Natural Bearer

I am a bearer of many things but not a child,
they said everyone is unique and different in their own way,
they probably forgot to mention that I will have to hide/
from the blades of social judgment and prejudice/
from the chains that continue to bind my body/
even up to this very day.
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A soliloquy

This is for my younger self,
My younger brothers and sisters,
More especially my younger nephews and nieces,
Who are yet to understand that living is about being the full range of humanity and not just characterized people.

This is for the creative in you…
You will quickly acknowledge that writing will keep you sane,
It is possibly the only thing that will offer to carry the burden of your pressures and pain,
You will smear ink on pages to numb your sorrows not just to entertain,
Above all else, with each life’s storm there will be a resemblance between the mist and rain.

This is for the warrior in you…
I know what those invisible scars secretly did to your self-esteem,
The bruised tears which appeared when you noticed that the bullying was not a dream,
Need I mention the anxiety which comforted you because lies have always been easier to believe,
There was also a time when you thought you found your glitter but someone had already taken the gleam.

This is for the visionary in you…
Well done!
Good work!
You did it!
I commend you for never believing that you were the victim,
For standing firm in your capabilities of being
•a poet
•a composer
It is this very mentality which has led you to live a life of few regrets,
A life well lived.

This is for the unsure parts of you…
You are going to make mistakes;those of which will open a new door,
A door to wars which no one could ever prepare you for,
Wars which will remind you of many things from before,
Like the simplicity of holding hands,
Or the anticipation of your first kiss.

This is for my younger self,
My younger brothers and sister,
More especially my younger nephews and nieces,
Who are yet to understand that living is about being the full range of humanity and not just characterized people.

~Phili

Lengthy Liberation

I am not sure when it all occurred to me,
But one day I decided-
Ngikhathele ukulokhu ngitshela abantu ukuthi mina nabo sohkukaniswa ukufa,
Phela sengisho ngoba angiyena uSomandla so that is not my decision to make.

Iqiniso futhi ukuthi, ngidinwa no ukuthwala abantu emahlombe ami,
Sengisho phela ngoba nezami  izinyembezi azinandawo.

Lifetime partner, as you can evidently see for yourself,
I have quickly learned the true art of not being someone else,
Of breathing my whole truth freely,
Of taking pride in believing in me.

Now I am well aware that you have expectations-
Isithandwa sakho esizokuzalela,
uMama wezingane zakho ozoku fungela ukuthi akasoze akugangele,
Umuntu ozothandisa kwempumputha.

But I should let you know that I am a liberated woman,
Who lives more than she dies,
Laughs more than she cries,
Walks through her past
And heals into her future.

That is to say, I refuse to be respected for my reproductive nature,
But rather for the beauty which I carry right within,
My ability to hand out love as though love has no hate,
As if hearts are not fragile organs which break,
As if the cracks in it are not home to those who need it.

I won’t be one to surrender to you,
Not for your money or your grace,
Not for your decency or your space.

Excuse me for being the contradiction,
but if you look closely you will see that this poem is about
race
rape
rage
so technically these are old problems written into a new plea.

~Phili

Flawed woman

 

I lose things,
I lose people,
I lose track of time,
I lose dignity and honour,
A proud flawed woman.

I lose things that I have and cannot regain,
I lose people that I love and cannot unmeet,
I lose track of time and cannot control,
I lose dignity and honour over temporary happiness,
A proud flawed woman.

I grieve the loss of things when they fall apart,
I mourn the loss of people when their purpose is fulfilled,
I weep for the loss of time when the new season begins,
I sorrow over the loss the loss of dignity and honour when respect exits my doors,
A proud flawed woman.

See I started losing things at school-my pen then life ambitions,
See I started losing people at home-my sisters then my father,
See I started losing time in tests-in matric then in university,
See I started losing dignity and honour in the bedroom- when I was alone then when I was with others,
A proud flawed woman.

The hardest thing is losing things that are meant for me,
The hardest thing is losing people who are still alive,
The hardest thing is losing time which can never be found,
The hardest thing is losing dignity and honour forever,
A proud flawed woman.

