Mourning Poems by Mike Alfred



Ah, there you are, choosing chutney
in the sauces aisle. I look away for an
instant and you are gone; Houdini of the
supermarket. You were wearing that pale
blue turtleneck, weren’t you? Oh, there
you are again, will I please go and select some
cold meats, and I remember you telling me
that general rule of shopping: not to take
the first item I see. But check prices, check
prices, look for the specials. Was that you,
proudly smiling at me before you finally
disappeared round the corner?




The last is the longest
saddest concert, the
longing notes for the dead
by the living, and the notes
the dead will not relinquish;
this slow-rendered performance,
these pieces enjoyed on Saturday
nights, this tightly clasping swing
and jazz, conjuring a blessed absence.
Retaining a songful presence.

The dead draw forth the
music of remembrance, these
grievings, newly composed, these
old favourites eliciting the half-
forgotten life, these repetitive
playings in dream sleep. With soft
notes and harsh, with singing,
with private dancing in tears,
the music of forever, slowly
settling, never more than
an echo-distant.



Now I can tell you …

I can tell you that our marriage
was one of your great creations,
a complete existence. But so silent
and modest, I seldom noticed.

I can tell you that our marriage,
such a splendid journey, provided
a way of being, an enchanted life,
a completeness now so fractured.

I wonder where Maslow slotted
a good marriage into his hierarchy
of human seeking? After all, it’s one
of life’s greatest challenges; something
to be placed at the apex of achievement.
Perhaps he didn’t think it as important
as making money or being President.
Good Housekeeping doesn’t list
the Top Hundred Marriages.

I can tell you that you bequeathed
me a modicum of steel. You ushered
me, callow youth, into an adulthood
where I function with care and a certain
buoyancy gained from your laughter
and your court of wise verdicts.

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Myesha Jenkins – Tribute

Botsotso would like to pay homage to Myesha Jenkins, the poet and promoter of poetry who died on Saturday, 05 September 2020. Myesha was a founder member of Feelah Sistah, the all-woman poetry group that in its time made such an impact. Thereafter, she was indefatigable in organising and strengthening poetry platforms on radio and for live performance/readings. Myesha’s work was included in two Botsotso productions – the anthology Isis X and the recording Roots and Branches. Her spirit as a politically conscious, jazz-loving artist lives on and is well expressed in her seminal poem Autobiography which was included in both these projects.

Click here to read Autobiography, a poem by Myesha Jenkins.

A Call for Submissions: Johannesburg in Poetry