Archive for January 19, 2013

Escape, flee, run and hide,
shed all of your identity,
especially on the inside,

sleep less, eat just a little,
cast away all your desire,
in a heart torn and brittle,

work hard, keep your head low,
dismiss the dreams of yesterday,
drag on a cigarette, deep and slow,

save your coins, darn your socks,
forget all about her, how she smiled,
wash the ache away neat, not on the rocks,

catch a chill, fall sick, writhe and twist around,
give up, comatose in a nameless room, eye open,
waiting for release, in a hole in the cold ground

devouring hours,
days, years,

into corners,

Time scurries,

as it winds down,
oblivious to purpose,


us mortals of flesh,
and of bone,

to shed,
not having enough,


quietly seize,

some more time

Hope ambles on,
shuffling between the folds of passing time,

hope reaches in,
blanketing all fleeting moments,

defying the day’s sorrows,
dispelling yesteryear’s pain,

hope persists,
hope blooms,

for if it was hope you chose,
hope will envelope you,

like the delicate petals,
of the scarlet rose

The embers turn cold,
destined for eternity,
as quaint anecdotes forever retold,

splintered lives,
fractured memories,

needling pain,
worn-down by time,

stranded on the shores,
exposed to the chiselling rain,


out of the ashes,
new moments are spun,

fragrant buds of blossoming life,
enraptured by promises,
of years yet to come,


step out of the cold, wet rain,
into a harmonious symmetry,
bathed in radiant rays,
of the molten sun,

out of the ashes,
are born,
new melodies,


a new song,
yet to be sung

May your smile never fade,
may you always be as you are now,

warm and kind,

true and filled with the generosity of spirit that defines you,

may your dreams soar into the boundless open skies,

and may the benevolent fingertips of time and of fate,

brush away any tears that should fall from your gentlest eyes.

May you forever stand tall,
may your head always be held high,

with quiet stoic dignity.

May your past experiences be the stepping-stones that mark your path ahead,

may your heart be your guide,

your blazing beacon of wildly enthusiastic hope,

may your wishes be simple,
and may they come to be,

filling your life and your moments,

with joyous bliss,

where you truly feel free.

Free of the weight of yesterday,
free of gnawing doubt,

and may your being be infused,
with the softest serendipity,

so that you may spread your arms,

and to the heavens shout,

I am free,

I am me,

at long last,
I am standing tall,
never again to bow,
or to fall on bended knee.

This is a wish both simple yet elusive,

a wish that only you can make true,

by simply being,

the kind,
gentle person,
that is you

clawing at my face,
slipping beneath the facade,

tugging, tearing, flailing,

stripping off the veneer,
exposing the fragmented decay,
under this mask I wear today.

groping for another layer,
embroidered on my thin skin,

peeling, rotting, searing,

shaving away the truths,
entwined in a jagged kiss,
the vacuum of an emotional abyss.

from myself yet again,
bound for nothingness,

desolate, cold, empty,

lost on barren pathways,
bruising my heart as I tread,
at the horrors that lie ahead

only that which is priceless,

not the riches of the world,
to hold and to covet,

not bubble-wrapped joys,
nor dead designer toys,

I seek,
only that which is priceless,

no gourmet lunches,
nor sterilised thrills,

no robes of fine silk,
they only give me the chills.

I seek,
only that which is priceless,

a moment away,
from the greed of the day,

some time off,
from hollow laughter,

far away from this glittering mall,

it doesn’t interest me,
if its not for all.

I seek,
only that which is priceless,

a cup of tea,
and a few mango slices

A freshly, scented breeze,
soaked in warm sunlight,
the mystery of a smile,
a faint echo of laughter,

stirs the heart.

Shades of black and white,
turning into a canvas,
of succulent violets, sumptuous reds,
the colours of promise,

stirs the soul.

Insipid days,
infused with a palette of flavours,
a tangy embrace, some cinnamon caresses,


the faintest hint,

of something new

Sitting together,
smiling benignly,

sipping coffee,
flaked with 24-carat gold-leaf shavings,

their empty souls,
always on the prowl,

to sate,
the latest cravings.

“sell all your jewellery, and give to the poor”,
revolutionary words, uttered by His son,
Jesus of Nazareth.

Well, we all know what became of him,
when we see God’s Sacrificial Lamb,
stuck up on cross to bleed out and to die.

And today, two-thousand years on,
we are drenched in the rivers,
of the crocodile tears,
that His people on Cable-TV do cry.

