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Tendai Rinos Mwanaka Five Poems

White Girl, black boy


The human skin is now the only existing surface

That has conquered millennia of self-recognition, of revelation,

          Elevation . . .

The dermis has become a convener of beingness, as a surface

It both limits and interrupts the contours of the landscape and flesh


          And after a few years (after what), I am still debating whether the skin is the only existing surface that has survived a

          history of cut and paste manifest destiny. The human mind, my mind tells me, instead of the dermis, or in abidance to the

          skin, has become an interlocutor of sensing, of pre-sensing, as a surface. Surface, senses, surfacing, the S of surfaces, curvy

          like trailway lines — intersecting, the mind; both jails and skyrockets the contours of the landscape and flesh.


I imagine, imagining my imaginations

          Like dreaming my dreams

What if white is not?

Really white!

A smudgy “pinkish” colour?

          The black racist chimes: A decoration on basically an empty landscape,


And the black boy thinks: If i was really black, i might not really be seen.

Because I could hide things in my own blackness and if she were really white,

When she is being white, white as genetically white (family-tree white)

She wouldn’t see me, for she would only be the wind, air

Light stripes of air, pinned around my corporeal clothes

Like cold tasting light, itself in the mouth of itself.


The white girl thinks and invests this with import: It is a black skin muddled, annihilated of its truth.

          She thinks of the skin (nakedness) as the best possible example of surface,

No more his own skin; erythematous-patches (erythematous-batches of), necrotic tissues-indurated, the body laminated against


As its skin boils in its blackness

The black thing always needing, needling wanting, to get in the way,

Even now


Like the deadly white of the sky

She inherited the whiteness

The sugar coating whiteness

It is whiteness

As witness


The white racist thinks and sheriffs it, you can’t deny her that: This is what has been passed down to me

A white horned hunger to live, live and live and live . . .

As long as bacteria

In this whiteness

Is it whiteness as white-coloured white

Prosecuting . . .


The two, the white girl and the black boy, are talking of the cloudy of ice-cold that is always hovering on either side of this

          harness, the weave is the skin, which attempts to harness a centrality of spirit, and the rituals each of the two enacts to

          cipher it out in their relationship.

But, I will do an Alice Walker here


And I imagine, with Walker, the psychic liberation of black if it understands

Black is not really black

I imagine, still with Walker, the exhilarating feeling of white if it could walk (doing a Walker with me) away from the caged


Of its body, in its own skins!

          I was just talking of colours, the white and black colours!

Milk With Marvin, My Cat


I gave Marvin some milk to drink

But she just smelled it

And refused to drink it.


I spoke of the DRC

But she just stared at me.

I spoke of the elections in Nigeria and Kenya

She started jumping up and down the table.


I spoke of Zimbabwe’s problems

She stopped, and stared at me again.

I said it is all because of Mugabe

She just smiled at me like some elfin child.


I spoke of South Africa

And of how Jacob Zuma is good for this country.

She started mewing and growling

And moved out of the room.


And I thought it must have been—

The smell of the milk.


Or Marvin had turned into an Afro-sceptic?


Crossing © Tendai Rinos Mwanaka

waiting for the humans.jpg

Waiting For The Humans © Tendai Rinos Mwanaka

The tempers of this light


. . . on the trees, golden.

Light is massed.

But, I do not



. . . its reaches

It reaches

too far into the distant tempers—


Are we just organs of this flight?


Or dramatic fixtures,


or settings,


or a conceit, that cannot

be solved?


My words arch,

have no sound

or meaning.



Even though Eagles always have choices

In the great wide circles

Above and below them . . .

They never fight the wind!


Out of road bridges, tents and shack-towns

Out of refugee camps and dirty bins

Out of ghost towns

Our ghosts burn inside us without guilt

Out of the neon-glimmer of uptowns

Out of girls become bitches to survive

Out of fear, anger and poisoned hearts

Out of men become killing bastards

Out of the cold shivers of winter nights

Out of fires, floods and lives lost

Out of empty shells, empty lives, and empty beings

Out of traps sprung by the police on foreigners

Out of police trucks ferrying us back to Zimbabwe.


