what if i am the one
 in need of healing?

what if i love you,

so much, that i still love him

what kind of hell will that be

this greed my heart has?

what sort of misery,

will this heart of mine, continue to endure,

what manner of lies

can I continue justifying?

what kind freak show,

will my life be?

how can i not love you,

the way you should be-

you’re the salvation

and i am just a man,


a little boy,

trapped inside, this body

i die, each time I think of loving you. less

i drown. each time I think of losing you

give me your heart.

give me your heart.

why is yours so pure unlike mine

just an empty vessel

never big enough to contain you

large enough to be hollow

how can I not love you in this pain

i am trying to heal

 

 

and the night you have a lump on your throat

when the air becomes too thick to breath,

and your chest too heavy 

to carry you, or your heart

is troubled, because he 

didn't say he loves you, back. 

You will convince yourself 

it's your fault. 

that you're unlovable. Yet, 

You will want to tell him that you need a savior. 

he will never understand. 

He has never tried to die

for anything. 

 

***

That was the year he reminded me that our love was abundant. Abundant and unstoppable just like the blue waters of the ocean. Full. It perplexed me to imagine love as being mutual. That I loved him in the same way he loved me. Even more perplexing: to imagine that I would love someone in a way that was unstoppable– did he imagine that the poems I write at midnight are about him? That I gaze the ceiling at night, with a smile stretching my face and teeth brightening the room, thinking about him? That I was mesmerized by his eyes, as he was with mine?

To imagine love as a mutual feeling is rather naive and unintelligent: some people are meant to love more than others whilst others love themselves, more than they love others.

Of course, I was not going to tell him that I longed for my former lover each time he leaned in to kiss me. I stared him deep in the eyes as if I was looking beneath his soul and wondered how a man so intelligent like Orapeleng, a man who completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at an elite university in the world, could not see that his affection and love suffocated me, made me want less of him, but more myself. Yet I still kissed him– I kissed him hoping that he was Tumelo– that his lips weren’t as lonely as his presence. Isn’t this the worst kind of betrayal– your mind wondering off to your former lover, Tumelo, yet another man loves you uncontrollably? But isn’t it more devastating when he tells you that you’re the sun, the moon and the stars, the universe, yet you still feel that is inadequate because your universe is being in another man’s arms?

When the sun, the moon, and the stars aren’t enough, you convince yourself that perhaps someday that this person will become your universe. Although your heart will love him out of pity, you will hold his hands even when they are soaked with sweat, and try to forget about the grip of your old lover. You will write poems and share them with him– poems about unconditional love and defiant love. Although they will not be about him, you will tell him they are about him– because that is what you do when you love pitifully.

 

 

The first time I loved a boy more than he loved me, I remembered my father. I remembered how my mother loved him more that he did her. I remembered how at times, she loved him more than us. It was almost infuriating, and at times it was a fuzzy feeling at the pit of my bosom.

 

I grew up watching people choose other people over me. In grade school, I was one of the poor kids in class, I was always the last one to be picked during group work. When I told my mother about her boyfriend dismissing me from our home, at ten, she chose him over me. My father chose his girlfriend over me— her birthday mattered the most, although we shared the same birthday.

Here I was— a 20-year-old, in love with a boy for the first time in my life. I watched him choose someone over me. It was the thought that killed me the most. The thought that I was inadequate. That I was not gay enough, lough enough or careless enough. My chest grew with heaviness.

There was no way I was going to un-love him. How else was going to forget about his mystifying smile? Or the way his eyes twitch when he saw me pass across the room? Perhaps the way his cheeks tightened when I read him my poetry? He loved my poetry. He loved my poetry in the same way my father loved my mother’s food. He said my poetry reminded him of the things he wanted the most. He said he wanted me. I was never sure of what that meant. I was not sure if he loved my poetry more than me. I was never sure if he loved me at all. Perhaps that’s what drew me closer to him— like a dog seeking a bone that doesn’t not belong to it.

It was as if the more I wanted him, the less he wanted me. It was as if my love came straight from a Shakespeare play. I was Lysander and he, Hermia— I had convinced myself that the course of love never did run smooth. I was delusional. Love does that to people. That’s what made my mother stick around longer.

I had always wondered: what is it about my father that my mother loved? What made him irresistible? There was nothing beautiful about him besides his deep and stingy pockets. He did have a mesmerizing walk that I wanted to have. His lips were smaller than mine, yet his muttered lies through them. And he was tall like a giraffe—his presence in a room was always strong; an expensive smell and a loud ego. There was no kind of substance in him that I found woeful. I am man in love with other men— I am qualified to make that judgment.