~Phili

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An entry in your diary

I want to believe that I was a young ignorant fool when I was thinking that you would never take our 8 years of friendship for granted,
But the truth is I had every right not to because you were the memo I had for other women who were looking for partners,
Suddenly I questioned if you spent your time … our time thinking about her when you were a resource that I desperately needed,
The number of days I put my limited energy into forbidding men from touching me even when all they wanted was to be my supporters.

Now I know you said “sorry” but I cannot seem to stop myself from crawling back to the space in your heart that you left open for her,
Here is my diary in my hands-I open it and I realize that although your name filled all my pages I was simply an entry in yours,
To me you were more than just walking poetry,
More than a breathing pen that I could use when I wanted to bleed,
You were more than a blank page that I needed to spill my thoughts,
You were more than just a man that I used to and still prefer.

Each morning I stood on my balcony with the strongest coffee in my hands so I could completely focus on the dreams that I had for us,
I guess during those moments I was a thief because you were someone else’s secrets and long-made promises except I was not aware that I was stealing,
I would honestly love to know when did I become so naïve to think that using my marker on your body would be a permanent deed,
It is just the fact that I have been taught that every story has an ending and so I thought you would grant me all those couple of forevers.

Eight years is a lifetime and I know this because there is a dozen libraries in my neighbourhood and yet each time I go to the shelves I search for you,
I try to let friends in and take in all the compliments they have brought with them but none of them can say the word “beautiful” quite like you do,
The thing is I loved your hands first for how they were able to transfer warmth to my cheeks and have me blush for the 100th time on that day,
So loving you as a person happened very easily- there was not even a ml of sweat that I had to exert when you asked me if I wanted to be your woman.

I cannot simply blame you,
And I do not,
I blame myself,
It cannot be your fault that I reached the stars for us,
It cannot be your fault that I spoke to the universe about our fate- our destiny,

Nonetheless I do ask this of you
If I never get to be the one who sleeps next to you at night,
Can I at least be the love letter you hide beneath your pillow
to read each time before you go to bed,
Can I be the diary entry you run back to to remind yourself that
Love is real and you know because you once had it.

For now I will admit that it is the most difficult thing trying to be this content individual in an area where disobedience and dishonesty are on the rise to haunt me,
To come to terms with the reality that I cannot afford to close my eyes at 3 a.m because it is at that hour that other women prepare to destroy and disrespect marriages,
I have promised myself to never guard my heart with false words and empty promises that will never be manifested by the very one who made them in the first place,
It was a mistake once done and will never do again- to place my life in the palms of another person’s hands when they are clumsy enough to casually drop it and apologize.

~Phili

To my unborn daughter

To my black African princess,
that skin tone is an enamel of grace,
an expression of strength and beauty,
a powerful force to be praised and worshiped,
one masterpiece which God was careful with.

To my black African princess,
that curly hair carries your perseverance,
it is proof of the battles which left you undefeated,
evidence of your rebellion to the female oppression tradition,
an open declaration to the world that you are a walking miracle.

To my black African princess,
you should hear them…
they will say you were born imperfect,
use the bible and say every men was born in sin,
trap you into feeling guilty for wrong deeds before you even get to do wrong things.

To my black African princess,
I urge you not to apologize,
do not be sorry for hurting,
do not be sorry for crying,
do not be sorry for not understanding why.

Why your very existence is a displacement,
why your art is an embodiment of perfect pain and struggle,
why your exquisite crown is a wonder,
why your magic cannot be accepted.

To my black African princess,
you are the next Melanin queen,
for the honesty of your lips,
the wild power of your mind,
the forgiving care of your hands,
the ongoing love of your heart.

~Phili

Our Father

Kade ngilalela abantu bathi angobekezela,
Ngi guqe ngamadolo phansi,
ikhanda ngilibekise kuSomandla,
But you see that is easy for you to say
when you are not the prey running for your life
just so you can be saved.

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