Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"With the Maasai" by Heidi Seaborn

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “With the Maasai” by Heidi Seaborn.  Seaborn started writing poetry in 2016 after spending three decades as a marketing executive. Since then, her work has appeared in over forty journals and anthologies including Nimrod, Penn Review, and American Journal of Poetry. 

Seaborn is a graduate of Stanford University and is on the editorial staff of The Adroit Journal.  She lives in Seattle.  Visit her at

With the Maasai
Heidi Seaborn
    ~Great Rift Valley Tanzania 1984

When the rains fail
"Drought" Ink on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
they fail again. Tanzania burns
dry. Ntimama curses the empty
sky. His beasts, just bones. 

Tanzania burns dry. Parched
plains diminish
beasts, just bones. The empty
sky steals grain, milk, meat,

flesh to bone. Cattle
wander with wildebeest
as Tanzania burns dry as stone.
Ntimama curses this land

water dried to mud, mud
dried to blood red. Rift
Valley, earth and gash.
Cattle, then children.

Small bones burned, dry.
Cursed, by this empty
sky, the gash of withered
earth, when the rains fail, and fail.

Poet’s Notes:  “With the Maasai” recounts a time I spent in Tanzania with the Maasai during a drought. I started the poem as a pantoum and then let it break apart to mimic how everything loses form under these harsh conditions. The poem is part of a series I wrote about my personal experience with natural disasters, war, and terrorism that I am collecting into a chapbook entitled, “Postcards from the Aftermath.”

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