It reeks of ostentation,
and of smug conceit,

for their hollow piety stinks,
as they suckle on,

and bite down hard,
on capitalism and greed’s raw teat.

“pay your workers before the sweat on their brow dries”,
so said the Prophet of Islam,
Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in Arabia,
more than fouteen-hundred years ago,

and while they will slaughter me in an instant,
if I were to curse his name aloud,

they dishonour him,
each and every day,

as they sip,
on their designer coffee,
flaked with 24-carat gold-leafed shavings,

masking their crassness,
by screeching their prayers,
five times a day,
and ever so loud.

They stink of money,
and their odour reeks,

wafting across all lands,
lingering on for weeks.

Now some will say,
that I envy them,
and thus I am sore,

but honestly now,
let’s ask a question,

was this what God the Merciful had in mind,

when He sent His Son,
and all His Prophets,

down upon this earth for?

The pendulum swings,
while the mania in my head,
strips me bare and yanks me,
into the cauldron of love.

Once again,
never divining the tea leaves,
knowing, always knowing,
the gnawing knots of unease,
that curl into a fist.

My isolation is a shield,
a suit of armour,
tightly clad around my self,
once worn,
then discarded,
taking its place,
on my barren shelf.

Love, mania and verse,
coalesce, beseeching me,
with timeous forewarning,
not to tread into the quicksand,
that slippery bog of promise.

in times past,
in moments present,
tis’ that very promise,
that I cling to.

At times I lose,
myself in the crowd,
rebelling in the solitude found there,

at times I claw,
my way back to the now,
aching for the pain that stings,

the buried voice that sings,
dirges to forgotten emotions,

scribbled verse that flings,
the toys out of my cot,

while I wait,
for the mania to stop,

always knowing,
that it shall be,

merely a matter of time,
before the other shoe,
must, as always, 

As dew on morning leaves,
quietly disappears,

as mist from deep valleys,
crawls away into open space,

every hearbeat of mine,
that once felt so true,

is lost on the edge of an ocean of blue.

Lost in a heartbeat,
the softest emotions,
the gentlest love,
the sense of contentment,
the touch of peace,

Lost in a heartbeat,
all that was precious,
all that I failed to hide.

Lost in a heartbeat,
the sweltering furnace of love,
leaving me cold, empty,
and desolate inside

A tapestry finely woven,
from heart-strings plucked,
and soft words spoken.

Drenched in a torrential monsoon,
of emotions deftly spun,
intangible, fleeting,

slicing through stormy clouds,
for a place of warmth,
bathed by the shimmering sun.

Embroidered filaments of delicate lace,
envelope the quiet corners of a weathered heart,

cradling the memories,
of bygone moons,
bidding a hushed adieu,

as love silently retreats,
preparing to finally depart.

The mirage of blossoming love,
hovers achingly near,

and though only an illusion,

it lives, it breathes,

as impermanent as dawn’s drops of dew,

and still,

as real as the tears,

that have been shed for you

A new study reveals,
that over half of the world’s food production,
goes to the garbage heap.

And this,
in a world,
where one billion souls,
go hungry,
each night,
to sleep.

That’s about two billion tonnes,
of food a year,
that gets thrown away.

Two billion tonnes.

What is there left,
to say?

Ancient wounds,
still bleed,

though seasons creep quietly down,

the alleyways,
of the heart,

lost in the hint of a smile,

masking even,
the most tired frown.

Hope and comfort,
cling on, persistent,

offering solace,
to fractured souls,

the fragments strewn,
recklessly hither and thither,

though even beauty,
like the delicate petals,
of a solitary flower,

must wilt,
and eventually wither.

Ancient wounds,
may heal,

if only,
we stand and clasp,

on to hope and comfort,
lying within our grasp,

and for wounded hearts,
to heal,

we shall rise,

to face the onslaught,
of the tempests that blow,

enduring them,
with courage,

and never,
never to resign,

and never,
never to kneel

Blanketed by charcoal clouds,
this evening brings respite,

banishing the heat,

with the promise of fresh rains,

offering consolation,
to the weary,

by soothing,
this day’s strains,

and shedding,
the weight,
of all that is dreary

Stripped of identity,
slaving on a pittance,
sliced of human dignity.


just jargon,
flung around,
with surgical callousness.

cost-benefit analyses,

metastatise the worker,
a man, a woman, a child,
into fodder,
a number,
reduced to complex variables,

factored into,
the relentless pursuit,
of dead profit.

