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you stood tall.

shoulder to shoulder with your oppressed compatriots bludgeoned by the jackboot of Apartheid South Africa.

you stood tall.

shoulder to shoulder with your fellow interned comrades on that desolate rock, Robben Island.

you stood tall.

shoulder to shoulder with those who yearned for freedom, for the common decency of being treated as human beings.

you stood tall.

your principles of non-racialism steadfast as your commitment to the freedom and democracy you and your comrades dedicated your entire lives to achieve.

you stood tall.

in the face of the brutality of the Apartheid state, as they tried to break spirits that could not be shaken.

you stood tall.

for 27 long years, alongside your comrades Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Denis Goldberg, and Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba.

you stood tall.

inspiring a generation to continue the struggle against Apartheid tyranny, your example burned bright in the hearts of those who yearned for, and fought for the freedom of South Africa.

you stood tall, comrade Ahmed Kathrada.
you stood tall, uncle Kathy.

you stood tall. and you shall stand tall.

you shall stand tall, for those of us you leave behind.

you shall always stand tall, for those yet to come.

you shall always stand tall.

Amandla!
The Struggle Continues!
Aluta Continua!

     _________

http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/ahmed-kathrada

repost: a child of war

​I am so pained to be reposting these poems. It seems like the so-called leaders and those who carry out wanton violence in the name of religion and caste, gender, land, wherever they may come from, are dragging our world further into the callous abyss of bloodletting. It cannot go on this way. It must not go on this way. It must not be allowed to go on this way. I am helplessly wishing for peace inspite of the orgy of violence and death that seems to have consumed this fragile planet we all call home.




a child of war…


 

as she lies bleeding,

the girl who skipped, hopped to school,

all of nine and a half years old,

with ribbons in her hair and a laugh that was her father’s pride.


 


as she lies bleeding,

shrapnel lodged in her torn stomach,

she stares at her skipping rope,

as her blood soaks it the colour of cherries her mummy buys.


 


as she lies bleeding,

she sees people all around thick black smoke,

blurred visions of scattering feet, shoes left behind,

hearing nothing but the pinging in her smashed eardrums.


 


as she lies bleeding,

she slips away and then she is dead,

a mangled heap of a nine and a half year old girl,

whose laugh was her father’s pride.


 


 


as she lies bleeding,

for even in death she bleeds some more,

shrapnel wedged in her torn stomach,

stealing the light from her bright little eyes.




as she lies bleeding …


in jallianwala bagh in ‘19,

leningrad in ‘42,

freetown in ‘98,

soweto in ‘76,

new york in ’01,

jenin in ‘02,

hanoi in ‘68,

beirut in ‘85,


raqqa, london,

basra, mosul,

yemen, paris,

now.


 


as she lies bleeding,

a little nine and a half year old girl,

whose laugh was her parent’s pride,

we know she’ll bleed more,


tomorrow and in many tomorrows yet unborn,


with shrapnel in her stomach,

ripped open and torn.


 


as she lies bleeding …

the stench of prejudice.



1.




when rancid prejudice strikes,

in cocooned fungal minds, narrow, superficially deep,


an insidious venom begins to seep,


into our consciousness as we sleep.



2.



bigoted beliefs held so true, so deep,

stripped of feeling,


empty, hollow, feigned, designed, branded as compassion,


feeds the conceit in chests swollen and rotten with self-righteous passion.



3.



the insidious extremism once firmly entrenched,


envelopes all, not unlike a comforting shawl,


needing more and more bluster to fester, and to mutate,


into doctrines of superiority, bigotry, and new fashioned, ‘palatable’ hate.



4.



are we guilty of succumbing to this virulent plague?


sipping our cappuccinos, and shovelling more, always more onto our heaving plates,


falling, slipping into inebriated stasis, without care,


as the stench of hate, prejudice, gay-bashing, terrorism, racism, antisemitism, islamophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, casteism, tribalism,


continues to belch into the polluted air.

in God’s name

rape,
pillage,

slaughter,


in God’s name.



the excuses are legion:


distortions by adherents.


tailoring religion for narrow sectarian agendas.



all these are aberrations,

we are told.


but if I may be so bold,


my question is simple:


when will our sewed-up eyes see,


that religious bigotry, racism, prejudice, islamophobia, homophobia, antisemitism, misogyny,


are spawned not by devils or demons,


but by people,


people like you

and

people like me.

a legend has passed.

the father of rock ‘n’ roll is no more.

from the deep south of the KKK,

from the backwaters of Jim Crow,

Chuck Berry fused the songs of the oppressed, the blues, with his own genius, as he danced his duckwalk in well-trodden shoes. 


