More Great African Poetry with Tendai Rinos Mwanaka
Excuse Plays to God
by Wanjohi wa Makokha
Let us, play, that game, again….
Where we call all names of God.
One trillion times, twins, habibi
Expecting that He exists again…
Let us play it even in our graves
Two shadows of our Time of Life
Beneath the Twilight as we stare
Upwards searching Heaven-gate
Lets play the God game, you and I
Stretched here in ruins of Religion
Buried under debris of democracy
Dreaming the deaflessness of God!
Is it when owls sing elegy to the sun
Of broken homes, broken hearts, of
Embers as stone-cold as the hearths
That we should replay our twinitude?
The Extraordinary Love poem
by Kariuki wa Nyamu of Nairobi, Kenya
Love, today I pen you a poem
albeit a plain one
a poem that wouldn’t employ images
for our love is altogether unimaginable.
A poem free of hyperbole
for our love doesn’t deserve any extravagant exaggeration.
A poem devoid of metaphors and similes
for our love has got no comparison.
Love, I pen you
a poem without personification
for our love will never be inanimate.
A poem empty of oxymoron and paradox for our love is not at all self-contradictory.
A poem lacking symbols
for never will our love signify something else.
A poem with not as many rhetorical questions, since
where’s that time to invest in questions that induce no reply?
Yes, I’ll just pen you a device-less poem
for ‘tis utterly immaterial to conceal our love
behind any one poetic device!
Love, today I just want to let you know
that you’re the life of my love
You who opaque one and all
the irresistibly charming belle
and sole conqueror of my pride of heart!
So Love, kindly appreciate this extraordinary love poem
for ours is totally out-of-the-ordinary love
since not even the authority of these poetic words
that I soooo much economize
can effectively express our immense affection
that’ll forever remain remarkably unusual!
Dreaming of Soccer
by Christine Coates of Cape Town, South Africa
I grew up on the edge of District Six, all we had was a ball;
newspapers taped round and round.
The Malay boys had a leather ball; their dad's drapers and tailors,
and matches in the street, teaming ourselves, until the muezzin called
them to prayers and our mothers yelling to come for supper.
Dreaming of soccer, how I dribbled the ball,
how I passed it to Desmond Green and he back to me,
how I shot it into the back of the net.
Darling Street, late afternoon, a short cut,
bergies slept there under the milkwoods, they ate boys
like the Sabbath chicken, spitting out the bones, Mom said.
The sun low between Lion's Head and Devil’s Peak,
a blink of an eye, a bogey winking, a candle.
Then I saw the glass, the rounded ends of bottles.
But I was nimble, I was quick like Desmond Green;
Hubbly Bubbly, Pepsi, Coca-Cola,
a window for empties, a tickey a bottle, a sixpence for whiskey,
a miracle I told Desmond,
from under the milkwoods, money for our own ball.
The Malay boys, as good as them, a proper team,
like the story in shul, manna in the desert, pansella.
Shifren's Sports Shop smells of leather and rubber,
delivery bikes with fat black tyres, Raleigh racers,
rows of balls, oval rugby balls,
netballs, tennis balls, ping-pong balls and a brown leather ball,
a round leather ball.
Mr Shifren counted the coins, 'I'm not Father Christmas you know',
but he took it from the high shelf.
The Malays goaded, 'Trying for Moroka Swallows?'
We settled on Sundays – they couldn't play Fridays,
our Saturdays Sabbath.
Years later, lean years, the stock market-crashed years.
I walked the city begging for work;
it was a Friday, the start of sunset,
and I was to bring a shabbas chicken for the table, but my hands were empty.
At Rietvlei I parked near milkwoods and ran the motor, the gas fumes –
perhaps if I died.
The shades under the afternoon trees lengthened,
then – a glint, a wink of an eye. Their magnified lenses.
The days of street soccer rollicking back to save me.
I drove to Milnerton Main Road, to Solly's on the corner,
and I could buy a chicken, a large roaster,
and a bar of chocolate.
In the street I met Desmond – it had been thirty years.
He came home for supper, for chicken and challah,
and, as I was carving the meat, and he was drinking whiskey,
he offered me a new job.
I AM A REVOLUTION
by Mbizo Chirasha
Tongues of their guns kissed the bottoms of our country walls
sand of corruption sedimented our banking malls
bishops munching rainbow chicken bones,
singing political verses
violence is a black disease
racism is a white disease
xenophobia is epidemic
blood spilling is endemic
dissidents studying theology
eunuchs graduating criminology
Afghanistan, earthquake of religions
pakistan, volcano of political legions
corruption natural lotion applied in armpits heavy weights
extortion vaseline shining on thighs on high offices
i am not revenging freedom of expression
i am bubbling with freedom of expression
i am constitution of word identity
i am poetry butter and bread
i see children blinded by propaganda peri peri
i see blinded nations
they ate the last supper joburg
their departure never came ,
even when the rainbow sun rose
i am in the drama of the state
my temper of dignity rise and sink
my children drank the apartheid poison
i am diagnosing them with freedom passion
Love’s Art and Love-craft
by Kariuki wa Nyamu
Lord, in my present state of love’s quagmire
I beseech you to gently energize my soul
and grant my mind the potency to
shake off thoughts that this love-craft
that took off just the other day
(with my gorgeous and adorable lady of love)
is doomed to ɔ r ɒ š ɥ
due to the looming fog of distrust!
Oh sweet Lord, hasten to fund me with enough gallons of wisdom
in order to unravel this obscurity, so that
I may either
or better still
cajole my co-pilot
an emergency ………………………………landing…………………………………………………
(in order to secure lives of all members on board)
for ‘tis unwise of us to
p l ɒ n ə
ɔ r ɒ š ɥ
a n d
s t r a w
s e e d s
of our love
all over this
land of rocks!
But Lord of grace, why don’t you make in us
a never-to-perish love-craft
scatters our affection into a
d e s e r t o f
n o t h i n g n e s s?