photo of Khayelitsha, South AfricaTwo Waste Poems by Chantel Lavoie The Society August 29, 2019 Culture, Poetry 4 Comments from a crown of sonnets I. In Khayelitsha, an urban township of Cape Town, an average of 635 sexual assaults on women travelling to and from toilets was reported each year. . . with total annual costs of $40 million, including medical and legal expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. —William H. Kaplain Eyes always in the dark see life as prey. So those afraid to walk at night alone must try to limit intake in the day. They do sometimes feel thirsty. Sometimes one feels hungry, but alive. One sister dead— raped, strangled, left behind the cinder blocks. Next morning the police tape’s yellow thread but no one sees a thing, and no one talks. And daughters don’t go anymore to schools in adolescence where there is no wall erected between eyes and common holes. They paint the school roof though it has no stall; I don’t see why. Each human that survives comes out of us: they’re punished with their lives. II. Human remains are sad. Though here we be in fat and muscle, bone and teeth informed made up of skin, electric energy. From matter into matter we’re transformed. Slow magic, incarnation—food for thought cellular reproduction, reflecting how by what we take in, all ways, we’re taught incessant collecting and rejecting. Receptacles receive our leftover toxin, bacteria, and all we’ve spoiled the ordure flushed away under cover or treated chemically. This once was coiled winding intestinal, dark centrepiece— what makes it go away: a gift of peace. Chantel Lavoie lives in Kingston, Ontario, where she teaches in the department of English, Culture, and Communication at the Royal Military College of Canada. She has published a book of verse titled Where the Terror Lies (Quattro Books, 2012), as well as academic monograph on eighteenth-century women poets, and is working on a novel about chimney sweeps in that century. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related 4 Responses Monty August 29, 2019 Foggy diction throughout. Reply C.B. Anderson August 31, 2019 Foggy, indeed! I never got a sense of where the narrative was going — if it was even going anywhere. I can only guess that the reader is supposed to interpret her nebulous perorations into something close to what she had in mind when she wrote these. I already know how bad things are in South Africa. What I lack is a coherent poetic rendition of the situation. Reply Erika Behrisch Elce October 3, 2019 In the tradition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, these brave poems make visible a daily struggle that too often goes unnoticed. Not everyone knows “how bad things are in South Africa,” but these poems can begin that conversation. To live without a safe place simply to go to the bathroom is inconceivable to those who haven’t experienced it. Reply Monty October 6, 2019 I admire your defence of the above pieces; and when I first read them, I also admired the author’s (seemingly heartfelt) resolve in raising the subject. But it’s the author’s choice of subject you’re defending, Erika, not the poetry. Of course the subject deserves recognition (through any medium), and the author has admirably given it recognition above; informing many who read these pages of something which they would’ve been hitherto unaware. And I’m sure that many will sympathise for those women who have to “limit their daily intake”. But these pages are used to judge poetry . . as poetry; not to judge the merits of different subject-matters. If a commenter chooses to criticise a poem, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re indifferent to the subject-matter; it simply means that they perceive there to be faults within the poem . . as a poem. I personally feel that the above author has a good command of our language, and a natural way with words; and if she afforded a bit more time and consideration to her writing – with regards to making the diction tighter – she could produce decent poetry. I hope she submits again to these pages. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.