International Poetry الشعر শ্লোক ကဗျာ ליבע ਪਿਆਰ өлүм

with Tendai Rinos Mwanaka and Rameeza Nasim

Tendai Rinos Mwanaka is a leading poet and writer of the new generation of African writers and works hard to promote African writing through anthologies he has curated and co edited. Mwanaka has been shortlisted and won several writing awards, including being shortlisted for a record 7 times for the UK based Erbacce poetry award, 3 times nominated for the Pushcart, The Caine African Writing Award etc.

Rameeza Nasim was born and lives in Karachi, Pakistan. Holding a masters degree in English Literature and Linguistics, she makes her living through writing and Blogging. Poetry is her Passion and it's something in her genes.

The Shearing

(for Rob Wilmot)

 

Warmth of the holding pen: ewes wait their turn,
huddled together greyly, tiny feet
tapping out a soft dance of nervous doubt
upon the wood laths for reassurance,
and I stand behind, leaning on a rail.

Sporadic low bleats. I’d half expected
the rasp of machines, bustle of rough men,
but there’s none of this, just uneasy calm,
a tense waiting for something to begin.
Do I like it? Am I relaxed, easy?

No, but not yet discomfited either;
this is just a day’s work, ordinary
as yesterday’s sun or tomorrow’s rain.
In the shearing shed, its floor wool-scattered
with greywhite globs, I watch them working.

No rush, a rhythmic shaving, practised poise
to release each naked ewe at last and
cast aside her limp fleece like some sheep-ghost
or pale soul upon its slatted altar
to be picked apart and assessed for truths.

Returned, they huddle, stark as candle wax
into the flock, faces, necks together
while the others wait their time. And now I
am with them, sly voyeur of the shearing,
witnessing their profound indignities

and thinking of Auschwitz. All this happens
in uncomplaining silence as clippers
snigger their electric penetrations.
Yet I’m here with the sheep. Will someone come
soon for me, heave me expertly onto

my back, drag me, hands raised in submission,
into the next room by my wrists to do
who knows what unthinkable things to me?
And if by some chance I survive, shorn of
all I am, whose bleak creation will I be?

Counting theStars by Tendai R Mwanaka

Stag

balancing the moon on fragile horns,

moon beams entwined in this labyrinth

yet, the agony of his moonlit wound

to be patched with the softest of twilit dreams

moonbeams portray the mirth of my mirthlessness,

yet, my moonlit wound is a bridge between me

and reality

the evaporating twilight

is a mere pause between dreams

and dreaming

the walls of nature's womb are whitewashed with regret

and the nun's twilit rosemary signifies a hiatus

between the stag's reflection

 

and the stag

 

Hiatus

 

evaporating twilight

a mere pause between dreams

and dreaming

while mocking at the mirth

of mirthlessness

gentle prayers with Granny

the bruised moon's craters, bleeding

torrents of cascading moonshine

Granny's incense stick

the ability to patch moonlit wounds

with twilit dreams

closing doors

between granny and me

the walls of Granny's womb,

whitewashed with regret

gentle prayers,

rotating twilit rosemaries

mere pauses

between dreaming and living

yet, Granny prays

counting tender pauses between

dreams and dreaming

a brief hiatus between

dreaming and living

she's like twilight

every bead of the twilit rosemary stupefied,

we proudly pause

patching moonlit wounds

with Granny's twilit dreams

A Well-Said Metaphor

 

you melt into my soul

like a well said metaphor

dissolving into

a poet's being

my voice laced with

strands of uncertainty

I speak

moon-craters overflow

with constellations of stars

they tinkle

your breeze blows

as September sunlight overlooks

a game of noughts and crosses

clustering in its columns

you're angry

a butterfly's wings billow before me

a kaleidoscope of confused color

a blur of your skirts

disappearing

my ankles entwined

in a bewildering entanglement

strands of

unintended speech

my footsteps fail

on the shredded petals of

the water lily

the moon seems to crumple

on my touch

my abilities are entwined

in an entanglement of

stuttering speech

unintended strands

of wrong words

which somehow pulled

at the sinews of your heart

an entangled heap

of bewilderment

yet, my voice and my speech

is laced with uneasiness

a mere strand

of uncertainty

a well said metaphor

certainly

Insatiable Agony

the insatiable agony of heaving pregnancy-

bites of moon rolled behind your tongue,

fumbling with the brittle shadows of sanity,

twilight winds in lustrous eyes,

tracing along the kohl of your lashes

specks of moonlight on fluttering lashes,

crossed fingers crushing moonbeams

unanswered questions dangling from shadows

of petal like lips, quivering

realistic answers scrape my sore larynx

bruised moon beams, with deepening wounds

just as you close the door,

I see a moon beam wedged in between,

I grasp it, cling onto it, and dangle

Veerangana is a 14 year old girl from New Delhi, India

PRISONS

 

