Born in a black pit bearing pain
Paying the price of being born in a black nation
Pretending to appreciate the previous black struggles
Preferring to believe the oppression of the past was for the best
Letting the pain pass because you prefer to ponder proudly of
the poem on paper
Pretending to not badly wish the black skin would peel and disappear
Believing you are proud of the black badge.

Pondering bitterly if people of other races will pay for a
black book in possession of poems written on a black
stoep by your papa’s house.
Wondering if they’re pitying the pointlessness of the black
badge in the black and burning nation.
You pause and you realise you’re longing to show them the
passion you possess in those black palms.

You wonder if the perception of blacks will ever change
If the hopelessness will ever be repaired
If your poems will ever bring back the pleasant bitterness
of being born in a black and burning nation.

You wish to be pronounced as a pure black poet
But living in a black and burning nation makes you doubt
the possibility of your progress.
Your black and brainless brothers remind you every day that
progress will be possible when the sky burns pink or purple
Repeatedly you hear
Yet you can’t stop writing poems
Because you believe you have the power to pursue the next page
Of your life
Living in a black pit bearing pain
Living in a black and burning nation
It’s a privilege
Yet hard
But you and I shall prevail.


* Published in the Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology 2013, a new multilingual literary anthology of original short stories, essays, poetry and illustrations by South African high school students. Buy a copy at any Paperight-registered copy shop to read more, and to find out how to submit work for next year’s edition. Visit Paperight to find your nearest outlet.