The Only Magic We Know
251 Pages
English
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The Only Magic We Know

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251 Pages
English

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The Only Magic We Know is a celebration of all the poets Modjaji has published. This anthology offers a taste of the range and diversity of the poems that have appeared in the individual poets� collections.

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Published 23 June 2020
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EAN13 9781928215899
Language English
Document size 3 MB

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CCooppyyrriigghhtt iiss hheelldd bbyy iinnddiivviidduuaall aauutthhoorrss..
The authors include Ingrid Andersen, Marike Beyers, Melissa Butler, Margaret Clough, Christine
Coates, Colleen Crawford Cousins, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Isobel Dixon, Sarah Frost, Elisa Galgut,
Dawn Garisch, Megan Hall, Kerry Hammerton, Khadija Heeger, Colleen Higgs, Eliza Kentridge,
Haidee Kotze, Sindiwe Magona, Michelle McGrane, Jenna Mervis, Joan Metelerkamp, Helen Moffett,
MMaalliikkaa NNddlloovvuu,, TTaarriirroo NNddoorroo,, AAzziillaa TTaalliitt RReeiisseennbbeerrggeerr,, SShhiirrmmoonneeyy RRhhooddee,, BBeevveerrllyy RRyyccrroofftt,, AArrjjaa
Salafranca, Karin Schimke, Katleho Kano Shoro, Thandi Sliepen, Annette Snyckers, Jeannie Wallace
McKeown, Crystal Warren, Robin Winckel-Mellish, Wendy Woodward, Makhosazana Xaba and Fiona
Zerbst
CCooppyyrriigghhtt ffoorr tthhiiss eeddiittiioonn MMooddjjaajjii BBooookkss 22002200
wwwwww..mmooddjjaajjiibbooookkss..ccoo..zzaa
ISBN 978-1-928215-88-2 (Print)
ISBN 978-1-928215-89-9 (ePub)
CCoovveerr aarrttwwoorrkk aanndd lleetttteerriinngg bbyy JJeessssee BBrreeyytteennbbaacchh
Book and cover design by Monique Cleghorn
All poems previously published by Modjaji Books.CCOONNTTEENNTTSS
Introduction
…… wwhheenn II sseett ooffff iinn mmyy bbeesstt bbooddyy
The white room by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers • 7 dinge wat djy nie van my sal wiet’ie by
Shirmoney Rhode • Child in a photograph by Arja Salafranca
Walking the lioness by Robin Winckel-Mellish • Strange fruit by Helen Moffett • Falling by
CCrryyssttaall WWaarrrreenn •• AAllll tthhee tthhiinnggss II ddoonn’’tt kknnooww hhooww ttoo ddoo bbyy KKeerrrryy HHaammmmeerrttoonn •• ffllyyiinngg ooffff tthhee
hhaannddllee bbyy CCoolllleeeenn HHiiggggss •• FFoorr aa CChhaannggee bbyy AAnnnneettttee SSnnyycckkeerrss
Skin matters by Khadija Tracey Heeger • The dance of the mustang by Tariro Ndoro • Polite
conversations by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers Mermaid song by Haidee Kotze • Wanting by Megan
Hall
SSeeaahhoorrssee bbyy SSaarraahh FFrroosstt •• mmyytthh ooff mmyysseellff bbyy CChhrriissttiinnee CCooaatteess ““FFlleexxii nnoonn ffrraannggii”” bbyy JJooaann
Metelerkamp
A series of seven poems by Kerry Hammerton
MMyy eeyyeess ddiiee ooff hhuunnggeerr // aass II mmaakkee uupp mmyy lliiffee
Love Poem to Papa I & II; Daughter notes by Katleho Kano Shoro Home Times by Christine
Coates • a memory of my parents, circa 1977 by Colleen Higgs • The great learning by
Sindiwe Magona Clipped/Geknip by Annette Snyckers • Sticks and stones by Beverly Rycroft •
CCaalliibbaann bbyy CCoolllleeeenn CCrraawwffoorrdd CCoouussiinnss •• iinntteennttiioonnss bbyy CCoolllleeeenn HHiiggggss
Unfolding by Jenna Mervis • Ceremonial by Joan Metelerkamp Ceremony by Robin
