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The Somali Songman


So I recently met another local writer. Despite her talent, she has been relatively shy about putting herself out there and sharing her work (even though she has a people job). After our first of many conversations about writing, she threw down a gauntlet: she challenged me to write a sestina.

When I said I’d never wrote one, she posted one she wrote on her blog (yes, I think I’m the writer person she is referring to).

Of course, not one to back down from a writing challenge, I took a few days and created my own. The subject matter came both from a blog I recently got into called Rebel Frequencies and a morning listen to Nas and Damian Marley’s Distant Relatives album.

Songman of Somalia

He would sit patiently and listen to life
Early peace before the sunshine
He knew the winds of change would move
And Somalia would again fight
The morning hustle played an easy beat
And closed eyes could lead to death

It wasn’t hard to see death
In a Somalia where no one values life
The reaper played games no one could beat
In the city rain or his village sunshine
But his home had been spared the fight
Allowing his mornings without a move

From the west the Rebels made their move
Men with guns dealing death
Bullets flew for those who tried to fight
Trading valor and pride for life
Women and children screamed in the sunshine
While ignorant armed thugs could not be beat

The man survived but was badly beat
Hurt, broken, and afraid to move
The 100 degree heat burned in the sunshine
Nothing left, he wished for death
There was no village, no family, and no life
No desire, no courage, and no fight

Eventually he found a way to fight
Writing words in the rhythm to a beat
He sung songs about joy, peace, and life
Songs that made people dance and move
They would forget Africa, guns, and death
And bask briefly in his musical sunshine

His words illuminated like sunshine
Willing people to stand up and stop the fight
And sing songs that never spoke of death
But celebrated Somalia and the African beat
From village to village, he would move
Avoiding Rebels and singing life

They caused his death and spilt his blood like sunshine
As it always has done with life, Somalia won the fight
Death ended the beat and hope ceased to move


1 comment on The Somali Songman

  1. This is a total kick in the nuts. The whole thing builds up to freedom and musical release and social change, but then the last stanza is like “fuck you, there are no happy endings, even in magical poetry land.” (That doesn’t mean I don’t like it holistically from a writing standpoint.) It’s early for me, by the way, and I usually don’t explicate poetry using literary terms before noon. So for now, “kick in the nuts” stands as my official ruling. ;)

    Great job, both with the challenge and the poem itself. I hope you had fun!

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