poem of the day: Shanty-Town Beauty by Freedom Nyamubaya

Shanty-Town Beauty

Freedom Nyamubaya

She stood at the doorstep
She must have been five years
or less
Her beseeching eyes gazed
from left to right

The kwashiokored tummy bulged
Out of the torn dress
With marks that looked like the map of Africa
I realised it was not tattoo
But an accumulation of dust
Run though by sweat

Pretty more than famous Cleopatra
All things being equal
The girl would pass for Miss Africa
As it is
Just another woman nature produced
But forgot to breast-feed.

Zimbabwe 55 02042011

Zimbabwe (Photo credit: Dave Mulder)

poem of the day: An African Elegy by Ben Okri

An African Elegy

Ben Okri

We are the miracles that God made
To taste the bitter fruit of Time.
We are precious.
And one day our suffering
Will turn into the wonders of the earth.

There are things that burn me now
Which turn golden when I am happy.
Do you see the mystery of our pain?
That we bear the poverty
And are able to sing and dream sweet things.

And that we never curse the air when it is warm
Or the fruit when it tastes so good
Or the lights that bounce gently on the waters?
We bless the things even in our pain.
We bless them in silence.

That is why our music is so sweet.
It makes the air remember.
There are secret miracles at work
That only Time will bring forth.
I too have heard the dead singing.

And they tell me that
This life is good
They tell me to live it gently
With fire, and always with hope.
There is wonder here

And there is surprise
In everything the unseen moves.
The ocean is full of songs.
The sky is not an enemy.
Destiny is our friend.

poem of the day: Visionary Eulogy (Part 5) by Amina El Bakouri

Visionary Eulogy (Part 5)

Amina El Bakouri

Rarely did I whisper my erotic poems to you . . .
A single eyelash twitch suffices
To awaken the soul from its slumber . . .
To distress a flock of sand-grouses in their nests
To open the gate of probability
Towards a mutilated poem
That might wail, but never come . . .
Or thus whoop the falling nights!
My own night was not enough
As I stared at the same glare fading slowly into
The blossoms of speech . . .
Perplexed larvae ripped up on the loom of
My own killing letters.
Marble thirst beat me
With a feeble whip.
I aimed thus the spark of nostagia at your secret water . . .
O disdainful passer-by
Let our words fall like hail
On the jujube trees of time
Let us by means of water
Pay allegiance to the metaphor therein
So that poetry exalts in us . . .
Let us see the dead sea  off towards its own exile
Let us wait a little . . .
Tell me
Why are poets first to die?

Morocco landscape

(poem of the day) ‘Explorer of Aromas’ by Toyin Adewale Gabriel

 Explorer of Aromas
English: Political map of the 36 States of Nig...

English: Political map of the 36 States of Nigeria (English) Deutsch: politische Karte Nigerias (Englisch) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the fire devours the grass,
as flames consume the matchsticks,

the street swallows my steps,
my voice dissolves in soil.

I know the green bile of hunger.

I know the triumph of dust,

the sneering arrogance of the sun,
on the carcasses of sodden

rats. l have dined on dried dogs,
flavoured with acrid urine.

And at the feet of elaborate remnants,
I find the most high remains,

Of chicken thighs unloved by excess.
I, the explorer of aromas,

wading through the maze of rice,
delighting in trash. l say your refuse

can is finger-licking good.
They say the rich also cry,

dancing to soothe their shame,
their throbbing sores.

Mankell, Chronicler of the Winds

Cover of "Chronicler of the Winds"

Cover of Chronicler of the Winds

I first encountered Henning Mankell through his Inspector Kurt Wallander crime fiction. Chronicler of the Winds, however, a fantasy that reminds me of Ben Okri‘s best works, is subtitled “A Novel of Africa.”  I am always drawn to fictions in which the magical interrupts the prosaic and swerves between the two. Mankell weaves stories of extreme violence and pain into a narrative that is simultaneously nostalgic (in the best sense of that word; an ache for things that might have been) and emphatically optimistic. Fiction changes the world.