Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

I Tell You Once How it Began

Enlarge poem

i tell you once how it began
with a shimmer; small cracks appearing
in the picture

here in the streams running
inside my head, begging me
to rush ahead, no knowledge where i was meant to arrive

I was to arrive, to bury the open grave of
my father ⎯

who will bundle his grudges?
who will rig the lottery with me?
who has hope for the fog melting like an illusion

like I have faces that look like me dreaming?
i am him, i have prickly, have things spitting
at the tendrils amassed at my grip

he’s not there, to edge his face closer to me
there’s this tear
i hear

as most of my eyesight
is ripped

*

it’s been long after i’ve left
the tubular throats of the sabc
built, one can say, so that no-one hears

with erect policies
with voices from a pulpit
and those plastic dungeons

now my mind has started to
sing with work that hangs still
on washing lines
and an exhausted jhb city

has been painted
with visions
with missions
so many times

*

it was a cross-eyed time, to be
riding ben schoeman
beneath the moon’s preview of the night, and me
fed, until i nearly fell with the car

horrors: children peeling off
every layer of their skin, no-name brands
for every stream, every mountain
and this moon

constantly avoiding
taking this
or that side

*

look, ben schoeman
tonight makes a minister’s
national budget feelings
actually appear

but i’m sure
of my poet’s salute, i am
at the correct height of my regard:

tonight my drowsy eyes
think the highway stinks
like an iran nuclear reactor

yes, the one suspended
from every news line-up, every wireless

between billboard of the tv shows
and pictures calling us to compare our banking cards

where reconstructured lanes unpainted lines
are the perfect con/dolences to
the slippery road we took to the future ⎯

*

oh my, how evolved wehave got to
get, get, get
to keep our phrases of each and every season
worth the weights carried in our sack
as i check the gauge
of my agency, amid the terrible engulfment
in all the storms blowing south, north, west
middle east

in all of these

*

in this city, when
air is so dry, in my car radio…

stevie wonder
…you’re moving in the positive
your destination is the brightest star…

master blaster, stevie wonder
blind like motherfucker

you ask me am i happy/
well as a matter of fact i am/i can say that i am ecstatic…

ghost of the father, this is my kind of religion

Khulile Nxumalo

Featured Poem:

Five Hundred Thousand Centuries

Enlarge poem

(to khalo, who is preserving his brain)

Which one is going to survive?

When you ever get there
Tell us

Of the uptight spring diligent delegation

Sent to ask god to advance new

Gourds of understanding. They asked for another five
hundred thousand
Centuries to douse the flaming towers of memories,
they even
Offered to batter their fingers, along with gold studded
staffs
That were pecking the sulk on the ground their children
Had hidden
A drawing as a scroll to god

Of bloated stomachs
Skeleton skulls
Glued beneath a pattern of cringed dry leaves
Of indigenous trees, they called the painting winning.

The letter the children sent to god said:

‘’Ask us why
There is loneliness in people
And we will count
The sands of the Sahara
Who is going to survive?

Dambudzo died
And the ghosts that painted hearses
Over Great
Zimbabwe look to me were the same ghosts that
tormented troy,
same ghosts that got stuck in the throat of carthage.

I saw a flick in my dream dambudzo got kicked in a park
in Harare
Behind a bar that has a trail of piss framing its spine

I got the chill spell of sobukwe and hani’s gazing ghosts

I got the person with the stature of Cyril who is going to
survive

Another 500 centuries another delegation bearing hand
made crafts
And gifts for god, and their children knew it yet

When the wind blows
Don’t let it blow your mind
When oldest of the elders howls
A regally grey impish howl

Then you know the road wedges into a point
At the far end
For us all, after another five hundred centuries to go
When we stop digging
in the chambers of our noses
Mining a sense of existence above all
The circumferences that always bring us to this

Tell me
Who is going to survive?

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

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Biography

Khulile Nxumalo was born in Diepkloof, Soweto, in 1971. He completed school at Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland and went on to attend the University of Cape Town, the then University of Natal and the University of the Witwatersrand, where his studies were focused on media and cultural studies.

