New poetry by Kopano Maroga, from Jesus Thesis and Other Critical Fabulations

The Johannesburg Review of Books presents new poetry by Kopano Maroga, from their volume Jesus Thesis and Other Critical Fabulations, published by uHlanga Press.


this is how it happens:
a disappearance
a sock in the laundry
a sternum that leaks

the dam wall breaks
and we never swim again
never dare to dip our toes into
the infinite possibility of drowning

every body of water is a burial
who would know sustenance if not for scarcity?
who would know presence
without his shadow absence?

i’m trying to say something profound here about loss
but if you know the thing you know the thing
and you know:
                          you’re gonna carry that weight!
from Calvary to Galilee

in the desert you cannot cry

i have so many secrets:
a collection for each
season. when spring comes
around i turn sour in my

own sweet. a mess of
sweat and spit and please,
please, please! summer is for
hunger. i eat until i throw up,

lick the floor clean until
the leaves start turning amber
and i can lie still under
blankets of bloody handprints.

in winter i dream of the
shadows becoming so long
i can cross them into the
underworld. i count my

blessings and chalk up another
death. it’s oh so quiet, i can
ask the questions that i don’t
dare to ask under the sun’s light:

        1.        how do i feel after this?
        2.        how do i crawl back into the
cave of my body and 3.        light a
fire for the heat and not the burn?

to say it plainly, i am
bursting with my own
want! reeking! wanting a
dick inside of me for

a hunger with no axis!
                a mouth by any other name
                would be just as sweet. a mouth
                by any other name would be just … sweet

there’s a less complicated way
to say this. i think it starts with
fuck and ends with me. i want you
to end in me. horizon to sun

set. dusk to dawn. seed to
harvest. if we pull the grain from
the ground at just the right time, if the
grain can be ground into meal, meal

into flour. we might have enough
bread to see us through this interminable
famine. there might be something
like life after love. an unconsecrated

sacrament. so, yes: holy spirit, mother
mary, soft god(dess) of the erection,
warrior of the wet tongue, apostle of
gaping assholes, i am asking for

it. on my knees; tongue
outstretched. i am begging to be
fed on bread and bread

touch hungry & leaking

we must keep our eyes heavenward
for hell will always be there at our feet and
to name that which would set you alight
is to speak in smoke signals
sacrifice to the clouds

where there is fire there is glass
someone who lit a match
left a cigarette
in a forest now
aflame with neglect

betrayal is not always a decision
a kiss is sometimes a prelude to Calvary
just ask Jesus, or,
better yet, Judas
no one ever remembers to ask Judas

like a middle child or a pair of keys
he is always falling through the cracks
what became of him
wracked with a guilt that simmered
his body to ash

no ceremony
no weeping
a slow and silent dissolution
unholy penance for
a bag heavier than silver

whatever happened

From Jesus Thesis and Other Critical Fabulations, © Kopano Maroga, 2020 (uHlanga Press)

  • Kopano Maroga is a performance artist, writer and cultural worker. They are currently living in Brussels, Belgium, and working as a curator and dramaturge at Kunstencentrum Vooruit in Ghent, Belgium. Their debut anthology of poetry Jesus Thesis and Other Critical Fabulations was released in December 2020 through uHlanga Press. They very much believe in the power of love as a weapon of mass construction.
Author image: Katinka Bester/Composite: The JRB

The JRB Poetry Editor is Rustum Kozain

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