WinckelMellish • marriage by Colleen Higgs Four Voices of Marriage by Christine Coates
In the Beginning by Azila Talit Reisenberger • The work of pregnancy by Colleen Crawford
CCoouussiinnss •• 1177tthh AApprriill,, 1100hh0033 bbyy MMaalliikkaa NNddlloovvuu BBllaannkkeett bbyy SSaarraahh FFrroosstt •• LLiivviinngg iinn aa sshhooee bbyy
BBeevveerrllyy RRyyccrroofftt
Every man by Dawn Garisch • Earth Shades in Morning by Robin Winckel-Mellish • A
question of time by Makhosazana Xaba Starting Over by Jenna Mervis • Morning Work by
Karin Schimke Day by Sarah Frost • Worm music by Makhosazana Xaba Transformed by
JJeeaannnniiee WWaallllaaccee MMccKKeeoowwnn •• AAnnnniivveerrssaarryy bbyy MMeeggaann HHaallll NNaammeelleessss PPllaacceess bbyy KKaarriinn SScchhiimmkkee ••
Intimate by Robin Winckel-Mellish Beyond touch by Arja Salafranca • Intact by Joan
Metelerkamp
To the Sisters by Dawn Garisch • To a friend, on getting older by Megan Hall • Foundation
by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers • Seven year itch by Azila Talit Reisenberger • Diary of a
rreellaattiioonnsshhiipp bbyy KKeerrrryy HHaammmmeerrttoonn GGeewweelldd//VViioolleennccee bbyy KKaarriinn SScchhiimmkkee •• AAnnootthheerr NNoorrtthh bbyy
Dawn Garisch How Healed by Karin Schimke • letting go by Colleen Higgs • Night birds by
Arja Salafranca • Paper boat by Robin Winckel-MellishFolding by Joan Metelerkamp • Fragments: Weekend Mythos by Tariro Ndoro • Bequest by
Beverly Rycroft • Waning by Ingrid Andersen Within Reach by Margaret Clough • passer-by by
MMaarriikkee BBeeyyeerrss HHeerriittaaggee bbyy AAzziillaa TTaalliitt RReeiisseennbbeerrggeerr
Funeral Sounds by Katleho Kano Shoro • The disappearance of the dead by Megan Hall •
Elegy For Paul by Jenna Mervis • The Home Bringing by Robin Winckel-Mellish • 12th
March, 09h35; 28th April, 22h45 by Malika Ndlovu • another country by Colleen Higgs •
ou werf by Thandi Sliepen • in memoriam by Elisa Galgut • Wearing Silence by Michelle
MMccGGrraannee
Penelope by Joan Metelerkamp
We have lived from birth in this fist of rock / And ocean
AAccrroossss tthhee RRiivveerr KKeeii bbyy SSiinnddiiwwee MMaaggoonnaa •• TThhee GGiirrll ffrroomm QQuummbbuu bbyy CChhrriissttiinnee CCooaatteess ••
Kalahari Blue by Robin Winckel-Mellish School mornings before a test by Christine Coates •
my Yeoville by Colleen Higgs • Steak by Arja Salafranca
Dancing on Robben Island by Megan Hall • now me heads by Thandi Sliepen • The way
lliigghhtt ffaallllss bbyy HHaaiiddeeee KKoottzzee SSiiggnn PPooeemm 3344 bbyy EElliizzaa KKeennttrriiddggee •• AA ppeerrssoonn bbyy IInnggrriidd AAnnddeerrsseenn
Retired by Arja Salafranca • 4.00 am by Michelle McGrane • Gangster’s paradise by
Shirmoney Rhode • Jozi parks by Philippa Yaa de Villiers
History by Dawn Garisch • A young debriefing for Sankara by Katleho Kano Shoro • Trade
Matters by Isobel Dixon • South African War Horses by Wendy Woodward • the women
wwiitthh sstteeeell nneecckkss bbyy TThhaannddii SSlliieeppeenn •• TThhee lleeaaddeerr bbyy SSiinnddiiwwee MMaaggoonnaa •• SSppiitt nnoott sswwaallllooww bbyy
Katleho Kano Shoro
Unlikely by Colleen Crawford Cousins • Rock fig by Karin Schimke You told me by
Makhosazana Xaba • Sixty-nine bullets by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers • Nouns by Isobel Dixon •
RReemmeemmbbeerriinngg ss--2211,, CCaammbbooddiiaa bbyy FFiioonnaa ZZeerrbbsstt •• BBlloooodd DDeellttaa bbyy DDaawwnn GGaarriisscchh •• TThhee
