January 2018 Vol. III No. I
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
It is a cheat code
She has plumb run out, up and up…
Up, up, up, up… Cancer!
Is the only way to construct a year, a house
Unbuilding itself, in measurement of the dead.
God’s blazing fingers cryptically etched
On your mother‘s face
No one is there for you to dally now,
Except a drying mother, dying
Your mom- still there, in the basement of your memories,
In a dark place, in the middle of a breath, where
It feels like it has stayed away, stopped for a second.
half prayer, half request, half a whisper.
But no sound escapes you, encases you.
Howsoever long you now allow yourself to stay here,
You need no keys, no padlocks
For no door is locked, none is opened,
Every window is opened, every window is closed.
You have become the false answer you had always hoped
You will touch if you question a little deeper.
Loss like this percolates underneath
Up to the moment you want everyone you know to know of this
Yet you do not know who to let know of this
Triangular the pain, diagonal the circumference synapses
Not communicating laughter, but a mourning thing
Strapped inside your chest.
She tells you of her mother’s union to the man who adored her
Not her marriage to a man she doesn’t mention when she mentions of her.
She tells you the best way to deal with this is to go through it
With faith, with the support of
Mourners who allow the mourner to mourn.
But do you tell her that from its case,
Your heart has vanished, a display now empty,
As empty as a vacant apartment in a vacant street.
The moment she tells you that part of
Mourning is helping other mourners respond to you,
And you answer her that when others lose sight of you
All you will be left with is this-
A dying canary so bent and alone,
Wimping- singing and mourning the morning off.
Let the bird’s song soaks into your skin
For this awhile you sing ice cold tears.
But when the stars burn,
The songs from their mouth is dark
As if they have stretched thin as wilted tissue.
The wind is never your friend;
You don’t concentrate on the trees,
But follow deep blue black skies
Tendai Rinos Mwanaka from Zimbabwe is an editor, publisher, mentor, writer, visual and musical artist with close to 20 published books which include among others, Frontiers, Wild, Semi-Wild, Human… (Photographic book), Zimbolicious Poetry Anthologies (Anthology series of Zimbabwean poets), Playing To Love’s Gallery (poetry book), Keys in the River (short stories novel), Voices from Exile (poetry book), Counting The Stars (poetry book), and many more here: http://www.africanbookscollective.com/authors-editors/tendai-rinos-mwanaka. He writes in English and Shona. His work has appeared in over 400 journals and anthologies from over 27 countries. Work has been translated into Spanish, French and German.
SUNSHINE AND JELLY
I call it a “dark cloud” but
that’s a lie. What holds me
has jaws that bite across
the back of my neck, reaching
to the top of my head, a pear
soft and juicy in its grip, firm,
fangs slicing through tender
muscle, productive hours.
I smell its acid breath, stench
Of rotting life, flies, rats rabid,
gnawing, scurrying over me,
phlegm down my spine.
And there I wait, blind, trapped,
entwined in heavy black
that presses on my head,
pounds on my heart, on and on
till I drag my carcass to the edge
and I look down –I must jump,
I must jump, it wants me to jump,
waiting for me to melt.
But I never do.
Perhaps tomorrow, but not today.
So it grows tired, loosens
its grip, and takes leave
till the next setting of the sun.
I can see. I am free.
“The dark cloud has passed,”
I smile to my wife, my lie,
feeling sunshine and jelly
as I mop up the remaining
phlegm and stench.
Athol Williams is a South African poet and social philosopher. He was awarded the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award in 2015 and 2016. Athol has published three poetry collections, the most recent being Bumper Cars. He holds several degrees and is currently studying a PHD at Oxford University. His website is here
To the African Migrant
Knowing many ways to catch a lizard
Does not make you a brilliant wizard
Not all hunters that set traps in forests
Return to the village with their quests
You loathe the land of your birth
And seek crooked paths to mirth
You walk over your tillable lea
And court thorny routes to flee
The hurting hunger at home
Across dry deserts you roam
Aiming to sniff freedom across the sea
But you run into a taste of bitter tea
In the abode of your vicious slave master
Dogs don’t tell the redolence of faeca matter
From the acrid vomit of a preg house wife
Into Libya’s jaws you turn in your life
For carnivorous hounds of brothers to prey
Upon the mean blood in your idiotic array
In that furnace where fraternity has taken flight
Where neck and ankle chains withhold your right
To direct the wind of your gluttonous thriving
Hanging your obstinate heart on the steep of living
There, where sometimes your bones in dunes interred
As prize for your chicken-livered soul deterred
Where at times the desert air your flesh devours
Or your treasures a gang of robbers scours
As reward for your indolence and vain greed
For evading to vie with them for bread
That drudge to survive in your recessed lands
As you elect to become meal for sad Arab sands
Macpherson C. O. Okpara is a highly acclaimed Nigerian poet, playwright, short story writer, literary critic and editor with a number of publications to his credit. He took both the Bachelors and Masters Degree in Literature in English from the prestigious Abia State University, Nigeria and has been a lecturer in English/Literature since 1998.