But the more my mother loved this pitiful, shallow grave of a man, the deeper she dug herself to her grave. If the pillows in my mum’s bedroom could tell the story of their lives, they would recite a song my mother sang every night on nights he was never around. Songs with a melody that sounds like funeral hymns. Songs that are hopeless yet persistent in their pitch and delivery. Songs that cut through the diaphragm and make one weep, just like my mother. So, my mother taught me how to love in the ways one was never supposed to love. She loved like a person without choice.

I expected more from my mother. I expected explicit lessons on love. I understand that it was never her intention to put her life on display and teach me all the things I know about love. Like the things, she never taught me. Like the possibility of loving someone to a point it suffocates you. Like perhaps that’s not love and but a void in my life is trying to fill itself. Like how it is possible to convince yourself that you love someone so much that you can’t live without them. Like how it is possible to write and rewrite suicide notes and negotiate with depression, anxiety and ultimately survive death.

But, can I blame the poor woman? Can I blame her for the many ways she loved in the ways she was never meant to love? Could I blame her for twisting herself into shapes to please this man? Aren’t lessons on love the ones we are never told but shown? — just as her mother showed her, and I, through her?

I wanted my mother to choose herself more. I wanted her to quit soaking her pillows with tears. I wanted her to speak out more against my father. There was a way in which she shrunk herself around him. At times, like a mouse looking for a place to hide and most times like a wrinkled paper waiting to be tossed around. The older I got, the frailer her skin became and the more hair she lost. My aunt told me that my mother once had a beaming face. I missed that face as if I knew it. It was this love that I knew. This uncontrollable love. So, I grew up watching my mother chase an illusion of love. I watched her get beaten by one man after the other. I listened to her cry herself to sleep, night after night.

When the boy I loved left me, I was broken. My heart felt like a shattered glass and my body missed the tingling touch of his cold hands. I was a 20-year-old version of my mother. I was young and felt like I had lived enough to un-love myself. The more I loved him, the more I taught myself to choose other people over me. It was as if I needed saving.

My anxiety was numbing me. It was a void I wanted to fill—the void of his loveless absence. I longed for the scent of his skin and the ways his arms would meet my waist on days I needed to be held. For months, I wanted to be held by him. I wanted to feel his touch again. But I loved him and I was addicted to him because for the first time, he chose me. Someone chose me. I was no longer worried about my mother loving my father more. I was no longer worried about my father remembering my birthday.  I had found a savior.

I know love is empty.

There’s a sound I will always remember. The sound of a body bag and a mortuary crane.

Oh, how the yellow zips clipped and crackled my chest,

Closing off things i never thought were open–

Like the memories of you that I always cherish,

Like the sound of your voice when laughter bursts of your lips,

Oh how they were zipped–

The sound of the crane cracking the floor–

Oh how I wanted to curse the ground.

To insult it for forming you and then taking you–

That sound, the cracking sound,

Sounded like the piercing sound of your cry.

Oh, how it pained me when you wept:

I remember you,

I carry you,

In me and

In places I will continue to enter.

 

Sometimes I cry,

Sometimes I wonder,

Sometimes I cry in wonder.

Of memories we would have made

Of things I could have done for you

Of lessons on love

On love for family and for God

On love for home before self

Of unwavering hope

Oh, how that sound haunts

Sometimes in my dreams when I see you

Sometimes on doors I close

Reminding me of your voice

Oh! how I miss you

Oh! how home is no longer home

Oh! how I died when you died

Sometimes, I wish you were my here–

Perhaps, someday, I will meet my home–

For in you home is better hope

For home is you.

 

The garden of Eden

Was the first funeral

We brought flowers to.

We bring flowers to funerals

Not as a gesture of love,

Or sympathy

 

But to feed our minds

With delusions.

Hoping that that the smell

Of daisies, roses and tulips will

Soothe away the pain.

We fool ourselves thinking

That we also are flowers;

That we live to be watered.

 

We bring flowers to funerals

For the reincarnation

of our egos.

Cry, my beloved country

For your children have forsaken you.

They have placed themselves above freedom

Turned their children to serpents,

Cry, my beloved country,

For your children weep with you, too.

 

Cry, my beloved country–

For your children no longer have a home,

For men have placed duty of themselves before you,

For they have put price tags on their children,

For their homes are run by strangers,

For these strangers run their homes with familiarity and contempt,

For your children, wept

Cry, my beloved country

 

Woe is us children of the soil,

Woe is us children of no birth,

Woe is us children who seek a haven,

Woe is us children who run and seek a home,

Cry, my beloved country.

