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I exercise this muscle in my chest
with bad love, fake affection.
Run it through a gamut of men, women
real or not.
willing or not.
My vulva weeps, at the thought of you
your pistachio pussy, pried open —
rosey, tinged olive, rich.
Our bones roll over each other;
click, clap applause.
Thick-necked men break my heart,
bend my shoulders
for karmic revenge.
I wake up alone,
crowd of spectres
streaming out the hot kettle.
The sink cradles
an unknown razor
and I sing of it without words.


Post image is a remixed version of a photograph by Boris Thaser via Flickr.

About the Author:

Portrait - Chela

(c) Yetunde Dada

Efemia Chela was born in Zambia in 1991, but grew up all over the world. She studied at Rhodes University, South Africa and Institut D’Etudes Politiques in Aix-En-Provence, France. When she grows up she would like to be a better writer and literary translator. She enjoys eating pizza, playing croquet and watching black and white films. Her first published story, ‘Chicken’ was nominated for The 2014 Caine Prize For African Writing. Efemia’s subsequent stories and poems have been published in places like Jalada, Short.Sharp.Stories: Adults Only, Prufrock and PEN Passages: Africa. She continues to write whenever she can find a moment on the train and a working pen.

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

6 Responses to “Run, Heart, Run | by Efemia Chela | African Poetry” Subscribe

  1. obakanse lakanse 2016/09/07 at 1:41 am #

    you are no doubt a good poet,though my prudish nature recoils at some of your imagery

  2. Efemia Chela 2016/09/08 at 3:29 am #

    Thank you, Obakanse!

  3. Zino Asalor 2016/09/11 at 9:40 am #

    Enjoyed this poem, without reservation.

  4. Efemia 2016/09/11 at 11:41 am #

    Thank you, Zino!

  5. Oluwaseyi G. Abidoye 2016/09/12 at 1:26 pm #

    Brave Imagery! Good poem.

  6. Efemia Chela 2016/09/13 at 2:43 am #

    Thanks Oluwaseyi!

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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