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Nkateko Masinga: a poem

third world birds

how lucky some birds must be to fly at whim –

i, though eager to fly to him,

must gather more than my limbs to go:

cash, pages, stamps;

must hoist luggage onto ramps

& have more to tell the immigration officer than

"please sir, this longing will kill me"

do they know how lucky they are –

the birds i mean –

the sky their passport


like my palms when i believed

my words would take me to my lover's arms

i, caged bird

i, wingless

third world bird

pecking aimlessly at grass

what use are eyes

if they can't see the future or the past?

what use are eyes

besides probing the sky,

examining how lucky

some birds are to fly?

Nkateko Masinga is a South African poet. She is the author of a digital chapbook titled the heart is a caged animal, published by Praxis Magazine. Her latest chapbook, psalm for chrysanthemums, was selected by the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books and was published in the 2020 New Generation African Poets box set. She can be found at

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