23 October 2014


I stay strongest among the prostitutes,
and let their hurricane swallow mine till dawn,
to let up only in good time, when they choose
to be queen or demon no more, but come down
from the rafters and take off their costumes
and their false pride, open their hearts for all to see
inside: “this is what happens in our velvet rooms”—
I’d like to live there one day, should my mistresses agree.
For I need that place, in it there is no mercy
more than the one you feel, and give, and must
keep alive; these women are part of no heresy;
at the other end people sing hymns to the host
of heaven. I wonder if I would enjoy such a place,
whose pity comes only in teaspoonfuls of grace.

21 October 2014

Sleep blues

As I was sitting here
the roof fell in, a cat
jumped out of me
and I found myself looking
at the world from outside me.
Midnight does this, too,
when emptiness
hangs from the sky. I stare
at a god whose headlamp
leans in to study me.
The far cry of misery comes
from another street
to tell me the health
of someone has found
death. I try to leap back
into my body before dawn.

18 October 2014

Manicure of the last day

Before going back to Europe tomorrow,
I must cut and file my father’s fingernails;
he sits on an armchair in front of the garage,
and closes his eyes as each nail jumps off,
my father who used to prune fruit trees
he had planted himself, between the kitchen
and the outhouse of our home in Qoaling,
the last village we lived in before we fled,
and learned to understand what the world was;
we had returned to Lesotho years later
and visited our old home to find closure.
Those trees still bore great fruit. After buffing
his hand-nails I remove his shoes, and kneel,
and prune the nails of his toes one by one.

17 October 2014


Is it standard
to have a slave
in a house
of iron, while
devils and gods
have the world
at their feet?

That, nigger, is
not your Niger,
you are where
they want you,
to do whatever
they can’t do.

The heathens
have achieved
their objective:
to have you
believe in their
personal Eden.

So flee, hide
under the legs
of mangrove
trees like when
you were a child
and they came
out of the sea.

Until it's safe
to stand up,
once the dogs
have lost track
of you at last.
Then you can
grow strong.