We at The Fictional Cafe are shocked, dismayed and angered by American policemen gunning down American men of color. We assume you feel similarly. Times of great stress, like the COVID-19 pandemic, bring out both the best and the worst in people. It is a time in which we must be patient, calm, understanding, even forgiving, even while we protest for change. We have no way of knowing what strife and pain, or growth and joy, await us in the endless days of this pandemic.
All we have is today to be the very best humans we can possibly be, and that today, today, is Juneteenth when the world bows its head to remember the end of slavery in America, circa 1865. Of course, we know it wasn’t the end and that racism still runs rampant in our society, just like the coronavirus. We must do better today and tomorrow’s todays, too.
There’s a lot of pandering and platitudes going around now: corporations promising to end racism, people toppling statues of racists. It won’t be enough; racism will need to stamped out again and again and again. The magic spell, the secret sauce, is your attitude. You, and I, and we and us, must practice our love and forbearance of all people, regardless of their differences, every single moment we live. We offer you, using the most powerful tools known to humankind, a way to deepen or, if necessary, change, your thinking. Those tools are words. Please take the time to read these words, in the form of poetry and a brief story. Read slowly, read again to help shape your thoughts for this day, Juneteenth, 2020.
~ The Editors and Baristas of Fictional Cafe
“Tragedies, Revolutions, Resilience and #Blacklivesmatter” — A Multi-Genre Hybrid Essay by Mbizo Chirasha, Poet in Residence, Fictional Cafe
I am standing here at the sunset of life; I peep yonder through the window of life.
I see promise squashed and dreams bullet dashed, alas we have died since slavery
Buried in the barrel of colonialism and rot from apartheid bullet wounds. I watched us dying this foggy morning, dying from racial stigma and discrimination
Unrepentant racial devils sucking black blood in broad daylight like in vampire land,
Ooh God, my lord sanity must be born in the land of the great-grandchildren of Martin Luther are weeping blood, vulgar congests pavements and streets stink funerals, Black funerals
Dead bodies walking on the rough and tough edges of this earth,
In defiance, we sing #BLACKLIVESMATTER. We are tired of burying lives randomly like millet
I need to drink from the jugs of peace and calabashes of freedom. Mothers drink from cups of tears and bitterness, black lives rot in persecution.
This is a verse of mass instruction, I am the voice of mass defiance, death was not made for blacks alone and life was not made for whites alone either.
Dear Comrade Butcher, throw away your gun and sing a soprano of peace, swallow bullets and belch revolution to the land haunted by ghosts of death,
Black is not a generational curse, black is beautiful, black is chocolate, black is excellence,
I am sitting here between satan’s edge and death
Buses cough out influenza, whooping cough and COVID-19, these menacing cantankerous devilish triplets. Passenger trains vomiting the burden of sweat and the snort of poverty.
Penury sneaking into my ragged pocket as hunger stares starkly into my famished apparition
My worry beaten frame shakes as COVID-19 kills a dozen and the gun eats another dozen
I watch death, read death and hear death every day, I cannot attend the funeral; the lockdown and his satanic brother quarantine are reality, a harsh reality, a traumatizing. I await in anticipation the shining moon to be mine friend at night, alas I see shadows haunting, the moon is dying, the glow is feeble and frail. It weeps at black funerals and COVID-19 burials. And this morning like other mornings, mothers carry death on their sweat soaked backs like live babies. We are spent forces ready to explode. Cantankerous Quarantine blows out the promise. Lockdown, Quarantine’s twin brother, locks our consciences in, inside the devil’s wardrobe.
Anthems are long dead. We sing epitaphs and eulogies even for rogue comrades and delinquent sisters, for this pandemic has laced our oxygen with poison and chocolates of death. The killer pandemic kills even mangy dogs, its butcher’s life like in an abattoir; raise your palms and refuse. The dress code is a mouth-nasal mask condomizing us against COVID-19.
