Poetry in Performance: Mandla Phakathi’s “Memories in a Dark Room”

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Mandlenkosi Phakathi

Memories in a Dark Room

See the performance on the O:JA&L Youtube channel.

‘Information” by Kateryna Bortsova


I’ve seen life through different eyes,
Lies told for protection,
Empty feelings in temptation,
Integration in ejection,
I found love in rejection.

She was love in light patches, told her feet breed gold plates on Angel wings
Her eyes were starlit, light sparkles floating like dust particles
Told their golden light was too dirty to mine
Fair as a mime, with a rigid heart, turned solid
At dreams found shattered between sheets.

You were the onlooker from the outlines,
The cracked borders that defined the contours of her cracked lips,
The depth found in the liver of her gravity-defying hips,
The basis of her blessed curse
A beautiful mess of, “I want your body”
Misspelled in “I love you”.

I was four corners of slabs blocking her cries from the world’s ears,
The ground’s shadow to keep out the rain
Helpless in her pain, pale and plain,
Her smile would colour me to the sun’s desire
On overcast days darkness looms,
As rain never stayed off her plumpy cheeks for too long.

We were wielding blunt swords,
Aimed at the ground on which she stood,
A wet seed planted in concrete with no one awaiting its growth,
In drought, it’s learned to grow
When the city cries upon it, it answers in silence.

It’s resilience found in hearts that have burnt the ice off
For one more chance in the freezer,
The coldness of humanity
Concealed in what seems to be love.
for a while.
Only when it suits him.
Only when loving you isn’t boring.


About the writer:
Mandlenkosi (Mandla) Phakathi, performing under the name Power Within, is a writer, poet, spoken word artist, and aspiring author. His stage name is an English translation of his birth name and surname. He has had short stories and poems published on platforms such as Hadithi Africa Magazine and Odd Magazine. He has graced many stages with his performances from the rooftops of Randlords, the halls of Alexander Theatre to chilled spaces like The Raptor Room and Young Blood Art Gallery. He is currently working on his second book titled Tainting Innocent Eyes, through Penny’s eyes.

Image: “Information” by Kateryna Bortsova. Oil on canvas with found objects. 50 x 85 cm. 2017. By permission.