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Epistles: Poems by Sihle Mthembu

Love 4

The language of my heart is
Soft spoken and quilted with
Passionate desire

I feel ready to give
To the world an endless
Portion of love and fire

Today I can stand up
And testify.

No nothing has changed
I still love you just like that.
I still love you years later today

I can hardly imagine
Life without you
I would be lost indeed it’s true.
Everyday you add a new piece
To the puzzle

You are yourself,
But I am more of you



Jozi nights.
At the face of darkness
Your lights come up.
Joyful souls come out and play
In the clear darkness
Walking the streets of the city

Jozi for you
I turned my back on KwaZulu my home town.
I sought you for a softer pillow
To lie on in the night

As the centuries walked by you
A hundred men
Have dug deep into your soul
Just to satisfy their lives’ worth
Only to leave holes in your beautiful heart

As a young man
I drew a clear landscape of you in my mind
And hypnotized my thoughts with myths foretold
By my forefathers

We left our homelands packed up in a hundred trains
In search of gold.
Jozi you are a dream roaming the sleep
Of many men but the truth about you is never told

I saw a man dressed in black
With a white flower in hand. Standing
By the graveyards of a hundred men
In search of the bloodline where
His roots lie.

Jozi you are the unchanged beauty of an African portrait.
You offer simple shelter to a mother and child eating pap and vleis in
You harbour the ambitions of a town-man and his wife drinking soft wine
And watching your Mona Lisa smile.


Gather Around my Children

Gather around my children
And let me tell you of the
Promise of tomorrow
The light is fading outside
And most of us will not
Make it through the night

Listen to the birds as
They chirp and talk.
They talk
Not of light blues
And summer evenings

No they talk of
Massacres that enshrine
the whole of Africa

they talk of
broken homes
and generations of lost people
that is the norm

gather around my children
let me tell you that
the Africa of yesteryears
should be mourned


How Dark is it Outside?

How dark is it outside?

Very dark

Then it must not be safe
For me to travel there

There are such
Creatures outside
Which treed lightly in the night

Mama told me of
And right she was

There are creatures
Out there
Mama, I am scared
It’s dark outside



I appreciate the
Light wind as it blows
Across her hair, she is
The cunning image of beauty
And all that it is

I watched her hatch into
A butterfly that is much
Admired by the world
I loved much more than even myself

She is an angel of the light


The Peasants

I have no love for
My father
From him I inherited
A broken home

I hate my grandfather
He is a man
I have never known

They both dedicated
their lives to a
fair skinned man’s spoils

all for nothing
was that blood



I haven’t seen marbles
But I know bullets
I don’t play star wars
With imaginary swords and sticks
I have held guns

I bring nations
to their knees
love and mercy are
a foreign language to me

I have the desire
And the thirst for blood

I lost the plot a long
Time ago


I am god’s child

I am a child of war


I Hear African Voices Singing

I hear African voices singing
Far beyond the hills.
The melody of their Voices
Resonate in my dreams.

I hear African voices singing
As my brothers join hands
And march towards tomorrow.
We have no excuses to dwell on yesterday
And live in sorrow.

I hear African voices singing
As they embrace the pulse
Of a new day.
Welcoming the sun that shines upon them
As a sign of change.

I hear African voices singing
Singing proudly and singing loudly
Telling beautiful tales of
What Africa could be

I hear African voices singing
Singing of histories that are
Rough and awkward
But the cries of the children have been silenced
So let us move forward

I hear African voices singing
Let us move forward and build
Bit by bit and side by side.
Let us love being African
Through these rough and awkward times

I hear African voices singing
Their voices move waves
And shake trees
I hear African voices singing
They sing to you
They sing to me


(c) Sihle Mthembu

Sihle Mthembu
Sihle Mthembu
Sihle Mthembu contributes from South Africa.


  1. Your poetry paints the familiar picture of the ugly past, the not- too-beautiful present and hope for a sun-lit future. The reccuring themes of our glorious moon-lit nights in pre-colonial Africa, the child soldiers fighting our civil wars today with no trace of innocence and our collective song and vision for a greater Africa. In my forthcoming collection, Colourless Rainbow:Poetry of My Childhood, i dedicated a movement ( The Mirror) to some of these themes but with a resolve that we must not be too ‘hypnotized’ by the moonlight stories about our past but must strive towards the sunlight ahead of us. I enjoyed your poems. I think you will enjoy immersing yourself in late Senghor’s poetry. By the time you raise your head, the Muse would be your ink!

  2. Keep the African flag flying high ! You’re an amazing young writer, judging from the series of poetry and short stories you have written. Your poetry has what, we call the “Soul” ,it takes a reader on a mind-journey .One can easily travel on this mind journey from the issues such as Love and Family relationship,Wars, Phobias and Teen issues.

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