PoetryMagazine.com

Sarah Mkhonza
USA/SWAZILAND


Sarah Mkhonza is a poet from Swaziland. She is 59 years old. She was born in Swaziland. She now lives in California. She has published novels, short stories and poems in English and SiSwati, the language of Swaziland.

If I Could Slap Thunder

If I could slap thunder,
I would rise up high and yell,
And ask what sound this is,
That booms in my ears,
Like the guns that shoot our youth,
And leave them on roadsides lifeless,

If I could slap thunder,
I would bring the dark clouds,
Down here where the darkness,
Threatens us with death,
That we inflict on each other,
And stop the madness there and there.

If I could slap thunder,
I would hold the front of the guns,
And push back the bullets,
With hands that are stronger,
That can hold back fire,
And bring the thunderous metal,
To its knees in my bare hands.

If I could slap thunder,
I would render all guns mute,
And lay them at the bottom of the ocean,
For they are no treasures lost,
These loose cannons that fire,
When their namesakes blink,
And tell another one its over,
And send them to the boom,
That we hear continuously,
As it sends loved ones to their end.

If I could slap thunder,
And clap it with my cold clap,
Electrify it to oblivion,
And stop it from falling,
In flashes of lightening,
That strikes down in anger,
And causes all to hide,
Like my aunt in the passage,
Watching the flashes from outside,
For we were dreaming of a future,
Where we have conquered by hiding,
Instead of boldly going out,
To yell our defiance,
And return with the thunder of applause,
That has been taken from us each time,
We hear that guns have thundered on souls,
That were not heeding the moment,
That the time of reckoning has come,
Where once more we face our sorrow,
And tell it we are helpless,
For we cannot clap thunder,
With a slap from the eternity
That has swallowed those we love.

 

Hands Dangling
With My Vote In Them

Where I come from is marked by mountains,
Of a past that is green with trees that bloom,
Whose summers light up skies with blue and red,
That look at the world as it changes,
Jumping on everybody's unshaven head,
With a face that faces the beginning,
And the end of our time here.
I look back and see the games I played,
Letting time slip through my fingers,
Which caught it and shook it off,
Grabbing this and grabbing that,
Only to find themselves empty,
And all of them inside my mouth,
Dripping with my own memory of a supper,
That once silenced my wailing,
Telling me I am crying for nought.
For to go back cannot bring back,
The losses that have left me like,
The purse of a MaBenzy who lost it all,
When gambling in Monte Carlo,
And returned home to Lagos,
With nothing in her hidden belt,
But an empty stomach that flips
And flops as she treads on up the road,
In her last tired walk.

What is money when it hits us in the face,
And leaves us with tears of what we lost,
When we were gambling with bills,
That were to pay for the poor,
Whose bills remain unpaid,
Yet they voted in the long lines,
For they owe nobody and everybody,
Who held the purse and signed the papers,
That feed countries in exchange rates,
That cannot be used to feed a mouse,
That wants the seed in the vault,
That is kept in the big powerful silos,
That reach the sky with their parapets,
Like medieval churches of old,
Yet squeeze the poor like worms,
That must fry in the unsalted heat,
And revile everyone who sees them,
Crawling on the pot holed roadsides,
Where they sit and beg hands outstretched,
Saying even if you spit into my hands,
That will be precious rain to me,
For the drought has brought me here,
To see if anyone can see the drought
That has me peeling the sores you see,
Which are the only proof I live,
For you spoke to me like a person,
I went and voted for the likes of you.

 

When Nobody Wants You
To Stand

The eyes look at you as a piece of something,
To be removed, stabbed and taken to nowhere,
Yet you journey in the all that is for all,
You step on everybody's earth and look at
Everybody's blue sky and see all of you and
Others breathing hot air before a storm,
You know the cold air lingers out there,
Looking, peeping, wanting to know when
Its turn to blow into someone's eyes will come,
It jets in a plane from afar and the eyes wonder,
Will she survive this one which comes from the
Leeward side of life where no winds blow,
Or go to the windward side where all air sings,
Where the grass sways and opens your eyes,
To a future out there at the ends of the
Tips of your outstretched fingers.
Some know you will get there no matter what,
For you came from where people did not want
You to live the life you see in this air.

You were trained to make happen what does not
Want to be and walk on this table on which you stand,
For it has four corners that jab into your side,
Making you utter words with feeling as you touch,
The side which hurts now, knowing it will hurt,
No more for pain is a part of the universe that,
Imposes itself whenever and however to whomever,
Even on those who do not want you to live here
For they have failed to see themselves in you,
Your pain being their pain as we share the sorrow,
which is our sorrow, like that of the victims
Of today's hunger and poverty which rocked the country,
Killing hundreds who are being buried today,
In a state funeral to be watched by all on this table,
Where others do not want others to live,
For they fear the success of those they oppose,
Yet this life is never in opposition to itself,
As we walk and talk and shake its hands daily,
Looking into eyes sad and merry, red and blue,
Like varicose veins on the leg of one who,
Stands forever working for all of us,
Ready to burst and say no more standing, please.

