Category Archives: poetry

Mariska Taylor-Darko’s poetic reflections on domestic violence

A beating for love
Your fist pounded my face
In shock I stood there
Not moving, not screaming
The first time it happened
You said you beat me because you loved me.

You put the blame on me
I don’t remember doing wrong
Your gambling and drinking
Your womanising and flirting
Your problems and woes
Were all my fault
And you said you beat me because you loved me

I asked you why you did this
“You made me do it “you said
“I love you, that’s why I beat you”

I never knew love was like this
Maybe no one ever told me.
I thought love was loving and caring,
Laughter and happiness
Not this—a beating for love

I grew old in my heart
My love turned to fear and hate
I lived only in dread of that fist in my face
Why didn’t I go, why?
Because I loved you
And you said you loved me that’s why you beat me.
I cried myself to sleep, silently
So you wouldn’t hear in case I got another fist in my face.

Is this love?
A fist in the face
I must have dreamt the other love
The movie star love
The storybook love
The pure clean love
What have I done to deserve this?
This angry fist in my face.

The hand that beats me caresses me
I can’t move away
Can’t say what’s in my heart,
No one must know my shame
I lay there beaten inside, dead inside, hating inside, dying inside
Holding on to you- not in love but in fear
While dreading the morning because I’ll get another fist in my face
And you’ll whisper between the kisses, I beat you because I love you. Bull Shit!
(C) Mariska Taylor-Darko 2007

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“Insomnia, nyangoma and the rain” :: Amina Doherty

The sound of the heavy droplets beating against the corrugated iron roof mimicking ancestral sounds, drum beats and ancient calls…
Mother of the Drum.
Nyangoma they call her…
She wills me with each beat to stay awake and listen to her…to hear her stories.
To let myself feel.
To let herself heal.
To release.

Nyangoma begins her dance.
At first she starts slow building with each moment…but there is no order to her movements. They are scattered and disparate.
Djemebe and Doundoun.
Thunder and Lightning.

And as the rain subsides (only just a little) Insomnia lies in anticipation watching as Nyangoma once again takes the lead. Another dance. Pink flamingo’s, fluttering mariposas, Rhapsody in Blue, Firebird suite. Perfectly arranged concerto’s.

Insomnia is captivated and for a moment she can’t breathe. She is subsumed by the magic.

Then in an instant – Silence.

Nyangoma is gone.

And slowly my eyes begin to shut just as the sun begins to rise.

And in ways even she cannot yet understand Nyangoma has soothed Insomnia’s restless mind.

Her lids feel heavy as Nyangoma whispers

Sleep precious one. Sleep.

Let your body rest.


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Welcome child! by Coumba Toure

A praise poem for a new child by Coumba Toure – Senegalese feminist changemaker, artist, publisher  and educator.

Welcome child

To Azali Isisa

I welcome you child

I welcome you to our world

Forgive us it is not very tidy

We are doing our best

But we found it quite messy

Hope you will help us face the madness

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Two poems by Demere Kitunga

Two poems by Tanzanian publisher, writer and feminist activist Demere Kitunga- founder/director of Soma cafe in Dar es Salaam.



A lash rips her skin open


Comes out of the prodigal tongue

Of her loving father’s mouth


I shudder at the sound of another lash

Tongue tied

Mother and I watch, immobilized

Like marble frozen, mute!


Heart pounding, mouth dry

I close my eyes and will my tears to roll

A floodgate of memory of humiliation,

Mine, hers, ours!


Another lash, harsher than the previous

A sound I can no longer bear to hear

In a furor of action I mingle, angry

No longer stupefied!


Tables turn a switch grabbed and flung at him

It misses!

Rancor settles at the sound of her voice

No more…

A shudder…

Inexplicable sense of guilt

All this cruelty as punishment

For the most natural of all emotions

And we let it happen?


Teeth clenched we claw and rake

Root it out we call and sing together

Impotent ‘tis his turn for stupor

Pride plummeted!

© Demere Kitunga

Siasa gani hii?

Jicho limefunga

Shavu limevimba

Mguu unachechemea

Michubuko mwili mzima!

Kulikoni ndugu rafiki?

Aah! Utelezi

Jana usiku gizani

Maji yakichuruzika sakafuni

Nikateleza nikaangukia kisiki!

Ah! Kisiki ndani ya nyumba?

Uongo mwingine…

Nyuma ya pazia jembamba


Juzi nikabururwa hadharani


Ni ugomvi wao wa  ndani

Niliwasikia mkisema

Nikajiona dhalili!

Mliposhika midomo yenu


Leo mwataka niseme nini?

Wacha nivumilie vitendo vyake

Niifunike aibu yangu na yenu

Ndani ya ukimya huu

Pamoja na uongo huu


Hizi ndizo zetu mila

Ndivyo wanavyotufunda

Ndio wetu utamaduni

Na yetu maadili pia

Lakini niambie ndugu rafiki….

Mila na utamaduni wa nani?

Na hayo maadili?

Yanamlinda nani?

Siasa gani hii…

Yenye mambo ya nje na ya ndani?

Inayohalalisha ukatili!

© Demere Kitunga


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Sista, why do you run? by Jessica Horn

From her debut poetry chapbook Speaking in Tongues, Jessica Horn’s solidarity poem for women facing sexual violence.

Sista, why do you run?
(dedicated to those women who have not survived sexual violence)
been a long time
in these bruised bones
long time in my rituals
of burnt eyes
and painted smile. 

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