Chuck Berry may be no more, yet his name shall resound, his music shall live on, this much we can tell,


for Chuck made music just like ringin’ a bell …



Rest in Peace, Legend



for Chuck Berry (1926 – 2017)






cinnamon clouds, shrouds,

cardamom skies, as moist eyes,


shed tears along this cobblestone pathway, where vanilla dreams lay,


strewn, broken, wounded by harsh words spoken,


leading me to this day,

today …







Gaslighting 2.0


Gaslighting 2.0



what is to become of us all, we, the people.


we, the people, who are being pummelled by doublespeak, being whipped into a frenzy, tearing down the bonds of humanity into prejudiced dumbed down other-hating, thrashing us with half-truths and flat out lies, feeding the psychology of fear with noxious notions of superiority over ‘them’, where the rich and powerful and influential are consciously infecting us with the toxicity of separateness, of neo-apartheid, while we, the people, traverse the quagmire of surreal unrealness, the smokescreen of diversions, the blurry realm of the quoted word, the mangling of language, the usurping of words to confabulate and confuse, the plunder of the already weakened and kicked down, the sickening abuse of power to enrich the 1% while disempowering the 99%, the stoking of vulgar emotions to push the agenda, the party line, the pulling the wool over we, the people to believe in that that shall tread all over us, as we march chanting and flag waving towards the precipice.


but all is not lost, all is not for nought, for we, the people may rise, to stem the tide of lies, to resist the truncheon of propaganda, to crush the homophobia, to tear down the islamophobia, to drown out the anti-semitism, to seize the torch of hope, a hope that shines a light on that that makes us alike, on that that unites we, the people, on that that expels the venal infusion of racism, of misogyny, of xenophobia, of ‘othering’, a hope for a tomorrow not clouded by the fog of war, but by the radiance of peace, a hope for the coming together of we, the people, to reclaim our commons, a hope translated into action, to wrest back that which unites us all, black and white and brown and pink and all the colours in between, the extolling of commonality, while discarding the ugly banners of apartness, a hope for you and for me and for us all.


a hope for we, the people.


___________________



Gaslighting:


form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting his or her own memory, perception, and sanity


source: Wikipedia





when politicians call slaves immigrants, when people of a particular creed are banned from travelling freely, when cemeteries are desecrated, when the powerful stoke up fear of the weak and impoverished, when people who love differently are spat at, when fanatics slay innocents in the name of religion, when an insidious racism is stoked under the flag of freedom, when misogyny is brushed off as boy-talk, when the oppressed occupied are painted as the oppressor, when women aren’t allowed to drive or vote or travel freely, when white is right and the rest are whingeing, when journalists are skewered for asking the pertinent questions, when fringe right-wing lunatic conspiracy theories are trumpeted by the powers that be, when females’ genitals are mutilated, when rape becomes a tool of war, when the 1% have their snouts in the trough, when the 99% are smeared as barbaric mongerers of violence, when the 1% portray themselves as the victims in a world of obscene inequality, when rabid jingoism becomes mainstream, when flags are used as gags to silence, when ‘our people’ are always right or always the victims and when ‘your people’ are ever the perpetrators of all things noxious, when human beings are trafficked as commodities, when obfuscation becomes the norm, when hate becomes acceptable, when tolerance is ravaged, when cultural and religious differences are accentuated for nefarious motives, when walls instead of bridges are being touted as solutions.


when … … …


are we still human?

racism stalks streets,
flowing with blood,

red blood.

not black, white, saffron, green, yellow,

but,

red blood,

like the colourless tears that stream,

down faces of all hues,

and

of every shade,

human beings all,

just humans,

who into dust or ashes do fade.

racism on the prowl,

deafening,
virulent ignorance,

embraced by those who hate,

seeping out of diseased tongues that bray & howl,

while,

humanitys’ corpse,
lies in state.

racism is binary,
soul-less,

with just a single choice to make,

so think carefully now, o’ patient reader,

cos’ racism is binary,
soul-less,

and there is only one choice that is right …

… the dazzling fusion of a rainbow,

or dull,
bland,

empty white.