The worst prisons

aren't four-walled dungeons

where innocent humans rot,

urinate and defecate and vomit and eat;

where light is luxury and food is finished

and torture hoisted as love flags.

The worst prisons

aren’t underground oubliettes

where freedom fighters decay,

overloaded like sardine in cans,

rendered nude and sometimes raped

and beaten and washed in murky liquids.

The worst prisons

are troubled consciences

which go to war at rest time,

piercing bearers like hot thorns,

invading numbed hearts

with reminders of justice.

The worst prisons

are guilty consciences

which asphyxiate owners within,

pursuing them everywhere beneath

faces adorned with counterfeit smiles

like the pus-secreting wounds beneath

the golden suits of occultist billionaires. 

The worst prisons

are restless consciences

which become screens at night,

replaying horrifying images of

innards, bones and blood from

children and adults butchered under

helpless sun and moon rays.

(St Andrews, 14 September 2017)

Ndifreke George (N’some) writes everything. His works have appeared on Litmags and platforms such as, Social Justice Poetry, The Poets’ Community, The Antartica Journal, Tuck Magazine, Blankpaperz, Medium, Poems and Poetry, Aphelion Webzine, The Parousia Magazine, Literary yard, Kalahari Review, All Poetry, Praxis Magazine, and Bravearts Africa. You’re sure to find him studying, scribbling at a corner or listening to music or playing. A Geophysics graduate based in Lagos— Nigeria, he loves nature.

 

THE PURGATIVE

Ndifreke George (N’some)

 

I saw two houseflies

on the bed of adultery

I could tell it was a stealthy pleasure

The way they peeked around from a shade

after each thrust and repressed moan

evaporating in soft whistles

Fear and guilt

melting out from their pores

                                         

I saw on these cheating houseflies

the blindfold of infatuation

cover the eyes of their senses

They only thought they had a nice time

basking in the cajole of liquid ignorance

But soon they’ll purge

and their anus will bleed red oil

Then Sorry will have nowhere to perch.

War Cry

 

A vicious tussle broke between two foes

the quiet faction firmly stood its ground

verbose wing dug in heels while braving blows

Both land and sea were numbed with booming sound

 

The battlefield a mangled, spectral form

as angels wept, aghast at ravaging

dispute; slain morphemes dazed, could not perform

Just lay unnerved, shell-shocked and whimpering

 

Then God took reins and urged the twain to call

a truce; with His grace last trace of dark strife

was buried; malice shed for once and all

Peace soon prevailed to usher in new life

 

Refulgent thoughts and words now on same page

with souls well merged, sublime verse came of age

 

footnote

Words and thoughts need to be in perfect harmony for poetry to see the light of day.

 

Breeze

 

 

A whiff of cool air blows across the trees

 Swirls softly, upbeat, so salubrious

It whispers 'spring' heralding gentle breeze

See budding blooms lift heads up, curious!

 

Evanascent, pristine breeze swing this way

Our flesh and soul both crave your soothing touch

Each pore is thirsty, seeks your playful sway

Let us sniff in your joyful, dulcet gush

 

we know that hot winds shall take over soon

with rising mercury distress will soar

Cocooned indoors shall gasp in stifling noon

perturbed the blaze may scorch us to the core

 

Help us indulge in moments rare, benign

Your fragrance soaking in, placate us so

That basking in your blissful scents divine

Surrender to your kind refreshing flow

 

footnote

The pleasant season of spring in North Indian plains is too shortlived paving the way for a long, harsh summer.

 

 

A dapper morning awaits

         as I gaze out

        to an awakening

    steeped in conviviality

     so palpable in glow of

       leaves bathed anew

           radiant in glory

          Glistening crisp

           blades of grass

         razor edged sharp

           deftly cut through

            weeds of gloom

      Aromas soaked in mirth

         envelope landscape

               From my soul

             infused with joy

             escapes a sigh

             embraced avidly

           by bountiful breeze

the lines between us blur slowly

         as it subsumes me

        And I cease to be

          my spirit merged

              with universe...

