Four Installations, by Michael Onsando

(excerpts from the upcoming book ‘The Perilous Journey to Beyond my Nose’)


It’s only possible to run
when your footsteps
are slower
than those of the labourers.

Except if you can fly.


When it comes down to it, we use the past to create the future.

We take the ply from previous crossings, process it, shine it up and use it to create a path into the future.

But feet remember where they have been – and ply that has been trod upon will always push against violent feet.

Maybe, it is that we are yet to learn to forget.

Maybe it is that, we remember to stay safe.

Maybe it is, that safety is an illusion that we keep up, keeping us from forgetting.

Maybe it is that in forgetting to keep up the illusion that our feet get violent.

Welcome to the mind of the runner.


The poem, at the end of the day, is a series of objects connected by a subject.

The subject becomes the ground where the objects come to clash.

Waswahili husema ndovu wawilli wakipigana, nyasi huumia.

The subject becomes the battleground for the objects, flying through the poem.

The objects subjected, push against fraying edges.

The subject struggles to expand to make room for the objects.

Perhaps this is why the universe is expanding

Perhaps this is why the poem is always incomplete.

There will always be more objects.

There will never be enough room.

And the poem continues.



By the time you realise you have destroyed yourself it will be too late.

The pieces will have been reduced to ashes and the ashes blown away by the wind. The dust storm will have been reported by the news and the masses died from valley fever.

There will be so much riding on your continuing destruction that you will not know whether to destroy yourself or the people who are dependent on your destruction.

By the time you realise your/self has been destroyed there will be nothing left.

By the time you re-align your/self with de-struction there will be little to put back together.

By the time you try to put yourself together destruction will be the only thing you know.



What is patience?

Is it consistent work, with focus

towards a goal?

Is it coherent belief in the existence

of a forward to work towards?

Is it a word, from a therapist

who is also waiting

on the world to change?

Perhaps it is surviving

all the ways

we would rather die?



You know that

you carry their history.

But you also know

you don’t carry their scars.

And that, you hope,

will make all the difference.




*we are very keen on Michael, we think his writing is great, we think he is doing good good work. And these are poems from his upcoming work. Hopefully, we can have a conversation with him and publish it here. We are also looking forward to having Onsando in Rituals, our second issue. Inshallah. But for now please love this.

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