Rough Draft Poetry, ten minute free write

Mzanzi, I have come to understand

That you were never my home to begin with


Not because your language

Is heavy on my tongue


(the past rides upon its shoulders)


Not because my skin

Is the color of thieves’


(I’m trying to recompense but it takes time)


But because a man looked upon me

On Long Street like I was his thing


I knew a girl

Whose man beat her


(is the only home for a woman

a prison

assembled from notched bedposts?)


I worry that I occupy too much space.


Rough Draft Poetry


when i called myself a strong woman

he said he couldn’t wait to see that side of me

as if i didn’t wear my strength like a skin

stretched too tight over all my sides

-as though I weren’t bearing the boulder

of my femininity to and from his bed

-the living Sisyphus


i told him i was an independent creature

that i belonged to myself alone

he said it did not worry him

a real man would not bother with anyone lesser

i felt him rise to the challenge of

trapping my nomad feet in shackles

could sense him engineering

the cage he would keep me in


he whispered in my neck

that he wanted a woman like me

someone with wings

was he a butterfly-catcher then?

chasing a spectacular species

so he could pin it to a cork board and proclaim

Here is my Small Wonder, look how conquered, how tame


I should have told you then, boy

I am a woman, not a moth.

I have no wings.

Only feet too small for your shackles

Only skin too tight to tear

I am a woman.

When I leave you, I will not fly


I will walk.