Next Time Use a Rope

Mzikayise Mahola

Africa, South Africa

He lived fatherless
For thirty-five years.
Before he was ten
His mother abandoned
For a better life
Of vagrancy and
Hallucinations of meths
Turning her heart into a stone
A path he later chose
For escape or success.
In struggles to survive
He lost an eye as well,
The lamp was further dimmed.

One evening they found him groaning
Under a hedge like a bullfrog
Belly-taut with rattex*.

I met him coming from hospital
We laughed
At his rodent appetite
He said life was biased.

Next time use a rope
You won’t fail
I advised him.

Two nights later
A school watchman
Found him dangling
Like a maize-cob from a hut roof.
Friends and relatives
Put him deep in the hole.

*rat poison