the good in goodbye would have to be her scent on his sweater, particularly on his shoulders and across his chest. talking of chests–their last hug is different from the rest. it is a little longer than their friendship permits-more than it has permitted before. it is as though there is a transfer of energy, of intention, of something… like listening to a song you have listened to umpteenth times and hearing a vague cymbal shake that you didn’t hear before.

“i will be there at 0545 hours”

– aaah! are you for real?-

“have i ever disappointed?”

as he lets go, tears begin to well up in his eyes. he walks over to his ride and hears a small, sad, lonely, needing, missing voice:


he looks back and says the same with a smoothness of snow landing on the mountain on his throat. riding out of the premises he thinks about the last two months. they have only known each other for that long. yet, their connection is like tree roots centuries deep. it is rare, especially for him. he fails to understand how they instantaneously became friends.

as he drives away John Legend’s bridge over troubled waters begins to play in his mind. he sings along,mentally. he’s going to miss her, he thinks. he’s going to miss particular moments that the mind chooses to make unforgetable like the smell of nature in her car. he thinks about the 6 hour road trip they took, along with their friends, to the house. there, the stars shine brighter, each animal’s onomatopoeia is distinct, the wind blows smoother and the air smells cleaner and feels as light as a tickle from a feather.

in muse, he recalls the evening games, the food, the music and the intoxicating mood of it all.

he returns to earth, to the drive but only to turn his head to catch her scent on the shoulders of the sweater he’s wearing. her scent lingers as if continuing something, something beyond friendship, something beyond goodbye, something beyond… he knows memory is linked to scent. so her scent brings memories of her never ending shopping sprees for, particularly, sweets. he wonders if that’s what makes her so sweet. how corny, he thinks with a smile on his face.

she is leaving now. for two years to be exact. he’s familiar with origami- this has to be it. these folds formed by curiosity, by longing, by anticipation of the future are shaping him in ways he hadn’t imagined before, into what he has never imagined before. they do say pain, even if imagined before, will not come as exact as when it was imagined or anticipated. anyway, he wants to see her next year for her graduation but wonders if it is going to be possible. it would really make her happy. or maybe it will make him happy to smell that familiar odor, to have her fold into his arms in that all too familiar hug that births a series of unending somethings, to end the longing of a year or two of impatiently waiting, to taste, yet again, the sweet good in goodbye.

ntseme 2017



edited by wame gwafila


one year away – xxi

he is a sucker for odours.
he wants to know everyone of her odours.
from her cologne to her hair food.
from her breathe to her shoe smell.
yes, a moment ago he smelled her shoe. lol.
she has had it for 2 years and it still looks and smells new.
it has a minor odour of wood.
a new odour has been added to his odour memory.
-yah, i know. i said odour a lot. odour odour odour. –

ntseme 2017

one year away – xx

she smiles so well.
her bliss feel is contagious.
he sees her crossing the road.
the walk, the sway, the unique dimples on the sides of her lips as she smiles and looks away.
he does not long to see her, but when he does, he knows that that's what he longed for.
he glances at her with every moment he gets.
one year away. he can wait.
his patience will not betray him.

ntseme 2017

one year away – xix

one year away – xix

he sees her after 10 days
he wants to hug her, squeeze her, pick her up and kiss her.
her braces are off.
her hair is shorter.
she is beautiful. more beautiful.
he has been silent about her for sometime
hoping she will get off his mind.
no, she is still on his mind.
he wants to run away with her right now
but he can't. not that he cannot.
he must not.
that's the rule.

ntseme 2017


when i see a mother and her little son
i think of mom and i.
how she always held my hand when we walked together.
crossing the road. walking to church. me running ahead of her.
her rebuking me with the most beautiful still voice.
a voice that makes my heart pump gallons.
she raised my sister an i like a princess and a prince.
no, we did not get everything we wanted,
we sure got everything we needed.
we still do.
she gave us the greatest gift on the face of the earth.
love. she still giving it.

ntseme 2017

you are fired

riding a combi with a fired man.

"we regret to inform you that your contract will be terminated on 20th july 2017 because you failed to comply to the terms of this contract. so we give you a 1 month notice…"

i pip into his paper.
he has opened it to read it one more time.
the look on his face.
he tries to act 'cool'
but i can sense his hurt.
he is devastated.
i write this looking at him.
his facial muscles are sagging.
his eyes look sore.
he actually looks high.
maybe he is.
maybe he is getting fired for making out with mary jane during working hours.
i mean, a night security guard's life needs some hype sometimes.
oh well, i hope he complies to the rules on his next job.


lady in white

all these people in a combi, and none of them thought of taking the front sit.
well, i guess HE was saving it for the lady in white.
we all look at her to see how she is gonna get it.
one man tries helping her,
but she is ait.
she has been in this business for a while now.
no pity for her, please.
helping her would probably mean that she can't do anything for herself.
i wonder how it feels to lose a perfect walk.

ntseme 2017