ooffffeennddiinngg ddooccuummeenntt bbyy TTaarriirroo NNddoorroo •• LLaanndd rreeffoorrmm bbyy CCoolllleeeenn CCrraawwffoorrdd CCoouussiinnss TTrruutthhss &&
Reconciliations by Isobel Dixon • Eurydice and the TRC by Elisa Galgut
Why? by Isobel Dixon • The things they do not tell you by Karin Schimke • Don’t mention
the war by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers Spade by Katleho Kano Shoro • Burials by Fiona Zerbst
FFiinnssoonngg bbyy IIssoobbeell DDiixxoonn •• TThhee ffiirrsstt ttiimmee bbyy CCoolllleeeenn CCrraawwffoorrdd CCoouussiinnss JJuullyy bbyy FFiioonnaa ZZeerrbbsstt ••
Winter From A Balcony by Jenna Mervis Telltales by Margaret Clough • Miskien/Maybe by
Annette Snyckers Saturday: Spreading the news by Beverly Rycroft
Home by Khadija Tracey Heeger • The existence of home by Karin Schimke • Tong / Tongue
bbyy AAnnnneettttee SSnnyycckkeerrss •• iinn aa ssttrraannggee llaanndd bbyy MMaarriikkee BBeeyyeerrss •• SSiiggnn PPooeemm 1188 bbyy EElliizzaa KKeennttrriiddggee ••
Words to take to a desert island by Colleen Crawford Cousins • when I finally get to Bhutan
by Karin Schimke
Materiality by Isobel Dixon • Sign Poem 7 by Eliza Kentridge The reckless sleeper by Haidee
Kotze • Relativity by Helen Moffett Repetition by Tariro Ndoro • Recurral by Beverly Rycroft •
BBeeyyoonndd bbyy FFiioonnaa ZZeerrbbsstt
What mountains dream of by Helen Moffett • Tide by Joan Metelerkamp • At the World’sEnd by Elisa Galgut • Littoral by Colleen Crawford Cousins • Patterns by Fiona Zerbst
Hadeda geographies by Melissa Butler
To open up words, / unfold them to paper
What the dead say by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers • Stories by Wendy Woodward • Foolish
mermaid by Crystal Warren • Bertha Mason Speaks by Michelle McGrane • The Minotaur
comes to our picnic by Wendy Woodward • Envy by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers • Faith by
MMaarrggaarreett CClloouugghh •• tthhee eenndd bbyy HHaaiiddeeee KKoottzzee
How the architect lives by Karin Schimke • art by Thandi Sliepen Not every piece by Joan
Metelerkamp • To Christina Rossetti by Helen Moffett • Waiting for Harry by Crystal Warren
• Imagination by Sindiwe Magona • The Police Constable/Poet in Court by Margaret
CClloouugghh •• TThhee SSmmaallll RRaaiinn bbyy WWeennddyy WWooooddwwaarrdd
Lucky Bean Necklace by Sarah Frost • Enough by Azila Talit Reisenberger Words by
Makhosazana Xaba • Rituals by Crystal Warren • It is a risk by Ingrid Andersen • Statement
by Sindiwe Magona
SSttoonnee wwoorrddss bbyy KKhhaaddiijjaa TTrraacceeyy HHeeeeggeerr •• ccrraaddllee bbyy HHaaiiddeeee KKoottzzee EEkk kkaann ooeekk mmooooii wwoooorrddee
sskkrryyff bbyy SShhiirrmmoonneeyy RRhhooddee •• TThhee AAccccuurraaccyy ooff LLeetttteerrss bbyy EElliissaa GGaallgguutt •• WWrriitteerr bbyy HHaaiiddeeee KKoottzzee
• The Recalcitrant Muse by Michelle McGrane • Muse by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers
Writer’s Block by Jeannie Wallace McKeown • Conduit by Sarah Frost voice by Marike Beyers •
Taped beak by Karin Schimke
PPooiinnttss oonn ppooeemmss bbyy JJooaann MMeetteelleerrkkaammpp
List of Modjaji Collections
Author IndexI N T R O D U C T I O N
Colleen Higgs (publisher, poet): TThhee OOnnllyy MMaaggiicc WWee KKnnooww iiss aa cceelleebbrraattiioonn ooff MMooddjjaajjii BBooookkss aass
an independent feminist publisher of women’s poetry. The poems have been selected from
the forty-six collections of poetry published by Modjaji since 2004.
