Three from Kelwyn Sole, The Blood of Our Silence

The following three poems are from Sole’s debut, The Blood of Our Silence (Ravan, 1987).


Tony, a friend, clinches
many a warm night
with the right phrase from Althusser

and Mohammed munches women
with his monologues
for dinner

and melting hearts
with judicious use
of Cabral and/or Laclau

I get to parts
a stated lust
never would allow


Barbara beds those who organise
word uprisings in her kitchen

Trish makes love to unionists
and Mpeo, to a theoretician

their alliances are swift, and follow
Marx’s writhings on class snuggle

when social forces lock, they know
there’s bound to be a struggle


The first time I saw you
your voice was loud
and your dashiki fluttered,
a red and green flag
over old hush puppies

knowing no better
I was impressed, the images
rolling forth in waves
of wheat fields, and black sweat
and the postcards of suffering
you painted for all the white faces
agape below you:

I am, you said, distinctly
a poet of the people:
and I wouldn’t be here
with you white trash
if it wasn’t the people’s
night off.

Now it’s years later.
Your fifth (or is it sixth?)
book is on the shelves.
You’ve finally made it
to the New Revised
Edition of African Poets
put out in London.

Your stomach and Black
Consciousness protrude
further every time
you make words to make
and – yissis! can you talk,
even still

fatcat in your Mercedes
mocking ubugoduka
craftsmen with nothing to say
parasite on the flank of the revolt

: listen to the bumblebee buzz.


They say he asks the wrong questions.
Not: when shall we triumph?
But: how shall we triumph?
What shall we do after we triumph,
if that happens?

Black beret like a badge
on the side of his head
leaning to the left
he grins, and argues

argues with the fiftyonepercenters
who chew Nyerere endlessly,
and dream of a new paradise
behind dark glasses, dream
of their future posts
as Minister of Culture.

— It’s a long way
from the food queues of underdevelopment
to the sky-inverted dreams of socialism,
through an embroidery of party officials
knitting themselves special shops
and better houses

and the monopoly of the State
in the neighbouring country he knows
didn’t look to him
like a cornucopia,
like the end of exploitation of man
by man.

They ask:
why did you come back?

This is my country, he says,
we have lessons to learn,
and a democracy of peasants and workers
to begin to think about.

Why worry now? they rebuff him.
Let’s get rid of the boers
first –

but he insists on conversation
of aid grants with strings
attached to every dollar,
loans made of rulers’ souls
which are never repossessed,
fat tongues licking blood off
the bruised thighs
of a miscarrying Africa….

The Branch say he’s dangerous,
a terrorist of the foulest kind,
and lock him up incessantly.
His comrades say he’s like a spy,
ruffling their ocean of intent,
murmur of an ‘infantile disorder’.

He quirks his mouth and argues.


One Response to Three from Kelwyn Sole, The Blood of Our Silence

  1. RK says:

    Thanks to PapRika for pointing out typos.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: