It isn’t a secret.
I know all there is to know about the
Wood-panelled rooms wherein my voice
Echoes long after I’ve left.
The chandeliers swing and tilt
Ever so lazily as
My thoughts, my spoken words, my authority
Often my first encounters are with a haze
Of a hundred different types of tobacco,
Warm and heavy as a blanket,
And decanters filled with brown and
Transparent, spread out like copses and growths
From the ground,
And I just cannot see the forest for the trees.
In the corners sit years and wrinkles,
Suffering papercuts served by playing cards,
With a knowing greater than my own knowing,
The likes of which I have never known,
And likely never will.
This knowing is
the way the truth
And something sinister.
Feeling overcome I ask,
May I be Lost.
But I find myself wanting,
And so I ask,
May I be returned,
To begin again.
Only this time I stumble into the room,
Knocking the trees over,
And the expensive, burning drinks
Pour out from within me
Porous as i am,
Like fluid demons
Like Molotov Cocktails on tap,
To land on the page as thin, neat, deft (dis)honesty.
And you might need to wring the truth out,
Or I will surely clutch at my neck,
Sink my nails into it to die screaming.
It isn’t a secret,
That I could no longer
Silence my concerns and my heartbreak,
Loud as a thunderclap.
So I wrote a book about Violence,
About the boots upon my neck,
And the stray shoe of a missing child,
Lying in the rubble.
I wrote of cleaning up the ashes
As my head and
My heart still burned.
So I might not be
Pulled apart at my joints,
By all this knowing,
Like a Holy Contortion.
I have lost my stories about the winds,
Once sweet and glorious.
All that is left is that haze,
Indistinct chatter in those
Infinite knowing I have no idea what to do with,
Because it really is a secret.
Veli Mnisi is a student, and the Winner of the Deon Hofmeyr Prize for Creative Writing 2019. He lives in South Africa and isn’t sure what he is doing in life but is having a fun time figuring it out. Sometimes he’s funny, but only in person.