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Waging Peace

Yasmin Elmi: A Story, Somalia

My old home has the scent of good birth,

boiled green beans, deep cornel oil,

and hand me down poetry.

It’s brick, bright white-washed walls are widowed

from their first paint,

the walls uneven,

cracking from gun shots and rocks.

The thin roof tops always hummed songs of promise,

the wind locked into a demonic rhythm with the leaves,

the trees with the wind hugging them,

loving them with a torturous love.


The round cemented pots kept the raindrops cool,

spattering the foreheads of neighbors and dwellers softly.

Loud children playing football, with sand under their socks,

we had what we had and it wasn’t a lot,

but no one knew they were poor,

we were all innocent of greed’s hunger to judge, to oppress, to take.

Then Death came, multiplying like even numbers,

splitting family members in seconds.

The death of my brother remains

as the separation between my father and me.


Writing became the father I never had.

Growing up, war was a playground

and my friends and I played in it,

never did we learn to ride bicycles

or play with dolls.

War was our playground.


Somalia used to combust with life like a long hibernating volcano,

farmers, fishermen, even fighters had a place in our productivity.

The beautiful coast line,

the elastic shore, the glorious mosques,

I yearn for the warm scent of the Somalian rain.

Growing up, I feared the sea and closed doors,

because whenever I dived into the pool of risk-taking

it always seemed like I drowned.


Drowning in a sea with no open door,

no escape, was my fear.


Oh how I miss the magical night of Somalia,

the sky collapsing willingly

over its inhabitants,

the burning sun of June,

the guarding moon,

the long naps at noon,

the freedom poets, the rampant wisdom,

the magnetic tongue,

those were joyous days.

Now, people rise to look for change,

like a new moon’s birth,

change will never happen.                                                                            


The art of storytelling is the world

I wish for,

I would wander off to it,

until my story of Somalia is told.


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