August 31, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Reuters photo



Elizabeth Patience Semende




the night after the solidarity march in Zimbabwe



on nights like this

i admire the way wine changes with age

it is no surprise when voices confined

in bottles that ceased to be bodies get louder by day


in our cellar

one bottle pops

another follows

and that is freedom


on the kitchen table my brother bursts into song

my sister too. but father laughs

and we are not surprised

how laughter can carry a man’s pain for years


a prayer erupts from mother’s lips:

“God bless the food”

and our memories are resurrected –

of nights we were rocked to sleep

by the music of our empty bellies.

the day Itai disappeared and we planted silence on our lips


mother gets the wine

and it’s bitter

one sip strangles the tongue but freedom is like that

what stories can a slave tell without opening his bag of wounds?






the day we killed father and forgot to cry



here in the belly of America the milk and honey flows

but home is an old man learning how to fly

in my father’s home we were fragments of blind dreams

seeking graves to hide in

what else can an old man do besides frying dreams

as bad memories in the furnace of our crumbling history

forgive us old man we had to kill you

our fists like middle fingers grace the air

our songs travel like rivers learning to flow uphill

this is how we learnt to climb into strange women’s? wombs

forging homes and wait for the day they’ll decide to spit us

here we are as rain that splatters in unwanted places

their children throw flames and we are burning

we burnt in South Africa,

and America does not want us

forgive us old man we had to kill you

a mother’s voice is a pilgrim journeying into many countries

searching for her children

we carry the burden of telephones that shelter

glimpses of our erased past

you stood there ruling

but all we saw was a stephen carrying the gospel of a foreign god

forgive us old man we had to kill you






Elizabeth Patience Semende

Elizabeth Patience Semende is a poet and culture activist living in Zimbabwe where she spends time loving her partner and writing poetry during her spare time. Her poems have been anthologised in print in Zimbabwe and online. Some of her poems have appeared in Kalahari Review, Brittle Paper and elsewhere.

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