Thursday, December 27, 2012

For A Time My Mother by Melissa Fry Beasley

Image -

My mother spent the summer locked away in a strange place.
Root wrapped and holding
But we could not be certain for how long.
She wasn't so unique in her occasional ineptitude.
She used to walk barefoot from town to town searching,
Until she had turned every corner and run into herself.
Just like a dog can smell fear,
She could sense the indifference,
Confusion of memory and imagination.
She remembered humble beginnings among dirt and stone but
We are never the same person twice.
She was buried in loss,
Leaving only quiet desperation.
Staring in dumb silence,
We expected that past predicted the future.
So many elusive and subtle masters that enslave us.
Preserve your illusion because only the dead speak truth in this place.
We are all beggars,
Each in our own way,
Always an incompleteness somewhere.
Remember that nature is well suited for weakness,
And our skeletons aren't to be distinguished from our ancestors.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Madiba by Simphiwe Dana

Image -  Pan-African News Wire File Photos

The tree falls and winter comes
The giant saviour that became the saint
Is on the last journey back to his origins
Time worn, like an aspiration compromised
They wait on the sidelines
The whole world waits
For the covenant made with him is too strong a bind
To snap before the tree falls
Though bursting at the seams
The giant sleeps….their neediness keeps the saint alive
Incapacitated by the smiles of hope
Spread in the hearts of little children
It is easy to forget
That the dream is for all
Qhawe lamaqhawe
Ntsika yesizwe
Umhle umsebenzi wakho
Uyancomeka kwaye usithwele
Konke kwenzekile
Uyidlalile indima yakho
Ntsika yesizwe
The giant sleeps
Our fears keep the saint alive
To save us another day

Friday, December 21, 2012

Waggle and Jounce by Donal Mahoney

Out on the lake 
the white caps leap,
old lions shot in mid-air.
Not far from the water
I sit on a knoll 
and open your letter.
You're in Sacramento now
singing for money.
Here in Chicago,
on hot August nights,
I lick in my dreams
at the scoops 
in your shoulders.
I prefer them to ice cream.
In a week I'll fly out 
and salute your nipples.
Long may your buttocks
waggle and jounce.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Against All Odds by Thandeka Gonde

Image -

Break the ice cold silence
Not a woman's heart
Bruise not, oh shameless one
The tenderest of her feelings
She's seen all kinds of weather
Yet she stands tall and dignified
Battered and disgraced,
Tried by the world, the unjust judge
She still stands, unwithered
She crumbles inside
But they still gather in her shadow
Deep into her soul,
The pain has burrowed
And sorrow fills the hollow
In the nurturing soil of her soul
You sowed seeds of bitterness
Exchanged her dreams for emptiness
Yet she lingers on
For they gather in her shadow
The little ones look up to her
When the heat of your temper terrifies them
Know ye not oh shameless one?
Should she wither in the heat
Like the tender flower that she is...
A nation withers away with her???

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mntakwethu by Suku Thundabathole Zikode

In your eye I think I see
On your lips when you speak
What is this I think I feel?
In the nearness of you
Is it your body radiation!
Is it in the scent of your skin?

My eyes glaze like a drunkard
What is this I think I feel?
In your eye I think I see
Although your lips refuse to say

There is certain calmness in you
It humbles me down to the ground
And I'm at a loss for words to say

Will it be asking for too much
If I asked you to love me
And still allow me the space to be me
And to be with myself sometime?

Monday, December 3, 2012

To Youth by Philani Amadeus Nyoni

And what shall become of you
When Time’s hands have done their art?
Crayons of hue re-coloured you in shades of dusk,
Graffiti etched upon your brow,
Flawless grace reduced to caricature,
Once impeccable beauty redrawn abstract
And the stains of his oils mock your portraits?
His fingerprints plastered across the wall of your soul:
Your essence withered to the stench of pending death
And your confidence shaken to infirmity,
Shall these suitors, princes in Chevrolets -if not to dust returned-
Still whistle their impotence through toothless smiles?
Bite deep into the flesh of youth but wary the stone,
Cast by those who perceive themselves sinless
Should three words turn to three letters.
I do not wish disease, pestilence or plague upon you,
Only true fruits of old age, regrets grown
To appreciation of possibilities
Chastised by the rod of Time for the road not taken,
Insolence blossomed to wisdom;
Blind valour to meditation.
Subtle pencil strokes to Time’s masterpiece evolved,
While I on his easel remain a fool,
Loving you in more earnest than when I was a boy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tell me by Artwell Masuku

Tell me that life
Is not about waiting
For the storm to pass
But about learning to dance
In the rain

Tell me about love
That the most painful thing
In life is seeing the one you love
Love somebody else

Tell me that it is okay
To lose your pride
Over someone you love
That it is okay
Losing someone you love
Over pride

Somewhere between all
Our laughs
Long talks
Stupid little fights
I fell in love.

