International Poetry الشعر শ্লোক ကဗျာ ליבע ਪਿਆਰ өлүм

African Poetry with Tendai Rinos Mwanaka

BROKE-BUTTOCK BLUES

 

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,

mwanawangu stopped crying a long time ago.

 

 

                                          BORDER JUMPING

 

                                    Once all set about with fever trees

                                    where hippos squeaked like rubber toys

                                    and crocs gave rides to girls and boys:

                                    the Limpopo River, if you please.

 

                                    Now the banks are greasy with leftovers:

                                    a doek, a hair extension, a knitted

                                    bootie (pink for girls), a broken sandal.

 

                                    In the high and far-off times, the croc

                                    he lengthened the elephant’s nose,

                                    vamped it from a boot to a hose, 

                                    stretched it to a stocking from a sock

                          

                                    Now a decayed, half-eaten corpse, grey-green,

                                    lies unidentified near the bottly

tree with eight leaves only, and twisty roots.

 

Once long ago in colonial times

they lied to us in clever rhymes;

now the truth is the biggest lie,

so we cross the Limpopo, and die.

John Eppel is one of Zimbabwe’s most celebrated writers/poets with over 18 books published. He has won several awards. His latest book is Absent: The English Teacher.

 

 

Bye-bye

Should you want to say goodbye

Trudge to the hills

Standing on a cliff

Hold your lover’s hand

Point to them rocks and broken glasses

Lurking in the smallness of distance on land

Whisper into their ear the sweetness of

Running in the gardens with butterflies  

Yellow, green and cream white hovering

Above your heads in a mile of laughter

Then, let go                               the hand

and

 

fall.

 

Transition

On a boat on West Lake

I met a man who asked me

If we were really meant to grow

Old and tired — wearied by pilgrimages

To temples lost in snow and fogs.

I said I did not know

Because young as a budding flower

I had seen green leaves turn yellow

Falling off leaving the tree in nakedness

And many more had died as I grew

And hoped from mountain to mountain

In my pursuit for happiness.   

They had all waited for the sun to go

Then disappeared one by one

Each falling off into waters

To freeze along with the lake

When winter came hitting hard.

 

Strangers

Civilization welcomed us on arrival

First, he spun the carousels to test our sight

Then he dragged the bags into the tramway

Before leading us to a cab driver who spat and laughed

Before ferrying us to where he had wanted us to be

In the years of great learning that were to come.

First night there was a fight in the sky

Between sleep and the joy of living closer to the moon

After flights on long winding routes hidden in blueness.

We all wanted to sit at the balcony and recount details of

How we had outswam other sperms into the bowl of rice.

In the end there was a stalemate.

We agreed to go back to our beds and sleep happily.

We did not hear civilization again that night

That we thought driving back to the train station

He had crashed into another cab or the tall buildings

That towered above us as we made our way to greatness.

But we met him again in the morning

Just outside the apartment we had been crowded in

Floors piled on floors to save space

In this land of a billion stars in the galaxy

Which at first was as abstract as origins of the first man.

Civilization did not tell us that hiding exhaustion

In our electric blankets on a bed far from home,

We would miss the stillness of night and the beauty of loneliness.

Every night we walked out and placed our heads on the road

To be run over by wailing sirens and cars trudging to nowhere.

That is how we became strangers

When one morning he knocked right on our door and —

Not even smiling as he had done when the plane touched down

Told us it was time. 

Beaton Galafa is a Malawian writer. He currently lives in Jinhua, China where he is studying for a Master’s in Comparative Education at Zhejiang Normal University. His work is forthcoming in Best New African Poets 2017 Anthology.

African Poetry Editor 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.

The Return

 

Here I am

on the same old stone

sitting

with Chipo my sister

many times

years past

our dreams of the future

we shared:

‘A nurse after high school?

Why not an actress or an air hostess?’

 

She giggled:

‘A teacher? Crazy!

Why not an actor or a pilot?

Then together we could act or fly.’

 

Then unexpectedly

I was gone

gone for a cause

and gone almost forever

for never did I think

back home

I would come

as my power to exist

had almost been surmounted

by perils innumerable

as survival by a close shave

was the order of the day.

 

Then at last

here I am.

 

The hanging aura of solitude

and tranquillity

the desolate and protruding mountains

I knew from childhood

greet me.

And this very stone

I sit on

if it could only speak’

I’d ask’

‘Where is Chipo?’

 

The chattering monkeys

and the barking baboons

we chased from our fields of plenty

now overgrown with weed

are no more.

Those trees

dry, leafless

and lifeless

the scotching effects of winter?

 

Nothing

no singing of birds

no life

nothing

as if in a cave

life has been buried.

 

I follow the same old path

up and down

a thousand times

my bare feet trod

driving our cattle

from the pastures

now bearing no footprints

of man or beast.

 

And when on the spot

I arrive

tears I cannot control

for what was once

our beautiful home

ashes,

a brick here

and a stone there

are the remains.

 

And hysterically

I wail:

‘Mhai! Baba! Chipo! Where are you?’

and as if into the mountains

they diffused

the echoes came back:

‘Mhai! Baba! Chipo! Where are you?’

 

A bone I pick

the only object

nearest to life

and the bone I bury

And in memory

I plant a tree

forever

to remain

fertilised

by their blood.

The Hunter’s Plight

 

 He

            Watched

                        Helplessly

                                    In bewilderment

                                                As hungry vultures

                                                            Descended ferociously

                                                                        Upon the dead beast

Another Battle Begun

 

Yesterday

                        It was the AK,

                        I carried

 

                       The bazooka

                       I fired

 

                       The mortar

                       I shelled

                       The land-mine

                       I laid.

                       It is war

                       One battle won.

 

 

Today

                        It is the hoe

                        I carry

 

                        The axe

                        To cut, to build

 

                        The hammer

                        To hit, to construct

 

                        The pick

                        To dig, to mould.

 

It is war

The other war

Another Battle Begun.

Killian Nhamo Mwanaka is a Zimbabwean former freedom fighter, soldier, journalist at The Vanguard 1984, Editor of Gweru Times 1988 –1992; and was published in the seminal anthology of Zimbabwean poets Now The Poets Speak.

Counting theStars by Tendai R Mwanaka

Featured Poem - Editor's Choice:

VENDOR AND CHILD

by John Eppel

Is that a shower of gold seeping

through gaps in the thatching of the sky?

What carefully wafting flakes are these

of light on fire, fading, to die

 

before they touch the woman and child

encamped beneath a municipal

cassia, now leafless, almost stripped

of life-transfusing bark? And when will        

 

we halt beside her meagre tuckshop:

an upturned Lobels biscuit carton:

and buy a cigarette, a handful

of peanuts, and a blighted onion?

 

She cleared a space opposite the NO

STOPPING sign on Cecil Avenue,

a space she shares with sparrow weavers

bickering, and Matabele ants

 

that sting, and stink of formic acid,

with mandibles that nip the tendons

of her battered feet, and bear away,

piece by piece, the crumbs of her domain.

 

Sick, her child is the colour of ash,

a rag doll of hopelessness, symbol

of the new Zimbabwe.  Who will buy

a soft tomato from me?  Who will

 

deliver me from a government

of patronage, of cronyism;

a government of the obese, by

the obese, for the obese?  Wallets

 

of flesh on the backs of their necks, folds

of fat behind their knees; like jumping

castles their bums, like teeming purses

their scrota.  O who will deliver

 

us from these who have been coaxed into

temptation? And who will let that slow

light linger, those wafting flakes of fire,

and set the mother and her child aglow?

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