Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

KIAGWARE ( Kee-a-gwar-ree)

by TIM SANSOM

Two hundred miles from basic roads at West Kenya’s first light
Are the Kiagware hardships of the Kiagware plight.
Malaria unrelenting kills ten children here each week
Their diagnoses comes too late their prognosis too bleak.
 
 They cant afford the bed nets and they cant afford the drips
And they cant afford the medicine to soothe their arid lips.
The village quacks and herbalists have failed to cure their ills
Untrained, unschooled they blindly fool with boiled bark and pills
 
 And as another child dies another starts to ail
‘Their lives are in the hands of God!’ their grieving Mothers wail
The policeman, mare and social worker is all one man the same
He watches pained and helpless, Peter Kombo is his name.
 
 Peter asks that four young men will take this latest child
By stretcher cross the mountains, the four men look beguiled
He gives them ready bills for drinks and bus fare on their trek
The overcrowded hospital will not accept a check.
 
 For two days they walk in the sun and no one makes a fuss
Their voyage has really just begun, they board the battered bus
It snakes along the Kissi roads, the boy lays quiet and still
They need to reach the hospital, he’s now severely ill
 
 And finally on arrival his mother takes a look
Saying ‘Please admit my Walter now!’ ‘We can’t without a book!’
A medical book they must buy before they can come in
But all their funds are spent and gone on transport fruit and drink
 
 This hospital sees patients here of five hundred a day
And its one practicing Doctor had had to go away.
He left a far less qualified medic to take charge
Who took one look at Walter and he opened up his heart.
 
 ‘I’ll let you pay me at some other time’ the medic said
And had he acted differently poor Walter would be dead.
They took the boy onto the ward and treated him to health
He grew into a strong young man with gradients and stealth
 
 And now in Kiagware malaria has waned
Because Peter’s appeal attained some mercy for their pain.
But think of Kiagware a mere pin prick in a sea
That’s God’s majestic Africa, whose tide is poverty.

Added: 17.12.2010

Judges' comments on this poem

04.05.2011

The emotion is clear but the enforced rhyming ends up detracting from the emotional impact.

04.05.2011

Compelling story told here. Though poem could use a polish. Besides grammar and mechanics, at times this feels likes prose more than poetry.

10.05.2011

Really liked it. Although the subject matter was dark it was fun to read because of the pace and ryhming. And it told a fantastic story :)

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