Category Archives: Extracts found along the way

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.




Interview with the Father

I heard a taxi hit her.

And the driver ran away.



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,


like the years.


And so I cry.

Look! There’s Liliesleaf!

But no one sees.

I was alone


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,


The lamp is no longer hidden,


And I kept on waving,

My hand like light,


Like the air.


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

Extract from a diary found South of here (12) – Last Words

These are the last words that I will say to you.

Moving from room to room in the half-light of the house, dust motes caught in the slim shafts of sun slipping through the half closed curtains. I trace the tips of my fingers across old wooden shelves and glance at the photos placed before the books.

Listener’s Library beside the paisley covered high wing back rocker. Reading glasses on the dining room table, half hidden under post and papers. Dirty work shoes at the kitchen door.

Mom is crying softly in the bedroom and Dad is pacing the hall.

These are the last words that I will say to you.

The afternoon shifts westward as hands fold upon themselves, over and over and over. We close our eyes and wait for the ceiling to dissolve away, to reveal the glory of the bright white clouds above, the towering clouds we always knew were there.

In the bathroom, the tooth-brush still rests in the glass beside the toothpaste. Tubes of paste and bottles of pills in the cabinet. Silent in the gloom. I look at myself in the mirror and trace the line back into the past, beyond the foyer and front door, the oak tree and garden gate.


I hear the sound of a window being opened and in the silence, I hear the release, the breath and know the last words have been whispered.

Through the open kitchen door, I hear children playing tennis in the street.

Extract from a diary found South of here (11) – Long Distance Cycling

We cycled until we were certain that the sun had begun to rise -until the sky began to turn from black to deep blue to purple to orange and till the colours began to push back the dark covering of night and all its stars.

It was like we had ridden the curve of light into another realm where the tin roofed houses were smaller than our own, where pink flamingos stood stranded beneath ancient palm trees and thin wire fences rusted in silence through a million winter rains.

Then, at No. 36 Valhalla Street, as the eastern sky changed colour over tin roofs, you said, “Lets go back home. We’ve come far enough”.

And so we rode home with the coming dawn, back into the past.

Extract from a diary found South of here (9) – Suburbia and the end of the world

For a while, the suburbs ended a few blocks west of us.

We used to cycle there, to where the half empty street ran into a dirt cul-de-sac, to where the city puttered out into vacant space.

From there, all the way to the end of the world, it was nothing but empty farm land. We used to cycle there and imagine life beyond the distant hills. (I have a memory of heavy skies and cold wind rushing through the long bending grass. And silence).

Do you remember the day they came with the dozers and graders to extend the road? One of the workers told us that they were building new houses out there and that one day, there would be houses as far as we could see.

Later that afternoon, after the work crews had gone home, we went back and played on the machinery, until it got dark.

Then you threw a stone at one of the graders, breaking a tail light. You hated the idea of being surrounded by strangers, other people’s homes, their noise.

I have been back there, since. Without you.

I could not find where the tar had ended and the dirt began. The low ridge of hills in the distance is now covered with big, expensive houses.

Dad says it’s a golfing estate.

Later, I went back with my daughter, after the sun had set and threw a stone at one of the street lights.