night has fallen, tho’ i fain no longer see
i still feel, i can feel everything

i’ve lost my shape to the darkness, and still do i decay
i’m disintegrating
and tho’ those days are gone now (they left with profound unknowing)
i still need, i do need you beloved

i feel i’ve nowhere left to run
and nowhere left to hinge my mind
yet the hollow earth still turns without you
indifferent while we sleep

a piano playing somewhere, it does not play for me
to my starvation hue
and tho’ fool dreams once succoured me, i fain no longer care
i still want what i want tho’ my flesh concedes

the river has flowed on and long, dust gathers on the heath
i don’t know where to find you

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Time, the False Healer

Time was the healer of all wounds, or so they said. If only there could be enough of it.

Vanessa often found herself staring at the stars without realising what she was doing. She would catch herself in the act, her mind wandering off to that bizarre place that human minds tend to wander when they goggle at something so immense they cannot attempt to understand it all. To some people, the night sky conjoured images of wonder, as they traced the shapes with their fingers that their ancestors had once used to guide themselves home. Others looked up at the stars and marvelled at the thought of planets somewhere out there that might, just possibly, be home to some equally amazed alien being who too was looking up at the stars in delight. And some, like Vanessa, used the sky to remind them of just how small they really were.

The stars were an ocean of sparkling grief. If she stared at them for long enough, Vanessa was sure that she could begin to connect them together to form the shape of her father’s face. That was how she knew that time had not yet got around to healing her.

Vanessa’s father had lived a long life, it was true, if not a very exciting one. In his eighty years he had never once stepped foot outside of his country of birth. He had never flown, he had never sailed, he had never learned to swim or drive a car or turn on a computer. The list of modern behaviours or appliances that he had never mastered that other people his age had been using for half of their lives was practically endless. He had always holidayed in the same resort, which he had always complained about. He had always shopped at the same supermarket, even when it had stopped selling that bread he had really liked. He had always requested the same grey socks for his birthday and he had never worn the ones with the white stripe she had bought him out of the desire to gift something slightly different.

Despite being a plain and simple man, with tastes that he had stubbornly clung to for most of his life, he had still been Vanessa’s father. Five years on from his death and she had still not discovered how to handle things without his presence. Five years on, and all she had for guidance was a jumble of stars that vaguely resembled the shape of a face.

‘It’s not unusual,’ her friends would tell her when they saw her – if they saw her. ‘Grief is hard. Everybody struggles with it in their own ways. The great secret to life is that we are all pretending we can handle it.’

That did not solve Vanessa’s problem. In fact, it served to escalate it. Now she could only imagine that everyone else felt as miserable and pathetic as she did, the difference being that they could plaster a fake smile onto their faces and pretend that there was still something about life left to enjoy. Knowing that did not bring her father back, nor did it remove him from her fidgety mind.

There was something missing from her life. It had been missing ever since he had died. It was not a poor holiday resort on the south coast or a supermarket that did not stock the correct bread or a pair of boring grey socks. When her father had left the mortal world to make that dodgy pattern in the night sky, some of her strength had gone with him.

To Vanessa, time was nothing more than a cruel mistress. It had been five years and every single day had been almost impossible. At first, the weeks had passed without her even knowing it, and what had been impossible had been to keep track of time, to wash and clean her teeth and remember to eat. After a few months of his passing, time had slowed down to a near halt. It had whipped up a hurricane of pain that blew around her every minute of every day. How other people could deal with their pain, squash it down or rid themselves of it altogether, was beyond her.

There was one other reason for her to look up at the stars. Mankind had been doing it since they had first formed semi-coherent thoughts. The stars made it look like anything might be possible. If Vanessa could see her father again, then perhaps everything could be fixed and she could return to being the woman she had been before her father had died. They gave her brief moments of hope.

Then her eyes returned to the ground and she realised that all she had left was time.

Day Four: Serially Lost

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

I watched the leaves drift gently to the ground from the safety of my bedroom window. It was an Autumn I would never forget, no matter how much I wished to cast it aside and start over. A blank state sounded so very good at the time; it was a lesson that I would remember well in the future.

I wondered how the trees felt when they lost their leaves. Every year, a part of them that was once so bright and full of life fades away until it breaks off and lies abandoned on the ground. I yearned to know how they coped with that physical loss, for as I watched their leaves fall, I knew a large part of me was breaking free from my body, too.

It was nobody’s fault, although it would have been good to find someone to blame. Where once there had been great things, flames that burned all night and day, beauty and desire and adoration, by that Autumn there was nothing left. The flames had burned out and everything I had focused on was gone.

That summer, he had stopped touching me. The things we had shared, from gentle caresses to far more intimate touches, came to an end. We did not speak like we had once spoken. There were no more kisses. Our passion could not be replenished and when his love had vanished, mine had followed suit.

He did not leave straight away. The house was mine and my older children, who were from another relationship, were fiercely defensive of that fact. If anyone was going to go, then it was him.

We had tried to make it work at first, but our romance was already lost. I had to prioritise my kids over him; he had to work long hours  to please his boss. I worked too, of course, but I had no usable skills to boast of and so it was for minimum wage. We never needed the extra cash that he earned, but the more that he made, the more important it became to him. I considered money his obsession, but he never saw it that way. By the beginning of Autumn, it meant everything to him, and I began to detest his attitude; he told me he felt neglected because I gave too much attention to my kids.

As I watched the leaves fall that day, I could hear him starting his car. His belongings had been packed for days, and finally he had decided to leave. After long months of trying, we had failed and he was leaving. Everything we had experienced together was gone.

That was my Autumn of loss. I waited to see what Winter had in store.