Nxumalo has worked as researcher, writer, producer and director for various production houses in Johannesburg. He has directed inserts for a magazine television programme, a short documentary on young, up-and-coming opera singers and for national education broadcasts.

In 2004, Nxumalo’s first collection of poetry titled Ten Flapping Elbows, Mama, was published. That same year, he produced a documentary titled Nabantwa Bam (With My Children) as part of the SABC 1 Project 10 series.

Nxumalo has twice been the recipient of the DALRO award for poetry. His work has appeared in several literary journals in South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In 2013, Nxumalo launched his poetry collection, Fhedzi.

Fellow poet Robert Berold says of Nxumalo: “[He] is one of the few poets in South Africa using longer experimental forms. He has found a creative way of breaking up the English language and fusing it with other languages. He is also capable of intense lyrical expression.”

Nxumalo lives in Johannesburg with his two children.

Khulile Nxumalo

Biography

Khulile Nxumalo was born in Diepkloof, Soweto, in 1971. He completed school at Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland and went on to attend the University of Cape Town, the then University of Natal and the University of the Witwatersrand, where his studies were focused on media and cultural studies.

Nxumalo has worked as researcher, writer, producer and director for various production houses in Johannesburg. He has directed inserts for a magazine television programme, a short documentary on young, up-and-coming opera singers and for national education broadcasts.

In 2004, Nxumalo’s first collection of poetry titled Ten Flapping Elbows, Mama, was published. That same year, he produced a documentary titled Nabantwa Bam (With My Children) as part of the SABC 1 Project 10 series.

Nxumalo has twice been the recipient of the DALRO award for poetry. His work has appeared in several literary journals in South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In 2013, Nxumalo launched his poetry collection, Fhedzi.

Fellow poet Robert Berold says of Nxumalo: “[He] is one of the few poets in South Africa using longer experimental forms. He has found a creative way of breaking up the English language and fusing it with other languages. He is also capable of intense lyrical expression.”

Nxumalo lives in Johannesburg with his two children.

I Tell You Once How it Began

Enlarge poem

i tell you once how it began
with a shimmer; small cracks appearing
in the picture

here in the streams running
inside my head, begging me
to rush ahead, no knowledge where i was meant to arrive

I was to arrive, to bury the open grave of
my father ⎯

who will bundle his grudges?
who will rig the lottery with me?
who has hope for the fog melting like an illusion

like I have faces that look like me dreaming?
i am him, i have prickly, have things spitting
at the tendrils amassed at my grip

he’s not there, to edge his face closer to me
there’s this tear
i hear

as most of my eyesight
is ripped

*

it’s been long after i’ve left
the tubular throats of the sabc
built, one can say, so that no-one hears

with erect policies
with voices from a pulpit
and those plastic dungeons

now my mind has started to
sing with work that hangs still
on washing lines
and an exhausted jhb city

has been painted
with visions
with missions
so many times

*

it was a cross-eyed time, to be
riding ben schoeman
beneath the moon’s preview of the night, and me
fed, until i nearly fell with the car

horrors: children peeling off
every layer of their skin, no-name brands
for every stream, every mountain
and this moon

constantly avoiding
taking this
or that side

*

look, ben schoeman
tonight makes a minister’s
national budget feelings
actually appear

but i’m sure
of my poet’s salute, i am
at the correct height of my regard:

tonight my drowsy eyes
think the highway stinks
like an iran nuclear reactor

yes, the one suspended
from every news line-up, every wireless

between billboard of the tv shows
and pictures calling us to compare our banking cards

where reconstructured lanes unpainted lines
are the perfect con/dolences to
the slippery road we took to the future ⎯

*

oh my, how evolved wehave got to
get, get, get
to keep our phrases of each and every season
worth the weights carried in our sack
as i check the gauge
of my agency, amid the terrible engulfment
in all the storms blowing south, north, west
middle east

in all of these

*

in this city, when
air is so dry, in my car radio…

stevie wonder
…you’re moving in the positive
your destination is the brightest star…

master blaster, stevie wonder
blind like motherfucker

you ask me am i happy/
well as a matter of fact i am/i can say that i am ecstatic…

ghost of the father, this is my kind of religion

Featured Poem:

Five Hundred Thousand Centuries

Enlarge poem

(to khalo, who is preserving his brain)

Which one is going to survive?