Monday, November 19, 2012

From The Dual Chambered Organ by Su Jay

Image -

Solitary Musings
From the Dual Chambered organ
in the prison of my ribs
A Sonnet misbrewed underdone overdone
only “THE GREATS” can say

from the two boiling chambers a volcano awakened
unbridled emotion
with galloping intensity
Writhing with each laborious Heave of breath
Breath Hot on hearing
Each pouring
Each outdoing
Each outviing
in rage
with bulging phlegm of half proverbs

Spilled out
split out
still spilling out to barren wildernesses
of humanity
bereft emotion, feeling
sometimes, sometimes
@ odd intervals
Lava – this spewed out lava
can should MUST
melt these, these taciturn hearts , into


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bitter Sweet by Tsitsi Gumbo

so it goes on
ecstatic climax
my end
your pleasure
deeper I sink
for your priceless smile
...your smile
my death warrant
anything, anything
just to see it...

so on it goes..
sweet torture...
I love it
more than I do you on it goes

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coal Bins by Donal Mahoney

Chicago, the South Side,
long before Barack Obama

those I'd love see live
anywhere they like
are those so black
they up long planks
in the heat of summer
wheelbarrow coal
so bright it pours
in a silver seiche
down chutes
through windows
of bungalow basements
crashing in coal bins 
of new masters

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Broke-Buttock Blues by John Eppel

Image -

They beat me with branches wrapped up in barb-wire,
they beat me with branches wrapped up in barb-wire;
my baby she crying, her face is on fire.

They say you are sell-out, you vote Tsvangirai,
they say you are sell-out, you vote Tsvangirai;
my baby, she dying, please God, tell me why?

They beat first my head then my back then my bums,
they beat first my head then my back then my bums;
they laugh and they say is like playing the drums.

I beg them for water, they say go ask Blair,
I beg them for water, they say go ask Blair.
Please, put out the fire in Mucheche’s hair?

My bottom is broken, can not sit or stand,
my bottom is broken, can not sit or stand;
Mucheche can’t breathe with her mouth in the sand.

They burned all our mealies, our chickens, our dog,
they burned all our mealies, our chickens, our dog;
my uncle, they hit him to death with a log.

For hours they beat me, for hours I cry,
for hours they beat me, for hours I cry;
please God, save my baby, do not let her die?

When they leave, like a tortoise I crawl very slow,
when they leave, like a tortoise I crawl very slow;
but my baby stopped crying a long time ago,
mwana wangu* stopped crying a long time ago.

* mwana wangu – my child

This poem previously published in Together – Stories and Poems by Julius Chingono & John Eppel published by  ‘amaBooks and University of KwaZulu-Natal Press. To order a copy of the book contact ‘amaBooks –

Monday, October 29, 2012

His Smile: A Murder Weapon by Thembelihle Terry-Lynne Zulu

His smile was a murder weapon
Pain was the poet
Hurt was the Editor and I the paper
This is not just another poem but actually
a dedication to a fellow addict
Who realises his smile is only a temporary fix
Take this for just what it is
For whom it may concern
Upon meeting, his smile was a key
He broke down all four walls
And barricaded all doors
He reached new frontiers
He unleashed my inner Eve
He had game but his smile sealed the deal
From then he wouldn't leave
Charged with infidelity
His smile shredded the evidence
Everyday I'd see him at school
Walking around like a total fool
Making it clear he wasn't mine
Flirting with every swine
The people's hero
Had groupies like a movie star
who with every blush had me
beaten, bruised, used and abused
played like a fiddle. I fell to pieces
His smile like the potter, remoulded me
I had to look in the mirror to learn
That the signs of a struggle were there,
The sun bright, the sky dark
A sign that I could no longer
hold onto what wasn't mine
My baby had to go
Better yet, I'll go
Congrats for marrying the man of our dreams
I never could reach the knife
But some lucky girl did.
And now he is dead
His smile doesn’t reach his ears anymore
His eyes sparkle no more
Do not accuse me of his murder
AIDS murdered him in cold blood
and his smile was the murder weapon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Innocent Prayer by Artwell Masuku

Dear lord
Perhaps I am being sinful
But I have one question
To ask
One that makes papa*
Lower his eyes
And talk of the weather

And O Dear lord
Mama* told me that
Only bad kids
Ask such silly questions
And I got a jolly
Good spanking

My Sunday school teacher
Miss Ncube speaks greatly of you
That you are
Gentle and loving

But now O Lord
I cannot wait any longer
And I don’t care
If I am disobeying
Papa, mama and Miss Ncube
For their lips are always
Tight and hard

Dear Lord Jesus Christ
Why does the man
Down the road
Have only one leg?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Two Hands by William Wright Harris