 

For your springs are dry,

And your soil is barren,

Your clouds are sad,

And your wind is warm and still,

Cry, my beloved country–

Wrap yourself into my arms.

Let me remind you that you’re a wonder,

Let me remind you that you’re a force many seek to reconcile with,

Let me tell you about the names I want to call you:

Names that will remind you of your broken yet brave wings,

Soaring high although your kings want to cut you short,

Let me remind you of your beauty:

Your mesmerizing beauty;

Your beastly beauty mystifying mine fearful heart.

 

Oh, cry, my beloved country,

For I know your heart is full with sorrow,

For I know the heaviness in your chest, inflaming your soul,

For your eyes are blinded with fury,

For I know you have wept, enough

Cry, Cry, my beloved country.

 

For we are not worthy of your skies,

For we are not worthy of your embrace,

For we are not worthy of your grace.

For we are the ones who broke you–

Into many pieces of evil

Beloved, if not tears let fury fall upon us.

Teach to love one another.

Let your fury engulf and renew us,

Let your fury be our hope,

Hope to change and honor you.

 

Maybe your tears will flood the soil,

And we will forgive.

Maybe your tears will spoil the soil–

And we will appreciate the wind,

Cry, my beloved country

Cry, child of the earth and the blue waters

Sibling of many nations.

Bleed Majesty,

Forgive us.

Oh, how we want your forgiveness:

How we want to honor you,

How we are not worthy of your honor,

Cry, my beloved country

Here— Cry,

Use my hands of clay and wipe thine face,

Stare into my fearful eyes and find restoration.

Take mine arms and find mine arms,

Cry. Weep.  Heal,

My beloved country

 

I want your dreams to know the scent of my skin,

To call me by name when I am not around.

I want them to know the bumps on my face,

To recall every pimple by size,

I want your dreams to call my name when you can no longer

Dream, so that I may kick your ass back into dreaming,

That’s how I want to love you

Even when you are dreamless,

I want to be your hope.

Even when you are without imagination,

I want to be light.

Even if it takes loving a lifetime,

Even if it takes loving you fearfully–

Fear that I may lovelessly love you,

Even when I love you uncontrollably.

When my dreams are your dreams, and yours, mine–

I want to love you even when I am afraid.

Even when my heart is in disbelief,

Or when the sun no longer shines,

And our youth no longer our pride,

Even when your cheeks are wrinkled,

And you smile with is without tightness,

And your world filled with tenderness,

I want to love you.

Maybe it will be a lifetime,

“My hobbies include having conversations with myself– 

Like how I could approach a boy today, 

Without scaring him or sounding too dumb, 

Without outsmarting him, because that would be too proud, 

Like how I could introduce myself, without talking about the boy, I once loved

Or the boy I was once was. 

But I can’t do either without talking about the other,

Hello, my name is Belo Writes. 

I have tendency of writing poetry during serious matters– 

Like the time, I wrote a poem when a preacher said I am going to hell.

You see, that was my favorite poem: 

Because at that time, I was silent, 

I was alone, and I was afraid.

Let me just say, I love fear; 

It reminds me of all the things I could do in silence,

Like loving myself without negotiating my worth. 

But I am also a boy that once loved– 

Perhaps more than he should have; 

I call him at night, 

At least I do that in my dreams when he doesn’t pick up my calls.

Sometimes I write him poems: 

I write about his lisp, and the clutch of his lips,

I write about his loud silence, 

Like he is thinking of how best to hurt me next.

Sometimes I laugh at him and at myself,

But mostly at myself– 

About how I was such a fool,

Foolish enough to love, 

To love in such a lazy manner,  

To miss his scent and his touch.

I love a boy, and he left.”

I want love, more than a good time. Love,

that is more than park walks.I want love,

that surpasses mens’ imagination

— Love that is more,

Than the word. Yet sought

after by the world; consummate and assurant

Kind of love. I want I-could-write-home kind of love,

About dreams-shared-and-destinies-unknown-kind-of-love,

Unfathomable, love, I want love that is more.

Not a good time. More than the tingling cold touch

of your hands, more than the butterflies in my stomach,

Love free from cliches. I want real love.

Like hopeful kind of love. Like I want to love you better,

But I don’t know how. Kind of love.

I want your dreams to know the scent of my skin.

The inseparable kind of love—

I want love—

Not you.