Joan Metelerkamp (poet): In a crucial way Modjaji has created the poets in this anthologyy
ssiimmppllyy bbyy ppuubblliisshhiinngg tthheemm iinn tthhee ffiirrsstt ppllaaccee.. PPooeettrryy bbyy ddeeffiinniittiioonn nneeeeddss ttoo bbee oouutt iinn tthhee
wwoorrlldd.. MMaannyy ooff tthhee vvoolluummeess ooff ppooeemmss MMooddjjaajjii hhaass ppuubblliisshheedd wweerree ‘‘ddeebbuutt’’ vvoolluummeess,, aanndd tthheenn
sometimes second volumes (an even harder thing for a poet to accomplish if she has noo
sense of where her poems might go). In my own case, other publishers were not interestedd
enough in my work to take the risk that poetry publishing always is, although I already hadd
ssiixx bbooookkss ppuubblliisshheedd.. AAnndd II ddoonn’’tt tthhiinnkk iitt wwaass jjuusstt iinnffllaatteedd eeggoo tthhaatt kkeepptt mmee ggooiinngg –– iitt wwaass tthhee
sseennssee tthhaatt tthheerree mmaayy bbee oonnee oorr ttwwoo,, oorr ssoommee,, ppeeooppllee oouutt tthheerree wwhhoo mmiigghhtt ffeeeell ddrraawwnn ttoo oorr bbyy
the poems which felt necessary to write.
Colleen Higgs: As yet these voices from Modjaji do not, cannot, represent all, or even manyy,,
South African women. Modjaji is proud to have published poetry in various languages inn
ppaarraalllleell tteexxtt aanndd aass iinnddeeppeennddeenntt ppuubblliiccaattiioonnss.. AAlltthhoouugghh ssoommee ooff tthheessee aarree iinncclluuddeedd iinn tthhiiss
anthology, most of the poems are in English. Women’s voices, and particularly blackk
women’s voices, are still marginalised, although this is changing. Since the beginningg
Modjaji Books has addressed this inequality by publishing books that are true to the spirit off
Modjaji, the rain queen: a powerful female force for good, new life and regeneration. Thee
wwoorrkk ooff mmaakkiinngg aa ccoommmmoonn lliitteerraarryy ccuullttuurree iinn oouurr ccoouunnttrryy,, wwiitthh ppooeettrryy aass iittss bbeeaattiinngg hheeaarrtt,, iiss
still a work in progress; a thousand tentative tendrils, feelers, growths of the new andd
extraordinary. The work of publishing new voices in poetry in South Africa is mostly done byy
small publishers.
Marike Beyers (editor, poet): AAss eeddiittoorr,, II’’vvee bbeeeenn rreeaaddiinngg,, sseelleeccttiinngg,, ssoouunnddiinngg tthheessee ppooeemmss..
