I am the only eye above the painting
Running towards the colours I will never see.
Striving for the impersonal touch, like kitchen wall paper.
I am the only thinker in my mind, always present, always willing to look.
And if I don’t, my art will be of no use, not even a hand without
fingerprints is innocent.
And they shrug off, saying, “It’s only a play, it’s only a book, a
radio show, a sketch, a poem…”
That is their safety net.
Not knowing it is reality, illusion, fantasy, truth…
I have weaved together in this poem thing.
Art is like running away from home on a way to home.
Running towards a song you will never hear, wide awake dreaming.
The song’s music, in my heart strings, is too fine to be in tune with
Transcend the aloneness of being in this moment, in this universe.
I would return to the world with new awareness about how to make it
what I want it to be.
My work, my wounds, my warnings, my art
Surfaces plainly from the boils and lesions of sleep
I am the artist among the wounded (knee),
A poet made of work, thoughts and patience.
Through these tortured hands, mind, legs, heart, eyes,
The artist in me holds me in his bosom.
I paint, draw, write…, without licence.
I am an amateur.
And it’s only the squares that are bothered.
The rest of us get on with the program.
Writing, drawing, painting, photographing, singing, and dancing together…
Fantasy and reality, truth and falsity, all acting upon the other.
We are victims of footsteps made over a lifetime.
Some may have been necessary at one point in life,
But the question I ask with my art is;
Are they appropriate to my life, to your life, to your situation?
Although the truth about this is always simple, It is not necessarily
rational- it maybe a mystery.
Our personal thoughts determine how we respond to events in our lives.
The situations have no good or bad quality in themselves. This reality
is complex, but truthful, maybe beautiful.
Simple and beautiful.
Like the truth, itself.
Thus I draw what I feel, not exactly what I see.
I record the truth as it affects me.
The action itself is produced by my imprints: The way I am myself in
this creation of my past, present, and future.
With words, actions, thoughts, feelings.
It’s me who has the ability to change them.
Science, mathematics, business measures things,
The world, entities…, everything! Even you!
Insert tools between reality and our perceptions of the reality.
Our sense organs mediate between reality and self, our “self.”
This reality is multilayered
This truth is not always on the surface.
Art is not necessarily the way things are arranged beautifully
But the ability to face the subject head on.
I act as a pupil of the truth, pulling it from wherever, from whatever
I take the small slice of the visible world
Architect a plausible alternative.
Naming that thing that others attempt to keep silent about
My art is erosion, always moving away from what was meant.
Someone carries a broken guitar to my waiting hands.
I have to go on and strum the invisible strings
In my heart, on this guitar.
Not questioning the music I am making.
You have handed the guitar to me by reading me here
So listen to the song, close your eyes, open your eyes…
Open your ears, open your heart, open your mind…
Listen to the music bubbling in your ears,
Running towards the song you will never hear.
Art is a safe place to try to connect
Seemingly disparate opposites.
It is like two dance partners who fear each other as they yearn for each other.
Art allows these contradictions (oh, so many in this poem now!)
To co-exist like dancing partners try to co-exist when they are not dancing
By making sure that the music continues playing in their hearts.
They don’t stop dancing to the music even when they have really stopped.
They are dancing to the music in their hearts.
It reminds me of walking with a friend from the church. She loved me,
holding hands, unaware of our world, the gutted tarred roads, dusty
paths, rubbish, flowers… A girl I loved; we loved each other, as
friends, as brother and sister, as comfortable lovers, as partners.
The pole would come between us, we would separate hands, stop holding
each other. I felt so lost when I had to let go her hand, only to
rejoin hands beyond the pole. It was like loss of heaven when we had
to part hands.
Out of the loss from that pole, comes art.
Our hands were the objects
Objects I use, to join together, to create an art object.
These objects I link together get lost, separates.
Yet I do not stop from searching for new objects
Put them together, even temporarily.
I use these objects as scaffold for my art.
Being an artist is a licence to be myself,
It’s the price to be myself.
That you will be yourself.
A lot of people cannot be themselves.
They can only do it through me, my art.
The idea to reveal it is not a light bulb turning on, but one turning
off to cast the reader, the audience, the viewer, the follower, you,
him, her; into a state of turmoil, contemplations, wonder, mystery…,
the mystic power; that rests within the music (languages, colours,
energies, meanings…) of my words, drawings, paints, photos, etc…
I bring it out, I create it, I manifest great power through it…
I am grateful
Grateful for the gift of life
The hallmark of the mystic,
The source of art, the primary wellspring of every belief system.
My art springs from the inner roots of the tree of the mind.
Sometimes from the internal emptiness of thought
Always figuring how far I can go without crossing the boundary.
Yes, that yellow line, there.
How that line can be pushed
To lose its function of limiting myself.
I am the bird sitting on a tree
Never afraid of the branch breaking
I am the bird sitting on top of electricity lines
Never afraid of electrocution
My trust is not on the branch
Not in the energy of the wires
My trust is in the blood in my legs
My trust is in the flight in my wings.
TENDAI RINOS MWANAKA is a multidisciplinary artist from Chitungwiza,
Zimbabwe. His oeuvre of works intersects literary disciplines (non-fictions, poetry, plays, fictions), music and sound art disciplines, and visual art disciplines (photography, drawings, paintings, video, collage). He is the author of Voices from Exile, a collection of poetry on Zimbabwe’s political situation and his exile in South Africa, and Keys in the River, a novel of interlinked stories that deals with life in modern Zimbabwe. The Blame Game, a book of creative non-fictions on Zimbabwe, was published in 2013. His work has been translated into French and Spanish, has been published in over 300 journals, anthologies and magazines in 27 countries, and has been nominated, shortlisted and won several literary prizes.