The noose tightens,
strangling a man, a woman, a child,
all disposable cogs,
in the machinery of greed,

death comes slowly,
laboriously agonising,
asphyxiating a man, a woman, a child,


at the altar of Capital.


our very own,
mothers, brothers,
sisters, fathers,
lovers, husbands,
wives, friends,

lost to the insatiable machine,
numbed by exhaustion,
wracked by routine,

mere variables,
lost in the hieroglyphics,
of percentages, derivatives, futures,


Awaken from your slumber,
all you who sleep on silken sheets,

awaken from your slumber,
you who profit from the misery of the many,

the faceless ones who are so many in number,
all who get trampled on your glittering streets.

Awaken from your slumber,
all you who covet silver and gold,

awaken from your slumber,
you whose cigar is worth more than my monthly wages,

my wages that hardly add up to a triple-digit number,
stoking the hunger in my belly into a fire that rages.

Awaken from your slumber,
as you prop up your beautiful children in designer brands,

awaken from your slumber,
while you sip your champagne in fine cut glass,

I tire of your ostentation as I drink my tepid coffee in a chipped tumbler,
while I’m reminded by the t.v. that I am lacking class.

Awaken from your slumber,
you who have taken and continue to take,

awaken from your slumber,
because I have nothing more to give,

you have pillaged my dreams and strewn them all asunder,
and I who have existed for so long also want to live.

Awaken from your slumber,
every single one of you,

awaken from your slumber,
for my rightful share I now demand,

you may shoot me down, but we are many, many more in number,

so awaken from your slumber!
wake up!

And always,
always never fail to remember,

that you may shoot me down, 

we are many, many more in number.

Awaken from your Slumber!

Rootless, cast adrift,
on waters cold and vast,

anchor and mooring,
shattered as the broken mast.
Leaning port-side,
searching for that safe haven’s call,

caught in the typhoon,
thrashed by the waves that rise and fall.

the sting of salty tears,
drowning in phantom fears.

surrendering to the elements and however they decide,

watching all truth into the dark depths subside

I simmer in the cauldron,
strangled by smiles,
choked by laughs,
shattered by thoughts,
shredded into more than a few halves.

Impotently groping,
clutching for crutches,
in day and barren night,
smothered by the whispers,
that into the dark beyond,
take flight.

I relent,
giving way to the bleakness,
embracing it as it slithers through my soul,
welcoming the darkness,
wishing it would envelope me whole

nothing reaches,
the inner reaches,
of a heart,
that reaches too far

Empty words,
craftily arranged,
layering the veneer,

of fickle, empty oaths,
camouflaging all moments,
with half-truths unclear.

Empty words,
scribbled in haste,
layer the surface,

of chipped, torn vows,
casually flung into love’s blazing furnace.

Empty words,
litter the streets of my shameful past,

far too many hollow words spoken,

now line the avenues,
each word, bruised,


They shot him down,
to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Even as the bullets tore through him,
the wind carried his name.

Far across the weary fields,
high above the stubborn peaks,
over the blood soaked streams,
the wind carried his name.

They shot him down,
to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Yet the wind carries his name,
to you and to me,
to them and to us.

They shot him down,
but his name resounds,
as it floats on the breeze.


still they try to shoot him down,
to silence us all, 
to stifle an ideal.

But the wind cannot be stilled,
and the wind carries his name.


(For Ernesto Guevara)

Memories are imprinted,
through moments,
and fleeting minutes,


they fade like polaroid stills,
dimmed by the flight of time,
caught between,
the banal and the sublime.

Years trickle by,
stubbornly trudging ahead,
straining to embrace echoes of nostalgia,

yearning to hold them near,
seeking new memories,

carved by the trail of a lonesome tear.

Tomorrow may not arrive,
as it lies at the mercy,
of time’s fickle flight,

and as it slips under the blanket of night,

it flees into the arms,
of a hope, warm and bright.

The flight of time sounds its warning bell,
with smug assurance it beckons all,
to hear the tale it has to tell,
knowing someone must heed its call.

Time flies, and rapidly too,
teasing us with promises of days yet to be born,

and so we linger, wasting slices of precious time,

as we walk on,

numb and in an anaesthetised trance,

devoid of all passion,


ever weary to take the plunge,

or to hazard a chance.


the hushed rage of prejudice rejoices in triumphant pomp and hateful ceremony


the silent dagger of fascism plunges deep into the soul of a world bereft of hope


the long knife of embraced apathy twists and turns in the backs of the weakened ones


maybe we’ll open our eyes

and perhaps then we’ll open our sewed-up mouths

and maybe only then will we whimper in mock shock and oblivious surprise


the festering hate that spirals around us

in the fertile minds of quasi-intellectual bigotry

is unafraid and speaks in the loudest baritone


we accept

we acquiesce

we wish it all away


there will come that time when the lines are drawn

when the purest hearts of silently smiling bigotry will hold the world in their sway

with their cherubic, agreeable arguments sprinkled with pieces of fact that will kill, rape and slay

what then,

I ask, will we do that day?

