Mbizo Chirasha

“In my works on African culture, I am not against races or tribes, but systems that betray Africa. People must stop being stooges and writers must write against second and third colonialistic winds.” Mbizo Chirasha in an interview with The Herald HERE.

Mbizo Chirasha

We did something unusual with the last Wednesday Writing Prompt.  We asked poets to respond specifically to the situation of Zimbabwean Poet-in-Exile, Mbizo Chirasha. (Not all the poets actually responded on theme, but they did respond on related issues that concern them and so we included their poems in this collection.) The purpose of the theme is to help us create awareness of the plight of our fellow poets like Mbizo and other writers, artists and activists who are directly fighting authoritarianism, despotism and kleptocracy on the front lines and putting their general welfare and even their lives at risk in doing so. These are socially-engaged creatives who are in danger from amoral govenments in their own beloved countries. We appreciate your participation as writers, readers and humanitarians in this week’s unusual and important prompt.

Mbizo writes in response to the submissions:

Great poets around the world, readers of poetry, esteemed audience of  The Poet by Day: I salute you with my sincere gratitude for timeous creative support. You are word revolutionaries fighting with me in trenches for the attainment of social justice, human rights, and  freedom of expression.  This is as it should be. Writers should be first to shoot words, sling metaphors, and pose readily in the artistic armour to wage a resilient, creative and nonviolent war.

I am heartily touched by the amount of  commitment, depth and detail in these submissions. We should remain resilient, focused strong and creative in the quest for national harmony, regional peace, and global sanity. Writers must write and continue to write to mitigate bad governance, corruption, injustice, hegemony, dictatorship, political violence, and social malaise.

Aluta continua!
Mbizo Chirasha

Our thanks to Gary W. Bowers, Paul Brookes, Anjum Wasim Dar, Mike Stone, Pali Raj, and Sonja Benskin Mesher for the richness of this collection. Countries represented in the post are: England, Kashmir, India, Israel, Pakistan, United States, and Zimbabwe.

We’ll return to the traditionally prompt response layout and inclusions next week. We’ve modified it this week out of respect for the occasion. Thank you for understanding. A brief update on Mbizo’s status (not good) closes this post.

artivist artifice artemis bolt

artivist artifice artemis bolt
wring out a dream and give despots a jolt.
artemis arm&fist activist strike
shake out a mindset and shore up a dyke.
artifice artdoesthis anarchist grow
muralize justice for over and throw.
antidote anecdote anthemnote strive
make visitations of souls kept alive.

© 2019, Gary W. Bowers

How To Be Corrupt And Be Seen As Honest.

Here is the syllabus. This will be a tough course.

Introduction will focus on the psychopathology of hard business and unwavering pursuit of profit.
We will teach you how to see people as things. Your mother and father will be unrecognisable to you, as will your kids and spouse. They are merely objects to be maneouvred.

Main course content.

1. How to steal money from public coffers, whilst supporting charitable causes. How to steal food from babies mouths, how to watch the poorer become poorer.
2. How to store stolen money in off shore accounts, defended by laws not available in your home country.
3. How to employ PR to defend your reputation, white wash your actions.

Good luck on the course.

© 2019, Paul Brookes

In Response to Mbizo Chirasha Freedom Poetry

For I sang the freedom song for years
in vain, in pain,
One day I will return
O my homeland ,my heaven, land of
pure peace,

I am the native child, born in captivity
my feet never touched my beloved soil
I breathed but for a while in mother’s
In sleep, led away, far away, to refuge
One day I will return, I sang my song-

It is a nightmare
futile dream of the happy return
my earth oozes martyrs’ blood spills
resounds with raped women’s screams
burns with saffron spreads in wide fields
weeps with weeping willows in the streams
One day I will return, and I sang my song,
in vain, in pain

I am the houseboat abandoned
I am the ‘shikara’ floating,empty
I am the moaning water of Dal
I am the aroma of sweet apples
I am the snow of mountain tops
I am the color of pansies and lotus
I am the music of the ‘rubaab’
I am the child of a captive state

One day I will return I sang my song
in vain, in pain

But now my heart is silent,my voice
stilled, my feet in fetters, my home
locked, my road blocked, guarded
I am tired of pellets bullets and gas,

I am cold like a stone, no ‘Kangarri’
I carry , no greens or beans I cook
I am but a listed item, a numberless
number, a lost identity, snatched
wrenched annexed conquered

My song of freedom rings aloud
but can anyone hear? Will anyone
come? Will anyone cry for me? Or
my land, to set free? Perhaps one day,

if the music sails on, reaches the stars
Showers the rain which pours free
and washes away the mud of captivity
breaks the chains lifts the barriers and
Come Your land is yours, gone is the
enemy- but I woke up again, in pain
in vain,
I hear the fearful scream-heavy boots
shaking the soil, tearing up roots
I do not wish to sing, but pray, hope
It is all a dream-
In vain I sing, in pain I try to-sleep

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

To The Defenders of Freedom

When peaceful protest fails
and protesters are put in jails
then forces must stand
bravely to defend the land-

In attack
outnumbered ten to one
crawled under enemy tank
martyred to glory, sank in
body, blood in native sand

In loyalty
you saved the land
blasting enemy tanks
with bravery supreme
grenades in hands

In honor
you remain for ever you live
those who die a life they give
and repel the enemy aggressive.