When you ever get there
Tell us

Of the uptight spring diligent delegation

Sent to ask god to advance new

Gourds of understanding. They asked for another five
hundred thousand
Centuries to douse the flaming towers of memories,
they even
Offered to batter their fingers, along with gold studded
staffs
That were pecking the sulk on the ground their children
Had hidden
A drawing as a scroll to god

Of bloated stomachs
Skeleton skulls
Glued beneath a pattern of cringed dry leaves
Of indigenous trees, they called the painting winning.

The letter the children sent to god said:

‘’Ask us why
There is loneliness in people
And we will count
The sands of the Sahara
Who is going to survive?

Dambudzo died
And the ghosts that painted hearses
Over Great
Zimbabwe look to me were the same ghosts that
tormented troy,
same ghosts that got stuck in the throat of carthage.

I saw a flick in my dream dambudzo got kicked in a park
in Harare
Behind a bar that has a trail of piss framing its spine

I got the chill spell of sobukwe and hani’s gazing ghosts

I got the person with the stature of Cyril who is going to
survive

Another 500 centuries another delegation bearing hand
made crafts
And gifts for god, and their children knew it yet

When the wind blows
Don’t let it blow your mind
When oldest of the elders howls
A regally grey impish howl

Then you know the road wedges into a point
At the far end
For us all, after another five hundred centuries to go
When we stop digging
in the chambers of our noses
Mining a sense of existence above all
The circumferences that always bring us to this

Tell me
Who is going to survive?

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

I Tell You Once How it Began

Enlarge poem

i tell you once how it began
with a shimmer; small cracks appearing
in the picture

here in the streams running
inside my head, begging me
to rush ahead, no knowledge where i was meant to arrive

I was to arrive, to bury the open grave of
my father ⎯

who will bundle his grudges?
who will rig the lottery with me?
who has hope for the fog melting like an illusion

like I have faces that look like me dreaming?
i am him, i have prickly, have things spitting
at the tendrils amassed at my grip

he’s not there, to edge his face closer to me
there’s this tear
i hear

as most of my eyesight
is ripped

*

it’s been long after i’ve left
the tubular throats of the sabc
built, one can say, so that no-one hears

with erect policies
with voices from a pulpit
and those plastic dungeons

now my mind has started to
sing with work that hangs still
on washing lines
and an exhausted jhb city

has been painted
with visions
with missions
so many times

*

it was a cross-eyed time, to be
riding ben schoeman
beneath the moon’s preview of the night, and me
fed, until i nearly fell with the car

horrors: children peeling off
every layer of their skin, no-name brands
for every stream, every mountain
and this moon

constantly avoiding
taking this
or that side

*

look, ben schoeman
tonight makes a minister’s
national budget feelings
actually appear

but i’m sure
of my poet’s salute, i am
at the correct height of my regard:

tonight my drowsy eyes
think the highway stinks
like an iran nuclear reactor

yes, the one suspended
from every news line-up, every wireless

between billboard of the tv shows
and pictures calling us to compare our banking cards

where reconstructured lanes unpainted lines
are the perfect con/dolences to
the slippery road we took to the future ⎯

*

oh my, how evolved wehave got to
get, get, get
to keep our phrases of each and every season
worth the weights carried in our sack
as i check the gauge
of my agency, amid the terrible engulfment
in all the storms blowing south, north, west
middle east

in all of these

*

in this city, when
air is so dry, in my car radio…

stevie wonder
…you’re moving in the positive
your destination is the brightest star…

master blaster, stevie wonder
blind like motherfucker

you ask me am i happy/
well as a matter of fact i am/i can say that i am ecstatic…

ghost of the father, this is my kind of religion

Comments

Your email address will not be published.