The infidel writes,


rejecting cellophane sermons.


The infidel whispers,


the benevolence of the higher power.


The infidel chokes,


on the odour that emanates,

from self-righteous mouths.


The infidel waits,


for the retribution that must arrive.


The infidel casts off,

the labels of faith,

of belonging,

of sanctimonious snobbery.


The infidel refuses,

To beseech the merciful god,

And to cower,

And to kneel.


The infidel stands,

At times alone.

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”


As she lies bleeding

the girl who skipped and 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

the warm bullet lodged in her torn stomach

she stares at her skipping rope

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


As she lies bleeding

she sees the people through the thick black smoke

blurred visions of scattering feet and shoes left behind

hearing nothing but the pinging in her blown-out eardrums


As she lies bleeding

she slips away quickly 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

the warm bullet wedged in her torn stomach

steals 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

jenin in ‘02

hanoi in ‘68

beirut in ‘85

kabul now

basra still

gaza too

As she lies bleeding

this little nine and a half year old girl

whose laugh was her father’s pride

we know she’ll bleed and bleed some more

tomorrow and in many tomorrows yet unborn

with that warm bullet in her stomach

ripped open and torn

As she lies bleeding.

When silent prejudice strikes

in living rooms with plumped-up sofas

a quietly insidious venom begins to seep

into the consciousness of the chattering ones as they sleep


The beliefs held so true and so deep

appear stripped of all feeling

empty and hollow and without compassion

as the conceit grows in the chests of those with righteous passion


the prejudice once firmly entrenched

is worn like a warm and comforting shawl

needing precious little to compound and to mutate

into the doctrines of superiority and of aloofness and of hushed hate

we are all guilty of succumbing to this silent pervasive plague

as we sip martinis and laugh and shovel more food on our heaving plates

and as we slip into pleasantly inebriated moments we dare not care

to smell the stench of hate & prejudice & greed wafting in the cool evening air.

Your orders may come now…

…or at 19h45 this evening.

‘Shoot to kill’
‘Engage the enemy’
‘Hold the line’
‘Break up the gathering’

‘Ready, aim, fire’

but you have felt too

the stab of hunger
the bite of thirst
the bayonet of loss
the wound of despair

but you have seen too

the pain in a mother’s eyes
the grief in a father’s face
the incomprehension in a child’s down-cast look

‘Ready, aim, fire’

but you, the nameless soldier have heard

the cries of the grieving family
the wailing of the widowed wife
the quiet agonizing sound of the child’s weeping

‘Ready, aim, fire’

your orders may come now
or at 23h30 tonight
or tomorrow
or the day after that
or next week or month or year

but you have seen and felt and heard too

the agony of a peoples’ simple desire
the hurt of a nation long bludgeoned
the wounds of your stolen generation

so when that order comes


or at 03h30 tomorrow morning
‘Ready, aim, fire’

let your humanity muzzle your rifle
let your conscience dismiss the order
let your better side come to the fore

and let your very own people, your mother and your father, your sister and your brother, your son and your daughter, your friend and your lover
let them live
let them be
let your rifle fall to the soil of your beloved motherland

o’ nameless soldier.

Between the folds of faith and belief,

tucked neatly in cushioned corners,

lie the seeds of acceptable hate.

Through quaint pleasant rituals,

and joyously hummed words,

dumbed down thoughts

and dazed faces exude,

righteous sweetness.

Belief wrapped in glistening foil,

faith painted in gaudy colours,

concealing the murmurs of hate,

of embraced intolerance,

and welcomed bigotry.

The seeds of acceptable hate flourish in damp fungal minds,

as indifference flowers into the silence of frozen apathy,

with blooming petals of finely measured howls of rage.

All the while the ever smiling faces beam with deep pride,

drenched in all the pious tears they’ve cried.

And so it is that the viral seeds of acceptable hate

thrive among the genteel folk that quietly gaze,

in silence at the slow creeping of the horror.

As more seeds of hate are sown with manic zeal,

and in the shrieking of this cowardly silence,

the seeds of acceptable hate,

continue to thrive,

and to germinate.

