Spring 2021 Issue

Three Poems


[noun]     [ ɛɡzɪˈstɛnʃ(ə)lɪz(ə)m/ ]

a form of philosophical inquiry that explores the problem of human existence, focusing on the lived experience of the thinking, feeling, acting individual.

why is it called earning a living?
        is it called earning a living?
             it called earning a living
                called earning a living
                           earning a living
                                        a living
                                           living but
                                           living but do
                                           living but do I
                                           living but do I truly
                                           living but do I truly
                                           living but do I truly feel alive?

Ars Poetica

The poem, sometimes, is like an idea, a seed, and with time it grows inside you.”
                                                                                                                              – Nome Patrick Emeka

It no longer matters how I got here
the years have gone by   I have found true love here
     there is no love as unconditional as the poem

taken in by verse it lives at the pit
of my stomach & it has lived here
for a long time now

eyes have watched, swallowed
mind has processed     & stored

I have acquired my own taste for
stanzas I have swallowed poems whole
I have become many
people I am only one
I barely even recognise myself

one host to the dualism of twins:    both antagonize each other    both fail to
comprehend their oneness                   one true self                           one poet’
      one dream of separating both blame one another
        adamant that the other is trying to kill them,

in the end one poet buries one
self under a refrain that says,

    there is no love as unconditional

Icarus escaped Crete
only for     wax wings to melt beneath the sun,
perhaps the imprisonment would have made
for a better poem    & then suddenly it hits me
that could it be   that these poems     are wings?

Buried Alive

a golden shovel after Seitlhamo Motsapi’s poem ‘Trudgel’

of the movement forward always regardless               of how I feel under
all the weight               under sands of time                                  under  my
                   troubles           under my blues            under my dragging feet
the car horns                             the taxi horns                the bus engine the
street lights    the always red       the seldom green    our lives in orange
the urban sphithiphithi               of traffic                      of radio anthems
muddled           beaming blaring blasting           chaos that I am tired of
deceptive appearances                                       like mounds in the distant
         steep road           severe swelling                      at the pain of my city
of pulses never returned    lifeless bodies walking under artificial lights
a moon morbid enough       for a mind to latch                 from the inside
   the moving parts                         like a tremor                          inside my
chest         I’ve always been a coward                   my hand over my heart
to hold it back                         like the blues sped up              sound of the
         cymbals      the collapsing drum       the pata pata     of the urgent
feet sidewalk gliding       dancing to the sound              of a violent thud
                                                 a heel song dance            from the people of
the carry-on.        Seitlhamo,        was there ever a choice that straddles
              strings of moral measure     the compass     turning gears inside
              your mind,     to save them                                       or to save   my
self & would they do the same for me?              a lot goes on in the head
at the sound of this conundrum                       dance to a lost song that is
so monotonous,   that one can consider                the conscience shelved
the city has taken so much         but          does it really give back enough
what good are legs moving                                 when the feet feel like clay
in memoriam of all hope                                                         surrendered to
corrupted hands                                                  plague of viruses that rend
hard work & dedication useless                          & it all happens under the
                                watchful eyes of stars                 there will be no sirens
here,             natural light is offensive here            sunrise as belligerence
and so Seitlhamo,         were there ever so many dreams buried & caked
beneath the asphalt                                   zebra patterned painting across
a road     floor for heel song dance          & then it becomes clear that the
movement forward no different   to our dreams buried beneath tarmac

*In Italics, Seithlamo Motsapo’s poem ‘Trudgel’

Sihle Ntuli

Sihle Ntuli is a poet and classicist living in Durban, South Africa. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Classical Civilisations. His poetry was shortlisted for the DALRO Poetry Prize in 2017. He most recently became the author of the poetry chapbook, Rumblin in 2020. He has had work published in South Africa and across the African continent on notable journals such as Lolwe, Down River Road & Olongo Africa.

Follow us