Toxic

by John Carse

in the dream
i faithfully memorize
the poems i have written
in other dreams
and smuggle them into consciousness
where they are recorded
in my reality
every 2 decades
i shed my skin
until my body is bloody & raw

1980

passing as str8
i am thoroughly sanitized
i wear masks
& it is not only my hands
that are gloved
i am loved & unloved
each movement carefully practiced
every word meticulously rehearsed

2000

bisexuality is the best of both worlds
i am torn
unable to serve 2 masters
i desperately act out the words & gestures
i learned in other lives
masks are essential
i am your lover
i am your brother’s lover
but in truth
i cannot love at all

2020

i am here
i am queer
get used to it
i forego all forms of protection
masks, gloves & condoms
have been destroyed
bareback as the day i was born
i rebel
& embrace the hell of my existence
wearing only my suffering
for all to see

is this what they call freedom?

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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