…last night’s rain lashed the city less like a whimper and more like a good solid hearfelt cry

while lightning whipped and cracked through the jo’burg sky

as the rain-gods of africa blessed us with their bounty from way up high

they say the gold beneath our feet attracts the electrical storms that are so fierce

the very tempests that stab my soul and into my fragile heart pierce

for the thunder that rolls and rumbles is loud enough

to proclaim that the hard rains that are gonna fall are going to be biting and rough

and though the streets of jozi empty rather soon

the clouds darken and the smell of humid hope inflames our oflactorial senses as we await the miraculous boon

and then all hell breaks loose and roams the streets of my beloved jo’burg wild and free

and the rawness of it all is a sight to hear and sense and feel and to in awe see

for the rain and the thunder and the lightning is frightening at times

slashing through the ash-hued skies and stripping me of my pitiful rhymes

for the force of nature is then pure and clear to behold

and in silence we stand and watch as the water drenches this crazy beautiful city of gold

a jo’burg shower is a sight to soak in and to absorb and to feel

for it has the primal energy to dazzle and frighten and make each and every one of your senses reel

and so…

I hope it rains again on this overcast and cool saturday

so to the gods of africa I say a silent prayer and say

all praise to you for blessing us with a land and a sky and a people so true

ngiyabonga, kea-leboga, ndo-livhuwa, siyabonga, dankie, thank you

thank you

thank you…

when tyrants tremble
at the fury of those who tremble no more

their veneer of stability seems rotten to the core

when the trembling ones shake off their long-hushed fear

the trembling ones
tremble now with a rage that injustice everywhere can hear

when tyrants tremble
as the dispossessed shake their foundations of tyrannical conceit

tyrants tremble
when the common ones expose the phantoms of tyranny’s deceit

when the trembling ones
refuse to be cowed and bowed and beaten down again

the trembling ones
scream their vehemence as they have little to lose and freedom and dignity to gain

when tyrants tremble
their trembling resounds and echoes around the world

tyrants tremble
then in each far-flung tyranny at the peoples’ flag being unfurled

and finally when the trembling ones
take back the citadels, the streets, the squares, and the parks

the trembling ones
send a message to power that revolutions may be triggered by the merest of livid sparks

and that tyranny may reign for a decade or a generation or even two

but tyranny must eventually succumb to the rage of the common ones that appears suddenly out of the bright clear blue

this isn’t a warning or a threat or a declaration of ill intent

this is a sober lesson in history for the peoples’ history with oppressive stasis can never be content

when tyrants tremble
they should know that there will someday come a trembling surprise

for the garbage heap of history patiently awaits each tyrant’s wretched demise


when i feared that you were slipping away

i feared more for myself, in truth I say, than for you


you came back to us


your light shone, ablaze

reaching inside of me with the warmth of your dignity

with your infinite gentleness

with your effortless peace

with all that makes you, you


soothing me as you soothed a nation

and a people, and people everywhere

of every hue

and of every creed

and of the human spirit itself


you gave of yourself

92 and frail and weak and alive

oh yes alive!


you breathed my fears away

you embraced me as you have always done


you made me cry

weeping tears of joy for you

for your light to shine on through


you shined so brightly

as I basked in your warmth of you being you


you cradled my shaken being in your hands, lined with age and with wisdom and with a pureness so bright

that just knowing that you are back home, smiling that fatherly smile of yours

was enough for me, to slip into the waiting arms of this warm and joyous night

and again…

though i know that you cannot be with me forever more

you came back to me on this night

and just knowing that you are still here with me now

is enough now, for within me, you will reside forever more

just knowing that you are resting and recovering at home

filled, and fills me with peace and with joy

with the peace and the joy that has been your gift to me, and to us, one and all

shaking me to my very core

as you have selflessly done

throughout my life, and on countless occasions before

He is home

you are home


i am home with you

as your light of life continues to shine

now and forever

warm and dignified and forever true

Viva Nelson Rolihlala ‘Madiba’ Mandela Viva!

as you continue the struggle some more, today for life…

‘it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die’ you said, all those years ago

as you stood in the dock awaiting the sentence of death

they locked you up instead

for 27 hard and long and arduous years

you stood firm
you never wavered
you gave hope to us all

and then when they could no longer keep up their unjust tyranny

you emerged into the light of freedom

your hand raised in a defiant fist in the february Cape Town air

– Amandla!

