THE POET’S HAVEN: ‘Unauthorized Transactions’ by Chioniso Tsikisayi

CHIONISO TSIKISAYI is a creative writer, poet, filmmaker and playwright from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She took first runner up for the 65th Kenya Poetry Slam Africa Contest. 

The Poets Haven ZimSphere: Unauthorized Transactions by Chioniso Tsikisayi

Her work has been featured in Brittle Paper, Isele Magazine, The Kalahari Review, Ipikai Poetry Journal , Agbowó art, AFREADA, Intwasa Short Stories Volume Two, Imbiza Journal for African Writing, Tesserae; a mosaic of poems by Zimbabwean women. 

In 2022, her debut play, A Woman Has Two Mouths was shortlisted for the African Women Playwrights Network Festival of Plays held in Accra, Ghana. She won the Canopus Award 2023 for excellence in interstellar writing in the Original Local Short Form Fiction Category for her short story "Gumbojena." 

She won the Ibua Bold Continental Call for Climate Change, Poetry category and the 2023 Roil Bulawayo Arts Award for Outstanding Poet of the Year. 

Chioniso Tsikisayi 

In 2024 she gained her first NAMA nomination for Outstanding Poet. She is a Creative Writing Alumnus of the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study. 

Her debut novel What It Means To Outlive A Daughter was longlisted for the 2024 Island Prize. She is currently a participant in the Accountability Lab Zimbabwe Film Fellowship Program.

Unauthorized Transactions

By Chioniso Tsikisayi

The transaction of this life

could not be authorized.

        This account is frozen on account of the corpse left cold on the bank of the river side

unaccounted for,

Here figures go missing

   and there is no interest

to accrue

in the ledgers of abuse

  daughters are a disappearing act

Just read between the margins of blood

Watch the red ink spill across the page

a map outlining another statistic at the garage, at the internet Cafe.

At the bus stop

a brief description of the colour of bone, flesh,

suburban teeth in privilege

  the torn shreds of dignity

     a gross expenditure of grief

Who audits the years of silence and muffled screams that go by?

when a missile tears through the sky

      children buried in the rubble of war.

And all our sons

  set to rise on a broken axis

in the name of strength and virility

the soldiers who plunder the earth and loot the bodies of civilian husbands.

   The skulls of infants buried under the naked breast of oppression

and ethnic cleansing.

 credit the giver of breath

debit the receiver of the lifeless vessel

the wives who return home bruised in caskets

 the aunties who dared to walk home alone at night.

 the girls who danced in a club,

 For the girlfriend who left her lover and paid with her life for it.

Scars blooming on the necklines

 a fruit basket of fragrant decay.

 how numb we've grown to the violence

when a man deposits a fist on the bone of Eve's daughter.

and withdraws an Adam's apple tainted in blood

The poison of domestic disputes

running through the tap water.

We drink from the source of our wounds

   a kettle reaches boiling point,

and a son is told he is useless because he cannot provide.

He grows into a lover whose provision is assault

Whose weapon is the baritone voice

growling in the canon of his body.

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