What Now Mombasa?

Warren Brown

What Now Mombasa?

She wrote a poem
on the Star Bar

That legend
which sits in Kenya
like a fat rich brawler
who made his bucks
in shady deals

And she put Joachim in it
black as time’s end
the mix of all races

Joachim with Saturn-ring ear-jewel,
polar-white teeth gleaming,
drinks his Golden Dragons
sweet acid from the barman, Max
who might have been a Nazi

But no one knows
No one ever knows
where the Star Bar is
but everyone comes

And we hear Joachim’s
laughter as he downs
those bright drafts

And we hear him
down our street
echoing between
the safe houses
as he comes,
like a season
to thump his great fist
on our door
and sing out
“I am Joachim
whom you thought you

“But I made the world
and am the world
drinking my dragons golden

“And with them
I wash down everything,
your dreams and you,
down to heaven
smothered in gold.”


Warren Brown is a dual Canadian/American citizen and currently lives and writes fiction and poetry in Tulsa OK. He has published fiction in OMNI, F&SF, Amazing and other magazines, and poetry in This Land, Nimrod, Dear Leader Tales, Speculative North, etc. His poem, The Edge of Galaxy NGC 4013 was nominated for the 2021 Rhysling Award. His novel, What Happened in Fool the Eye, is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. He is a member of SFWA and SFPA.

Author’s Comments: Genesis of “What Now Mombasa”

Some years ago my first wife and I were having dinner at the home of a British couple who had found their way to Tulsa and became friends. The man had served as a policeman in Kenya while it was still under British rule. He had many stories of his time in Africa, one of which involved the somewhat infamous Star Bar in Mombasa, and a bar regular, a huge Kenyan named Joachim, whose preferred drink was something called a Golden Dragon. My wife was so fascinated with the story of the Star Bar that she later wrote a poem about it.

Some years later after she and I had gone our separate ways, I kept thinking about her poem, lost to me, and the Star Bar, and Joachim—the exotic mixture of place and people, of dragons and huge, mysterious figures. What if the Star Bar itself was some sort of nexus of creation? What if Joachim were somehow more than human, a god or demigod? Out of that mix came the poem.

Notes of interest: 1. Joachim is a given name, derived from the Hebrew Yehoyaqim (יְהוֹיָקִים‎), meaning “raised by Yahweh” (Wikipedia). 2. I can find no record of the Star Bar existing in Kenya now. It seems it has disappeared. 3. The recipe for the Golden Dragon:

                2 fl oz  Patròn Reposado tequila
                ¾ fl oz Pisang Ambon green banana liqueur
                2 fl oz  Apple juice
                1 fl oz  Lime juice (freshly squeezed)
                ½ fl oz Passion fruit syrup

SHAKE all ingredients with ice and strain

into ice-filled Collins glass. Garnish with an apple wedge

Editor’s Notes: The image is that of bar in Ali Barbour’s Cavein Mombasa, Kenya (pintrest.com) combined with a man running to it (webstockreview.net) or Golden Dragon cocktail (https://drinkbaijiu.com/golden-dragon/)

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