POEMS by Molantwa Mmele

The garden boy

My grandfather
has a beautiful floral garden
in his house, he spends at least two hours
on it before the sunrise
and after the sunset to cultivate
the soil and irrigate his plants and so forth

During the day he ambles around the
garden admiring his blossoms, pulling out
weeds and spraying insects away.
His old friends call him “the garden boy”.

Yesterday we went to visit
my grandmother’s grave. I for the first time
saw her name on the tombstone:
Mapalesa Rose Yatlholeho
and it all came together

Impecunious

We did not have enough space
for Christmas trees in our home
The only empty spaces that we had
were our moaning stomachs, and brains
starving for knowledge.
We were nothing else but young faces
wearing dusty veils made of thousand smiles
Regardless …

POEM: Falling apart in the bathroom stall

BY HANNA ALI

“If you are unwanted, then you are still alive”
Is written on the inside door of the ladies’ bathroom stall
The last time I was reminded of rejection, I was fully clothed in the kitchen
Stuffing leftover lasagne into my cheeks for the journey home (to my room upstairs)
It’s different with your knickers around your ankles, innit?
It reminds you that everything that comes from you is warm, at first
Eyes darting from ‘unwanted’ to ‘alive’
Cheer up bitch, you could be wanted and dead
I’d like to add, but it’s not my poem to interfere with
Next to this is a tampon advert, for a quid you can bleed quietly
There’s a massive queue outside of women waiting to come across this sentence
I stare at the message for longer than is necessary, because of him
It wasn’t love, just a chemical reaction to a fake smile on a real mouth
You see, my loose heart yearned for something secretive to hold
The steady ground or his shoulders
Either one connected it to the soil of the earth
Five days later in a Debenhams toilet, my face still smells of his mouth
His breath reeks from my bottom lip
I cut my fingernails as a way of letting go
Yah know, the only thing that kept him inside me was gravity
A brief journey of him coming without taking me anywhere
In the end, love is just thrusting towards trust
His sharp irregular breath on my collarbone, wheezing like
A dirty old man running away from something old
or not catching up to something new
Now I’m unwanted and he’s still alive

POEM: I stopped

BYRON MABUKWA

Firstly I stopped dreaming about you
Then I stopped saying your name in public
I stopped looking at all our pictures
Although it hurt I stopped texting you
I stopped writing you letters
I stopped listening to any music
I even stopped wearing blue clothes
I stopped following anyone that knew you on social media

At a point I almost stopped living
Because I had stopped caring

Because I had started crying for no reason
I started wishing that you would come back
Then I started realising that you would never come back

I then started to stop loving you
And now I have stopped loving you

POEM: Must travel

BY ABIGAIL GEORGE

(for my sister)

The day has
a mothlike quality to it. I make a cup of tea (always for one). Boil the
water in the
microwave oven while

old poems
make way for new poems. Once, I lived in grassroots country. Rural
countryside.
Mbabane, Swaziland.

(Boarding school). Slowly
my flesh is emptying out. Winter making way for spring’s milky sweetness,
summer’s pleasure and
waves of heat, autumn’s gift.

Slowly, I climb back
into their world. Standing in the sun sipping my cup of tea for one.
I sit and watch the
afternoon warming the page in front of me.