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Rebooting the System: Poems by Wesley Macheso

Image: Bigstock.com
Image: Bigstock.com

Rebooting the System

WARNING: Formatting will erase
ALL data on this disk.
Do you wish to continue?
Let us delete the system files
containing the raw data for revolution.
Open the control panel
and empty the hard disk drives
of all useful information:
family trees and lineage tracks,
religious beliefs, gods and goddesses,
ancient cultural flowerings
and achievements of their ancestors.
Uninstall or change all programs
pointing to their rich heritage.
Let us change the system properties
and feed the machine new satellite data,
replace the operating system
with an advanced version with better features.
Keep the hardware intact,
maintain the body as black as tar
but corrupt the software entirely.
Let us create in these creatures
advanced aliens far removed.
They who cannot remember their past
will never forge a future.


Undressing Our Mother in Foreign Tongues

Our fathers celebrated her nakedness,
eyes feasting on her sensuous figure
cast against the sound of throbbing drums.
“femme noire, femme obscure”
Dam… da-ram… dam… da-ram… dam…..
Fondling the stars on the night of her skin.

My sisters have exposed her nakedness;
craters dug by the civil war
beneath her firm breasts.
Once stout now famished buttocks,
starved down from the hunger.
Dark lesions against her black skin,
marks of the beast.
My mother’s nudity sells in America.

I, too, was seduced to paint the horror.
Enticed to finger the beads
bedecking my mother’s waist.
The most ambitious of us
ache to split her legs
and bare it all before blue eyes.



In the silhouettes of dark nights
haunted by the silence in the shadows
I take my eyes off his splendour;
he scares me. He is death.
Underneath the night of his skin
are the daggers, the chainsaws, the pangas.
A stream of lies, a crater of regrets.
A gulley of sorrows left by the memories.
His faintly parted lips a rotten smile.
He is war.
There is a forest inside my man.
Tangled threads choking each other.
Tangled roots beaming on the thick of his skin.
There is a dead end,
a schism.
Lifeless avenues littered with dead leaves.
A fire choked in ashes.
A smile for every tear.
Un-furrowed earth churning and groaning.
And you said he was beautiful?


Margarine on Pumpkin

I am
margarine on pumpkin.
Suck me up
or let my yellow melt
Absorb my tide in
your tenderness
and we will make
the sun.
Or the moon
on a night
with no stars.
They say yellow
is not a colour
for babies
but us
will melt into


Picasso on a Rock

These painstaking artistic scrawls
that entice the eye on Mphuzi  hill
are the timeless marks
of those who dug for food and roots.
The clicking tongues of those pigmies
conspired to paint these images
sweet to the unconscious mind.
These red pigments of multiple hues
where celestial objects edge animal shapes
are therapeutic to the soul.
The fury of winter is given life
in the lifeless reflections on this rock.
Those olden settlers were astronomers.
Their unsung meteorological know-how
mocks the legacy of Theophrastus.
Cubism was born here long before Pablo lived.
My unwitting eyes are delighted
by these eternal squiggles on a rock.


Mphuzi  – A hill in central Malawi with rock paintings of the Akafula


Poems © Wesley Macheso
Image: Bigstock.com

Wesley Macheso
Wesley Macheso
Wesley Macheso, PhD, is a Malawian writer. He teaches literature at the University of Malawi to survive and he writes to live. His short story “This Land is Mine” is published in Water: new short story fiction from Africa (2016) by Short Story Day Africa. He won the 2015 Peer Gynt Literary Award in Malawi for his children’s book Akuzike and the Gods (2017). Some of his poems are anthologised in Wreaths for a Wayfarer (2020). His work can be read online on African Writer, Brittle Paper, Storymoja, The Kalahari Review, and Agbowo magazines. He edits for www.africanwriter.com and www.africainwords.com Twitter handle: @Wesleymax89


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