Two poems

Sihle Ntuli

King Kong Enters a European Museum


full of stolen artifacts
some out in the open,
others imprisoned
behind clear glass displays
contending with ghosts of colonialism
wondering how
to fill a void of empty

& how does one explain to the children
that their heritage was lost
along with the war
as the victors rewrote history
in their image.

in celebration of their loot
unrepentant hoarders
of an empire arrogantly speaking
of owners of the artifacts
as being incapable
of holding them.

restitutions as reparations
& the spectacle of a black man’s arrest
attracted eyes
during the very moment
he was forcefully restrained.
while in handcuffs,
there was enough time  
for a black man to say

“Dans cette maison de L’Europe, quel est mon crime
 n’ai pas volé
 n’ai pas tué
 n’ai pas non plus violé comme eux”

The State versus King Kong


  1. Do you understand your role as the defendant?
  2. Will you be calling on any legal counsel to represent you?
  3. or do you rather choose to represent yourself?
  4. Will you be using your own voice?
  5. & is this not the same voice that you used as your instrument?
  6. Are all those you’ve muted here today?  
  7. Can you reveal the thresholds of their pain by blowing into this trumpet?  
  8. & when you do this how blue is the note?
  9. How deep is the guilt that gives form to your blues?  
  10. Under which ballad did you bury your conscience?
  11. Would the sound of the blues come out so smooth
    if not for the hard fingers pressing down?   
  12. How long will you pretend Makeba was the only woman singing the blues in the 70s?   
  13. Won’t you show us where you have hidden all their blues?
  14. Is the black power salute a symbol of violence?
  15. & why have you turned it against the ones you claim to love?
  16. Black man, do you even love yourself?
  17. Won’t you tell us about your role in the erasure of the strong independent black woman?
  18. Have you become a home for the blues?  
  19. What is the colour of a scream confined inside the walls of this home?
  20. Does the record player drown out all that you aren’t telling us?
  21. Do you ever sit alone in the living room contemplating all that you have done?
  22. & tell us, how loud is this silence?
Cover image: Benin Bronze, public domain, Wikimedia Commons