This rough morning gossip graffiti is written on the street lampposts. A small island country by the sea, Madagascar, is free from devil’s spike, they drink a concoction and the concoction becomes and the concoction suppresses the COVID-19 load like with ARVS to HIV/AIDS:
Tragedy, Corona and the Drama
Last night night my neighbour died of diabetes. Street conspiracy say she tested positive, corona positive not HIV/AIDS positive
Somewhere next door is a brothel that sneezes death, belches typhoid and coughs syphilis. Gonorrhea is already planted on the doorsteps of this devil’s hunting ground. Tonight strange hunters converged for a crude intercourse session. Wow, they breathing and walking still. Gold digger meets Sexpredator. Gold digger showcased a great performance, she presented a crude lie and sang a fake anthem of sweet intercourse in that torn uniform of orgasm. Never mind social distancing. SexPredator surrenders his demonic-like volcanic lava as he commits murder killing his children, presidents, headmasters, writers as the porridge of his lies lays lifeless inside the overused condom, ROGUE. The hunter and the hunted, they all had forgotten the menace of the killer pandemic, corrupted oxygen, the ironwind, as long breathing inhaling and exhaling. They whistled after their torrid session but again seized with fear of COVID-19, the grandchild of influenza, the brother to Whooping cough, the cousin of lung cancer and twin grandfather of Satan.
Stinking Death, Pundits and COVID-19
The weeping sun rises again, with me holding up my raving heart with other heavy news.
And the city wakes with a death stupor, the parliament is drunk of stress. Hermits and harlots are thrashed by forced lockdowns, police state curfews and junta reprimands.
Somewhere were fizzy beverages being famous, headlines are vomiting death and snorting grief. Brexit votes are paused, the people’s choice is groaning for life on intensive-care-unit life-supporting tubes. Our earth is currently in the state of intensive care. ICU.
Boris the poet gifted voice politician survived the attack,
Back to the great hills of home. The illustrious monarchical patriarch of Eswatini have won the battle against this savaging ravaging cantankerous goliath COVID 19. Let God send another Moses to redeem us from this perilous, vivacious, veracious, virulent, unimportant wrath burning green lives to the marked, unmarked and shallow graves. Everyone wears a cartoon uniform every day of God, we are in the hell of earth, first was ruthless HIV/AIDs and then came his twin brother Ebola. Here we sleep every night and woke up every dawn clutching grief from the triple killer, Corona. Satan cousin.
Social distancing means wedded couples are banned from sex until the lockdown is over or until corona goes back to hell carrying the souls he reaped and surrender to Satan Castle, We die like green fleas from pesticide, we are sinking like cockroaches into a well of lactic sour milk and bedrooms are now playgrounds of mating lizards. Conspiracy, gossip, zealotry, cheap politicking and street intelligentsia rise about media and hard truth.
Tragedy of Poverty, COVID-19 and SURVIVAL
Corona surpasses the clout of Cyclones, the scourge of Ebola and the bouts of cholera. Golgotha on earth, we harvest death like sorghum, we drink grief like cheap malt whisky. Life has lost morality, living has lost dignity. Humanity has lost essence of contentment. Hope is slaughtered. Faith is butchered, ubuntu is maimed and life is demised. This time is not hydrogen bomb holocaust, Rwandan genocide or political ethnic massacre, Islamophobia, Afrophobia or xenophobia. It’s beyond the climax of tragedies and the epilogue of usual calamities.
The city bottoms are not silent though. They fart the rot of burden, cigar butts, beer bottles and broken souls. The hopeless drunks, harlots and hermits are breathing still. Life goes on, the state police do not curfew these night-crawling delegations. Street beggars, hermits, harlots and skunks like drunks are relegated to the rectum of the city proximities. No one cares for them. UNFAIR. The economic muscle sidelines them to the rubbish dumps of the avenues. They pickpocket coins from travelers, they graze garbage for survival, they are loose cannons, they speak vulgar for a living. They snatch and mug for the next meal.
