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Issue Three:

Simone Atangana Bekono

WINTER 2020/21


from how the first sparks became visible

translated by David Colmer


I was born in a forest


I was born and someone trained a light on me

on the birthing cloth behind me, my silhouette appeared


My silhouette opened her mouth and said

‘I exist because your body exists

Cronus devouring his children

as bloodthirsty as Goya painted him

a body become unrecognisable

greedy and chaotic

not rooted in the earth’

this was all I had to go on


I heard panting and laughter: concrete, specific sounds

my silhouette was a silhouette without specific characteristics

my silhouette was mine in an incomprehensible way

she acted on my behalf, she was only there when I looked

she existed only on the cloth


Concrete, specific sounds

I wanted to be incorporated into a system of ticks and crosses

I wanted virtual, sexual, depoliticised pleasure, inside

with my chin on the edge of the desk, on the back seat of a Tesla

removed from the menu, yes






Who made the young me sweat in bed

with visions from the psychiatric ward

girls who’ve grown obsessed with the man

and the touch of the man, and the touch of the woman

that makes them realise they want to be a man


I fear the man and want to eat him up

but I am also scared that he has eaten me up

that I was born in the man’s stomach

or ribcage or in a toe

and escaping from his body

has made me lose mine

I want to eat the man up the way I eat Facebook

and installation art

and have for years now eaten up

enormous amounts of light

shining on my face


I hoped to be able to eat the man up

to protect my sisters

but I feel what’s left of the man gnawing at my insides

searching for a way out through my womb

my navel, my open mouth


Every inch of my body

of my thinking brain

is split into two camps

I am a single moustache hair

fallen onto the chin after an attempt at union

and the attempt at union has failed

only my silhouette seems right

I will wash down the drain of the shower or I will crumble

I will drown or suffocate in the woollen jumper

removed to facilitate copulation

meanwhile I search for electricity pylons

to hang out my shrunken body

charge it, fuse it together

because my body is more than just one body


I require a state of being that will make me superfluous and all-powerful

I want to build a corridor that leads nowhere

and lock all of my bodies up in it

so they won’t harm themselves or each other

so they will be present as a single whole

without context to confirm it

billions of cancer cells that have established themselves in my father

established themselves in my mother

billions of cancer cells that have established themselves in me

waiting for the right moment

silent in a waiting room


All my poems are quiet and still

my poems have been smeared on the side of the bed

my poems are not poems

I am a puddle of blood seeping through a carpet

that tries to turn systems into words

the systems asked, ‘What can you do, now you know?’

and I was quiet, deciding to go on holiday

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Simone Atangana Bekono was born in 1991 and studied at Creative Writing ArtEZ, graduating in 2016 with hoe de eerste vonken zichtbaar waren, a collection of poems and letters which includes the poems featured in how the first sparks became visible. Atangana Bekono has also won the prestigious Charlotte Köhler Stipendium for new Dutch writers. Her first novel, Confrontatie, was published in Autumn 2020 by Lebowski Publishers.

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