“Elementeita and the End of Kenyan Time” by Stephen Derwent Partington

Elementeita and the End of Kenyan Time


Volcanic glass, they call it: black obsidian.
I knapped a piece as Neolithic man might,
drew my sapient blood by accident – not
clever! – sucked my finger, caught the red sun
as it stoppered into one of many dormant-
dumb calderas, watched an antelope traipse
higher for the evening, then buffalo, then
elephants… But why was that, that elephant’s
two tusks bent down, not upwards, why were
lions’ teeth so large, and did the sun just
spew as vomit from its crater, redsky orange,
and the rocked earth roll like water underfoot?

The careless eons spin like gambling balls,
a-clatter round the crater’s wheel, to now:
despite our wheel, our plasma tablet and our
tweets about the wrongs of those who rule, well,
what of concrete-crumb Nairobi when these
craters fire, the ground’s hot guts eviscerate,
the next erratic earthquake comes?


Stephen Derwent Partington (SDP) is a teacher and literary critic who has married into Kenya. He writes a regular literary article for Kenya’s Saturday Standard, has a light topical poem in the weekly East African, and pens a satirical piece each week for the Kenyan tabloid, The Nairobian. He also writes the occasional academic article, has had poems published in numerous ‘little magazines’, and has produced two full-length collections: SMS & Face to Face (Kenya, Phoenix) and How to Euthanise a Cactus (UK, Cinnamon). He is currently co-editing a ground-breaking collection of Kenyan poetry since 2003, and is probably slowly sipping a whisky and reading a poem as you read this.