Bostwana: Slaughter | Tj Deema

There is a bellow the cow makes at the moment of slaughter
A kind killer knows how to suddenly stab and slash
The bleating goat’s throat to silence
To still the beat of a heart that surely must know
What is coming? If only once it is too late

He could slaughter and skin a goat
Taller than I could stand then
I would watch, corn-rowed hair
Squeezing conspicuously against an open wall
As he would flatten wild sage with a stomp and double thud

The reeds would lie obedient
Their sweet stench seeping unnoticed into the air
I remember the first time I saw life
Congealed at the heel of a boot, dribbling off a jack-knife
Wet on the Pointer’s short-wire fur and tongue

I am no longer that easily removed
Though the sound my green city tongue made then
Undid all his efforts at kindness
Dragging the ritual performed unwilling
Back from the sage-smoked other side
To bear witness before my youthful verdict


TJ Dema
 is a veteran spoken word poet from Botswana who has been published in multiple anthologies. She is currently a participant in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. She blogs at


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