22 December 2019

19 poems from Africa, a Poéfrika list

Horns, by Kwame Dawes

In every crowd, there is the one
with horns, casually moving through
the bodies...

Body bereft, by Antjie Krog

over my terrified
body my hand moves again up to
my breast...

Home, by Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well...

You will forget, by Chenjerai Hove

If you stay in comfort too long
You will not know
The weight of a water pot
On the bald head of the village woman...

Boat journey, by Ladan Osman

Sunday afternoon on a city beach.
No sand, slabs of manufactured stone.
I watch two blondes, maybe sisters,
Inflate a raft...

This is the sea, by Rustum Kozain

There is that sea, deep sometimes
as the heart at dusk,
the shine on its face soon to fade...

Sharpeville, by Dennis Brutus

What is important
about Sharpeville
is not that seventy died:
nor even that they were shot in the back...

Love poem, by Kelwyn Sole

I am a coward. Away from a suffering homeland
I feel very little and can tell you even less.
What would you need to know?

Baloyi’s art gallery, by Vonani Bila

it’s a round chapel-like gallery
baloyi built it with bare hands in the bush
with everything he could find
without begging or sulking...

Not my business, by Niyi Osundare

They picked Akanni up one morning
Beat him soft like clay
And stuffed him down the belly
Of a waiting jeep.

What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?

Raising things, by Rethabile Masilo

As evening settles its dark wing on us
we lie inside another night till even that night
has nothing to say to us, till the crickets
are quiet outside and bats are out,...

The first circle, by Kofi Awoonor

the flat end of sorrow here
two crows fighting over New Year's Party
leftovers. From my cell, I see a cold
hard world....

Grapes, by Julius Chingono

Today I was fortunate
to stumble upon a vendor
sorting out grapes for sale.
He separated
the good from the bad...

Bread for the birds, by TJ Dema

It rose above us like a god
I remember thinking what or
who would willingly give wings to such rage
But there it was...

Living ancients, by Matthew Shenoda

For those of us young
we will face the mourning of our elders.
Bury them...

Telephone conversation, by Wole Soyinka

The price seemed reasonable, location
Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived
Off premises. Nothing remained
But self-confession. "Madame," I warned,
"I hate a wasted journey—I am African."

If you're lucky, by Michelle McGrane

If you are lucky
you will carry one night with you
for the rest of your life,
a night like no other.
You won’t see it coming...

Edith and Umau, by Ngwatilo Mawiyoo

I’ve returned from America
because Umau is mortal
in the way nation-states aren’t
and he is old....

The sophisticated skinhead, by Lefifi Tladi

We don't need
You here,
We can help you
Out there
In your homeland
Go home nigger
We don't need you nigger...

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