21 August 2019

Ntsoana-tsatsi, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

We are one with you, Ntsoana-tsatsi,
satellites of your dark meat.

We do not come from the same time
but as single mortals of your deep.

We stick a head out, shoulders, arms,
push to free the whole torso.

We are from a life rife with genitals
and come here with a seltzer sound.

We feed oxygen to our lungs and shriek,
our bodies covered with fine slime.

We see Courbet lurking in the shadows,
painting organs with his oil pastels.

We feel nakedness against light,
against the drizzly meaning of our life.

19 August 2019

I meant to close the window, a poem by Virginia Smith Rice

Where are those terror
ful nights we suffered
as children? Look in
boxes under the eaves,
unless attics have also
fallen away, like child-
tiny rooms crowded
with headlights that
slip over walls, square-
split by branches and
sirens. I can tell you
how it was, so yes, god
needs me (I will fast
asleep, packed into this
narrow world) but is it
enough? I ask him
for sight and he gives
me his. I ask for teeth
and he brings them
all. I am rich with small
sharp, stones sprouting
along, shoulders, arms,
seaming each finger. I
ask him to come near,
come nearer, for a glass
of water, the rest of his
breath. I ask for all one
can give to another,
a click in another's dark.

This poem was originally published by Storm Cellar Quarterly and is in the chapbook Whose House, Whose Playroom by Virginia Smith Rice.

Virginia Smith Rice

18 August 2019

What I thought (after Spender), by Rethabile Masilo

—for my daughter, Lineo

I thought there was going to be
gleaming, as when the firefly
in some forest has, all around it,
a halo of body—sharp poems
to rewrite blood on the mood
of people whose impulse
is to strip dark matter—I thought
we might start near dawn
near a town gawping at us—people
looking over shoulders to see
inside your manger,
repeating amens that made you
arrive..., fuming from clay still—
I thought, once they had finished
slapping your foot soles,
we’d carry you home, your key
in our hand to open the door.
What I could not have realised
was how we would enter and be,
despite the din of the world.
This I could not have foreseen.

14 August 2019

Africa’s song, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

—for Geoffrey Philp

The ancients never suggested death by fire,
being consumed by it, dying; the unbearable
reach of the bible, its dark truth; that was no fear,
nor were boots on our pavements. We were death
in another way, fire was not needed for our dying.
On a pathway or in the home everyone who died
was the kingpin of their kingdom, a forebear caught
between dogma and the views of Jah. Yesterday
was besieged by the chronicle of today, pyramidal Nubia
and the turrets of Zimbabwe turned into faceless
rudiments. Though there’s a song to put it all behind
and that song, if you listen to it, resounds in you.

Geoffrey Philp
The poem 'Africa's song' is from the book Qoaling,
published in 2017 by the Onslaught Press

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