Beyond water and bones  
Beyond blood and breath  
The body is the soul’s physical address  
We are light cocooned in skin 
Sun children growing  
In the universe’s womb  
Each of us is a star draped in human form  
Our bodies are God’s couture  
Fleshy fabric dripping colour and culture  
On a cosmic catwalk  
This body is too much for too many  
And not enough to be right  
for those left to decide what beauty is  
TV and magazines do not understand the symmetry between design and purpose  
A masterfully crafted machine created to serve as witness to our evolution  
All that we are  
All that we have been 
All that we can and will ever be  
Is housed in a sanctuary of skin  
No thought escapes the body 
No emotion eludes the body  
This is my home  
My transport  
My support  
My friend  
So when the world renounces by beauty  
I reply, the landscape of the body cannot be seen by the eye  
My skin knows me by heart  
When I laugh thunder rumbles remixing pain into song  
Moonstones sparkle in my smile  
And I know that I need the darkness as much as it needs be to be a star  
And when I cry rain falls from my eyes  
Never touching the ground  
My waters dissappear to join the air  
And I know that my heart is everywhere  
The roads in my face will tell you  
That I have withstood sand storms  
And held the eye of the hurricane  
with my stare  
These arms have hugged the wind  
These hips have carried boulders  
Birthed new life and blessed the gaze of their beholders  
This heart is a rock  
Melting when moved  
Solidifying in sorrow  
This mind is mining gems for  
Whose brilliance courses through oceans  
To wash up on the river beds of the worthy  
Work is my domain  
Beauty is my inheritance  
Skin is my shelter  
When I love I give all that I am 
Four barrels of water  
Three slices of fire  
Two pounds of earth  
Bound together by air in a house of skin  
There is love in washing over experiences  
There is love in offering libations  
at the altar of the self  
There is love in these hands  
Inhale beauty  
Exhale discipline  
Inhale sun  
Exhale African 
Inhale memory  
Exhale touch  
Inhale protection  
Exhale Love 

Vulva Volcanoes
“We are the grand-daughters of the witches they did not burn” 
What indestructible substance is a woman's heart made of 
The heart must be a vulva  
Dying with each orgasm, lost lover and unborn child 
life hands us these hearts  
Without insurance  
At the heart of owning property is owning women  
Neither land nor sky nor sea  
animal plant patent nor crown can be owned  
Without conquering pussy  
Once we made love and children  
As the seasons make rains and harvests  
Unowned we worshipped wind stones blood moon and stories  
Respectability & forgiveness are concepts sold to niggers & women  
So that we do not question why we do not have power  
With the same ferocity with which power is taken from us every waking day  
There is a cross burning between your legs  
They sell Jesus as a placebo  
As if a revolutionary would ever endorse Pay-as-you-go churches  
Or the asinine bullshit done daily in God's name  
You die slowly making life easy for what is killing you. 
This is not the motherhood of pink & blue ribbons and fluffy toys  
This is not an ad with women who worry more about washing powder than they do about finances  
This is not an exaltation of asexual mammies who only know dicks in darkness that won't claim them in daylight  
I am not a nurse maid whore teacher quasi-spiritual, quarter-to-ape with loving maternal instincts who will slowly comfort you into truths you cannot accept  
How long have you been fucking your mother  
Over and above  
The myths told to girl children  
Through baby dolls that never cry  
And barbies who breed without genitals  
I waited for Prince Charming to save me for so long I forgot to be my own hero  
I will raise my children to believe in opposites  
If you love yourself they will hate you  
If you can live in their world you are dying  
If you chase their approval you will hate yourself  
If he hits you  
Hurts you  
Hurls your heart against the wall 
It's because he does not understand the relationship between blood and consequences  
It's not your job to teach him  
No one claps for martyrs  
They'll build a shrine on your pain and say they did it in your name  
Rather go mad  
Because this 3-D world is just an asylum for truth tellers

The Void
What happens to black boys  
Who go missing  
Do we even call it missing  
Or do we just say he is gone  
What happens to boys  
Who hide in their minds   
Who run across borders  
Who live in dimensions  
That should have remained  
In the womb  
What happens to boys 
Who are unwanted  
What happens to the boys  
Who learned to die inside their skin  
The day they learned what their fathers had done to their mothers  
What their mothers had done to themselves  
What they were made of  
Pain like a rubics cube  
Changing face but not form   
Teaching boys to pray to god  
every time they get a hard on  
Makes boys who will bomb themselves  
For virgins in heaven  
Teaching boys to lie to girls  
Every time their get a hard on  
Makes boys who bomb girls  
Makes earth a hellish heaven 
Gaia is a woman getting raped by her own kids  
Every day  
Her pussy is Centre of hurricanes  
Not the eye  
Crosses and bones  
At the bottom of the sea  
Are people  
We call foreigners   
When the gifted enter the sea  
They find their own  
Ready to teach them  
You refuse  
Your identity as water  
Teachers rise  
claim your streets as oceans 
Wash your cities in fire  
mines stop menstruating  
the sky won't release her tides  
we wake up  
Inside the same day  
The long death past a noose  
The morning godlight is just a show  
With a sponsor  
Who is paying for the sun to show up every day  
If that nigga works for free  
Then fuck him  
Because I can't 
Who will feed the babies  
And the corpses that tend to them  
Like a man  
The sun shows up, demands applause  
And leaves everyone else to deal with the night  
We stopped touching dirt  
They started touching me  
They say let go of your story  
But first you have to know it is there  
In the blood and in the body  
In the food  
In the sea  
In the goddess that is fighting a war in me  
In the twisted asana  
In the depth of shame  
In the wailing birds that give songs their names  
In the knotted hairs  
In the wild untamed  
In the peace beyond pleasure  
At the water's edge


Lebo Mashile

Despite being born in the United States as a result of her parents’ exile, Lebo Mashile has become a household name in the field of oral poetry in her home country, South Africa. She is also a presenter, actress and a committed to supporting human rights, diversity and feminism. She wrote and produced the documentary series The Attitude (L’Attitude) and the children’s television programme Great Expectations. She made her acting début in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda and, alongside choreographer Sylvia Glasser, wrote and starred in Threads, a fusion of poetry, music and dance widely regarded as a driving cultural force in South Africa. In February 2018 she made her theatre début with a piece about Saartjie Baartman, an African woman she uses to explain racism in twenty-first-century Europe. Her first book of poems In a Ribbon of Rhythm (2005) received a NOMA, one of the most highly-regarded awards in African literature. She is also known for her poetry book Flying Above The Sky (2008) and the albums Lebo Mashile Live! and Moya (2016), produced in collaboration with the singer and composer Majola.