Tag Archive: a poem about life

International Womens Day

She Walks Alone …

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,

along the pristine hedges of rotten london,

on the crowded pavements of lonesome new delhi,

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 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 …


Old Sof’town*


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’





memories of her … … …

yesteryear … … …

memory slips,
                 through the blurred veil of time,
        sifting through memories,

of you,
            your loveliness ablaze,

sweeping across meadows,
                  my stranded heart still in flames,
                 the furnace burning bright,
                          raging in the darkness of this night,
                  coaxing nostalgic yearning,

over years left behind,
             between thoughts of kisses entwined,
                 and still,
                 and yet,

this heart may never forget,
           the caress of your voice,

breezing between today,
           last week,

all the drifting yesteryears,
                     lost in your deepest eyes,

even as days turn to night,

even as time continually flies,

scattering pieces of my soul,
              hither and thither,
             knowing it may never be, again,
           ah! but the memories persist,
as summer begins to wither,
            you are all i remember you to be,

between the wild rose,
        amidst the thorns,

bathed in dawn’s dew,

I live,
        I breathe,
                        I savour,

the sweetest thoughts,

of you, only you … … …

silly scribbles … … …

what is home to the vagabond soul,


plodding along
                 paths of
              broken glass,

             my tattered soul:

these desolate moments

                  pass … … …


on the cusp.

trawling turquoise seas,
cast adrift,
                   your eyes caressing fitful slumber,
                        whispering paens,
           soothing the ache,

of this weary traveller,

cresting waves,
                           treading water,
             hither and thither,

a tattered heart,
                             a wounded soul,
        bathing my being,
       in cocooned dreams of your honeydew lips,

                                      your breath,

soaked in visions of you,

the mirage,
                    a crescendo fanning flames of desire,
                                            of love, lust, tremulous fingers,

brushing your hair away,
sipping kisses,

consumed by the furnace,
your body, mine,

hungering for your tongue,

soaring above vagabond skies of blue,
             unshackled at last,

             craving only you …

The African Rains


uBuntu - the philosophy of the interconnectedness of humanity


the rains settle,
meandering over jagged faultlines of our memory.


the rains settle,
streaming through veins,

the thud-thudding of the heartbeat of Africa.


the rains that settle,
within each of us,

herald rebirth.

if you listen,

if you strain to hear,

while shedding the raucous noise of your inner turmoil.

If you listen,

the whispers of the ancestors,

speak to us all,
lending us warmth,
urging us to stand,

even though we may

even though we may fall.


u n t i t l e d

                   in flight,
                                  bracing the currents,
                       thrashed against the cliffs,
                of jagged fate,

broken-in, kneaded into acquiescence,

soon-to-be yesterdays trash,

               strewn in the muck,

filling landfills of destinys rubbish bin,

bashed by chaotic waves,
headed for,

course set,
                   for yet,

another controlled crash.


watching the building ablaze,
the smoke and flames,

live on tv,

hearing the accounts,
of people fleeing for their lives,

when slowly,
the televised footage split into two split-screens within screen,

or maybe it happened in an instant:

on the left-side – the building on fire, anchors and guests talking about how this could have happened etc.

and on the right-side – the viewers are informed that the new years eve dubai fireworks display will go ahead etc.

and then it happened,

the countdown began,

5 … 4 …

and by now the entire television screen showed a sailboat building burst into a fireworks extravaganza that may have lasted 25 minutes,

more or less,

while the building ablaze,
just over the bay,

burned away.

and the cheering was audible,
the gasps and oohs and aahs,

and I was dumbfounded.
and no one was saying a thing,

and I felt I had finally,
lost all sense,

i must be mad, i thought.
you are, a voice replied.

all because this did not make sense. at all.

normally suchlike razzmatazz pomp & extravaganza,

and people fleeing burning buildings,

hardly ever meet.

and now, they collided,

making it stark to mad me,

that just as the old saying goes,

the show must go on.

perhaps more ominously,

the show will go on,

to put that magic sparkle into a million waiting eyes,

no matter who fries.


pic courtesy: http://www.johncoulthart.com

on repetition: new years day …

the years have chased,
time has a-rambled & a-rolled,
just another year,
where loves’ wares,

love, the commodity,
and us, all of us,
mere commodities,
traded as futures,

hastily stitching gaping wounds, with superficially strong sutures,

add some smiles bought and sold,
dignity bartered,
amalgamated, merged, lost & battered,

thin skins moulting,
spawning breathing thicker skins,

just another year,
same dreams to be shattered,

no bleating hip-hip-hoorays,
just the ever-fixed smile,

bright teeth bared as hands morph into machetes, hacking,
gleefully as the beast slays,

and while some burn, the fireworks elicit oohs, many an aah,

with kafka in the shadows, shaking his head,
this is farce gone too far,

to dampen the collective hope,

not more crumbled platitudes,
meant only to soothe, to apply the balm, to help the other half cope,

with what,

just another year,
reborn, the umbilical cord cut,

just another year,
working, eating, buying, buying,

as we scamper ever on,
with our eyes sewn tightly shut

on hope: tomorrow is ours


years ebb, flow,
tangoing the same old dance, rehashing the same tired show,

temporarily anaesthetised,

cured, from the accursed affliction,
buy, drink, eat, and buy some more,

as the machine grinds flesh and bone,
rendering hearts frigid as stone,

years like tides, slip away,
sweeping this beach of dreams,

common dreams, shared through the uBuntu of being human,

hope, for a less harsh world,
more food, less war,

education, not the burning of books,

treating each other as human,
shedding the cloak of indifference,

to revel,
all of us, the people,

bathed in the warm light of true freedom, real justice,

as bigotry, hatred, racism, misogyny etc etc etc in the corner cowers,

for we shall always,
always, be many, many more,

for tomorrow shall dawn,
and the future is ours …


the subtle constant of mathematics.