you then weaved and bobbed and fought some more, the boxer in you always present

you fought for peace in our land

for us all you fought

and then came that glorious day

when you were our president

and we laughed and we cried

and you fought for us even more

today you fight a different fight

for life, and we are helpless

we, who you fought for all along

have only hope and prayer and song and wishes of life for you

today, you fight some more

may you fight for life some more, Tata Madiba!

and may you prevail

for you are our father

and father, your children call out to you once more

with wishes

your children wish for you, to remain here with us some more

and though helpless your children may be

in this battle that you wage for life today

and though frail and old your body is

your indomitable spirit smiles that inimitable Madiba smile

your spirit resides in each of us

your loving children



you are our eternal inspiration

our hopes
our dreams
our conscience

you gave everything of yourself
so that we may live and love and laugh and dream and breathe the air of freedom, dignity and liberty

you lead us through the darkest days with your unshakeable principles and your belief in us

you brought peace and freedom to us

and when at times we felt all was lost

you stayed with us as a father would

you lent us your wisdom
and you chastised us too

and we are here today because of you
you stayed with us, Nelson Rolihlala ‘Madiba’ Mandela, through all the crests and valleys of our turbulent times

you stayed with us, father
today, we hope and pray and wish
that you, our father Madiba
stay with us still
stay with us, Madiba
stay with us…


In old Sof’town,
the jazz struck chords,

the jazz lived, it exploded,
out of the cramped homes,
rolling along the streets,
of old Kofifi,

in tune to countless blazing heartbeats.

In old Sof’town,
Bra’ Hugh breathed music, Sis’ Dolly too,
and Bra’ Wally penned poems that still ring true.

In old Sof’town,
Father Trevor preached
equality and justice,
for all, black and white and brown,

and all shades, every hue,
even as oppression battered the people,
black & blue.

In old Sof’town,
the fires of resistance raged,

‘we will not move’ was the refrain,

even as the fascists tore down Sof’town,
with volleys of leaden rain.

In old Sof’town,
the people were herded,
like cattle,
sent to Meadowlands,
far away and cold and bleak,
as the seeds of resistance,
sprouted and flourished,
for the coming battle.

In old Sof’town,
the bulldozers razed homes,
splitting the flesh of a community apart,
only to raise a monument of shame,
and ‘Triomf’ was its ghastly name.


In Jozi today,
we remember those days,
and those nights of pain,
that stung our souls.
like bleak winter rain.

Yes, we remember old Sof’town,
as we struggle onward,
to reclaim our deepest heritage,
and build anew,
a country of all hues and shades,
of black and of white and of brown.

And yes, we will always remember,

and yes, we will never forget,

the price that was paid,
by the valiant sons and daughters,
of old Sof’town,

those vibrant African shades and hues,

of black,
of white,
of brown.

* Sophiatown was also called Sof’town and Kofifi.

Infinite tendrils,
weave exquisite patterns,
forming an immaculate, delicate sheaf,

while morning’s dew whispers,
tales of forgotten woes,
left scribbled on every leaf.

Murmurs float gently,
across solitary trees,
to distant forests deep and dense,
teasing the waving grasses,
while coquettishly inflaming every sense.

Listen! For the murmurs whisper to us all,

listen carefully,
as the whispers recall,
the crushed memories of the lovers’ call.

For the whispering leaf shares,
a story that may travel,

to you, to me,
if we still our minds,


gaze upon each leaf,
and quietly marvel.

So, if you want to really know,
what a mother’s agonised scream sounds like,

take a walk in Gaza today,

she will bear her broken heart,
as she bore the coffin that held her 11 month old child’s body,
as it lay lifelessly broken and torn apart.

The mother screams in anger and in pain,
her howls and shrieks echo on the bloodied plain,

so take a walk in Gaza today,

and feel the rage that a mother nurses,
and bear the brunt of a mother’s curses.

You see, she laid her little baby in the cold, blood-soaked ground,

while you diplomats and peacemakers and politicians were buzzing around,

so stop buzzing,

and take a walk in Gaza today,

and for once,

for once,
listen to what a mother has to say,

“they’ve rained down death on us for years,
they’ve torched our olive groves while you have shut your collective ears,

they’ve killed our children over and over and over again,
and we’ve cried oceans of tears that have disappeared down the drain,

so tell me as I cradle my dead baby in my hand,

who gives a damn?”.

This is what you will hear when you walk in Gaza today.

It is what you have heard for years and years now,

and all I can think as I write these words is ‘how?’,

how could you fail,
you peacemakers and diplomats and politicians,

how could you fail the mothers of Gaza,
over and over and over again,

is it because Gaza’s mothers’ tears are forgotten,

because they simply disappear down the drain.

