READERS        STORYTELLERS        PRIM CULTIVATED




Zaki Mlaba



BASED IN SOUTH AFRICA



“I am a black and queer experience. I was born, raised and currently reside in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am a copywriter by profession and a poet at heart. In 2017, I self-published my first collection of poetry, titled, “Smells like Love and Other Bad Decisions.” 

Zaki aims to work on projects that are inclusive, intentional and innovative. They are purposeful with their words. Present in their world.  Consistent with their work.

“I write, I think. I think I write.”




This fighting is freedom

This fighting is freedom

Fighting for what frees me.

Fighting for what I fear.

Fighting for the feeling of this love.

Fighting for the freedom of my heart.

Fighting for a heart

That implodes towards love.

Fighting for a heart

That explodes because of love.

Fighting for a heart

That lives,

And relives.

That loves,

And loves again.


Thought I was prepared

For any pain.

Turns out I wasn’t even prepared

For any of the pleasure.

Always ready to revive my heart,

After all the loss.

Always ready to unravel my heart.

In all the lives.

Fighting for what frees me.

Fighting for what I fear.

This fighting is freedom.


Masc and Femme: The Confession

I am Queer and Black.

I am never one without the other.

I am feminine and masculine.

I am never one without the other.

I never want to be one without the other.

Each and both, individually and simultaneously beautiful, powerful and magical.

It took me a long time to fall in love the romance that breathes

Between my feminine and masculine.

The lives and loves that exist between them are not here to be understood;

Just respected.


Their lives just want to live.

Their loves just want to live.

I’m sorry if you’re confused by my energies

But please don’t disturb my energies.

Don’t interrupt my peace.

Don’t invalidate my existence.

I am because they are.


They are because I let them be.

My feminine.

My masculine.

They exist.

They co-exist.

They are.

Because I am.


When I think: Unrequited love

When I think about
unrequited love,
I think about the pain of it all.
I think about looking at someone
and them looking back
but looking through.

When I think about
unrequited love,
I think about the peace of it all.
I think about love within;
and love without.
Neither here nor there.

When I think about
unrequited love,
I think about the hurt.
Hurt that hides.
Wounded.
Waiting.

When I think about
unrequited love,
I think about healing.
Healing from a love that won’t get to live.
Healing from longing.
Longing that you have to let go.

When I think about
unrequited love,
I think about reality.
I think about a real love.
I think about the lover and the beloved.
Who am I?
Who are they?

When I think about
unrequited love,
I think about dreaming.
Dreaming about wanting.
Needing to want.
Why do we always want?

When I think about
unrequited love,
I think about falling.
Forever falling
into the empty;
the empty of love.

When I think about
unrequited love,
I think about feeling.
I think about so much feeling.
Feeling of flying;
into myself;
away from myself.

When I think about
unrequited love,

So hopeful.
So helpless.



humxn

the only thing that’s finite is: time

but like the hands of an unbroken clock

you have to keep on moving.

you keep manifesting

into different versions of yourself

every day.

who you are lies in the whispers

that you try to ignore.

who you are

is alive in the thoughts that you try to suppress.

your vision of you

shouldn’t die

because the beauty of you manifests

into shades of midnight

and rays of sunshine

with cascades of wind;

Let the wind take you where it needs to take you,

welcome, whatever you appears

softly and with purpose


but do not lie to yourself

because you could lose yourself to the wind

or you could turn into it

and the wind might feel nice but it can’t be home to a body


you need to find the home in you.

you need to find the home in the body

that you call yours;

that you want to call yours

that you see yourself in

because whatever body that you live in,

is yours entirely.


your queer

like your body

doesn’t need to be explained.

shift me

transgress me

but it’s my queer.

your queer could explode you

from the closet of your fears

but if the closet is your haven

don’t be pushed/pulled.

love your queer

accept what’s offered

without guilt or shame

don’t be swayed by any patriarchal

heteronormative ideals pushed against you

don’t be stained by tainted love

disguised in your queer.


don’t be pushed into drawing

your own blood by the thoughts

of you not being enough.

you have to see you in your queer

not what you ‘should look like’

because you shouldn’t fade away

in other people’s queer.


follow yourself blindly into your queer

into your humxn

into you

towards your love

because whatever it is

whatever you are or could be

is love

and we’re given love with the

fear of heartbreak

but we shouldn’t stop

because our lives will always be

both tender and terrifying


Breathing

As I think about all the breaths that I’ve taken.

As I think about all the breaths that I’ve forgotten to take.

As I listen to the air passing through.

As I feel the air moving between.

As my love expands.

As my love experiences.

As I live through loving.

As I love through living.


As I hold the moments of realising.

As I let go of the moments of releasing.

As I think about how easy it is, to breathe.

As I think about how hard breaths can be.

As I think about existing.

As I think about exhaling.

I think about experiences.

I think about evolving.


As I find reasons to love breathing.

As I find reasons to live through the breaths.

As I am becoming through breathing.

As I am,

Breathing. In and out.

Breaking. Down and through.

Becoming. Because of being.

Being. Because I am becoming.

As I am.



Home

Never been a place.
Always an idea.
A dream.
A moment.
Many other moments;
But never been a place.
Always been a simple word
And a difficult understanding.
An uncomplicated meaning.
A fated and fleeting feeling.
Not just a word.
Never just a feeling.
Never just.

We were warned not to make homes
out of human beings.
But how often is human,
what taught you what home is.
How often is human,
the only home you know.
Who taught you what home is?
Who taught you what home feels like?
Who showed you the way home?
Where do you go,
when you need to go home?
Where do you go,
when you need to return to yourself?

Where do you go,
when you need to live?
Where do you go,
when you need to love?
Where do you go,
when you need to leave?
Home.
The word.
The meaning.
The feeling.
The place.

Fated. Feeling. Forever.



My kind of blue

All blues

You were always miles away

But you were always there;

Until you weren’t.




You were always miles away

Until Miles came on.

When Miles came on,

We had never been so close.

I felt you and we didn’t even touch.

We spoke with no words.

We loved through the miles

Because of Miles.




You were always miles away

But when I need to be close to you,

I know where to go.




When I remember you,

I remember all the blues.

I remember that you encouraged me to feel all the blues;

To feel every blue.




You were always miles away

But you are always right here;

Through the blues.




You are all the blue in me.

You are all the blues in me.







I am

Because

You were.







Blue in green




The jazz disguised the green for blue.

The love disguised the blue for green.




I thought I was the green for you.

I thought I was the new beginnings for you.

I thought that you wanted to grow with me.

I thought that we could make our own garden.

I thought.




I believed that blue could be enough for you.

I believed that my blues weren’t too blue for you.

I believed my blue was the blue in your green.

I believed our love for the blues

Could overcome the blues.




I believed my blue was the blue in your green.

I believed I was for you.

I believed.




My thoughts and beliefs weren’t enough.

The jazz and the love couldn’t disguise.

My blue was not the blue in your green.
















So what




You will forever be

A question

Unanswered.




You will forever be

A first love;

Lived.




My love for you

Didn’t start in jazz.

But that’s where it found itself.

That’s where it keeps bumping into you.

That’s where I keep remembering you.




Why did we argue about who loved them more?

How did I know that you would be so important?

How did I fall in love

So quickly

And so slowly?

Why did I not tell you that I loved you?

What if I’ll never stop loving you?




Questions unanswered.

A first love lived.




So what if we were?

So what if we aren’t?




So what?