They are always on the road; a lot were born here on the peripheries of the capital city and their integrity was cultivated by rat-infested gutter. SURVIVAL. They live stray life, like mangy dogs and stray cats. Their eyesore wardrobe is rags over their hunger-beaten skin, their eyes have lost hope, their hearts are strained by the incessant thrash of poverty. They die in slumber and rise every day of God because of untreated fevers, hallucinations and unnoticed convulsions. They sleep walking, they sniff glue and drink anything to quench the lung boxes tired of ruin and the quest of survival. They are rowdy hunters in the concrete jungle. This lot of survival gangsters think that COVID-19 is a special illicit brew to drink. Harlots think it’s protected by condoms. Drunkards drink street peddled gin to fight the satanic Covid. A vendor sells fresh lemons and ginger roots like hot buns, they say lemon sanitizes the respiratory chambers. Here poverty is the uniform worn without losing a dollar. Penury is the landlord; its footprints are the street alleys. Petty crime is fingerprints and graffiti on a disused military van. Nkrumah’s bones must rise. Here freedom is an abrupt sip of street brewed gin. Here livers are burnt every day and hepatitis sits steadily in shameless bodies. In brothels reason is thrown into dungeons of hard rubber condoms Conscience is burnt in convulsions of rushed intercourse and fake orgasms. Sometimes the sex gumboot breaks amid organized sextainment, gold diggers are rewarded swollen wombs, syphilis as the sex hunters carry their COVID-19 beaten soul back to the matrimonial home where wives wear masks and the sex style is done the other way round, the sex predator plants ailments and anxiety in the womb of the matrimonial innocence. Life goes on. Then days after, morning yawns again with broken condoms and Covid-ridden brothels. The stupor of last night’s sexual intercourse concert is the hangover and the horror of the streets. Sunday comes and the gold diggers and sex hunters are praise-and- worship-chanters at the New City Spiritual Church. Church uniforms are donned to hide the crudity of all week long drinking and sex vigils.
#BLACKLIVESMATTER- Resilience, repentance, perseverance, tolerance must rain. The rain of freedom must pour, the thunder of peace must thunder. The revolution is lit to sweep the broken bottles of black killings. The revolution is lit to clear mist of death. The revolution is lit to to wash the stupor of racism. The revolution is lit to cast away the hangover of black stigma. Segregation must fall. Black mass killings must fall. Black is wisdom, black is talent, black is greatness, black is human.
The struggle continues, REVOLUTIONARY lights must glow the land to expose gun criminals thrashing innocence in broad day light. ALUTA CONTINUA.
Keep reading – the flash fiction follows.
MBIZO CHIRASHA is a UNESCO -RILA Affiliate
FREEDOM SPEECH Fellow at PEN- Zentrum Deutschland. Poet in Residence at the Fictional Café (International publishing and literary digital space). 2019 Sotambe Festival Live Literature Hub and Poetry Café Curator. 2019 African Fellow for the International Human Rights Art Festival (https://ihraf.org/international-fellows), Essays Contributor to Monk Art and Soul Magazine in United Kingdom. Arts Features Writer at the International Cultural Weekly. Featured Writer Poet Activist at The Poet A Day (https://jamiededes.com/). Core Team Member and African Contributor to Bezine of Arts and Humanities(https://thebezine.com/) in USA. Flash/Short Fiction Writer for Squawk Back Publication (http://www.thesquawkback.com/2020/01/mbizo.html). Contributing Writer (Africa) to IHRAF Publishes-https://ihraf.org/ihraf-publishes.The Originator of the
Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Campaign. Curator of MiomboPublishing Blog Journal (https://miombopublishing.wordpress.com/). Founder and Chief Editor of WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS. Founder and Curator of the Brave Voices Poetry Journal. Co-Editor of Street Voices Poetry triluangal collection (English, African Languages and Germany) initiated by Andreas Weiland in Germany. Poetry Contributor to AtunisPoetry.com in Belgium. African Contributor to DemerPress International Poetry Book Series in Netherlands. African Contributor to the World Poetry Almanac
Poetry Series in Mongolia. His latest 2019 collection of experimental poetry A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT was released by Mwanaka Media and Publishing and is both in print, on Amazon.com and at is featured at African Books Collective. 2003 Young Literary Arts Delegate to the Goteborg International Book Fair Sweden (SIDA AFRICAN PAVILION). 2009 Poet in Residence of the International Conference of African Culture and Development (ICACD) in Ghana. 2009 Fellow to the inaugural UNESCO- Africa Photo- Novel Publishers and Writers Training in Tanzania. 2015 Artist in Residence of the Shunguna Mutitima International Film and Arts Festival in Livingstone, Zambia. A globally certified literary arts influencer, Writer in Residence and Recipient of the EU-Horn of Africa Defend Defenders Protection Fund Grant, Recipient of the Pen Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant. He is an Arts for Peace and Human Rights Catalyst, the Literary Arts Projects Curator, Poet, Writer, publicist is published in more 400 spaces in print and online.