Now their echoes live inside me. Holding these poems in my mind and remembering them
in conversation with each other has been complex and challenging. Most of the poems I’vee
encountered as they came out over the years. Recalled and renewed – these poems speak too
me. I made lists. I made notes. I added keywords. I worried about “boxing”. How could II
bbaallaannccee ppooeemmss tthhaatt sseeeemmeedd ttoo rreepprreesseenntt tthhee vvooiiccee aanndd ssttyyllee ooff aann iinnddiivviidduuaall ccoolllleeccttiioonn wwiitthh
ppooeemmss iinn ccoonnvveerrssaattiioonn wwiitthh eeaacchh ootthheerr?? II aarrrraannggeedd tthheemm tthhiiss wwaayy.. AAnnootthheerr wwaayy.. RReeaadd tthheemm
again. There were whispers, shouts, some elbowing. Looked at the lists again, but now II
couldn’t hear anymore. You’re just one person reading, even your reading changes … Youu
must choose! Compiler, putter-together, chanter, chimer …
TThhee aanntthhoollooggyy ppuuttss ppooeemmss iinn ccoonnvveerrssaattiioonn wwiitthh eeaacchh ootthheerr.. II hhooppee rreeaaddeerrss wwiillll ffiinndd tthhee
ppooeemmss,, tthheeiirr eecchhooeess,, tthheeiirr ttoo--aanndd--ffrroo aanndd tthheeiirr iinn--bbeettwweeeenn ssppaacceess aass eennggaaggiinngg aass II ffoouunndd mmyy
immersion in these writings. The anthology is presented in four main sections, each followedd
by a longer work or ‘series of poems’ that works as a unit. Poems in the first section aree
mainly about selfhood and the darker difficult stepping towards others. The second followss
a biographical mode – life experiences, the personal woven together with what is larger. Thenn
ffoollllooww ppooeemmss oonn bbeeiinngg iinn aanndd ffrroomm tthhiiss wwoorrlldd aanndd ttiimmee.. CClloossiinngg tthhee aanntthhoollooggyy aarree ppooeemmss oonn
writing, the only magic we know.
I hope these poems can be for you, as for me, both familiar and strange in relationshippwith each other. I think of writing as a space where one can be that voice and hear that voicee
that has no place elsewhere. As such I wish to thank Modjaji Books for making so much off
this possible and Joan Metelerkamp for her deep reading, which is a listening and continuall
ppuulllliinngg aatt aanndd aaggaaiinnsstt tthhee tthhrreeaaddss ooff bbeelloonnggiinngg aanndd wwoorrddss aanndd sseellff.. AAnndd ooff ccoouurrssee,, tthhee ppooeettss,,
for doing the minding, holding, scolding, warning, healing, making, being, work of writing..
Also thank you to Amazwi South African Museum of Literature for time and resources too
work on this anthology.
APRIL 2020The white room
by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers

We are from far
so far we don’t even remember
wwhheenn wwee wweerree ssuummmmoonneedd
by some
internal message, or maybe
an invitation in the post –
aanndd wwhheenn II sseett ooffff iinn mmyy bbeesstt bbooddyy
someone else’s name was on the envelope –
I was too far gone
already held in blue rubber hands
aallrreeaaddyy ccoovveerreedd iinn bblloooodd
already with a whole lot of people
to take care of.
The effort of living in skinn
gasping and pantingg
hheemmmmeedd iinn ttoo aa wwhhiittee ccuubbee,,
burst out again, and again and again ––
at six, at twenty, at thirty-four, at forty-twoo
each time insisting my body in,,
oorr oouutt,, oorr eellsseewwhheerree
from that w h i t e room7 dinge wat djy nie van my sal wiet’ie
by Shirmoney Rhode
1. Toe ek klein was, het ek altyd gedink ’n hond en ’n kat is man en vrou. Hoekom annes soouu
hulle soe baie fight?
2. Ôs het eendag touch rugby gespeel buite in’ie pad. Toe val ek. Daai was nie soe badtie – ddiiee
feit dat ek in ’n bol kak geval het was.
33.. EEkk hheett eeeennddaagg ’’nn ppyyssiiee oopp mmyy rreeggttee bbiieenn ggeekkrryy.. DDiiee ppyyssiiee wwaass vvrreekk sseeeerr eenn ggoouudd ggeeeell.. SSlliimm
kind wat ek was, het ek dit uitgedruk en later homemade remedies uitgedink wat dit
bieter sou maak. Sout en asyn, tamatiesous en suurlemoensap, sunlight siep en sout,
selotape en sterksalf. Toe niks mee’ werk’ie, was’it die kliniek, swartsalf, ’n goeie pakslae
en ouma-liefde wat nou nog die lielikke nok op my regte bien bietjie bieter maak.
44.. EEkk ddrrooeemm vvaann nniikkss bbeehhaallwwee aass eekk ddaaggddrrooeemm.. MMaa’’ aass eekk ddrrooeemm,, ddaann sskkrriikk eekk aallttyydd wwaakkkkeerr
sonder dat ek wiet wat dit was wat ek gedroem het.
