Friday, December 23, 2011

Being An Artist by Mgcini Nyoni

I perform with broken ribs
caught up in a sugar stampede
Bruised by baton sticks
stomped by booted feet
A running nose
remnants of teargas
in my nasal passages
I stand on shaky feet
having walked into town
A crowded bus for the return journey
Buttocks of someone's wife against my groin
I stand dizzy
A packet of maputi for lunch
The water is dirty
I have diarrhoea
I stink
Have learnt to bath with a liter of water
The smell of smoke
Cooking with a thorny bush fire
I stand here and talk about it
I will be accused of being an imperialist stooge
I need a bulletproof vest
They will graduate from baton sticks to guns.
After I am gone I won't rest
they will set up roadblocks
Harass the mourners
And ask ‘where is the police clearance
Previously published in the anthology FIRE IN THE SOUL: 100 poems for human rights by New Internationalist and Amnesty International.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quincy, Illinois: 1962 by Donal Mahoney

Image -

 long before Barack Obama

In 1962 my father toiled in Quincy,
two weeks, no more,
and saw no blacks except for
two young ladies
who moved like swans
busing dishes
in a farmer's cafeteria.

Daisy badges on their uniforms
announced their names,
their years of service.

He still remembers how
throughout his meal
he wanted to stand,
a stranger in a
seersucker suit,
and shout:

"How can you live here?
Where, except in church,
can you clap your hands
in emancipation?"

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Guess It Was Me by Raylton Nhau

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It maybe me, but that l doubt
 It is not me who sang that song; it was the song that made me sing
 It was not me who said those words, but it’s the thoughts l had bottled inside me
 It still is not me who was there; it is me who only stood up to myself
 It still is not me who had that shadow but rather it is the shadow that had me.
Trust me it wasn`t me.

 It is not me but it`s the life l share with myself
 It is not me who ponder with my thoughts but it’s the thoughts which take me yonder
 It wasn`t me who came there but my nobility took me there
 Oh that, that l did not say to you, it just came out of my mouth
 The smile, it wasn`t me who flashed that smile, for it takes more muscles to smile than to frown
 Then it wasn`t me who was there.

 It’s not me who stood there & made you smile
 For my presence does not put a smile on any face
 It was not me who came and you talked to
 It is the man l hope to be one day
 It maybe me, but me, that l doubt
 It was not me but maybe something inside me..............

 The song l sang came from within
The words simply came from my heart
 Those thoughts are of the people l love the most
 There l stood to be by your side
Oh that shadow, it always keeps me company
The memories make my tears fall like trickles of water
 And the nobility defines me
 That smile l am always afraid to flash to you
For my presence means a lot to you
 But .........., l am afraid to accept the man l am