You stand for it is in you to not move,
To not shake when the earth quakes and faults,
Living you sinking in a quicksand of hope
That shines in horizons far away,
Still saying you shall stand for standing,
Is standing for all who do not have feet,
That have five toes that balance a foot,
With the bones broken, stepped on in this
horse race where we yawn and watch looking
To see which horse will win, so we can get
The windfall that is promised when we cast
the vote that they so desire and tell lies
To get in the name of a better life for all,
Minorities, refugees, immigrants whom nobody
Loves when they take food from the table,
Being better of as Lazarus who sits under
The table and looked on at the smoke,
And glared at the future that is long and
Unchanging even after a vote of the many,
Who declare life is for all who stand,
On this table which shakes with the
Stampede of the powerful who head for,
The offices of power to say, we were there,
In centuries making a history that did
Not change any life but ours who got in.
We stood even when nobody got anything,
For that is what you were told,
To stand when nobody wants you to stand
For life is only for those who do.

 

So Long Ago It Was

I sit at the end of the yard
I see the true end of the string
Long, winding it goes
Leading my thoughts through the needle
Sewing a spectacle called my life
In a home meant to be mine forever
Yet taken from me by time

I see the trees green and solid
Painted in the space that shows
We lived there and laughed there
When we were the thread that was held
In the hands of the sewer turned time
We walked into the mud puddles
After the rains bare footed


We heard the sounds after the rain
Saw the sun creep into the valley
Like it was afraid of the rainbow
It stood high against the mountains
Another day we would live to think of
The day we wish to return to
It is gone and only the mind
Can take us there to see you
Beautiful country of mine

Who said we would walk in exile
Who said we weren't in exile
Our land bleeding with death
People shrouded by power
Which filled the streets
And walked to the villages
And spoke and poked the nerves

Yes I miss you land of mine
I wish to see you and hug you
Because of the truth of love
For it never lies to me
You are beautiful to look at
You leave my mind full of this
The love of you I can touch
Even when I am miles away from you.

The world continues to unfold
Like the years I spent there
The yard unfolds in front of me
I sit and look on daily
Walk into the future step by step
As if I am walking right where I came from
For you who is exiled will know
We want to touch tomorrow in yesterday
And claim it for ourselves as well
In lands far away from our own

 

At The Very Least

This partial embalming
Casts doubts on everything
I will take action I tell myself
But the plot to slay thoughts
Is in the way the bullock
Its horns gore into my soul
Making me bleed internally unseen
Like a hidden mummy laid there
Yet unheard, unseen and unknown
By a lukewarm world that pollutes
As if spitting on its face
And heeds no warning from the gods.
At the very least
I could open my eyes
Or shut them by choice
Not with the blindness of ignorance
For such is the wave of today's heat.

It is difficult to see myself
Lying there rusting away
Having lived for just these years
Telling the world there is still life in me
There is still breath in this container
Of life that walks and sniffs the air
My nose breathing it voraciously
Yet feeling like further from my truths
At the very least
I could open my nostrils wide
And walk towards my own sunset
Not shared by all of us
Who are partially entering the tomb slowly
As it yields falling on us.

I find it unbelievable
This partial embalming of me
As I go forward unable one minute
Able the next
Moving like there's a fire in me
Stationary the next like a burnt log
If I will take action
Let it be now I tell myself
At the very least
I could open my clenched fingers
And let the words fall through them
Like stalagmites and stalactites in a cave
That stand to stab into it forever
This world, this space that is me
They stubbornly stick out
To stab the mind of a feeling listener
Who is not watching the death called life
And takes words from the pain
And agrees to speak unspoken truths
That stab my burning self forever
To bring justice for my killing,
For our world is really under attack.

Who said I would not stand in the ring
Watching the fighters at it daily
Their health behind the masks
For polluted air threatens
Like a wave of deadly steam
That deceptively warms the insides of the heart
When it sidles inside unseen
And renders me seemingly well
Yet walking the streets everyday
Like walking to my end
At the very least
I could dig my grave openly
Knowing I will lie in it in time
A person who protested
That at the very least
Companies could clear the air
So I can breathe less dirt.

We all need to sing a song of protest
As the earth warms to soaring heat
Scorching the earthworms that we are
Living on sea shores that rise to heights
Drowning lands where we once lived
A new song of 'not any more, '
For if we raise our voices like the water
Ferocious waves of us protesting
Singing along with the world
At the very least the song will say
You could spare us the trouble.
The cows will join as will gorillas around us
In the farms of lands far and near
With snarls, screams and sneers
Looking for grass where there is none
The world has gone where no animal dares
When we thought it had gone to the dogs
It had gone to the money makers.

Sarah Mkhonza

 

 

 

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