Sushma A. Singh, from Lucknow, India is a qualified orthodontist with a passion for writing poetry

Beautiful

When I wanted to love

You turned me down.

I tried hard to please

Alas! I was always neglected.

The more I tried

The more you tested,

At the end, I do not know

Whether I passed or failed.

You always play under veil,

I never get to see your face.

At times I feel so depressed

Finding you so cruel.

What a hide and seek you play,

I feel exhausted to reciprocate.

Oh Beautiful embrace me now.

I know you

 

The heart which is inspired,

The love which is burning,

The mind which is ever fresh,

It is you! it is in you!

 

Never say goodbye,

Because where to go?

You are only everywhere,

Can you leave you?

 

If there is anybody in this world

Who can love you,

It is only in yourself

The Omnipresent in you.

 

Let all hearts melt,

Fuse into one,

All of us, thus, will leave together

So that nobody loses none.

 

This is what I like to give you

My sister wherever you are

To light the light of love and bliss

Because I, that great I, only exist everywhere.

 

In search of serenity

 

In a snowy mountain forest

where the crystal clear fountains are

running down the hill dancing,

giggling with an innocent joy,

I stand there to enjoy the calmness,

the purity, the natural aroma

far away from the hue and cry

of selfish, complex human inhabitants.

 

There birds chirp, animals play

but nobody does any harm to others.

In the midst of these cheerful surroundings

I like to sit at the feet of an enlightened sage

whose very face brings to me an absolute assurance.

 

I forget the predicament the world has,

the grief of grappling mankind,

I come to know all these are conquerable and

which will soon disappear

at the blessings of the great soul,

ushering in the dawn of enlightenment,

glimpse of which has already arrived.

Dr. Sandip Saha is a chemical engineer and doctorate (PhD) in metallurgical engineering by profession. He has retired from service and is 64 years of age. His hobby is poetry writing in Bengali and English. He has published one book of collection of poems, Quest for freedom, available at amazon.com. His poems were published in journals including Taj Mahal, India; The society of classical poets, New York; Oddball magazine, USA and Snapdragon, felan, Better Than Starbucks Poetry magazine, USA. He is a life member of The Poetry Society (India).

Nsah Mala is an award-winning writer, poet, motivational speaker, and youth leader from Cameroon, author of three poetry collections: Chaining Freedom (2012), Bites of Insanity (2015), If You Must Fall Bush (2016). His writings have appeared or are forthcoming in magazines and anthologies like Hell’s Paradise/Paradis d’enfer, Stories for Humanity, Tuck Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review, Dissident Voice, The Kalahari Review, Spillwords Press, Miombo Publishing, Best ‘New’ African Poets 2017, and Vanguard Book of Sexual and HIV/AIDS Awareness 2017. His forth poetry collection in English, Constimocrazy, will soon be released by Pski’s Porch Publishing while he is completing a collection in French, Les pleurs du mal.

Harry Owen is the author of seven collections of poetry, the latest of which is The Cull: new and resurrected poems. He also edited For Rhino in a Shrinking World: an international anthology (2013) and I Write Who I Am: an anthology of Upstart poetry (2011).  His work is published widely, including in Stanzas, New Contrast, New Coin, Kalahari Review and many more. He lives in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Further details: http://rhinoanthology.wordpress.com and http://thecullpoetry.wordpress.com

Note: ‘The Shearing’ and ‘Unhinged at Chintsa’ appear in my latest collection, The Cull: new and resurrected poems (The Poets Printery, East London, 2017)

Richard Mbuthia is a teacher, a poet, an editor and a motivational speaker from Kenya. He has great passion for poetry and has published his first collection titled The Setting Noon and Other Poems. The twenty six letters of the alphabet amaze him with their ability to midwife the winds of change across the nations.

 

Forlon Glory: Zimbabwe

 

Deathly silence opened its

Cavernous mouth and mourned;

With soulful shaky moans,

The earthly doors shut open

The fangs of peace,

That spewed the poison of restoration.

 

The silence of revolution, unhindered,

Chugged on –

The old man stirred

Upon the kingly throne

Spectacles on the bridge

Of his flaring nose

As he teetered, tottered blindly

On the edge of a canyon.

