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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: April 2017

4 Poems by Tsitsi Ella Jaji



The Not-Jobbing Blues

I am jasper to your Cheops.

Peace be upon you. And also with us.

Hoisting her voice onto the screen, she squalls:

“I passed GCSE in 1986. My small boy

is now old enough to marry,

and I have never held a job.”

No sphinx before onions, I squint like pity. I sleep in Tunisia but I wake with the sun.

The world is all a-twitter but the schism is the form. Dear Lion of Alexandria. Dear Desert, o dear Ra.

The land of immolation, o the rising stench of garbage. The placard's dilemma remains: I AM A MAN, and yet,

what always ends as it begins?

I ask you this: Ain't I a woman?


It always comes

as a surprise

that I am


Manual for Initiation into the Zebra Sisterhood

Try to avoid the fool

who mistakes a zebra

for a pack mule. That fool

is probably a jack ass.

Get too close and you may

get a kick in your nuts.

(So: grow a pair,

and join the tribe).

Benin Bronze

After Elisabeth Frink

Our face is one thick

gild, old metal screens

our here. Our now

reflects your now: an

oily light besmears us

all. Live matter slicks our

temples: we are sheened. We

take umbrage, bronze it. We,

this brazen bloc. Night flares to

light our way and sear our nostrils.

Unthrown, we chase our golden-

blinkered lover. Justice stares

as if to meet our purple gaze.

Clavicle to clavicle, we

shall overcome one day.

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ALT 34 Diaspora & Returns in Fiction
  • Online ISBN: 9781782048589
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