5. As ’n kind kon ek nooit rêrag goed Engels vi’staan nie. Dis hoekom ek eendag met ’n
karrentjie aan gestap gekom het toe daa vi’ my gevra was om “the broom” te bring.
BBrroooomm--bbrroooomm..
6. Ek het nooit vi’staan hoekom my ma altyd gelag het as ek sê: “Mammie, breakfast betiekeenn
’n-vis-wat-brêk né.”
7. As ek een dag met iemand sou kon spend, sou dit most likely my ouma wies. Al issit oek
net om ha’ hande te sit en dophou wat my tot mens gemaak het.Child in a photograph
by Arja Salafranca
She is not pretty,
this child in a black costume
showing her slight belly,
hheerr ffiinnggeerrss ssppllaayyeedd wwiiddee
against her hips.
Her face is a little dog-like –
too determined, too thin,
her face just a bit too grim
ffoorr hheerr aaggee..
The eyes are mean.
I don’t like you, little girl,
for your adult-like stance,
yyoouurr ssttooooppeedd sshhoouullddeerrss,, yyoouurr ssccoowwll..
I don’t like you: you could be cruel.
You are not what I ever was.
I leave you with your future stretched
oouutt bbeeffoorree yyoouu..
You’ll make it,
I know.Walking the lioness
by Robin Winckel-Mellish
I’m a lioness slouching
down the Hooftstraat
on a diamond-studded leash.
MMaann--eeaatteerr,, aalltteerr eeggoo,, aalllleeyy ccaatt,,
I’m spooked by a naked gaze,
those fur-draped shoulder blades.
II’’mm hhaavviinngg aa hhaarrdd ttiimmee kkeeeeppiinngg uupp,,
feeling my cat breath taut –
shivering inside my skin
I’ll make the break,
ffoollllooww aa bbuusshh--sscceenntt bbaacckk
into wilderness. Loose now
on the run, I’ll sink teeth
iinnttoo kknnuucckklleebboonnee,, ssppiillll
sapphires from my mouth.Strange fruit
by Helen Moffett
No one knows how to unpeel me.
Some days, brilliantly coloured,
highly polished, I offer
nnoo ggrriipp ffoorr ffiinnggeerrss..
Some days, I’m scarred and scaled,
leathery like a litchi
no suggestion of sweet pulp.
But if you can find
mmyy iinnvviissiibbllee ffaauulltt--lliinnee
and crack me open,
I am juicy inside.Falling
by Crystal Warren
Because I always
end up falling
I watch my feet.
II wwaallkk ccaarreeffuullllyy,,
wear sensible shoes.
I never run.
BBeeccaauussee II aallwwaayyss
end up falling
I watch my heart.
I try not to care,
ttoo ttrreeaadd lliigghhttllyy..
I never dance.All the things I don’t know how to do
by Kerry Hammerton

Haggle at the fish market,
lean into a dying sea
smell to claim a few pennies.
RRoolllleerrbbllaaddee.. RRuunn wwiitthh tthhee bbuullllss..
Swim with the current. Stay cool
in the summer. Hold my breath.
Warm this silence between us.flying off the handle
by Colleen Higgs
I’m tethered very lightly, if at all
a horse who only thinks she’s tied,
but every time she starts or gets a fright,
sshhee ffiinnddss iinn ffaacctt sshhee iiss nnoo lloonnggeerr nneeaarr tthhee hhaannddllee        aatt aallll..
I’m easily startled, flustered, worried or disturbed
not manageable even to myself,
like a dog who is not quite tame,
II ssnnaarrll,, lloossee mmyy ppaattiieennccee,,
sometimes I feel I could even slap strangers,
for no apparent reason.For a Change
by Annette Snyckers
My anger is too much a lady
she does not shout
she sits in the corner and sulks.
II wwaanntt ttoo sshhaakkee hheerr,, ddrraagg hheerr oouutt,,
bring her into the light.
