Three trees

By Kenneth Olembo

A brook runs through my Grandmas farm,

That used to carry gold.


My Grandpa


Did not yield the land,
To the British, who wanted it dammed.


In 1968, they took him in,
To have his appendix removed,
And Grandma never remarried.


My Aunt Alice,
Was a witch.


She flew in on broomsticks
We never saw,


But heard in the barn,
Where she parked.


She brought foreign sweets that didn’t
Crack our lips,
And told us naughty jokes.


-Oh Pope the Bastard,
Please pass the Custard!-
We’d squeal and never tell,


And feel all grown up and,


Grandma says she died running with
The wrong pack,


That she was knocked from the sky,
By a cross.


Later we learned,
It was a broken heart that did it,


That Grandma wouldn’t accept a,
Jewish man in the house,


So she killed herself.


Mary was dead when we got here,
Her tree is the prettiest.


It’s a large yellow poplar that,
Trembles in the slightest breeze,


She was a violinist,
A frail, little thing, who


Is fading away,
In family photographs.


Irridescent sparrows trill,
Beautiful harmonies,
From skinny branches,


Shielded by the most delicate,
Drooping fronds.


You see, my Grandmother has three beautiful trees,
Growing in her garden,


One for Benjamin, one for Alice, one for Mary.


My grandmother used to sit under these trees.
They’re feeding off the bones she says.




Shitsugane Olembo is a 42 year old Gay Kenyan Film Director who has been writing poems since he was 23. He is part of the New Poetry coming from the Literary Collective, Kwani ( in Kenya. For Shitsugane, the personal IS political and transformation in one is necessary for the extraction of meaningful life, from the other. ‘We are who we imagine ourselves to be…,’ he says, ‘…and are free to imagine ourselves as we will.’ His poetry is fresh, crisp and poignant and his message – that people’s experiences matter – simple and profound. Shitsugane holds a B.Sc. Pharm/MFA Film, and can be found at

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