Last songs in School Halls

The wind calls from the corners of the house,

Carrying dreams to distant hills,

In sleep, I sensed the owl

And heard the tall trees

talking in the dark.

 

When we were younger,

We caught the early bus

To small towns

And at the end,

We slow danced with the echoes:

Last songs in school halls.

 

 

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Interview with the Father

I heard a taxi hit her.

And the driver ran away.

 

After,

the unasked slips

across the road with the shattered glass –

Because she was still small to me.

 

Now her unhurt face

Between my palms, at least

That I have, but nothing else.

 

The black shoe, back there,

beyond the yellow tape,

a solitary full stop.

 

(For Thulani Mtshali, whose 14 year old daughter died after being struck by a mini bus taxi on 6 March 2019).

The State Against Mandela and Others

That was me!

And looks around the darkened hall,

the ghost has not remained

back there, the voice

it travels through the wires,

unchanging,

like the years.

 

And so I cry.

Look! There’s Liliesleaf!

But no one sees.

I was alone

there,

I held my place,

under pictures

on a wall

 

In the Showroom of Cars

But we have children now so

Our past is no longer ours alone,

And outside, the years float

like God,

A cork in the water, my hate

Dissolves with the anger in my pocket.

Then later, I drive in the car,

Hooting:

The lamp is no longer hidden,

 

And I kept on waving,

My hand like light,

Unrestricted

Like the air.

 

(based on the story told by Mr Alwinus Ndodiphela Mralasi to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa)

Notes from the field (8)- Travel at night

When I was young, sometimes

we rode the trains overnight

to new houses,

loud dreams

riding a rough disjointed shaft,

rumbling deep into the night.

 

And in the spaces:

towns lit

like strange vessels seen from a distance

sailing some dark and blackened ocean.

 

Dirty yellow stations,

words behind the shuttered windows

and I

asleep in rough blankets

am carried across the shores of memory

toward the vast and orange expanse

of dawn.

“Sometimes Afraid” from the Series: “Who we are”

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“The voices in my head are shadows, shadows
She comes to me, to tell me what they’re after
Says it ain’t the end boy but you best be careful, careful
Might catch your tail end in a circle, circle”

  • With thanks to Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros (Child)