I want her to pummel her fists
on the table, make a noise,
II wwaanntt hheerr ttoo wweeaarr lliippssttiicckk
the colour of ripe plums
and dark roses
I want her to wear heels
aanndd ssttaammpp hheerr ffeeeett
I want her to be
a bitch –
but she will not oblige.Skin matters
by Khadija Tracey Heeger
I am captive in a mish-mesh of skin
tightened
held together by the infirmities of skin intellect,
sskkiinn wwiitt,, sskkiinn ttaallkk,, sskkiinn ddeessiiggnnaattiioonn,, sskkiinn ffrraaggmmeennttaattiioonn
skin degeneration.
I am bound in the hue that makes you carve for me
a personality, a mind, a heart, a disposition
borne out of skin matters
sskkiinn ddeeeepp..
My mouth explodes into justification, explanation, expletives
to remedy my taxonomy.
II ccaannnnoott ssppeeaakk,,
my voice remains stuck
still choking on that designation, classification,
still finding as I sift through the debris more and more
and more of me
ssoorree aanndd ssoo aannggrryy,,
so much more of me to free
from skin tyranny.
II hhaavvee sswwaalllloowweedd mmyy wwoorrddss,, sswwaalllloowweedd mmyy hheeaarrtt,,
swallowed my hunger.
I have swallowed my tongue and my blood and my love
to make you safe in your autonomy.
II aamm ccaappttiivvee iinn tthhee mmiisshh--mmeesshh ooff yyoouurr mmiinndd
sswweeaattiinngg tthhrroouugghh tthhee wwaallllss ooff yyoouurr ffeeaarr..
I will not live
here.The dance of the mustang
by Tariro Ndoro
but are you tired of apologizing
for being all the lines that tether you?
for occupying all the geographies that can’t hold you?
rreemmeemmbbeerr tthhiiss::
there are different ways to say a thing:
with hands, with faces, with song
I spoke with a foreign man once
II ddiidd iitt wwiitthh mmyy eeyyeess
I said the word and
Let it hover
tthheeyy’’llll tteetthheerr yyoouurr ttoonngguuee lliikkee tthheeyy tteetthheerr tthhee ggeellddiinnggss,,
bbuutt yyoouu rreemmaaiinn
unbroken mustang
see how other mustangs move?
tthheeyy ggaalllloopp
see how they gallop?
they run
and how do mustangs run?

With the wind.Polite conversations
by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers
Is that your grandson, Bungy?
That colour looks so good on you with your skin
I wish I could tan as well as you
II aallwwaayyss wwiisshheedd tthhaatt II hhaadd ccuurrllyy hhaaiirr
Such sensuous lips
Is that your son’s girlfriend?
It really doesn’t matter to me what colour you are
I am not a racist but
WWee bbllaacckkss aarree nnoott lliikkee tthhaatt
While I was sleeping a forest of words grew up in my room. Fleshy stems forced through the
carpet, succulents snaked up the walls and when I opened my eyes I could no longer see the
door; the words took up all the air they theytheytheytheyhardened to trunks and divided
tthheemmsseellvveess iinnttoo lleeaavveess tthhaatt bbeeccaammee mmyy bbeedd aanndd mmyy ppiillllooww aanndd tthhee oorraannggee bbllaannkkeett tthhaatt kkeepptt
me warm, I could hardly see a thing never mind breathingand it was hot and stuffy and I
don’t know who left a panga under my pillow but next thing I was outside with a nice pile off
dead wood to start a fire with.Mermaid song
by Haidee Kotze
It’s a different element: turbid, electric, saline.
You have to prove your fins
before we can let you in.
AA ttooee ttoo tthhee wwaatteerr iiss nnoott aann ooppttiioonn;;
there is only full immersion,
scraping away the scales until you’re just
the pulse of raw meat baptised in brine.
It’s a red tide, a lick of phototactic tongue ebbing,
or a mermaid disappearing into her gills,
depending.
TThhiiss ppllaaccee aacchheess aanndd aacchheess aanndd aacchheess iittss fflluuoorreesscceenntt bbeeaatt..
You have to prove your fins
before we can let you in.Wanting
by Megan Hall
Wanting’s a powerful word.
I don’t want to be left wanting,
want to be unafraid enough to want.
WWaannttiinngg ppuuttss yyoouurr hheeaarrtt oouutt oonn aa ssttrriinngg,,
trawling for the thing that’s wanting you.
There’s no hook, except maybe forever.