Image -

knuckles gnarled &
calluses carved from
a life of toil

one hand
as if attempting a fist

the other
& stretched upwards

van gogh begging
salvation from a god
deaf or apathetic

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Tribes Of Blood by Russell Streur

The orthodox ones
From northern sand
Are killing off the animists
In southern town

The Taliban
Are slitting throats of Christians on TV
The Sufis in the hills are shooting down Shabab below
The Sunnis in the dunes are killing all the Hindus on the train

The Shiites are killing Jews
The Jews are killing Turks
The Turks are killing Kurds
The Kurds are killing Persians

The Persians want the bomb
The blues are killing greens
The Greeks are killing druses
The Sikhs die bleeding in the oaks

And whites on shooting sprees
Are killing everyone:
Blood is thicker than water—
Cheaper too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Goodbye FOR NOW by Thandeka Gonde

If this chapter never ends
The next will never begin
If you stay here forever
There's no room to cherish the memories made
There surely would be no tomorrow
If today lingered on and on
While I see you with my eyes
I can't dream beyond today
If ,then, I cannot dream
Life will forever be the same
My heart knows not how to grow fonder in your presence.
In that I find solace
When it hurts to say goodbye

Friday, October 12, 2012

Foolish Talk by Sifiso Mabena

Scratchings of conversations past
Love stories I believed would last
Hands clasping mine you promised the start
of a gift of love where I'd have your heart
I never received the gift you proposed
When I reciprocated my love you froze
In terror fled, abandoned the dream
I was living it already...
I'm foolish it seems...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ode To Suleja by D.M Aderibigbe

Photo (c) Juju Films

As tiny as you are,
you swallowed six
years of my life,
and digested it,

and shared it ,
with your rocky
Among them is the

Leviathan Zuma Rock,
Always keeps his
Eyes opened to cloister
you from evil,

Yet, he could do nothing
when his younger ones cry
from the punches of

that has left
my grandmother's
well-founded house

As tiny as you are,
you sipped the blood
of my teenage years,
and shared it with;

the dry and flowing rivers,
the water-less and
water-filled wells,
the brut and watered streams,

the harsh and gentle sun,
the violent and unflappable
the grey and green grasses,
that make up your

As tiny as you are,
you stole six years of
my mother's familiarity,
and shared it

with your peopled market,
the fence-less schools,
the hut-governed villages,
and the
mud-clothed footpath.

As tiny as you are,
You stole six years of
my siblings' understanding,
and shared it with

the scruffy nippers,
the dishevelled youths,
the moth-eaten aged,
and unforgettable peers.

As tiny as you are.
you stole six years
of my experience,
and shared it with

my sweet past,
my sweeter present,
and a sweetest future.

As tiny as you are,
you clothed my teenage years’

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Just Fine by Clemence Chinyani

A lady,

A rarity these days,Like a dodo,
Asked me one day,
Which turned out to be fine,
If I was ok
Then she began to leave.

In response to her request,

I said hold on,
Then I began to lay out the basis,
For my saying that I was fine.

Said I,

Holding all things constant,
Freezing everything in time,
Bridling even the wildest gale,
I was fine.
Then she did one thing,
She beamed and said excitedly,
Ceteris Paribus!

We locked arms,

And danced round and round,
In the middle of the street,
Sounds strange now that I am writing about it,
But we did a happy little jig,
And the sun was almost dropping,
Into the pocket of the earth where it was carried,
To the next day.


We did this little happy jig,
That never existed anywhere else,
Till that moment we met,
In other words,
We invented it in our happy moment,
And forgot about it after,
Now it only exists,
In this piece of poetry.

Then we stopped dancing abruptly,

Just as we had started,
Laughed awkwardly and agreed that,
That was a very odd moment,
And we decided that we go our separate ways,
Then she began to leave.

I called out after her trailing her,

She did,
And I said that I could not,
Just let her go away,
Before my madness went away,
So I decided to remind her,
That holding all things constant,
Taming even the wildest cat,
I was just but fine.

Ceteris Paribus!

And the cycle repeated itself again,

The happy jig with arms locked,
And I said to her,
‘Your Latin is good’,
And she said,
‘Give the dead language a chance’,
I agreed and she also said,
‘If all people ceased being so gloomy,
And devoted their time and effort to find good art,
Then they would be healed of their mental ailment’,
I agreed and she went on,
To God belongs worship.

‘Ceteris Paribus’!

I yelled, 
Not knowing exactly why the switch of roles,
So again we locked arms and danced,
This time backwards,
Backwards as in rewinding the whole experience,
Then I let her go,
In fact she slid out of my lock,
And I did out of hers,
And the wind carried us away,
I watched her polka dots walk away,
Suddenly she was gone,
And I was left holding jumbled words,
That I knitted together on paper with a pen.