A love potion is termed as a substance (a brew or one close to alcohol) which when taken causes infatuation or obsession towards the person from whom it was received. In worse cases, a love potion is likened to an aphrodisiac, a substance made with or containing ingredients that intensify or arouse sexual desire.

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The cover image of The Love Potion.

In the first poem in the collection, Hand in Hand, Charl Landsberg to the side of the world where a certain kind of love is abominable. Landsberg is passionate about LGTBQI issues, as stated in his biography. The two people (whose gender isn’t clear) in the poem are involved in a relationship that makes them liable to a haul of slurs, “judging glares”, or even worse, a lynching. The play, drama, movie, dance, or whatever had taken people to the theater, despite not being mentioned by the poet, could be responsible for influencing the views of the majority.

I think that, sometimes, the pleasures art gives aren’t because of its truthfulness or marvelous conveyance of spirit but because of how it justifies the ways of those who find it emotionally satiating. If we try to estimate the time between “we arrived quite early for the show” and “we walked through that crowded theater hall” we can get closer to understanding the fate of the couple in the poem, and the moral stand of the society. The word “quite” is like a halt, an indication of fear, the body’s way of saying no.

Most of the poems that come after Hand In Hand deal with a tormenting inability to move on from being the bearer of feelings.

In Life, Motena Tintswalo writes;

I guess what we have is a love-hate relationship.
Sometimes I wish I could close my eyes and never see you again.

When we think of a love potion, we think of it as “induced blindness” (taken from the phrase love is blind). But here, the act of closing one´s eyes, if it weren´t merely a lingering wish, would mean suicide to one´s own body and hence death to love feelings too. It seems as though love and death go together; that in some instances one has to first die to understand the pains of love. This reminds me of Men Die When They Fall in Love, a poem I wrote a few years ago.

Ravona writes in her poem Love Hurts that:

What knows a bleeding heart
than to love.
All I know is your love made my nose run red and my body dead.

Then there are other poems where love and its pain lead to adaption or the evolution of a new being like in Analgesia by Ashraf Booley:

Pain numbs pain;
razor-blades and minora blades
bandage bleak memories
etched across blood-blotched skin-
where sagacity has gone astray.

Two poems in the collection are concerned with the unannounced “departure” of love and the judgment of its lifespan, as a living thing or “being”.

Menzi Maseko´s On My Own tells of a time when love´s charm outlives the mortality of a people´s beloved. The How Can Love Be Dead? that seems to give birth to the whole poem is directed towards Love itself and the person who asks it. Ameer Shaikh´s poem Can A Poem Ever Die? on the other hand is about a different possibility. Here, “poem” takes the place of “love”. It breathes the air of words and celebrates the scent of ink. But unlike humans, where death is inevitable, the creation of a poem isn´t effective at making this fact of life known from the beginning.

Poems, like love and humans thrive because of different reasons. Some, if not most thrive because of the questions they engender, and not those they answer. One of the questions that come from Ameer´s poem is: What makes a poem special? Special in a way that in wondering about its susceptibility to death the adverb “ever” is used. A poem lives such a beautiful life that one never expects it to die. What is the “death” of a poem anyway? To Ameer, “a poem dies when it loses meaning”. Doesn’t love too?

The poems in the collection fail by being lopsided in their exploration of the effects of love and its charms. I’d expect some merriment in one being crazy over another. Perhaps?

The Love Potion is a print quarterly publication by Poetry Potion.

Love poems, poetry about love. Love for country, lover, friend, family, self, life, nature, freedom, truth…and so much more are things that this edition explores.

Copies of this title and more are available for purchase and delivery worldwide on our online bookshop, and in our points of sale in Kampala, Uganda, and in Kigali, Rwanda.

 

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