Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Nameless in death

Enlarge poem

identity has been watered down for me
in these names they have called for me
like a thousand yellow birds that have been laid down on the sea

a white sheet shifts over top
every wing holds another
every wing sways to a dancing weight of body and bone
and my blood knows my name
and my blood knows your name
and my blood dances
like weight

and my name sinks under earth
and my name vanishes in air
it will not meet the throats of many

my name has country, body, blood, time
I want them to stumble over and see

I cannot get over this
I cannot let this sit forever
it is thrashing in the stomach

let my body fall
and let that body be beautiful through fall and when limp

the most beautiful

will you gather to hear my name whispered past dead lips
will hundreds kneel, their hair a silken blanket
will hundreds crawl, knees bloodied
waiting for a name past lips lost

Erin Bosenberg

Featured Poem:

Call

Enlarge poem

Has your level of frustration reached the point of climax
Is a scream begging to fly from your mouth
But you wouldn’t dare transform
A body so visceral
To become a fool in the face of an oppressor
Has your frustration leapt into scream

His revolution was all catch phrase and metaphor
And the compulsions violent
But ooooh sooo poetic

When it comes to Agency of women
When it comes to Agency of sexuality
Hate was laced into word
With SUCH grace
And dignity

Can’t you see my lips tremble
Can’t you hear my heart waver

Even after his screams
His sexuality was given its walls
Walls re-inforced with armed guards whose limbs never grew tired
Whose guns were always warm and oiled
Even after his screams
And
Even after her screams
Her sexuality was caged

Her man, well his worship was always alternative
Even while agency of woman was boxed
While woman performed duty
Gestures to carry weight
Gestures to dig soul into ground
Lift, carry, bend, sway
Wash away
Wash away
Wash away
While agency of women was boxed

First came white bodies
Then came men with muscle and bone
To oppress
To push down
Power identities
Is my voice now tiresome
A familiar charade
Of power and victim
A familiar charade
Re-iterated I find no condemnation of men
By re-iteration
But by re-iteration I only remind men
I know what love those arms can hold
I’ve felt what love those arms can hold

Can’t you see my lips tremble
Can’t you hear my heart waver

My voice does not condemn
My voice is no call to defence or allegiance to only my kind
My voice is a call for your ear
A gestured sound bent into body
To listen
And then to accept
My body is not out for lending

Her body she bent forward to brace weight of hostile home
While his revolutionary lips spoke for hers
liturgy pronounced for the worth of voice made absent

I know a home is not always a home
Yes, I grew up and then learnt this was so

He grew up and never told me
His body hurt
When he could not force it to conform
To prescribed identities
But I guessed
it must have
When his love for another boy turned into hate
For himself
he fell down too many times
And the taste of sweet foods turned bland on tough days
But his body eventually found love
And the relief of home

Can’t you see my lips tremble
Can’t you hear my heart waver

Her mind and body brace in darkness to find one another
Detached they can’t
share the weight of work
But to carry so much
They must remain
Detached

Or together
In a desperate bid to guard the whole from pain
Her action
May be a murderous one
And don’t dare ask what that may entail

Because there are no nets for a domestic held captive
And there are no nets for a boy lost in the woods
With no standing tree to tell him
Go on,
Love, love
Love in only the way you know how
Because another boy waits for your bright eyes
And he will spin dizzy under the stars until your eyes meet his
Or until his body dies cold
With love held captive in far off galaxies

Can’t you see my lips tremble
Can’t you hear my heart waver

Has your level of frustration reached the point of climax
Is a scream begging to fly from your mouth
But you wouldn’t dare transform
A body so visceral
To become a fool in the face of an oppressor
Has your frustration leapt into scream

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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  • Optimism (0)
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  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (1)
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  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

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Biography

Erin Bosenberg is a multi-disciplinary media and performance artist living in Cape Town. She has an Advanced Diploma in Broadcast Journalism from Humber College (Canada), where she received several awards for radio production and magazine writing. She also has a BFA, majoring in media arts, from NSCAD University.

Her art engages predominantly with place, identity, and bodily experience. She has contributed to numerous group shows, and has also had two solo gallery performances: While I Was Walking (2006) and Gestures for Longing (2008). She recently completed a residency with YEMOYA.  

Erin Bosenberg

Biography

Erin Bosenberg is a multi-disciplinary media and performance artist living in Cape Town. She has an Advanced Diploma in Broadcast Journalism from Humber College (Canada), where she received several awards for radio production and magazine writing. She also has a BFA, majoring in media arts, from NSCAD University.

