Who was it that cried out? This cry, a call that opens night breaks out like a bird breaking to greet dawn, or the arrival of a high tide that brings schools of fish whose scales make the waters glint and shimmer, glint and shimmer.
Who cried? Who woke us to such things on such a dark night? Do not ask. No, do not ask. The moon will make a basin for tears and where your heart beats a well will dry up and the weight of ships leaning against the wind will make you think of a woman hanging in the hammock of an early death.
We present this work in honor of the Day of Reconciliation.
in the night when everything was black burnt to a cross of ash on the blind glass and the dog’s bark a dark kite blowing away in darkness to where the moon tears like the keel of a sinking boat I dreamt my language
the title page smeared black with signs now undecipherable raw and inside the book I saw my reflection standing there three times
first among dead friends with mottled grieving faces like dogs staring directly into the blind window while their thoughts like empty glasses turning in the hands and I was there thin neck and moustache our poems are slaves each with a full wave feathers proudly on the head
then in a tableau at departure in the garden of the night with cape of white hair my mother an aged virgin in my embrace and further back in the folds of memory all other trusteds as torches of forgetting
were I now the prophet sent to spy if there is life in this world or the senseless exile returning to say our language was a footnote under the illegible page history?
a last time on a bench in the empty garden of a madhouse of toothless ageds as skeletons with little bitter flesh swaddled in the blanket and wild tuft and eyes blind marbles
bow and mutter bow and mutter many words oh many words but only the whispering of dead slaves but not enough to groove or make boat and outside of the book beyond all listening the bark and the wind and the ash of the moon in dark water
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 65th birthday.
He fell from the ninth floor He hanged himself He slipped on a piece of soap while washing He hanged himself He slipped on a piece of soap while washing He fell from the ninth floor He hanged himself while washing He slipped from the ninth floor He hung from the ninth floor He slipped on the ninth floor while washing He fell from a piece of soap while slipping He hung from the ninth floor He washed from the ninth floor while slipping He hung from a piece of soap while washing.
We present this work in honor of the South African holiday, Youth Day.
I am with those who abuse sex because the individual doesn’t count with those who get drunk against the abyss of the brain against the illusion that life once was good or had beauty or sense against the garden parties of falsehood against the silence that beats into the temples with those who poor and old race against death the atom-bomb of the days and in shacks count the last flies on the walls with those stupefied in institutions shocked with electric currents through the cataracts of the senses with those who have been depraived of their hearts like the light out of the robot of safety with those coloured, african dispossessed with those who murder because every death confirms anew the lie of life And please forget about justice it doesn’t exist about brotherhood it’s deceit about love it has no right
Here lies, buried, precious treasure The future of our beloved land Pride of our fledgling nation Our youth, our joy, our hope, Now turned to sorrowing dust.
They were all young, but children, really In the full flush of youth Such promise for the hungry tomorrow Blessings betrayed and all rules Of nature turned upside down.
The girls gaily giggled The young men, boys, really, Whistled and winked as they strutted about It was all such fun, such youthful fun The words of parents paled beside.
The words of parents, mostly whispered; And even that by but a few. A whole nation looked on, but shirked duty As the future swiftly withered and died.
They were in school, but the teachers taught nothing. Some went to church, but the priests spoke little about daily living; Pie in the sky and peace and bliss hereafter, their only platform.
Gone too, the wisdom of the Old Foresaken, the knowledge of yesteryear That knew and accepted what is only natural Understood the folly that would block the swells of a surging river And knew how all children needed mothers and fathers; Embraced all thildren; charged every man and woman with their nurturing.
‘It takes a village’, belatedly, we now say; at last remembering Faded lessons, traditions hastily discarded in blind pursuit Of progress, of fashion, of assimilation. Now, finally seeing How we ran open-armed, embracing our annihilation. Now, sorrow jogs memory and we join empty hands As we frantically try once more to guide, To lead the new generation as before, To show the way to the House of Adulthood Leaving none behind, losing few as can be.
Eye turned back to a time long forgotten When the measure of a man Was not the fatness of his pocket But his deeds of glory; shunning abomination. When neighbour trusted neighbour; his safety secure at his presence His home, his folk, his property – all sovereign His neighbour, his best protection against all His children, insurance against old age and infirmity. But that was before the nation learnt to bury all its children; See its morrow fade, its treasure interred; The youth, its pride, its hope and joy obliterated. The nation’s tomorrow, no more – ah, sad day, When we buried our most precious treasures!