Two Poems by Maakomele (Mak) Manaka

Leano on my mind


The winter star
of this black morning
burns in flames of a childhood
the ghetto cannot forget

Breathless streets
suffocating families
living inside a mine-dump
and drilling their way to sleep

The ghetto knows how to remember
the smiles of little men
Windows holding dying candles
searching for a hole in the ground

Yet when I look at my niece Leano
I know that from an avalanche of rocks
a flower can still blossom
and that summer is only a laughter away



The Sky and the City


The tall sky
walks past short buildings
listening to rooms filled
with weeping hands
Festivals of languages
dance all day and night
Rivers of train tracks
run beneath a bridge
that cannot bridge
the voice of water
to thirsty leaves
Aging bottles
of slender figures
sell dry orgasms
to wet poles

The sky looks on
from the city
that breathes
inside of a shoe
and knows
how the streets feel

The sky walks on
with a grey eye
and looks
at the oncoming traffic
of penis enlargement posters
Blue bodies
of steel dragons
raid silhouettes
of fingers trading heights
Concrete playgrounds
house brown songs
that are yet to grow
and live in this sound

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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