Son of my favorite aunt,

I greet you from above the waters;

Waving but not drowning.

Auntie Ntemi 

Your mother

Is no more.

After you left us,

Not much longer did she tarry.

An empty shell overgrown with weeds

Your home from birth,

the tavern she built

now home to delinquents.

I greet you from above the waters.

I remember how soft-spoken you were;

lines creasing the forehead of your handsome face.

We called you a ladies’ man.

You were dangerous.

Dangerous with the fists, 

dangerous with the knife.

For this the tavern’s patrons feared you

For this they respected your mother. 

I greet you from above the waters.


I asked you why –

Why so rough,

Why so quick,

Why so ready to lash out?

“Mzee uyalazi le kasi leli?”

I think of you when smooth jazz plays

and wonder what you might have been,

In another place.

In another time.

I dream of you in the restless night,

 I paint the horror of your bloody end.

Knives in,

Knives out.

Rapid aim.


Blades plunging into skin


sinking in.

I greet you from above the waters. 

Perfect Hlongwane is a writer, editor and aspiring poet who lives and works in the city presently known as Johannesburg, in a country currently called South Africa. He was formerly editor of the SoccerLife and Soccer News magazines. His work has featured in the Johannesburg Review of Books, Culture Review Magazine, City Press and others. His debut novel, Jozi, was shortlisted for the 2014 University of Johannesburg Writing in English Prize. Initially published by University of Kwa-Zulu Natal Press, the book was subsequently chosen as part of the limited Picador African Classics eBooks series. His second novel, Sanity Prevail, is forthcoming from Blackbird Books.