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Number 34.

I think i often take for advantage the things i write, and how they sound and the meaning and message they take on in somebody else’s ears.  I have just watched the documentary Miners Shot Down  and my mind was greatly disturbed. I couldn’t believe the things that the same system that is there to protect and serve the public can be capable of such disruption. It is a concept that i am still trying to figure out, how knowledge and power can both distort and shape a society. The Marikana Mascre happened 3 years ago, this poem was written last month and i had no thoughts whatsoever about the shootings. “Some poems prepare you for time bombs that will soon stop ticking” i never realised how much this words weigh until i read this poem, for my own healing. Its a scary thing, the memories words bring back to us. I hope this poem will give someone else the same peace it has given me.

                                                   Said the people from the inside

I am trying to retrace my steps, I am a sketch drawn with attention to nothingness. An empty canvas framed for the illusion of displaying a bold structure.

Gravity has not yet pinned me down to my footings because destiny is a map of broken promises. This is not what being a skyscraper feels like, this tower of being was built on too many contours of assumption. I must have worn the wrong badge on my uniform this morning. I need to find a way back to my land and cement concrete layers of certainty. I do not like this place I’m in, this self is someone I cannot bare to breathe in anymore. I am shaken to wake from my sleep by the sound of exploding grenades. These aftershocks have left me with too many cracks it’s no wonder I fall for gravity every time I want to flee.

At birth I was disconnected from my umbilical cord and ushered into the world with a part of me already cut off. It seems I have always been an incomplete collage of being. I take in breathe like my body already knows what it feels like to fade, so air is obliged to occupy the courage in my lungs.

I have seen too many bodies fade to ash as if that person never had a voice or a laugh or even a name. Somewhere in a hospital my mother is watching an infant boy who is practising passionately how to breathe in tune with a machine because his organs threaten to fail without a taste of oxygen.

At the end of the day that baby will have a name, he will a laugh and heartbeat but another machine will also cause him to fade. A soldier will watch his skin shed and his bones will cackle and burn into grains of sand that seep through your fingers as if it never once made up those fingers, as if they were never once hands, as if that boy never had hands.

How much love does it take to bring back a body that has faded into ash? Today I felt death creep up my spine like a stutter and it wasn’t for the first time that exhaling took too much breathe out of me. I have choked every day from my own fear to fade. But I must be brave.

I am a soldier, I must wear this camouflage uniform like it is my own skin, like I am not hiding scars deep within that mark each every war we have fought and won and watched more bodies fade. I march to the sound of a cocking rifle.

I have learned to shoot in sync with any heartbeat, and I have mastered the skill of faking bravery. No soldier must ever be seen struggling to pull the trigger. A soldier must focus on the task at hand without feeling remorse for fighting for his land but my arms are not strong enough to carry this much guilt.

I have not been trained how to erase memories yet, my eyes cannot forget the sight of enemies pleading for their lives and my feet still remember the dead bodies it has walked over. I do not know if my enemy has saved any lives before but I have been told that they are wrong, so I must hold my breath, say a prayer or two, cross my fingers, whatever my faith will hold on to but after that I must shot. Because I am a soldier, soldiers are brave.

Liberation does not reside here. Do not ask me where I stand in this pillar of discovery. Just tell me how I got here. I seem to have lost my footing along the paths of my becoming. The last time I checked, it was my 21st birthday. Did I miss the steps to existence or merely yearned to belong? See we yawned and sneezed at life and for that moment, we have died at our own expense, have allowed our bodies a break from searching for ways to survive. We sit in these temporary homes and pay life insurance to reassure us a grave because the only thing these bodies can insure us is decay.

Yet still the policy indoctrinates us that the death monsters are too afraid us so yes you can pay for your own funeral in monthly instalments decay is still a guarantee. Life is as uncertain as our residence here. We are not immortal creatures, we are not related to these machines, they do not have our blood running though their funnels, they just know how to explode things.

Life has it we will all fade here. When I turn to ash I hope my mother will not forget that I too, once had a name, a smile, a laugh and a heartbeat. Someone has to remember that this was never our decision. Some things are handed to you and you must handle them.

This land is also not ours, we just needed a peaceful place to fade.

-Zizipho Bam

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