And how can you not stem that ocean of tears,

cried by countless mothers,
and fathers,
and children whose eyes are blinded by inexpressible pain,
and whose days are haunted, not by phantoms,
but by living fears.

So can you take a walk in Gaza today?

and what possibly could you have to say?

to the numberless mothers who have cried oceans of tears,

again and again and again,

or are Gaza’s mothers’ tears forgotten,

because they simply disappear down the drain.

(for the people of Gaza and the Occupied Territories)

to see…

the clarity of beauty between the murky folds of life

to see…

the simple truths of living
between the horror and the endless strike

to see…

the innocent smiles of the children at play
while the elder preach hate and division and continue to slay

to see…

the endless yearning for that simpler better place
away from the hollow emptiness of this ostentatious space

to see…

the open vistas of this pale blue dot
the soft reds and fruity greens as this home is all we have got

to see…

the tears of the dispossessed who have been cruelly cast aside
and while we look the other way from their tears we may never hide

to see…

the endless hunger and despair and killing and greed
in the name of God or of ideology or of some or the other creed

to see…

and to see it all

and still stand tall

to hold on to the humanity

that resides deep within us all

may be our only saving grace

and though all of this sounds quaint and saccharine sweet

I need to remember all that I’ve said

the next time I look into a teary-eyed desolate face

to see…

that being human is simple if we only look beyond ourselves and see

that we are all one, him and her and them and us and you and me…

it seeps in through gradual osmosis

and soon is ingrained in pliant minds

it mutates and thrives in tunnels of vision

and then is fused into the fiber of unreason

the quiet hypocrisy that drips of the tongues

spouting broken words of unfathomable callousness

the mutilated reeking carcass of cynicism

obscured by the veneer of polished discourse

stinks of inaction and of insipid rationalization

the probing and prodding and splintering of each thought

curdles the shallow layer of feeling

interring the basic simple and only humanity

that is gleefully ripped into isolated fragments

the quiet hypocrisy of battles fought and of causes embraced

is plain to see in the faces of the earnest

as they cling onto their bitter loathsome prejudices

whilst buying redemption under a placard of well-meaning

the quiet hypocrisy of these selective battles waged under the flimsy pretense of caring

stinks to the highest heaven promised in mantras and duas and prayers and chants

as the spectacle of the apartheid within the mind is worn on each tailored sleeve

the choosing of these battles in the name of faith and clung onto simply because of a common creed

is a pathetic spectacle of segregated thought

buried under the folds of righteous bluster

so before you jump on that bandwagon of indignation because ‘your’ people are in pain

take a look at the hidden fascism that simmers just below your holier-than-thou sudden spurt of heartfelt rage

for the quiet hypocrisy that is unknowingly imbibed

is apparent for all to behold

for when the ‘other’ endure the injustice carried out in ‘your’ peoples’ name

you stand mute and silently complicit for your indignation simply melts away

as the quiet hypocrisy that is firmly rooted in you

exults in pious pretences while ‘your’ own continue to hate, rape, pillage and slay

it saddens me that so much vitriol drips off my pen in such effervescent times

but I cringe as each moment another quiet hypocrite rants about the despotism of the ‘other’

while smiling complacently and smugly and soaking in the quiet hypocrisy of remaining mute about ‘my’ peoples’ own crimes

I want to walk with you with our heads held high

Never cowering, never with heads bowed

With our feet on this blessed soil, and our dreams reaching for the sky


Dreams of simple joys and of peace and of mirth

For all our fellow travelers on this delightful earth


Dreams not of wealth or of positions of high standing or of mighty power

Simple dreams of a walk in the aftermath of a Johannesburg evening rain-shower


Dreams of bread and water and dignity and shelter and clothes for all

Dreams where all fellow travelers may together walk this earth proud and tall


I want to walk with you, my fellow traveler, with our heads held high

Never pandering to power, never silent in the face of its abuse

Always firm in our convictions that we can all make peace if we only try


If we try to stop and think and sometimes not to look the other way

If we practice what our different creeds really teach, we will surely see that day


When we all, fellow travelers may walk with our heads held high

Never cowering, never with our heads bowed

With our feet on this blessed soil, and our collective dreams reaching for the sky


Call me silly, call me naive, call me hopeless, and if you must, call me weak

But is this not the common good that our different creeds and cultures all seek?

