Issue 3

Two Poems

Why do people always go where they are under-valued?

Maybe it’s because it’s where they find solace –
when they walk their hearts beat at ease.
Maybe life’s been tough and they know less about how it feels
to be valued for what you are worth than begging for your worth.

Why do people always want
a glimpse of the moments that tore their hearts?

Maybe it’s because it’s where the torn pieces are found.
and where they could be replaced with ease.
Maybe it’s because they find more comfort and joy
seeing them scattered there.

Why does mankind hold on to something that never will be?
Maybe it’s because that’s the only thing that makes them smile.
Even though their smiles are crippled
there’s an angle that fixes them up right.
Maybe it’s because a one-sided story is the best thing they’ve heard in years.
Maybe the rain that has just poured down is the best feeling they’ve had on their skin.
Maybe it’s not the wind that they are jealous of.

Why do men force that which hurt them?

Maybe it’s because they feel that force creates attraction.
Maybe it’s because they feel like that’s the only thing
that has bitten their hand and given them life in that moment.
Maybe they feel it’s where rebirth is happening
because men are so mysterious.

Why is it that they always want to hug the same person who stabbed them in the heart twice?

Maybe it’s because the stab felt sweet like sugar melting on the tongue.
Maybe it’s because it felt so sweet that illusion was not an option; ecstasy.

Why do men hurt themselves to be valued?

Maybe it’s because it’s the only way that life was promised to them —
the only way life was spoken to them.
Maybe it’s because they’ve known nothing beyond pain.
Maybe it’s because the sweetest sweet they’ve ever tasted was a bit bitter.
so they’ve literally learnt how to replicate their feelings in pain
and draw them on torn pages instead of fixing them.
It’s the whiteness that hurts their eyes, not black.
Maybe that’s why Man is always looking for pain.
It’s their feet that draw them.
And maybe it’s the sour anger that turns the bitterness into sweetness.

Why does Man hold onto what never was?

Maybe because hallucination is reality’s best escape.
Maybe it’s the only way joy can be imprinted like a pure replica in poetry with words that maybe make the world a better place.
For what he does not have is what he wants.
Because Man not known for his good heart.
Man is known for the amount of numbers he holds.

Broken Promise

When I carried you in my hands,
I promised to lift you beyond lands
and let you carry toads
and play in ponds as much as you wished
because you shouldn’t miss any of these memories.
I promised to wipe your tears
just like the passing years
but I’m sorry the first thing you saw was a bullet,
not the face of your mother.

I’m sorry the first thing you tasted was sweat
and not honey
and I’m sorry the first thing you heard wasn’t adhan
but the curse of a gun.

You had to learn to walk before crawling,
fear before happiness.
I am sorry the only thing I could do
was protect your eyes from the dust
and your ears from foreign languages I couldn’t interpret.
I’m sorry you learnt hate before love,
the pain of 15 men in between your legs
before knowing how period pains felt like.

I’m sorry you learnt how to shoot
before adjusting to your own weight
And you’ll never know the weight of a school bag in primary
I wish the land could have been fair and just to you
but you will become a research project
in order to receive food.
A statistic before becoming human
A hashtag before getting justice
And no country will make you belong.
Your death will be long
and they will watch in silence
because everyone can laugh and cry
without trying.
I promised to record your middle age
but that was just another dream
and some wounds run deeper than others.
I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my promise.


The last words I heard from my grandmother’s lips
as I dodged yet another bullet.
With every sprint,
every memory buried an artefact
left to be discovered deep down or swallowed by the core of the earth.

The heavens tore apart
roaring with gunshots through the night sky.
With a sound so familiar like the tapping of rainfall,
does this sound like a love letter
or a dream vacation?
I hate seeing the world through blurred sight.
Like sorrow could fit in a chapter of a long poem, the verse of a song.
Like I could wish upon a wishing star and will it into being.

I wouldn’t have left home
if it didn’t turn my bed into a tombstone,
scattered everyone I knew across the globe like debris dried on a summer night,
cursed by the wind
like I’m bounded by an evil spell I chose.

You run for the border
As the whole country thunders with bullets
and spits fire balls.
When the baby who just got delivered
holds you at gun point
with a weapon heavier than his body
and the shore is covered with corpses
and the river floats with more bodies than it can carry.
But what if the sea feels more safe than the land?

I saw new horizons at a distance.
The breath of new air
so uninviting that it left me short of breath.
Just like any other youth
I dreamt of knowing red as a colour
before first shedding blood.
A casket holds a jewel before a coffin.
Playing with rocks has become my resting blanket.
Education has rejected me as it has the rebels of my country.

In order not to be called a refugee, a foreigner,
I disguised myself so well.
My tongue covered in wounds
made by words I could not pronounce
and things I had to learn
before I knew how to pronounce my surname.
The scars I wrapped
like if I showed them to the world they’d pit me.

My flawless facade masked private despair
and the history of the terrorised incarceration of myself behind my name.
Because depression for me is not how much I cry
but rather the way I failed to pay tribute to my grandmother’s body.

With the 45 minutes given,
how do I explain the traumas in my brain?
Like if my mind can’t compile the right words
I’ll be thrown back into the lions’ den,
throw my aches on all angles of the world —
as if I would be welcomed?

Be grateful you were not scattered,
with your family torn apart.
Because deep down all I yearn
for is a place I can call home.
But whom shall welcome me
when home has abandoned me?

Nusaiba Ntakirutimana is a 20-year-old poet from Rwanda, a refugee activist and volunteer for Africa Unite and SARLN in South Africa. She would like to thank the editor for helping her with her masterpiece.You can see more of her work on Instagram @nusaiba8614 and on YouTube.