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!
We present this work in honor of Human Rights Day.
Don’t sow a seed Don’t paint a wall Tomorrow it will have to fall
Let the dog howl and bark Tomorrow he will Sleep in the dark Let the cock crow Let the hen lay Tomorrow will be their last day
Let the children chop trees Let them break Let the destructive little devils Ruin and take For tomorrow they know not their fate
Don’t sow a seed Don’t pain a wall Tomorrow the yellow monster will take all
Let our sons dazed in eye Rape and steal For they are not allowed to feel Let the men drink Let them fight Let what is said about them Then be right For they are not allowed to think
So bark, howl, crow, Chop, break, ruin, Steal, drink, fight, Let what’s made of us be right
Tomorrow we gaze at a new view Seas of sand given by you And we say Sow the seed Paint the wall Be at home in our desert for all You that remade us Your mould will break And tomorrow you are going to fall
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 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