Find more of Mbizo’s posts on FC here.
“Fear:” A Flash Fiction
The two men were neighbors. They saw each other frequently, like today, while out walking their dogs. The white man, Ellis, had a doodle. The black man, Will, had a Lhasa Apso. The dogs had made friends first, and in their turn so had the men. They often stopped to chat for a few minutes about lawn care, the weather, POTUS, what they were watching on Netflix. They used to shake hands, but that was before COVID-19.
“You know what today is?” asked Will.
Ellis paused, then said, “I think you mean, do I know today is Juneteenth?”
Will nodded. “It’s good to be free. My great-grandparents weren’t free.”
“I’ll never understand, not in a million years,” said Ellis.
Both men were silent for a while, letting the dogs get their leashes tangled. Then Will said, “You know, I say I’m free, but I’m not. Not really. Probably not ever. In grand old America, land of the free, black people won’t ever be seen as equal and free to white people.”
“Will, I’m color-blind. I see you as a person and that’s all. A person I like. A person who has a very cool dog.” He reached down and petted the Lhasa. The dog jumped into his arms. The doodle, jealous, wrapped his paws around Ellis’ ankle. Will laughed. So did Ellis, but then he said, “Uh, can I tell you something? It’s about those cops last week. The ones in Minneapolis and Atlanta who gunned black men down. In the back. In cold blood.”
Will was silent. Ellis looked into his face but saw no emotion. Ellis wanted to continue speaking, wanted to share the pain and compassion and grief and fury he felt, wanted to call out those racist cops. He wanted to tell Will what he thought should be done with those cops, but the words got stuck in his throat.
“I know,” said Will. “I get it.”
Finally Ellis said, “I lived in New York for a few years. One evening I was going to visit a friend of mine in Morningside Heights. Have you ever been to New York City? No? Well, it’s a conglomeration of villages, you might say. Morningside Heights abuts Harlem. I was taking the subway and got off at the Harlem stop by accident. I figured it couldn’t be far to walk to my friend’s apartment, which looked out over Morningside Park, so with a bottle of wine under my arm, off I went across the park. I nodded and smiled as I passed by many black people. They smiled back at me, the white stranger in their neighborhood. One guy said, ‘You be careful.’ I grinned. When I told my friend what happened, he was shocked that me and my bottle of wine made it safely. It must have been your smile, he said. I laughed.”
“I so totally get that,” said Will. “That’s freedom.”
“You know what I think, Will? I think this black-white thing is all about fear. There’s so much fear in the air these days. But like President Roosevelt said long ago, the only thing we need to fear is fear itself.”
Will nodded, thought for a moment then said, “I wonder what it would be like in an America where policemen didn’t carry guns.”
They smiled sadly at each other, bumped elbows, and continued walking their dogs.