Mama, they tell me you were a dancer they tell me you had long beautiful legs to carry your graceful body they tell me you were a dancer
Mama, they tell me you sang beautiful solos they tell me you closed your eyes always when the feeling of the song was right, and lifted your face up to the sky they tell me you were an enchanting dancer
Mama, they tell me you were always so gentle they talk of a willow tree swaying lovingly over clear running water in early Spring when they talk of you they tell me you were a slow dancer
Mama, they tell me you were a wedding dancer they tell me you smiled and closed your eyes your arms curving outward just a little and your feet shuffling in the sand; tshi tshi tshitshitshitha, tshitshi tshishitshitha O hee! How I wish I was there to see you they tell me you were a pleasure to watch
Mama, they tell me I am a dancer too but I don’t know… I don’t know for sure what a wedding dancer is there are no more weddings but many, many funerals where we sing and dance running fast with the coffin of a would-be bride or a would-be groom strange smiles have replaced our tears our eyes are full of vengeance, Mama
Dear, dear Mama, they tell me I am a funeral dancer
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 75th birthday.
After writing on paper the word coyote You must watch out that the meat-craving word Does not take over the page, Does not manage to hide Behind the word jacaranda To wait for the word hare to pass by And then tear it apart. In order to prevent it, To sound the alarm When the coyote stealthily Prepares its ambush, Some old masters Who know the spells of language Recommend tracing the word match Rubbing it against the word stone And lighting up the word fire To scare it away. There is no coyote or jackal, no hyena or jaguar, No puma or wolf thar won’t flee When fire converses with air.
We present this work in honor of the South African holiday, Day of Good Will.
One day the Hillbrow Tower started to cry. Real tears poured down its sides collected in the gutters, and ran down Banket Street, and when the other buildings saw the tower’s sadness they started to weep in sympathy. Soon the whole city was sobbing, the tears joined other tears and filled the depressions and valleys. They covered the koppies, and collected in City Deep, cascading over Gold Reef City flooding Fordsburg and soaking Soweto. They flowed until they became a river that carried us into the night, where our dreams grew taller than buildings taller than buildings
We present this work in honor of the South African holiday, Day of Reconciliation.
God grafted the lines of the universe Making the sunshine At the birth of every being. The fire that lights, Through which new rays of life breaks, A moment of time, Where our new voices collectively Must heal the diseased land-souls, Liking the aged and the unborn. Turning our childless grave yards Into laughing homes, Where our people are empowered and developed
The chains of our past Should not trouble us forever, But seal the lips of slavery caves. Our people should stop To live under the tyranny of silence, Turn deserted lands into farm fields. We must sow the seeds of UBUNTU Building and shaping our future on firm grounds, So that our royal languages can echo proverbs, At a place where our ancestors walked. Let us help the poor and the lame To open the closed doors So that they can dress our hearts differently. Let us move earth and assemble our villages So that our tears can become raindrops For the sea of education For the rivers of prosperity For the lakes of democracy
Our voices should write new poetic bibles And prose of golden beauty, Casting away HIV/AIDS- unemployment and felony Let us use our voices to fashion the old Build strong bridges of awareness Bridges that will take us far beyond The skyline of time. Bridges that will transform our core from Dance floors of misconception As we re-create who we really are.
Let us dress our behaviours like monks Allowing our offspring to pick fruits From the highest trees of spirituality So that they can destroy the walls of orphan villages Giving each home a name
We are pillars of a proud vote Bound by a period in which Every being must speak colour sounds Of togetherness. Let our voices find ways In which the webs of life are woven
A place where mothers cannot escape The messages of their own bodies. Let’s allow our fathers’ spirits To stretch and match science, history and politics Let our unique voices teach us How to dig, plant, water our seeds So that we can buy our children’s smiles. Let our words call peace As ancient drums still our voices Sending us to a place Where the love of UNITY lives To draw our people as a unit, Let our SUNRISE voices shout For we know where it all begun We know where we are We know where we are heading
The sparks of the sun Opened the sealed envelop of my words They, tied in endless riddles Are perused out to the world by my faith For God grafted the lines of the universe Making the sun shine At the birth of my soul. The fire that lights, Through which new rays of life break, A moment of time, When our voice together Must weave the diseased land-souls Liking the age and the unborn. Turning our childless grave yards into laughing homes Where our people can speak the same Let our SUNRISE voices shout
Very much the bride with a belly of five months she made her devotions to insomnia. Three knocks on wood cracked her open. The thieves shrieked around the splinters. Very much the bride she cold-creamed her face, abandoned in the middle of her honeymoon. “Let battle commence!” the little boys said.
Let the stone-ground light exist. We were not inhibited and trod on each others’ feet as when dancing a bolero. I bumped into his groin, splitting it on purpose. Villain that I was trod on it I poured cold water on his message. I told him I was tender, that I anchored my self at street corners. Let the yellow light of oregano exist.
In honor of Revolution Day, we present this work by one of contemporary Mexico’s cleverest poets.
Having just heard, my love, that you won a seat by popular vote, I am overwhelmed with joy for you and your electorate and because I know you well I am sure you will legislate with courage and devotion making your voters feel represented forget these household chores a while you don’t have a spouse for nothing and focus on the legislative charge assigned you receive the citizens’ demands attend the sessions ascend the podium assert your views hear out your committee chairman be yourself and above all legislate, legislate, legislate our bed will not feel the void caused by all those nights you work late, legislating you will receive a salary and they will give you bonds and business trips and cell phones and chauffeurs and try, my love, not to be corrupted try to stay honest because you, Honorable Representative woman of laws and convictions our advocate you are our voice in Congress although I did not vote for you forgive me but I never thought you’d win.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 60th birthday.
How they strut about, people in love, How tall they grow, pleased with themselves, Their hair, glossy, their skin shining. They don’t remember who they have been.
How filmic they are just for this time. How important they’ve become – secret, above The order of things, the dreary mundane. Every church bell ringing, a fresh sign. How dull the lot that are not in love. Their clothes shabby, their skin lustreless; How clueless they are, hair a mess; how they trudge Up and down the streets in the rain,
remembering one kiss in a dark alley, A touch in a changing room, if lucky, a lovely wait For the phone to ring, maybe, baby. The past with its rush of velvet, its secret hush Already miles away, dimming now, in the late day.