    

     ____________

peace | love | uBuntu

.

when prejudice and hate are spewed forth, in conventions and meetings and living room lounges,



humanity shudders.



when doctrines of superiority and racism are flung, in talk-shows and Q & A’s and town halls and pillow talk,



humanity recoils.



hate speech is not free, it enslaves the fungal minds of like-minded bigoted folk,



hate speech is not free, it denigrates the dignity of swathes of humanity,


who are still, still, still trying to shake off the racist tyrannical yoke.



hate speech is not free speech.

The Art of Word-Jacking






‘Freedom’.

‘Justice’.

‘Democracy’.


Three words,

lost to us.


Plundered by the few,

stripped naked and ravaged,

pummeled into submission.


Three words,

taken from us.


Usurped so casually,

stolen and cleaved,

left meaningless.


Three words,

strangled and violated.


No more.


Not today.


Today, we reclaim the ideals,

the billion voices,

all straining to be heard.


Today, we take back our truth,

our collective aspiration,

still yearning for the harvest.


Today, we sing the hymns of freedom,

as we gather at the gates of justice,

while mourning the paralysis of democracy.


‘Freedom’.

‘Justice’.

‘Democracy’.


Three words,

that we shall wrest back.


Three words,

that have nurtured our dreams.


‘Freedom’.

‘Justice’.

‘Democracy’.


Three words,

for which we all have bled.


Three words,

word-jacked and abused,

that are ours once more.


‘Freedom’.

‘Justice’.

‘Democracy’.


Three words,

that shall remain tightly wrapped,

around our collective core

​Today we rise.


No more hiding in the shadows,


of culture,

creed,

tradition.


No more silent complicity,


defensive arguments,

sickening pretences,

shabby excuses,


for the actions of men,


brutal and coarse and vulgar and obscene and murderous and abusive men.


Today, we rise,


as one.


Today the change starts,


with me,

within me.


with you.

within you.



Today we rise.

​thanking all at Conceit Magazine for having me on the cover of the January/February/March 2017 Issue.

Volume 7, Number 71.

Thank you, Editor Perry Terrell!
Conceit Magazine, 

Perry Terrell, Editor,

P.O. Box 884223,

San Francisco, CA,

94188-4223


conceitmagazine@yahoo.com

​she walks alone,


barefoot in the paddies of rice,


breaking her back for some precious grains.


she walks alone,


in jo’burg town, with a black eye,


smacked around by him the previous painful night.


she walks alone,


in the streets of neon hazed manila,

in the villages and in the small towns,


along the pristine hedges of rotten london,


on the crowded pavements of lonesome new delhi,

in the alleyways of twisted and rotten karachi,


across the rolling plains of the vast bounteous pampas,


over the winding back-ways of the sloping and grimy favelas,


on the glittering pavements of rich and sweetly-scented sick jeddah,


through the blindingly false boulevards of that sad los angeles town.


she walks alone,


bearing the burden of mother and daughter

of cook and sweeper and wife and mistress and punching-bag,


she walks alone,


through your streets and mine,


standing up as she is beaten more down,


loving a little as the bruises on her face turn purple,


feeding the little ones with morsels of hastily cooked beans.


she walks alone,


in factories and in mills and in buses,


in schools and in brothels and in places in-between.


she walks alone,


staying alive on the alms of the ‘charitable’,


violated by those who from the pulpit preach.


she walks alone,


my sister and yours,


my mother and yours too,


my lover and your beloved as well.


she walks alone,


caged by society in its invisible prison,


a slave of norms and culture and religion and caste,


she walks alone,


but she is the conscience of me and you,


screaming at us silently in hunger and despair,


she walks alone,


and though fearful of you men she may seem,


be warned that she may not forever be this alone,


for she too dreams and thinks and believes,


for she too needs and wants and loves and weeps,


in the silent night of complacency while impotent mankind sleeps,


and she too will rise and in rising slay,


the beasts that in your callous hearts prowl and lay,


and she too will demand her rightful place,


for every mother and sister and lover and daughter has a real, human face …

Autumn:


the leaves fell, as you left, a bleak chill wafting across the barren space within my being,

you left, taking your smile and mine,


my smile rests with you still, leaving a void impossible to fill.




