To Set Her Heart on Fire & Other Poems by Ndaba Sibanda

July Online Open Mic

Kicking us off for July’s Online Open Mic we have Ndaba Sibanda! May he be an inspiration to you to fill this month with expression and artistry!

To Set Her Heart On Fire

to set the much-needed dialogue in motion
there had to be poetry & poetry & devotion
she didn’t mince her words at all, she hit it
she demanded & desired to see nothing short of it:
she called for an ecstatic expression of emotions
a freely & furiously lively ,lovely exhibition of yens
a river filled with an explosion of verve and verse
and that was her basis for an engagement, a discourse

Write Me Letters

You have filled me in on what makes you tick,
took me on a tour of your culture and creed.

You have taken me to places where they dish
out delicacies and glamour and glitz.

I cannot thank you enough for the body
of knowledge you have shared with me.

I cannot thank you enough for the superb cuisines
and places of interest you have exposed me to.

But now, please waste not your breath and time,
for time for buts and blah blah is over.

But now, please dish out your fragilities,
your you-ness, for I pour out my me-ness.

write me letters…

write me letters…

Words whose meanings and sounds
are spelt out in the dictionary of you `n me.

Those whose font sizes dance a lively tap
to the melody and therapy of my soul.

Words whose meanings and sounds
are meaningless and soundless to all.

Write me letters at the centre of my heart,
letters so hot they burn into eternal blazes.

Write me letters whose glorious memories
time and distance will not shrink or erase.

Write me letters in the hidden bowls of my mind,
letters so mad they invent and reinvent my world.

Draw me pictures whose shadows and sounds
and colours I will follow and fall for forever.

Draw me diagrams of the unseen and untouchable
only seen and touched in the depth of your heart.

Diagrams reflective of the effectiveness of vibes,
those that sweep one off one`s heart and mind.

Please me tell that our walks and chats and outings
are the fruit we are beholden to honour and nurture.

Please tell me I am the letters and diagrams
that have snowballed and sailed away with you.

Write me letters and diagrams about denials
and the writing off of reality at one`s risk.

Write me letters and diagrams about what lies
beneath the wholeness of you and your life.

Let me drown in their transcendence and elegance,
so that our deficiencies see the light of fondness.

Let me plunge into the blast furnace of adoration,
and deal with its heat, lows and highs with conviction.

Bring me the honour and privilege to take a sneak peek
into our lifetime displeasures and treasures and pleasures.

Bring me all our baggage of staggering secrets and frailties,
bring them on –for these are to be in the mirror of frankness.

Write me letters slated in for victory and celebration,
write me letters endorsed and sealed by our hearts.

Write me letters whose weight is weightless and sight
sightless in the face of our resolve and affection.

write me letters…

write me letters…

In The Heart Of Glory And Gladness

Have you ever had the pleasure of observing
the behavior of the wild—the elephants—
in their natural habitat? A lumbering spectacle!

Have you ever had a desire to hang out with guys
like the turtle? Chatting with her, taking her to lunch–
perhaps, feeding and cleaning her. That would be great!

Perhaps dear turtle would start to open up a bit. Thanks
for the wonderful meal and bath. Please, please protect me
from predators. My hatching grounds need to be secure.

Picture yourself in the core of the grassland, in the majesty
of the Victoria Falls, wow!– graced by the presence of the big 5:
the rhino, elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo; hands dirty & caring!

Shimmering With The Moon And The Stars

The king of the jungle listened to the quietude
Of the night, the sleepiness of the woodland
An airiness issued, pampering his eardrums
There was an air of expansiveness and mystery
The royal animal was mesmerised and blown away
By the sweetness and fruitfulness of the melody
It breathed genuinely aromatic buds into his nostrils
And planted a peace of mind that paced through eyes
Here his ears were heir to a lyrical and likable calmness
There was something cool, curative about the experience
The king of the jungle moseyed, marvelled at the elegance
And beauty of the moon, a moon whose remoteness was nigh
He was in the glare of the galaxies` deep dimples and smiles
There was a reappearance and impermanence of moments
The lioness and the cubs were fast asleep, maybe, he thought–
Just re-contextualising peace and the pace of nature and night…


With a tongue longer than your body
You slurp up ants from inside ant nests!

Sheltered in stiff scales, you curl up to defend
Against a group of predators and traffickers

Tell me about the magic behind your scales?
How do they go on growing during your life?

Belonging to the threatened species, you are–
A most severely trafficked animal in the world

I wish you could curl up into an inaccessible ball,
A ball that eludes the claws of the leopards & tigers

At times you ‘scale’ away a pride of lions—bravado!
I wish materialistic poachers could leave you alone

It is interesting that you use your nose to find ants
It is disheartening that you are hunted on a huge scale

For meat, fashion and medicinal purposes, you are pursued
Pangolin, you can be pardoned for secreting a pungent fluid!

You are at liberty to communicate with your special glands
So that you could spray them with the skunk`s perfect perfume!!

Convulsive Tendencies

the road looks like it’s running away
and one wishes one had more than
one pair of eyes –maybe two sideways
and of course at the back of the head

sometimes the car convulses or gallops
especially when it thinks one’s legs
on the pedal and brakes are playing
fool with its little moody mechanics

And Bum Bum

I thought my older brother
was holding onto the saddle

till l discovered that the bike
was roller-skating freely with me

down down a lonely lane
and bum bum on a pothole

I flew up and fear hit me hard
before l said son-of-that man

get off in one piece please–
and in style l glided off the thing!


A 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, Ndaba’s poems have been widely anthologised. Sibanda is the author of The Gushungo Way, Sleeping Rivers, Love O’clock, The Dead Must Be Sobbing, Football of Fools, Cutting-edge Cache: Unsympathetic Untruth, Of the Saliva and the Tongue, When Inspiration Sings In Silence and Poetry Pharmacy. His work is featured in The Anthology House, in The New Shoots Anthology, and in The Van Gogh Anthology, and A Worldwide Anthology of One Hundred Poetic Intersections. Some of Ndaba’s works are found or forthcoming in Page & Spine, Peeking Cat, Piker Press, SCARLET LEAF REVIEW, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Pangolin Review, Kalahari Review, Botsotso, The Ofi Press Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Deltona Howl, The song is, Indian Review, Eunoia Review, JONAH magazine, Saraba Magazine, Poetry Potion, Saraba Magazine, The Borfski Press, Snippets, East Coast Literary Review, Random Poem Tree, festival-of-language and Whispering Prairie Press.
Sibanda’s forthcoming book Notes, Themes, Things And Other Things: Confronting Controversies,Contradictions And Indoctrinations was considered for The 2019 Restless Book Prize for New Immigrant Writing in Nonfiction. Ndaba’s other forthcoming book Cabinet Meetings: Of Big And Small Preys was considered for The Graywolf Press Africa Prize 2018.
Sibanda’s other forthcoming books include Timbomb, Dear Dawn And Daylight, Sometimes Seasons Come With Unseasonal Harvests, A Different Ballgame and The Way Forward.


 Let`s Get Cracking! – Ndaba Sibanda -

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