 

His fire flies flit past the fleet

Of dazzling nothingness

Celebrating eons of impish barking

At the helm of a country

Mired in gloom and cracked smiles.


The forlon look of glory

Lifted the veil off the sherds

Of brokered peace;

The broken piece of the life that was

Many suns ago,

When the earth knew fertile sweat,

Limply fell to the ground

A snarly smile on its face.

Mlondi Ndlovu is a young South African budding poet and a writer who seeks novelty with close attention to other African poets. He has been influenced deeply by the poetry of Makhosazana Xaba and Dagga Tolar. He has won numerous schools’ poetry and short story writing competitions including 21stPoetry Africa and 20thTime of the Writer. He was published at the young age of 17, and was featured in the Ramsgate Book & Art Festival's poetry anthology of 2017.

Confidential Lover

 

…and he said to me:

‘Meet me at a place like this:

A place without a gate for society

To enter and paint our faces

With all the shades that disgust,

 

Where it is dark but still I can see

Clearly your face and you mine

Where we hold our horny hands

In public and still not be seen,

 

Where there are high walls of steel

Thick enough to shut out the murmurs

Of the sixth sense at society’s command,

 

Where we just can be seen as men

Walking the other road

And not live to seek their sanction—

Where no judgment can be passed,

 

A place where we can be confined

From being stoned to our graves

And belong—

A place anywhere but society’

 

​Unhinged at Chintsa

Harry Owen

After the great windstorm that blew in from the West –

sunshine and luminous skies disowning the gale’s treachery

of amputated branches, dust and dune-menacing surf –

 

he dreams in the calm of another day, glances out

from his book through ageing French windows

across the sundeck to a newly-crisp ocean, rich

 

as the skirling of pipes beyond silverleaf, milkwood,

strelitzia and palm: he knows this pulsing

creature, this loved world, as he knows his own breath.

 

As he stares, the open door groans, creaks back on itself,

subsides in a heap – a stricken glass geriatric

crutched and straining for support. Years of salt air

 

have rotted the old screws, and he hadn’t noticed.

Quick to grab the frame and hold it up (he has to be!),

they wedge it clumsily back into place,

 

locking it in. It will hold for a few more days, they hope.

But who will restore this fragile thing now

in such a time of keening collapse?

Suddenly the whole bright world is unhinged.

It needs fixing.

​​

AFRICAN DEMOCRACIES

Nsah Mala

If you tear or burn a piece of cloth: treason.

Swindle sums, mutilate constitutions: reason.

In Africa, power dodges ballot boxes;

but is transferred from fathers to sons.

They own nations like private boxes

and throw all who raise brows in prisons.

Some offered power on golden platters free of charge

glue themselves to thrones and swear never to discharge.

Rulers concede defeats, congratulate winners,

and later change their minds like daydreamers.

Articles demanding asset declarations

suffer intolerable, disgusting humiliations;

but mandate-limit modifications

send hand clappers into thunderous acclamations.

I pity mandate-limiting articles in our constitutions:

opened and stitched like in caesarean operations!

When mandates elapse, power lovers

postpone elections and claw protesters.

Federations swallowed for personal gratification,

but secession is taboo for an entire population.

Rulers from foreign hotels come to rule in planes

instead of ploughing and investing on our plains.

When western leaders visit us they spend days,

but most of our rulers go there for holidays.

Soldier ants surround them with gunned fences

against unarmed populations accused of offenses.

Roads blocked each time they go visiting

to save what they have been stealing.

Sick rulers flown to foreign hospitals

as citizens suffocate in rotting local hospitals.

(Perpignan, 23 December 2016)

 

Deadline

Richard Mbuthia

 

Why does a deadline seem so full of life

Right in the throes of labour?

Where purchases it its life

If it itself is lifeless?

 

On its birth date

Engorged it becomes

Fiery flints line its belly

As the hearth is verily stoked.

 

A rush to beat its birth

Floods through reason’s gates

The finish line looms dangerously

In the horizon of absolutes

Teetering and tottering offendingly

Like a totem pole in a gust.

 

With the stage set,

A slaughter takes graphic shape

Gluttonous swords whet their

              Untoward appetite.

 

This nagging tot is snuffed out

The day it was fructified

This life-death remains debatably

Justified.

Copyright  Better than Starbucks 2017, a poetry magazine    

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