Unknowing

And then there is the question: 

Where do you feel more at home at, 

South Africa or the United States

As if this really was a choice like 

sex or love on a first date, 

death or suicide on a battlefield

Pepsi or Coke on a summer day. 

The mornings after Orlando, 

Sterling & Castile 

I had the options of escaping 

into Masekela’s Thimela or 

submitting myself to grief & despair. 

I chose a third option: 

wandering on a wind swept beach, 

sand stinging my un-sieved eyes.

I am used to indecision.

Just as I am that question of                           home 

that leaves me awaiting a 

sense of residence somewhere…anywhere.

Making it

Remember how your summit was preceded by a base:

low-rent high rise, heating in mood swings, lone window 

lost in grey, Neighbors trading stabbing words, shadows 

racing along peeling walls, mattress marked by bodies undefined, 

suitcase bursting with clothes, photos of kin & a lover left behind, 

two books of poems you didn’t read aloud until now, when progress

rests on concealing  your mother tongue, on assuming a foreign one.

Bi-continental Identity

 

Bi-continental Identity

Upon return to my land of birth,

what internal storm

will within me take form?

 

For my feet have kissed the soil

where ancestors lived and died.

Soil imperialism did savagely toil.

 

For my eyes have re-adjusted

to a new world gaze

that’s cleared away my Western haze.

 

But when I walk through the maze

of that ‘Free World’ terminal

it’ll be in a new, uncertain life phase.

 

So I wonder,

what emotions will be

invoked within me?

 

Will I be astonished at how he

who was raised in a once subjugated race

still sets a nation’s political pace?

 

Will I mourn like a returned refugee

at sites of youthful memories

now overthrown by weeds and graffiti?

 

Will I still look upon

those stars and stripes

believing all the superpower hype?

 

Will it have the mark of liberty and the free

or of war, surveillance and cultural conquest

to me?

 

Will the anthem I sing

reflect the blood I bleed,

enclosing a two-fold identity?

 

Oh say can you –

Nkosi sikelel’–

see –

iAfrika.

Poetry as anthropology

Poetry as Anthropology

What role does poetry hold for those left behind?

The minorities, the marginalized, the lost peoples

see their cultures and identities annually crushed

 in the maw of the West and their spirits

detained in the cells of modern ills.

Do the lines demand a return to ancestral roots,

celebrating traditions and legends

as much as they mourn mental dispossession?

 Is poetry the rearguard of vanishing communes?

Or is it too tender for the wider world to consume?

Kwa Afrika Yangu (For my Africa)

The title of this poem is in Swahili, but does not reflect Africa as a whole, a continent of over 2000 languages, 1 billion people and 54 states. Swahili is only used to represent, but not define, Africa because it is one of its most recognizable languages.

 

Kwa Afrika Yangu (For my Africa)

Do not speak of my homeland as a country,

For it is a continent of many tongues, nations and cultures.

Do not speak of my homeland as being of big men and

despots, For with every one of them there is a leader of the people

with an eye on tomorrow.

Do not speak of my homeland as a sad, chronic well of Aid,

AIDS and poverty, For beneath the soil and in every determined heart

there are treasures abounding.

Do not speak of my homeland as being of war and orphans,

For in the children of a new generation there will be peace and hope .

Do not speak of Europe as a savior and developer of my homeland,

for the legacy of our mighty empires dwarf their footsteps.

And please… do speak of my homeland not for what it is not,

but for what it can be.

And do not, do not speak of my homeland as ‘dark’ and ‘mysterious’,

but do speak of it as having the beauty of a thousand stars

and of it being the light and cradle of the world.