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Nick Tembo


Nick Tembo

Tembo is an assistant lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and Literature at the Catholic University of Malawi. His research interests include postcolonial literatures, gender and development, cultural studies, politics, and governance. Some of his poetry and short stories have appeared in the Journal of Afroeuropean Studies, African Writer.com, Malawi News, The Weekend Nation, and CHANCO Perspective.


 Four Poems


After Frank Chipasula

Asinine yodels from Nkhuryatwane’s lieutenants
Coil around battered brows, and pregnant throats
Uncoil and drag them into the concocted quagmire
Like religious men, majors in corporal punishment;
They join Nkhuryatwane at table
Guffaw and lick his arse clean.
Now, their minds singed,
they rush after the innocent land
Open their foul mouths, and proclaim:
Nkhuryatwane will re-build this temple
on the third day. Give him a chance!’

Listen whipping boys, we are tired of your farts.



(for Masuzgo)

The jokes, and plans for the future,
frolickings made under the smouldering
sun of beautiful afternoons;
our laughter floating
down the sweet Kabanda hills,
and the nervous hand you raised
at the bus stage;
all swarm before my eyes
as I blindly ploughed through
the lucid lines that simply said:
you’d been tucked under
the reeking armpits of a drummer.

It was not peace I found
in that impersonated hand
I read on that Thursday evening;

It was not solace I found
on that long Thursday night
but dampened spirits;
Because a flower,
a fruit that was ripe for picking
had gone stale before
my trembling hands could reach out
and take it to my bosom.

Nor was it fear of Bwengu,
as I trudged homewards
to find everyone laughing at me
for not guarding you jealously.

It was not anger I experienced
but a deep void that comes
when one returns home,
to find no one waiting.



(for Washington Nkhonjera)

The whip that makes
The rigid spine break
Swirls round the nine miles
Of excruciating pain and hope.

For the next score and nine,
You baptize the neighbourhood
With mirth and works
That know no limit.

Today, I woke up
To find you gone
Bedridden for a few days
And the final sally came.

Today, my mother woke up
With dew on her bony cheeks
And emptied her heart out,
‘why did it have to be you?’ she asks.

This day, a scar hard to erase
Has seared many deflated souls.
Marching as to war
We shake our hornless skulls.



After Frank Chipasula

A rabid porcupine
with sun-drenched prickles
and porky legs
is on the loose.

It scatters democratic henchmen
who scour the sleeping ridges
for lesser mortals
till they are scorched yellow.

From its thundering hole
it gushes out the clogged Likwenu swines
brandishing blazing machetes and knobkerries
captured with hatred and death
that chorused amen
for the poised supplicants.

Across the swamps
the drunken clowns
castrate their siblings,
they split lean shacks
and leave the rafters
sizzling on yellow embers.

‘Exterminate the renegades!’ cries Junk.
‘We’ll have no fatherless chicks here, strike!’
Defenceless children
scamper, stampede, squawk
for dear life;
as the mindless possessed
rape the famished tears
with merciless cudgels.
And so the purges go on.

A brood of man-eaters
wolf down exhausted blood
from their synthetic human skulls.
And when these sallow swines belch,
those on the sidelines
fart in their loincloths.



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