Three Poems by Siza Nkosi

music tour

so where to?

dube station via the main road
jozi fm on the left
they play gospel and cheaters on thursdays
i bump into uncle ray next to the toilet
(they call the police station the toilet)
ray’s from the gibson kente days
they used to gather at his home
not far from nkathuto primary
and create plays and songs
now he exchanges his lesson on g-scale
for a quart of black

hearty’s fruit & veg ifile
but no one eats vegetables these days
behind it used to be bus terminals
hip hop the heart of this place
mcs high on politics creating passionate verses
now it’s a parking lot for sanele’s tavern
isihogo nje
my heart weeps

i pass eyethu theatre, naked on machaba drive
stop by inside out, thebe lipere’s jazz lounge
find khaya mahlangu jamming
with themba mokoena and some young bloods
they are serving butternut and spinach

so where to?

avalon cemetery
i will not bother the dead
their bones are resting
but their spirits . . .
their spirits live in these songs

gog’ sis phakama

a gogo by the name of sis phakama
is the first to be called
when someone in our family dies
she understands death
washes dead bodies
cries the most

gog’ sis phakama was never married
spent many days in prison for shoplifting
one day she wore inzila
as a disguise for pickpocketing
diagnosed with hiv in her mid-forties
it was like she got a dose of new life
at sixty-eight she wears short leather skirts
manicured nails and organic weaves
dancing away old age in six inch stilettos

gog’ sis phakama ends every family gathering
with a prayer
she prays for everyone
one by one

on christmas last year
she prayed for mpumi my nephew
she asked the good lord to protect him
when he crosses koma road

inkulu baba somadla ikoma road
amen

on the N17

poor man

red and yellow plastic bag in your hand
potatoes scattered on the road
rainbow chicken waiting to boil with onions
but the freeway is for cars

where were you going?

one telephone call from now
and they’ll be looking to identify your body
arms stretched, head facing the other side
your body cold
like the pieces you bought for dinner
frozen, melting under the silver tinfoil
roasting like sunday lunch news

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