3 poems by Nkateko Masinga


1. ghazal for the ghastly going

“I am not cruel, only truthful.” – Sylvia Plath

I’ll take your love in rations: this portion will last ’til June,
when my leaves turn brown and yours, green. Until June,

when the wind howls in my hemisphere, an overt warning
of the danger to come. Hold the ache in my chest ’til June,

then tell someone. I am ready to admit this won’t last forever:
though I love you dearly, I will only breathe in gasps ’til June.

I deserved to know there was another love brewing elsewhere.
You are not cruel, only truthful. You may stay here until June,

then pack your heart into your new lover’s breast, your ruin
into her decaying chest. Only luck will spare you until June


2. posthumous self-portrait with estranged lover
After Sylvia Plath

I’ll be Plath and you’ll be Hughes,
so let my love not rot from disuse. 

I want no-one else
(least of all myself)

but you I can take, complicit in this self-abuse
my therapist labeled the post-separation blues

I fancied you’d return the way you said
but you fell in love with another instead

We were not always breaking, were we?
Not always two cracked teacups in a sink,

 two bodies slow-dancing to a fire drill:
don’t mind the smoke, savour the thrill

We were not always breaking, no
Not two cracked teacups in a sink

but corpses tethering on the brink.
Dismantle me, this body in disuse

for you to remake; freshly scarred
by unreciprocated desire, charred

by you and for you. Broken bone,
cracked cadaver, rib of your cage


3. Mad Girl’s Shopping List
Title inspired by Sylvia Plath’s “Mad Girl’s Love Song”

There is no isle for pain
but if you already have it
there is Aspirin
in the medicine section

There is no aisle for broken girls
but if you have healed, wear your pearls
come and say your vows at church

Madness betrays you
Refuses to sit still in your head
Manifests freely

Avoid the cashier
and the priest

Leave the money in your purse

Although mad
you are precious

Do not throw your pearls
to swines
they will only
trample on them


Nkateko Masinga is a South African poet and 2019 Fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018 and her work has received support from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg and the Swiss Arts Council. Her written work has appeared in Brittle Paper, Kalahari Review, U.S journal Illuminations, UK pamphlet press Pyramid Editions, the University of Edinburgh’s Dangerous Women Project, and elsewhere. She is the Contributing Interviewer for Poetry at Africa In Dialogue, an online interview magazine that archives creative and critical insights with Africa’s leading storytellers.

Get in touch:
Facebook: Nkateko Priscilla Masinga

Lake Adedamola is a poet, writer, and editor with Nantygreens, who's worked with several other literary blogs including Brittle Paper. He has, since 2018, served in various capacities on the Lagos International Poetry Festival, LIPFest, team.

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