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Beneath the Skin

by Deon-Simphiwe Rakaku


These men’s faces are their Achilles Heels
Look at that fellow with fiery eyes
face torn by raging fists
He even bleeds from his solid temples
Skin is not steel that bends when emotions heat up
nor does it cave in like pounded zinc sheets
It invites sympathetic stares
when aggressive blows have spoken their truths
on a face that once glowed and defined a man

Look at the twisted and defeated lips of that other man with a rigid face
His profound apologies are etched on his face for all to see
while the champ trots and brays gloatingly
A matter needed to be straightened out,
and the victorious man’s attack was the best solution – it seems
Even the police do this sort of thing from time to time,
but in their case it’s usually war
Evidence of their brutality traces to batons, rifles and paralyzing terror

Sometimes the facial skin resists tearing
it bleaches from tempered fists
like that lanky man with panda eyes
His regret over his changed appearance
is sculptured perfectly on his once precious look
Perhaps now he’d concede that a man’s strength lies beneath the skin