“Nathi’s Eulogy”, yet dying stay contagious

Some people spell tired as suicide.
So when he tells you he is sleepy,
Hide the razors,
Eat the bullets,
Keep him talking until he tells you what is wrong,
Don’t you ever let him say goodnight.
Beds turn to nooses here,
Pillows already know how to steal your breath,
Sleeping pills work too well,
But you can’t keep him awake forever.
The deprivation will get him sooner,
Living is murderous here,

Breathing is a shotgun shell that never leaves the barrel,
It backfires into your sternum,
Turns your lungs into grenades without pins.
Pins you to the back of your spine,
Which is already a landmine.
You were at war here,
Even when smiling
You were holding your oxygen in,
Teaching it how to make graves out of your blood,
I wonder if you ever learned to breathe
Or if your nostrils only dripped tombstones.

It is a murderous thing,
This breath we adopt,
Death scoffs when we blame him,
Asks when we knock;
“who brought you here?”
And it is our hands that are bloody,
Our knives dangling from our throats,
Us, still trying to peel back our necks
To disown these children.
There is no exhale.
Yet dying stays contagious,
I am breathing for you now,
Sleeping for two,
Still not hiding the sleeping pills fast enough,
Your lungs weigh mine down,
Waking from nightmares,
Gasping for you.

I swear, the other day I saw you laughing,
Woke from that daydream into this nightmare,
Saw me crying,
Wrapped myself tighter in these gravel sheets
And didn’t see the world for two days
trying to mimic your dying.
The sun is rising today
And I still see you everywhere.
I accidentally dialled your number,
God did not answer,
I have no one to share this joke with,
Laughing becomes a funeral song,
Breathing is a shotgun shell that never leaves the barrel,
I am firing at everything.

Knocking down walls with my screams,
Everyone says how dignified my sorrow is,
They do not know these insides are walls,
I built another one today,
How close we were to Jericho,
It was not gun powder and mortar
That brought yours crumbling down,
Just unheard trumpets and screams.

I do not think I will let another person in,
It is all cemetery here,
All unvisited graves and stolen bouquets,
All waiting for ghosts at midnight,
All searching for you, all dialling tone,
All the number you have dialled does not exist,
All nothing, that leaves no space for breath,
For sleep, for pill, for pillow, for noose.
The last note you wrote was not a poem
But instructions for your burial.
Your mother says the dead cannot speak
And the breathing cannot rewrite history,
So I have stopped listening to your poems
And trying to rewrite suicide as tired.


Your sorrow is not a river; it is not here to drown you.
It is holy water, here to baptise you.
But if you feel your chest exploding,
those are your lungs, turning into life rafts.


Courtesy of the author

Link to the Italian translation

Xabiso Vili South African Xabiso Vili, 2022 Poetry Slam World Champion, is a multi-awarded artist who has perfomed all over the world.

Among South Africa’s top contemporary poets, he has been awarded as spoken word artist, writer, producer, digital strategist and new media artist (he works on augmented and virtual reality projects).

He believes poetry to be a tool for healing – for both the author and the reader/listener and also an instrument to positively influence one’s community, promoting inclusion and the sharing of words in innovative spaces.

His poetry explores the inner world to catch the thin threads connecting it to the outer world. Often with the help of digital audiovisual, he explores the relationship between ancestral past, present and future.

In October 2023 he performed for the first time in Italy at the event “Parole in folle” in Padova and Bologna with the poem above, “Forget how to Die” and the previously unrealesed “Tonight I Am the James Webb Telescope“.

Lascia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *