21 Days/21 Poems: Naked by Tari Mtetwa

Zimbabwean women at Independence, 1980.  A Zenzo Nkobi photo.
Zimbabwean women at Independence, 1980. A Zenzo Nkobi photo.

 April 18 is Zimbabwe’s Independence Day and therefore, a Southern African poet for today’s Another 21 Days/21 Poems.

The young Zimbabwean poet, Tari Mtetwa, is a new discovery for me.  I found him while perusing the list of Zimbabwean poets featured on the website of The Poetry International Foundation.  I’m so taken by his work that I’m posting not one, but two poems of his today.  I’m particularity drawn to the second poem,  ‘Never Thought I’d Be A River’.

My decision to headline ‘Naked’ is a shout out to Parrish Lantern (The Parrish Lantern), a fellow book blogger and poetry lover.  Parrish has a delightful habit of leaving complete poems as comments to some of my poetry-related posts.  So I was not surprised when I came across this post, From Parrish….With Love,  while searching the interwebs for information on Tari Mtetwa.  Parrish had left ‘Naked” as a comment on a  blog post by Toxic Musings. Simply put, Parrish spreads poetry and I am very grateful for that!

Enjoy the following two poems!


The candle eats itself
just so it affirms my nakedness
the nakedness I’d be ignorant of
but sadly know
the nakedness I’d not think of
but too conscious of to ignore
the nakedness I can’t like
but dread to hate
the nakedness I can’t let go
but am ashamed of possessing
the nakedness my mind watches
when the eye turns away
the nakedness that blows the candle
but fails to hide itself in the dark
the nakedness that’s sure
that the self itself is naked
of its own naked self
the nakedness that’s all-knowing
that naked I entered this world
and though never ready
soon I leave its nakedness
naked still

– by Tari Mtetwa, 2011

Source:  Poetry Web International


Never thought I’d be a river
and flow my freshness
into a salty sea
or surrender my life
into its dead end
never thought I’d lose my song
for its void silence
and the freedom of my waters
for its troubled waves
that are eternally the sea

– by Tari Mtetwa

Source:  Poetry Web International

Both poems are copyrights of poet.  You can read more about Mtetwa’s work here

Please visit The Zenzo Nkobi Heritiage for more photos from 1980 on Zimbabwe’s Struggle for Freedom



  1. I love the first one, holding on to a part of you that you love but are ashamed to possess.
    And flow my freshness into the salty sea. Your play with words is amazing


  2. both poems are strong… speak strongly… and affects the reader. The last two lines of the first one smells of one who has studied his literature very well. This will be among the most interesting pieces I’ve read in a long time. Your 21/21 is highly inspiring. I enjoyed that Caribbean poet too. And now this Zimbabwean. He has challenged me to go back to writing.

    Thanks for sharing.


  3. Hi Kinna, thanks for the kind words, as to leaving “pomes” about the web I’m not sure if I’m planting seeds hoping they will grow or just acting like some little puppy leaving small piles wherever I’ve been. But still enjoying this personal form of graffiti/vandalism and in that spirit Happy Independence day Zimbabwe

    LOST FOR WORDS -Myruthazkeepa

    The words I’m about to speak were stolen from my tongue
    Now I’m spoken for by some deaf corporate soul with funds
    Who distorts them all and sells them back to me in the form of newspaper
    So my own story becomes new data
    I wanted to be a verbal artist ‘cause I’ve got love for speech
    But money talks and I can’t afford the pleasures of such luxuries
    So I remain mum – like others in the place I came from
    Now tears have replaced the liberating words I gave up.
    So, should I play dumb and just accept and open
    My mouth to recite new words in the form of slogans?
    Why should I rejoice at a new voice if I don’t own it?
    Why should I have an inner voice if I can’t expose it in sound
    If my soul is renounced, then I’m as good as dead
    If I didn’t love the stone house, I would have fled
    But I remain hidden in the dark corners where I won’t be heard
    Teaching myself to speak until I get lost for words …


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