Pas la Dette
The collection calls come in their sudden bursts
Laid stochastically over life's swells;
They murmur threats, they plead with me to pay.
"Do you not acknowledge what you owe?
Do you not regret this delinquency?"
I hear her claims: "gagné à l'arracher!"
Beneath those agent scripts, and disconnect,
In absentia on default judgment day.
A strange inversion, this holding cell,
It struggles to confine me from within,
To route my senses through its dear tollway,
But I'm far too cochlear. Sadly powerless
Under these modern laws, she can lock me up
Neither for mere debt nor lèse majesté;
Her vengeful knight's tin-tarnish voice punctuates
My absence this default judgment day.
Sometimes a bill unpaid forms the kernel
Of common tragedy, compounded loss,
The claimant's finances in disarray.
She seems no bank of swollen bonuses;
Am I the larded with lazy greed, have I
Worked for my desert of that sweet play?
Write it red with my disdain of credit,
My willful absence this default judgment day.
Uche Ogbuji, more properly Úchèńnà Ogbújí, was born in Calabar, Nigeria. He lived in Egypt, England and elsewhere before settling near Boulder, Colorado. A computer engineer and entrepreneur by trade, his poetry chapbook, Ndewo, Colorado (Aldrich Press) is a Colorado Book Award Winner, and a Westword Award Winner ("Best Environmental Poetry"). His poems, published worldwide, fuse Igbo culture, European classicism, American Mountain West setting, and Hip-Hop. He co-hosts the Poetry Voice podcast and featured in the Best New African Poets 2015 Anthology.
To the Text Maker who leaves nothing to chance.
- Tendai R Mwanaka
Touch, untouch me, lack of touch, there is a piece of you in such words, voices, the fertilization, float, sink, attach, wait, wait, wait… Touch, attach, untouch me, part precision, touch me, part poltergeist, untouch me, buzz the words, sink, float, the fertilization, there is brickwork behind the words, the lack of, the contact. Touching needs the part untouched, touch me…
Breathe, inhale, breathe, hold it in, breathe, exhale, we schlep and squeeze, like a baby all the words to each other, breathe… Breezy, warm, breathe, exhale, hold it in, only one word is left, this word… unword it, inhale, exhale, breathe… It’s in the contrast that meaning forms.
Word it, unword it, words are erotic beings, blank parchment, silence, talking, quiet, let it enter, noise, talk, talk, talk…, you build a room like a wordless sentence. Stories, words, poems, voices, purpling with the winter, wording behind the radius of summer, listen, silence, listen, hear it…, and listen again.
To words negotiating with silence, with what can’t be spoken, with what can be spoken, talk, silence… I want to hold, caress, read, imbibe, a black book full, empty it of screaming words, quiet words, quiet, quiet, quiet… Words need space to breathe; stories need what’s left unsaid!
And to a text maker who leaves nothing to chance; change, unchange it…
- Uche Ogbuji
How long are we for this world?
How long is this world for us?
Shall we remain only remains
Or burst spaceward in wanderlust?
The writing is on what stars we'll make,
And back on the birthworld of our wake.
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.
Light. I hide from it
But the sun’s radiant rays
chase after me
piercing the barriers
around my soul
highlighting every flaw
I wish to bury
Light. I run from it
But the moon’s
past my shuttered eyes
showing me shortcomings
I pretend not to see
Light. I extinguish it
But the stars’ gentle glow
slips through the
crevices in my skin
in my heart
I seek to forget
No light at the end
of the tunnel, you say
I will be safe there. From me
Srikakulam. Funny name. Always elicits laughs. Unpronounceable. Except for those born there. Like me.
