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I'm too miserable to feel love
Knocking on my bones
The door of my soul
Wipes its feet before it shuffles open.

Land mines sleep in her mouth
My ears open with caution
Her heart is a grave awaiting my soul
When I said I love her, I meant
I'm ready to bury myself in your chest.

An urn for your heart
Knows no exhume,
I will not leave.
Will Not. Leave.
My body will not be the prison cell of your heart,
But a church,
Windows stained by sin, scratching for home.

I will not settle on your bones
Like algae on stone.
She sleeps in his arms
The way a man cocoons in his words;
A gun
Knowing the sound of its lung
Exhaling a bullet.

I listen to her poems
Sticky with sweat
Crying to breathe
On hindfeet, looking for oxygen that doesn't exist
Baba, it is in me.

She's searching for dismissive gods,
Touching them like sickness
She’s searching for love
In bodies restricted by gender
Made of war-bones
Throwing negations, grenades
Loving so backward, so time-ward.

He doesn't know how to love with words.
Said, teach me.
So I kissed his rib-set
Said, this is where I am.
He stains her face
With hands broken,
He studies her lips
Like a man touching the bible
While breaking its spine.

Above us, dispersed,
The sky holds smokestacks
Like cigarettes lit by its thunder
Unrelenting to desire
Perforating our lungs with a pale stench of death.
Death-smoke.
We breathe as we die.
Life leaking with time
Elapse of immortality, the air stills.

I haven't loved for so long.
Winter has found a home in my marrow.
My soul hitchhikes on flings.
I don't know where it's gone.
Its feet grow raw.

I am tired today
I don't know what time I woke
That the air clicked out of my lungs.
But it's gone.

My body drips humanity.
A spleen bleeding dry.
I am so sad today.
Please clean it from my elbow parts.

There are bones in her soul.
Years of solitude salt her knees
Whilst death tightens its hands around his neck.
They tell him hold on.
Find other ways of breathing.
But Baba, when he is gone
I am ready to hang myself from your heart.
I will make a grave of your chest.



Tlotlo Tsamaase is a Motswana writer of fiction, poetry, and architectural articles. Her work has appeared in Terraform, An Alphabet of Embers, The Fog Horn, and previously at Strange Horizons. A longer list of her work can be found at her website.
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10 Jan 2022

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