A Test of Character

I have died many deaths
not by the sword of a foe
but by that of a friend
trying to outsmart truth

The future is rimmed
with uncertainty that tests
resilience and character

In uncertain times
friends pick up swords
and slash all hope

For choosing hope is to confirm
– anything is possible

How dare you acknowledge the truth!

I have died many deaths
but I’m still here to testify,
for someone neglected
to wipe the blood.

For Midweek Motif, Poems To Weather Uncertain Times, at Poets United.

process note: Here is a quote by Adam McKay, I like very much “Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry.”

If you don’t believe that some people hate poetry the truth, please read The poet must die by Don Mattera. I believe he wrote it during uncertain times in the history of South Africa. It’s my favourite poem by him (and has actually inspired this my poem above) because it shows what poetry can do.

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. Khaya, Thank you for sharing this. I am deeply moved by your words and I am with you 100%.
    Some people do hate (deeply fear) truth. I too am still here to testify. Thank you for spreading the joy of truth.

  2. Very powerful and relatable. I cut those who “pick up swords and slash all hope” from my life. Supportive friends are the only good friends.

  3. This is incredibly powerful, Khaya! ❤️ I resonate with “In uncertain times friends pick up swords and slash all hope,” .. sometimes we come across people in life whose energies don’t match with ours .. the way we think, we feel and act doesn’t necessarily coincide with theirs .. which is why I have learned it’s better to part ways. You, my dearest friend are a beacon of light and hope. I am so lucky to have you in my life! 🙂 Thank you so much for writing to the prompt. ❤️

  4. Lovely poem Khaya. It is full of wisdom about friends, life and truth. I also enjoyed Adam Kckay’s poetry. Thank you for the link.

  5. Ah! Khaya- it is in uncertain times we find out what everyone is made of…including ourselves. Loved this and the one by Matera.

  6. I love your poem….and also love The Poet Must Die because her breath could start a revolution. Let’s hope it does. Smiles.

  7. Most times poets are disregarded as we play with words but when poetry is used to change the world the poet may well be in danger under an undemocratic regime or one where greed and oppression rule. A lot of our mannerisms are quite bestial for a race that thinks they are so good.

  8. A poet can’t hide their truth for too long. And while I would hesitate to say we feel more deeply than others, we *do* feel things pretty deeply as a rule, and that includes a host of emotions when someone we trusted lets us down.

  9. to be let down is almost half expected, but when friends let us down, its always shocking. Takes a lot of repair coming out from those depths


  10. Hi H! Thank you so much for your visit and your encouraging comment. I’m glad you can relate. Much appreciated.🙏🏽

  11. Thank you, Val. I’m with you, when it comes to cutting loose negativity and all the drama that comes with it. It’s not always easy, but as you say supportive friends are the only goods friends…period.

  12. It’s true, sometimes we come across people like that. And sometimes we keep making excuses for their behaviour, only to prolong hurt and pain they cause.

    Thanks you too dear Sanaa for this inspiring prompt. Your comment makes me blush 🙂 But I am too grateful to have you as my supportive friend. <3

  13. Thank you Myrna. Friends, life and truth teach us a lot about ourselves. 🙂

    Btw, the poem is by Don Mattera not McKay.

  14. So true, Robin. Poets’ (and writers) habits of speaking the truth can be perceived as bestial under undemocratic regimes. And they often pay dearly for doing so.

  15. we *do*things pretty deeply, and I sometimes wonder if this is my downfall. But I’ll take that anytime over being indifferent.

  16. Hating what is, especially when it’s presented in ways some can’t accept, seems to be more and more common these days. It’s a terrible thing, a hurtful, and–thank goodness–a thing that inspires those who understand to never stop.

  17. True, hating is so common these days. But thankfully, I’ve come to realise it’s their problem not mine. And here’s to never stopping doing what we do!

  18. This part “for choosing hope is to confirm anything is possible” is the best line ever! I also love that process note 😉

Do leave a trace!