December 2017 Vol. II No. XII
Not your ordinary poetry magazine!
If good coffee (or just the concept of coffee), great books, sharp wit, and great authors excite you, we are for you!
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.
(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?
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
the evaporating twilight
is a mere pause between dreams
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
a mere pause between dreams
while mocking at the mirth
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
between granny and me
the walls of Granny's womb,
whitewashed with regret
rotating twilit rosemaries
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
a poet's being
my voice laced with
strands of uncertainty
with constellations of stars
your breeze blows
as September sunlight overlooks
a game of noughts and crosses
clustering in its columns
a butterfly's wings billow before me
a kaleidoscope of confused color
a blur of your skirts
my ankles entwined
in a bewildering entanglement
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
of wrong words
which somehow pulled
at the sinews of your heart
an entangled heap
yet, my voice and my speech
is laced with uneasiness
a mere strand
a well said metaphor
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
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.
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.
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
Words and thoughts need to be in perfect harmony for poetry to see the light of day.
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
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
blades of grass
razor edged sharp
deftly cut through
weeds of gloom
Aromas soaked in mirth
From my soul
infused with joy
escapes a sigh
by bountiful breeze
the lines between us blur slowly
as it subsumes me
And I cease to be
my spirit merged
Sushma A. Singh, from Lucknow, India is a qualified orthodontist with a passion for writing poetry
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.
…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
A place anywhere but society’
Unhinged at Chintsa
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.
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)
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
This nagging tot is snuffed out
The day it was fructified
This life-death remains debatably