And now I say and know
battles have been fought
public protests prevail
as Freedom must be saved
at all cost-

or else, all is forever lost

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

In Freedom

In Freedom There is Fear
When a close and dear
one, is no more,

In Freedom there is blood
When all you made in life
Is washed away in flood;

In freedom there is sacrifice
When all you claim and own
Is taken away without a price;

In freedom there is liberty
For many just a statue
fights, no rights, nor equality;

In Freedom there are letters
promises and false hopes
soon you are in iron fetters;

In Freedom I was born
I never saw my land
I long for its beauty
In dewdrops shining
In the morn;

In Freedom there is a gift
treasure not and you find
it floating by and adrift;

In Freedom there is ease
calm and harmony, hold
it strong for eternal peace

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

Do Not Make War


it must be painful for them to write, those poets in tough-times and hard places
where blood and tears and poverty contaminate the air, stain the sidewalks, and consume the people

the blood must be soul-sick and rusted and tasting of acid, not salt,
and the poems meant to heal the writer and stroke the cheeks of the wounded,
to dry their eyes and gently kiss their gray heads

to poem in such places must be like walking shoeless on glass shards

perhaps the most sacred thing in the dream-time meadow of poets’ desire is Light ~

can you awaken to meet the Divine when you are on the run, in hiding, on the battlefield, in the camps, in government housing or in the ghettos?

if so, you are a saint, not simply an artist


in my small world, my civilized world, people fall asleep reading or after making love or playing in the yard with their children

if they wander, it is through books or planned travel

there are luxuries
there is food
there is cleanliness and paper on which to write
no bombs are dropping to scorch and scar the Earth
no government thugs stalk us with ill intent
there is a certain dignity


in San Francisco we walk along the beach at night, near the Cliff House
we walk to the sound of the waves, the song of the Earth chanting its joys
our feet are bare and relish the comfort of cool sand

the air is clear and cold and easy to breathe, tasting of salt and smelling of sea life ~
here is a pristine moment of peace

i want to bequeath this peace to you, to everyone,
as though it were a cherished heirloom
it is really a birthright

i want to plunge into the waters and gather the ocean in my cupped hands, to offer it to you as sacramental wine

i want to form seaweed into garlands for all of us to wear, to hang over our hearts, a symbol of affection

i want to collect pine cones from the trees that congregate along the coast and feed them to the children to remind them to cherish this Earth and all its creatures, themselves included, and to say …

do not make war in your heart or upon your mother’s body

© 2016, Jamie Dedes

Silent, poor, innocent, youth
They witness democratic loot
Corruption rise,
And businessmen fight when
Economic slowdown
They are blown into religious fight
They seek a person with opposite ions
When their grief rise
You call me activist, but
I must also sleep the long night
Well, activism
I haven’t wished for it, nor consented to it
I only love my nation.

© 2019, Pali Raj

Then as Now

The sweet pungency of rose and violets
Floats on the gentle breezes
And down the road a ways the church bells toll
As they did then.

At the shooting range, you still see bullet holes
But they buried all the targets in mass graves,
Not helter-skelter like some graveyards,
But very orderly as they were then.

The tall poplar trees surround electric fences,
They seem inviting, leaves rustling in the breeze,
A nightmare inside a blonde and blue-eyed dream,
As it was then.

They scrub the showers, ovens, and the smokestacks,
The red brick raw and spotless.
A pile of shoes stands in silent accusation
But no one hears, then as now.

© 2019, Mike Stone


And the prophet stood among a few people.
In the marketplace of ideas, there were many prophets
But this prophet spoke quietly. He said
Hatred is not a state of mind
That one can enter and leave at will;
It is a road that starts in innocence
Leading ever downhill
And ends in unplumbed evil.
I don’t tell you turn the other cheek
When struck, as another prophet said,
But I say don’t answer hatred with hatred.
Hatred comes from ignorance of others,
Thinking they are not like us,
That they don’t love their children
Or honor their parents
Or fear for their future as we do.
Why not answer hatred with hatred?
Because it creates a circle without exit or break
And perhaps their hatred comes from
Honoring their past or fearing their future.
What should you do?
When you understand those whom you call “other”
You will know what to do, and hate
Will wither like dry tumbleweed in the desert
Because there is no other,
There is only us.

