The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

Tsitsi Jaji: 2 Poems Published

Poems by Tsitsi Jaji (Zimbabwe/ USA)

Published in Issue 39 of The Ofi Press










Strangely you loom, Finger, like the stench

of October before the earth unwraps herself to rain.


How slow and how sudden your fleshy approach,

as if only the last moment announced your impulse.


Into these tropics you come, anxious for adventure

turquoise and electric yellow. Then you fumble for a souvenir


I will not give.

I will not give.


I will not give.

You have the sand, and I, this gray-green gravel.


You have sun, and I, this fluorescence.

You have coral, and I, this oily glass,


filthy with your imprint.

I will not give.



Strange, how you bulge Fish, ogling me down.

You are made of stillness, her actual substance,


yet your flitting tail speeds you away from me,

into the vastness of your watery cage.


Fondness is like a jackhammer against the city’s walkway.

Fondness pounds the glass into stagnant time, a cataclysmic and insistent finger.


Strangely you float, somewhere

beneath the weight of a meniscus, like


a long lost water horse, serrating

the water with your gaping mouth.


Naartje and mango-green,

you swerve against the surface.


When do you get hungry? When do you drink?

Why do you never hurry, never wag, never answer


when I call your name?

About the Poet

Tsitsi Jaji was born at Nyadire Mission in 1976, and raised in Harare. After completing her A’ levels on scholarship at Arundel she moved to the U.S. to study piano and literature at Oberlin College. She earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Cornell University and is now an assistant professor of English at University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. Many of her poems are inspired by music and the experience of living in the diaspora. In addition to poetry she writes literary criticism, and her scholarly book Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music and Pan-African Solidarity was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. She is also author of a chapbook, “Carnaval,” included in the boxed set Seven New Generation African Poets edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani (Slapering Hol, 2014).

Images by A. Davey (2009) and Helen Melissakis (2011)