Vula amehlo

sisters and brothers

though eyes aren’t needed to behold

the flowing tears of those of us, left out in the cold


vula amehlo

sisters and brothers

the time to turn your back is long gone

no time now to pander and no time now to fawn


vula amehlo

sisters and brothers

we the people are hungry, angry, and our skin is torn

though we say it loudly, unbowed we are, and not forlorn


vula amehlo

sisters and brothers

we may be invisible and tucked away far from you

but we are here, still, waiting for the promise of freedom to come true


vula amehlo

sisters and brothers

you see us sometimes, though you avert your gaze

come on now, compatriots, awaken from your complacent daze


vula amehlo

sisters and brothers

we are the open wound that festers on your ostentatious display

band-aids won’t do anymore, we are here, and we are here to stay


vula amehlo

sisters and brothers

as you roll down your windows and toss us some coins, look in our eyes

we are your slumbering consciences, we are the famished proof of your lies


vula amehlo

sisters and brothers

forget us not as you tuck your pretty children in, and turn off the lights

we too are the children whose mothers, fathers fought for all our peoples’ rights


vula amehlo

sisters and brothers

don’t think that we are bitter and livid for no reason or cause

we have been waiting and waiting, for days and a decade, without any pause


vula amehlo

sisters and brothers

vula amehlo

mothers and fathers

vula amehlo

brown and white and all shades of this rainbow so bright

we repeat what we said, we are not going to melt away into the night

vula amehlo

one and all

our patience is being tested from day to day, year to year

we have listened to your promises and we now demand that you hear

vula amehlo

open your eyes

and see us, and hear us clearly, and hear us today

band-aids won’t do anymore, we are here, and we are here to stay


vula amehlo

open your eyes


I’ll have none of it.

The glittering vulgarity on crude display,

puffed-up egos wrapped in vacuum-sealed packs,

adorning the sterile aisles of shining malls with their endless racks.




I’ll have none of it.

The broken & battered souls swept up in the tide,

of holidays by the sea and drinks on the ninth hole of the course,

deaf to all cries & whimpers but for the closing bell of the bourse.


I’ll have none of it.

The endless parades of ostentatious pomp and raucous laughter,

deadened spirits aspiring for nothing more than an unquenchable greed,

haughtily trampling the ‘other’ in the crass pursuit of what next desire to feed.


I’ll have none of it.

the wilful silence of the privileged few among the numberless many,

so eloquently articulate and quick-witted in hour upon hour of polite chatter,

yet mute and hushed by sips of Chivas when the raging war outside doesn’t matter.


I’ll have none of it.

None of this nauseating mockery and none of this reeking sham,

I’ll have none of it for I was there once and lapped up the vulgarity of it all,

I’ll have none of it now, though, so you may as well put me up against the wall.

I’ll have none of it now for I was there once and soaked in that intoxicating air,

I’ll have none of it now, though, so if tonight I sleep forever, I’ll be the last one to care.


(For Guru Dutt, 1925 – 1964)

The parched and thirsty,

still walk the soul-less avenues,

and the alleys of want and hunger.


Empty and barren,

coursing through heartless streets of need and despair.


“Change will come”,

said the promise of Freedom and Democracy and of Capitalism with a Conscience.


“change will come in time”.


Change comes.


when scratching through pockets,

for some change.

You had a dream

of pastures of peace

where children of all hues mingled like rainbows


they silenced you, but your voice

resounds now in those pastures

not yet of peace


and your dream is still a dream

the dream you dreamt while others slept


you said that you’d been to the mountain-top

and they silenced your voice just then

before your eyes saw that promised land

of pastures of peace where children of all hues mingle like rainbows


now your vision is glimpsed in some pastures

not yet of peace

and yes, they silenced your voice

but your spirit their bullets could never tear apart

your spirit, like your dream

is mingled with the wind in all those pastures

not yet of peace

and until we give life to your dream

those pasture of peace

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows

shall remain simply your dream

so as we remember you today

and pledge that those pastures of peace

are nourished first in each of us

for only then will your dream will take root

and blossom into our shared dream

and the view from the mountain-top,

radiant and bright and full of hope shall seem


where children of all hues mingle like rainbows


(for W.H. Auden)

tomorrow for the grueling work to begin, the rebuilding of trust, the sweat and the toil

tomorrow for reflection, the search for a new beginning, the hard tasks that lie in wait

tomorrow for the farmers to till the land, for the teachers to share free knowledge to all

tomorrow for the effort, to strive to build a new nation, to shake off the weight and the burdens of the past

tomorrow for all of that…

but today

today, the gleeful, joyous, teary-eyed celebration of freedom…

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