Hot Desk Extract: Cultural Nomad

As part of the Wheeler Centre's Hot Desk Fellowship programme, Thabani Tshuma worked on a collection of poems, Cultural Nomad.

The collection uses poetry as a medium to explore contemporary culture, addressing intersectionality, addiction, spirituality, generational trauma and relationships. The project is rooted in Tshuma's personal experience as a 'cultural nomad.' 

Photograph of a sunset

Image: Scott Limbrick (modified from a photo by Ed Dunens, CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Nature talks

I attempted to converse with nature.

I asked the sky if her blue was a tint of loneliness.

If in her expanding reach she longed to be touched.

I watched the trees dance to a symphony of wind.

Passing whispers of mischief from branch to branch.

I asked how to move in the flexible ease of a breeze,

Yet stand rooted in strength of stance.

The grass made playmates of the weeds,

They intermingled at my feet,

So I enquired, what it was like

To live free while we march over their communion with no concern.

The barbarism of beasts spoke to the ethics of my being.

Action born of need, slaughter carried out to feed the hungry,

Violence breeds balance when we remove man made morals.

No words were spoken back.

Only Silence.

 

Pins and Needles 

Haphazard leanings linger too long.

Blocks off feeling.

Blocks off flow.

A need to numb.

Come home to this sensation.

Be welcomed by the prick and tingle.

Relieved to know the razors edge between life and death. 

 

Lost Text of Gods and Monsters

This Translation begins with a letter.

Sent into a sentence.

Unaddressed, with nowhere real to go.

To know the meaning, would first require an understanding of its history.

Though the answers of ancestry were lost in time.

Not 'within' time itself, 

Rather with sufficient time to dwell on the possibility of profit from a story told.

The signs of this kind of wealth are tell tale,

Where the totality of told tales are tall tales.

And of course 

Splitting the hairs of privilege has taught us to slow down.

For Victory belongs to the meek.

But let us not mistake those who've CHOSEN solemn silence,

For those who are unable to speak.

The multitude of voices flock together as lost sheep In search of being heard.

Atop the hill sits a dejected Shepard,

Draped in the omnipotent nonchalance of a would-be god, if gods could care less.

Instead they are careless, in the same way children are.

Through mistaken sense of scale, 

Vast mountains seen as tiny building blocks, 

Tear drops in the depth and breadth of seas

Seeing death as finality.

Perhaps all that separates gods from humans,

Is that we were gifted with permission to fail.

I say 'we' assuming you identify as human,

Or would it be too foolish to believe 

We are the gods.

Or could be

If only we would believe in ourselves.

I do not presume to speak for all,

But know that I traded said Faith for false praise in search of glory.

Such is the madness of monsters.

If that escape, is the birth of evil

Are both gods and mortals evil 

Or simply feeble prisoners of internal war.

On the foreshore of a history that could not foresee the tides of madness.

 

So now we wade, 

Chin deep. 

One missed step shy of drowning,

I am told to believe I was birthed of Kings and Queens,

Yet the stage of emotional labor,

Is stuck preceding royalty, at the crowning

Could I be once and future?

And the present, present sooner 

A fleeting dream of victory kissed away in the wind,

By a loose lip embouchure.

The exhaled of a Deity. 

 

Drought Season

The sky sheds no tears for my country.

Kicked up dust no longer settles, it lingers 

In air clouded by perceptions of difference.

An insistent incense ritualistically burned 

Gives off fumes that intoxicate with disdain and unrest.

A so-called chosen people that worship unblessed. 

An innocence lost, as Mother Nature was undressed 

Her now barren womb stands to attest,

That the fruits of Ones labor are the chains of the oppressed.

I nomadically stand as a man dispossessed 

My behest to confess,

The sky sheds no tears for my country.

Chapped, cracking lips beg to be kissed, 

By the reminiscent cool a fresh rain mist,

From time undefined by the words coexist

When being was nature and living was this.

Before outstretched hands were curled into fists.

And the boundaries of land were all but dismissed

The Once picturesque vistas now painted in blood

 

I would cry.

But even the sky sheds no tears for my country.

She Booms,

A thunderclap applause to pause despair

Where the swelling bags under her blue eyes are silver lined.

Her sunsets dance with palettes of warmth

Mingling in the hills from southeast to the north.

In beauty that defies proclamation of worth.

She says love me or not, I will be as I am.

And be here long after the saga of man.

Burdened but not saddened in your plight to be free.

The sky sheds no tears for my country.

Portrait of Thabani Tshuma

Thabani Tshuma was born and raised in Zimbabwe, and has been living abroad for the greater part of the last decade. His work is deeply influenced by the myriad challenges faced by the diaspora, expatriates, and immigrants, simultaneously addressing awareness around mental health, addiction, and generational trauma. 

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