Winter:


pangs of longing consumed me, my only company in the frigid nights,

my tears remain frozen, within,


unable to fall from my broken eyes, as I searched the depths of the cold, harsh skies.




Spring:


birds returned home, though you did not, and I felt soothing rebirth all around,

memories of you began blazing, their embers stoked,


and at last the tears rolled, like ink on this blank notebook, my whole being pined for you, my very self in anguish silently shook.




Summer:


alive I felt again, the promise of the coming cooling rain, easing the heat of desire,

yet the furnace slowly raged inside, your absence tearing into me, shattering my nights, my longing for you soaring unfettered across the skies,


dancing on clouds, blissfully free,




Monsoons:


heaven itself opened, the deluge an unending dream,

rain falling all around, mingling with my flowing tears,


and then I saw you, you returned, and I embraced you, never wishing to let you go,


and though I may wear the mask of the clown,


if you were to leave again,


my very soul, would quietly slip away, and in the monsoon rains, I would gratefully drown





* title borrowed from an old Indian folk song

kindred spirits



the whispers of fate,

the slight tugging of destiny,

the murmurs of truth,

effortlessly caress desolate hearts when kindred spirits meet.


a whisper here, a nudge there, a fragile breeze weaves the magic of dreams yet to be dreamed, of tomorrows yet to be savoured, of gentleness yet to be felt.


words may only express a scintilla of feelings kept carefully wrapped beneath layers of emotion,

those that remain unspoken envelope the thirsty heart yearning for union.


and then all at once,

the rustling of the leaves,

the touch of the breeze,

the swaying of the grass,

the coaxing of time, 


coalesce,


into one being …


you.

​she,

remains just out of focus,

an elusive portrait,


etched in the corner of the mind’s eye.


she,

sometimes strays into view,

a blurred mirage,

of burnished words cast in indelible dye.


she,

steals fragments of each day,

a welcome thief,

of emotions left in some dusty space.


she,

scatters my poems in the breeze,

an invited spell,

that vanishes into the wind without a trace.


she,

renders me mute and so often blind,

the wild dreamer,

a seeder of impossible thoughts in the mind.


she,

brings the elements of nature to me,

a gentle healer,

she unfolds my thoughts setting them free.


she,

comes and goes as she chooses,

an untamed spirit,

soothing the very place that she bruises.


she,

rouses me in nights of empty slumber,

a murmured breath,

brushing my cheeks with kisses too many to number.


she,

remains to me the enigmatic one,

a burning riddle,

yet she stays with me as each torturous day is done.


she,

my heart knows not why she stays,

my consistent constant,

filling up my nights and consoling my days.


she,

deserves so much more from fate,

the truest soul,

she loves too much and knows not how to hate.


she,

arrives again tonight as I lie awake,

a thoughtful shield,

my coat of armour in a world far too fake.


she,

stays with me and within me stays still,

the true one,

and to dwell deep in my soul is where she always will.


she,

from whose cup I have so greedily drank,

a giver of life,

I have not the words with which to her wholly thank.


she,

knows how desolate a world this can be,

my sustainer of hope,

and of life and of breath is what she will always be.








tattered scrolls …

​Tattered scrolls lie lifeless,

beneath a wreath of memories.


Torn fragments of spirits departed,

litter the moments in between.


Fractured hopes,

crushed desires,


swatted away like annoying murmurs.


They return to whisper,

an endearing lie.


That buds of passion,

bloom,

to forever die.



what are these words, this ink on parchment, scribbled odes to love and to loss,


beseeching the fates, the rolling of the years, imploring them to be gentle,


yes, what are these words strewn across flimsy paper,


wrenching souls laid bare, offering comfort only in knowing that we shall never, ever cease, to dare to care …

interwoven breaths



breaths interwoven,

tongues tied, waltzing in unison, skipping across tendrils of sparkling sensations,

tingles racing through this being entire,

lost in the deluge of your gaze,

rendering me mute, inflamed, aflame,

ablaze …

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