Boa Morte

(Song of Life)
by Jana van Niekerk


I remember you when you were young and vigorous

This is life
In the beginning
We all piss ourselves, it’s not Austen

We wake up rumpled, we are bald
Our feet are hoary
The smell of haddock in the morning
The endless reshuffling of regrets and half-worn garments

This is not a place of fluffy handtowels
We are not brave all the time
The exhausting breakfast
The nauseating smell of chicken in the morning
The hard and predictable road back

It hurts like I am born

The animal afraid of losing himself
This cupboard of my tiny life
It is this simple, so

Tonight I just feel old

Death is always calling me
Be Aware
Write longer
I mourn myself,
My death, my passing, while I can

Life without Me

It hurts like I am born

You don’t die easy, either
Surrender the fight
Either today tomorrow or later
We will hear the silence of our sleep
And I remember dying

Repeat: refrain, refrain
I mourn my passing
While I can

Yes, that too
Yes, all of that

And even our faces change

I remember you
breakfast smell in a hotel
this cupboard of my tiny life
I am Vivianne Westwood
I am Earnest Hemingway
It doesn’t really matter
Though I sometimes think it does

Come back, come back

It’s some way off but it’s still there
The worms will eat this flesh
I do not love this flesh
I tie my fate to yours

By how much more can I make you mine
I tie myself to die

I dressed like an orphan
The light on the cupboard was like silver leaves
Silver rocks on the black mountain
I drank my milk
I washed my bum
Boa Morte: set down this
I am not dissatisfied

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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