Forgettable really. I remember grandma's searing mango pickle in boiling June. The memory lives on my tongue.
New Delhi. Also blazing. 44-degree summers. Sensible to search for any scrap of shade. Except for those too young to care. Like me.
Mid-afternoons in school grounds. On the volleyball court, living fully in the moment. The heat still singes my skin.
Singapore. Encased in a humidity bubble. Difficult to breathe. Except for those who get used to it. Like me.
Never meant to stay this long. So many plans to move on. Yet, 15 years later, still here. Probably will always be.
Some places sink their roots into you.
NEITHER OF US BLEEDS
I lie on the couch
A limp fish
though I am still breathing
On the TV
the salmon on the chef’s board —
looking fresher than me —
is most certainly dead
The knife slides smoothly
through the soft flesh
I think longingly of butter and toast
His fingers run tenderly
over the succulent pink
Then he yanks the bones out
The way I sometimes rip words
out of my soul — not quite so cleanly
for the jagged edges
fuse awkwardly into scars
But we do have something in common
The hapless salmon and I —
Neither of us bleeds
Living in Singapore, Uma Venkatraman is a journalist by day and a poet all the time. The day job pays the bills, the poetry provides the succour. She has been published in anthologies including Along The Shore and Beyond The Hill, and online in The Pink Panther Magazine.
In the sweet winter
The glamour, hot and warm
Worn between intimate lovers
And blessed with affection
Adorned with attraction
Elated by emotion
Close in each other's arms
Up in the mid-night
Furtive and cryptic in the dark
Away from people’s sight
Embracing bare-bodies, burning ice
In the mantle of love;
Making and doing
Replacing each; up and down-
They beat the chill too far
Muzammil Ahad Dar
is a Lecturer in Kashmir India
Nature (Acrostic Poem)
Nature hides in itself, treasures,
Are worth every single praise, worthwhile,
Treasures, that God carved in His imagery,
Unreal, at first sight, but,
Real, they are to the eye's delight,
Expressing is God, through Nature, about his Might
Sonnet: The Road I Walk
this road I walk, leads me to thee,
I fear myself, and my desires
this walk, is comforting to me,
for this road leads to what heart conspires
I have naught left an interest to survive,
my heart has bled, wept and cried,
I forced myself to move on, I have tried,
I guess, there is no reason but to stay alive
fortune, has led me to day dreaming,
all I could do, is stare the night sky,
in the constellations up high,
your face is what I end up seeking
Loving you was no choice of mine, but the heart
and I have walked this far, as was the will of heart
Kazi Nabeel is a passionate writer and a wanderer from the city of Karachi. You can find more of him on his blog where he shares his thoughts and poetry.
To escape all harshness around,
I stepped into the valley of dreams.
Where there lie all sorts of dreams,
Waiting to be dreamed.
There at the corner of the valley
Flows a stream of Lethe.
In order to dream well
one should loose all remembrance
I sipped the water of forgetfulness,
And was lost in the captivating valley.
Where there were sweet dreams
Of bed of roses,
pixies with pointed noses.
Of lilies,chrysanthemum and hyacinths,
all in fascinating labyrinths.
Of rainy nights,
Of gallant knights,
Of far away lands
Of valleys and islands
Of sweet love song,
Of Keat's Nightingale's song,
that I always long .
And of kingdom of heart,
where every end is a fresh start.
Of a die-heart lover
the one that can shower
I am an aging soul
my dreaming days are over!
sweetness has been replaced bitterness
now there is no hopes
as one cant dream
with silver strings ,
now no more springs.
yes my dreaming days are over
no more dreaming
I should give up all my dreams
I think I will feel better
as proverb says
" Since I have lost hope I am feeling much better"
so should give it a try
Will give up all my Dreams
But is dreaming not the other name of living?
Should I give up life too?
there are not only sweet dreams
that only fuel desires,
there are also one that aspires.
dreams are milestones
dreams are divine zones
dreams are illuminations
dreams are revelations
28 November 2015
Say it once
Say it once
What you have to
Without employing puns
Say it once!
Tell me what you should
Not a candied lie
Lets say no to falsehood
All you need is to remember
That truth is handsomer
Than a prolonged slumber.
Say it once!
Say it once!
Say that I am waiting long
For that true words
Which I will never take wrong.
Say it once!
12, Jan 2016
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.