Her art engages predominantly with place, identity, and bodily experience. She has contributed to numerous group shows, and has also had two solo gallery performances: While I Was Walking (2006) and Gestures for Longing (2008). She recently completed a residency with YEMOYA.  

Nameless in death

Enlarge poem

identity has been watered down for me
in these names they have called for me
like a thousand yellow birds that have been laid down on the sea

a white sheet shifts over top
every wing holds another
every wing sways to a dancing weight of body and bone
and my blood knows my name
and my blood knows your name
and my blood dances
like weight

and my name sinks under earth
and my name vanishes in air
it will not meet the throats of many

my name has country, body, blood, time
I want them to stumble over and see

I cannot get over this
I cannot let this sit forever
it is thrashing in the stomach

let my body fall
and let that body be beautiful through fall and when limp

the most beautiful

will you gather to hear my name whispered past dead lips
will hundreds kneel, their hair a silken blanket
will hundreds crawl, knees bloodied
waiting for a name past lips lost

Featured Poem:

Call

Enlarge poem

Has your level of frustration reached the point of climax
Is a scream begging to fly from your mouth
But you wouldn’t dare transform
A body so visceral
To become a fool in the face of an oppressor
Has your frustration leapt into scream

His revolution was all catch phrase and metaphor
And the compulsions violent
But ooooh sooo poetic

When it comes to Agency of women
When it comes to Agency of sexuality
Hate was laced into word
With SUCH grace
And dignity

Can’t you see my lips tremble
Can’t you hear my heart waver

Even after his screams
His sexuality was given its walls
Walls re-inforced with armed guards whose limbs never grew tired
Whose guns were always warm and oiled
Even after his screams
And
Even after her screams
Her sexuality was caged

Her man, well his worship was always alternative
Even while agency of woman was boxed
While woman performed duty
Gestures to carry weight
Gestures to dig soul into ground
Lift, carry, bend, sway
Wash away
Wash away
Wash away
While agency of women was boxed

First came white bodies
Then came men with muscle and bone
To oppress
To push down
Power identities
Is my voice now tiresome
A familiar charade
Of power and victim
A familiar charade
Re-iterated I find no condemnation of men
By re-iteration
But by re-iteration I only remind men
I know what love those arms can hold
I’ve felt what love those arms can hold

Can’t you see my lips tremble
Can’t you hear my heart waver

My voice does not condemn
My voice is no call to defence or allegiance to only my kind
My voice is a call for your ear
A gestured sound bent into body
To listen
And then to accept
My body is not out for lending

Her body she bent forward to brace weight of hostile home
While his revolutionary lips spoke for hers
liturgy pronounced for the worth of voice made absent

I know a home is not always a home
Yes, I grew up and then learnt this was so

He grew up and never told me
His body hurt
When he could not force it to conform
To prescribed identities
But I guessed
it must have
When his love for another boy turned into hate
For himself
he fell down too many times
And the taste of sweet foods turned bland on tough days
But his body eventually found love
And the relief of home

Can’t you see my lips tremble
Can’t you hear my heart waver

Her mind and body brace in darkness to find one another
Detached they can’t
share the weight of work
But to carry so much
They must remain
Detached

Or together
In a desperate bid to guard the whole from pain
Her action
May be a murderous one
And don’t dare ask what that may entail

Because there are no nets for a domestic held captive
And there are no nets for a boy lost in the woods
With no standing tree to tell him
Go on,
Love, love
Love in only the way you know how
Because another boy waits for your bright eyes
And he will spin dizzy under the stars until your eyes meet his
Or until his body dies cold
With love held captive in far off galaxies

Can’t you see my lips tremble
Can’t you hear my heart waver

Has your level of frustration reached the point of climax
Is a scream begging to fly from your mouth
But you wouldn’t dare transform
A body so visceral
To become a fool in the face of an oppressor
Has your frustration leapt into scream

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (1)
  • Reflection (0)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

Nameless in death

Enlarge poem

identity has been watered down for me
in these names they have called for me
like a thousand yellow birds that have been laid down on the sea

a white sheet shifts over top
every wing holds another
every wing sways to a dancing weight of body and bone
and my blood knows my name
and my blood knows your name
and my blood dances
like weight

and my name sinks under earth
and my name vanishes in air
it will not meet the throats of many

my name has country, body, blood, time
I want them to stumble over and see

I cannot get over this
I cannot let this sit forever
it is thrashing in the stomach

let my body fall
and let that body be beautiful through fall and when limp

the most beautiful

will you gather to hear my name whispered past dead lips
will hundreds kneel, their hair a silken blanket
will hundreds crawl, knees bloodied
waiting for a name past lips lost

Comments

Your email address will not be published.