Home > Poetry > Wasifu Wa Marehemu: The Epitaph of Death
Published: Thu Oct 15 2020
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.
Wasifu Wa Marehemu: The Epitaph of Death

written in Faribault prison, Minnesota

There will be no roar of drums summoning mourners to my funeral.
The great horn of the rhino will not sing my name.
The women who loved me won’t be there to bathe me in milk
or plant red flowers that would eat my blood.
The elders won’t plant a giant flame tree to guard my spirit.
The sacred black bulls won’t stomp down my grave
like they did for my father, his father, and the fathers before him.
The great python won’t sleep on my grave in homage.
My name will not be carved onto a spear.
My heart will not lie in the belly of the warrior drum
which rumbles on its own in war times.
If this is exile, I don’t know what to call home.

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Kennedy Amenya Gisege is an accomplished visual artist and the author of The Liturgy of Smell (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016). He has written several books under the pen name Ken Amen. Gisege is incarcerated in the Minnesota Correctional Facility–Faribault. (updated 10/2020)

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