© 2019, Mike Stone

Blessed Are the Rich

Blessed are the rich
For they shall inherit the meek
And enslave them.
Blessed are the rich
Who will inherit new worlds to suck dry
After they have sucked dry our only world.
Blessed are the rich
Who make their own blessings
And the gods to bless them.
Cursed are the poor
Who bow down to worship
The gods of the rich,
Who count the blessings of the rich
Who are sucked dry by the rich
Who are enslaved by the rich.
Cursed are the poor
Who bless the curse of meekness
For their children to inherit.

® 2019, Mike Stone


A small bird landed on the branch of an old tree
Where other loudly chirping birds were perched.
The other birds on this branch twittered critically
And decided she was not one of them.

If you want to perch on our branch, they said to her,
You’ll have to cut off your right wing like all of us
And the little bird saw that the other birds
Had only their left wings. But how do you fly, she asked.

One of the birds responded by jumping off the branch,
Flapping his left wing and spiraling downward
Until he crashed beak first into a rock.
To each bird, according to its needs, the other birds tweeted.

The little bird flew to another branch on the old tree.

If you want to perch on our branch, they said to her,
You’ll have to cut off your left wing like all of us
And the little bird saw that the other birds
Had only their right wings. But how do you fly, she asked.

One of the birds responded by jumping off the branch,
Flapping his right wing and spiraling downward
Until he crashed beak first into the hard tree root.
To each bird, according to its capabilities, the other birds chirped.

The little bird flew to another branch on the old tree.

If you want to perch on our branch, they said to her,
You’ll have to cut off both your wings like all of us
And the little bird saw that the other birds
Had no wings. But how do you fly, she asked.

One of the birds responded by jumping off the branch,
But having nothing to flap, plummeted down
Until he crashed beak first into the hard ground.
We are neither left nor right, the other birds sang.

The little bird flew to another tree
And sang a two-wing song for you and me.

© 2019, Mike Stone  

What Use Is Beauty?

What use is beauty
If it merely masks an inner ugliness,
If it just confuses us
Like too much wine
Making us think we’re gods?
What good is truth
If falsehood is far more useful
For getting what you need or want
And easier to believe by far
Besides, who has time for truth?
What purpose does freedom serve
If it only starves us
or makes us lonely?
Most prefer a bond or two
To a mindless multitude.
What’s the point of words
If they are not the right words,
The precise ones that we think
Or those that others want to hear?

© 2019, Mike Stone

The Emperor’s New Changes

Raanana, September 11, 2016

A hundred thousand poets for change
That’s us.
That’s what we called ourselves last year
And the year before.
So they’ve stopped lynching the poets in Arabia?
They’ve stopped stoning the raped women in Kabul?
What about the mutilation of genitals of young girls?
So they’ve stopped burning down Black churches in Bama?
Stopped desecrating the lands of our Sioux brothers?
How about the carbon they’ve dumped in the atmosphere?
Did they stop that?
Do they believe now the earth is too warm to live on?
Are philosophers kings yet?
Are kings philosophers?
I don’t mean to be cynical
But it doesn’t seem like much has changed since last year.
We’ve read a few poems,
That’s all.
Come to think of it,
Have we really changed,
Except for getting a year older?
If that’s change
Then we better change change
So that it’s palpable
So that we can feed people with it
So that people can walk tall from it
So that people can protect themselves with it
So that people can make love to it
Until change is done changing
And the world is all the Republic we need.

© 2019, Mike Stone

:: exiles ::

i heard on the radio.

they decided to walk.

he asked her what she had..

nothing she said, nothing.

money? nothing, nothing,
nothing. nothing.nothing.

nothing left except my girls.

i have not lost them, we hold hands,
hold hands, hold hands.

we have nothing.nothing. nothing left.

they decided to walk.holding hands

© 2019, Sonja Benskin Mesher

A Brief Status Update on Mbizo*

Mbizo Chirasha

We’re still $295 short of the Go-Fund-Me goal. Mbizo is in hiding, without any regular source of food or access to a computer, which would facilitate his radio interview and preparing his applications for asylum and other assistance. You are able to donate anonymously through go-fund-me. Even a few dollars will help us reach goal. This effort is hosted by an organizer from International Human Rights Art Festival.  If you can help in some other way, please connect with Mbizo at girlchildcreativity@gmail.com.Thank you!


“We remain resilient in the quest for justice, freedom of expression and upholding of human rights through Literary Activism and Artivism. ALUTA CONTINUA.” Mbizo Chirasha



Thank you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s