The policeman’s gun is pointing at me

His partner is picking on me

Curious animals sniffing for a bribe

This illegal war against immigrants

Breeds unfettered patriotism of citizens against foreigners.


They want to crack our skulls

They want to burn us alive

Laugh and rejoice around our dead

They want to kill every foreigner

Cut cords from our bellies

Suck blood from our corpses

They want to eat our flesh

They want to rape our women

Step on our babies

They want to dig our graves

And burn our bones

That we cannot live anymore

Cannot die again

Cut off in our prime.


Our weakness is an affront to them

Always being quantified, measured

And tagged Makwerekwere, Makwerekwere.

Maybe next time they would grind us into flour

Package and distribute us

And I think it would be more-instructive

More efficient, more cost-effective.

Artist’s Trails


Signs that name objects speak about themselves but do not put the objects into words. When questions, I mean objects, cannot be put into words, when the words to search for the answers, I mean signs, are not actually words, the answers cannot be put into words, words cannot manifest into things, words manifest to themselves.


This Words Tower works its wounds for warnings, it says: In this Words Babel, no one is excluded from the knowledge of the roundness (life) of things, whether dead or alive. Life as a school; why not try to take its curriculum. The first lesson is on human touch, and the experiment is: Microwave your pride!


Here are the results:


Take advantage of the ever-changing point.

Unlike the fixed point where you can huff and puff locating it with your body, the ever-changing point requires the outside-the-body presence. Some might call that a soul, psyche, consciousness, conscience, spirit, mweya . . .

Just locate it!


Allow it to keep changing in the space. Add circular lines around its change fields. Lines that touch these ever-changing change points will together become your construction block. Set (put), what others might refer to as input and unset (unput) yourself between these construction blocks — gather yourself by inhabiting the emoticon theatre. Ask yourself, or just answer, “am I reversing the pattern of the physical body.”


The art of finding the physical body does not support weight; rather it represents the weight-bearing emotions of human beings.

Then ask again, “am I reversing the pattern of the spiritual body”


This is an ordinary enough telling, this telling and this not telling of things. The kind of things anyone may find themselves living with or not telling when talking about things:

Living, so say you what say I, tell of this switchback of shadows, a new organ that grows in his heart.


We trace the shadows of it against the download of itself, chewing just people things . . . like that; walk-away-from-your-shadow play. The shadow swallows him and it is warm in the inside of him as it keeps him from sleeping. He had no idea it was a burden of all two-sided things, the burden of every wish. What wish?


The star horizon is an empty line of music, he basks in the trance of this music, the folded stars of Cassiopeia’s dream go down the grid, then up to the nearest bright moment, hip down, and another moment joint up, and then again and again. See, See it. The see-saw, the spin-whirly. Hmmm. We are listening to the subterranean lullabies of plate-shift shitting and ordaining the extinction of us.


Selfish is neither sell nor fish. Marita was arrested for pretending to be in a marginal box, an imaginary box. Maryam was hospitalized in a nut house for impersonating longing, okay just attempting to sit on its thighs. Lazarus was jailed for trying to disintegrate himself — he now prays for small things. He now prays to the God of Small Things. I didn’t say to the small god, a Buddha! Let this be victory enough, the echoes of us being in our heads against us.


Where are we without this, what are we without this, this is a revision, a beginning, a compromise, an improvisation — we will go our whole life for this and only and only, settling for something, anything, okay everything and then ex(im)ploding. I have made it a word! Feel it smash, shave and smooth away our directional mistakes.

We all owe rent!


Artist’s Trails, frozen echoes, pure impressions of the truth! This is now where ideology criticism meets memes. We could give this language a heart. Keep talking; telling, talking: we can see it moves things. Half-half, Ho-hum. This language map.


He is just an average pen, going his normal routines, scribbling nonsense on paper with this black, blue, red . . . ink; there is nothing to see here.

Vanquish the script!

Come back!

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