rigorous proof.
simple. constant. real.

not this implausible charade,
illogical masquerade,

all our perambulation,
wasted wordy navigation,

our tottering,
our swaying,

our constant need,

to believe,
clinging onto inexplicable human need,

the belief in fantasy:

fantasy as staple nutrition,
upon which our collective illusions, and delusions,

continally feed



on fate, destiny & futility: starstuff …


stringed, strung,

theoretically plausible,
infinite universes within a bubble,

floating in the space, between spaces,

where time, and days and kisses and tears and fears and smiles and anger and all of this and lots of that,

oh and faces,
all blurring into nothingness,

starstuff, is all,
agonisingly close, or chillingly far,

starstuff is all,
we ever were,

starstuff is all,
we still are …


inspired by Dr. Carl Sagan

on compromise: half-measures

on compromise: half-measures.

galloping, striding, marching,
hand in hand, lovers in the sun,

sozzled, numb,

to hell with what is real,
what bleeds, who feeds,

its salivating, seducing, irresistible,
fun, fun, fun,

chasing fleeting pleasures,
momentary, vanishing between blinks of unseeing eyes,

tempus fugit,
                        as time flies,

paying obeisance,
to house & home,
the car, bar,

ameliorated apathy,
dousing guilt,

with the blade of excess buried deep,

embedded to the hilt,

filling our lives with half-measures,

skewered in the pan,
of ashes,

not savouring the drop of dew, the nectar of life,

instead striding, marching,
galloping, on and ever on,

to empty, hollow pleasures,

this is life,

lived out, dumbed down,
in glitzy,

scarred by gentle caresses,
ripped apart by tender kisses,

fractured within,
a ceaseless masqurade without,

           does the ache mend,
lose its sting,
                       soften the blows,

while destiny,
    tomorrows not yet dawned,

shedding tears for pain unmourned,
                     battered blue,
                     and black,

always an arms reach away,
from my weathered backpack,

to venture, to plunge,

into the waters of chance,
where hopes dreams joys,
all dance,

a lifetime away,
yet embossed on the mindscape,

a fleeting moment,
                  an eternal nostalgic glance

on futility: my flaccid tongue

words scrawled, scribbled,
excised, living breathing feeling,

words, scribbled scrawl,
bloated on self, bulbous grotesque ego,

            contrived hysterics,
            lofty idealism, crass,
            authoritarian brass,
            wooden, ablaze with
            mock shock,
            and awe,

thrashing around,
words, scribbled scrawled gibberish,

flaccid, as the tongue,
from which they were wrung.

jo’burg breeze

tasting you,
                     breathing you,
                    feeling you,



swaying in the jo’burg breeze,
             for just knowing you,
          infuses emotions of mirth,

of simple joys,

                         of peace …


cloaked, shrouded,
misted within silver clouds,

moonlight slips, slides,

drizzles down,

like her soft hair,
her velveteen swirls,

that caress my face,

like moonlight,
on an overcast jo’burg night


strumming moments

strumming moments

discordant, awash in today,

plucking strings, teasing chords,

strumming along,
tuneless …

my song 🎼

why do i miss you …

… strange are the ways of fate,
stranger still,
is my aching heart,

my thud-thudding heart,
’tis all yours,
through and through,

why, you may ask,

i have not a clue,

but ’tis true,
i don’t know why,

i miss you …

mushy-schmaltzy scribble …

strange are parallel lines,
destined never to meet,

two hearts, aflame,

seeking litte,
not wealth nor title,

seeking human tenderness,
a gentle comforting solace,

when sipping from her eyes’ chalice,

parallel lines,

we may be,
bound never to meet,

seeking only peace, gentle love, trust,

another soul with whom to share this lifes’ smiles, tears,

each days’ hopes,
some nights’ fears,

parallel line we are, yes,

though we may never meet,

you are a part of me,

breathing your beauty into every  breath I breathe,

yearning for you,

its always been only you,

in every heartbeat.

within me

you smashed everything apart,
your light shone so bright,
you lost me from the start,

yet, and still,

you breathe within me as i trudge through another day and as another night readies itself to depart,
your light shines so bright,
deep in the creased corridors of fate ( do i believe that )

for you have the largest part of my miniscule heart

A Finnish Karelian and a South African Refugee (1990)

this is not a scribble.

this is living memory.

in 1990, we were in exile in Finland, where my father represented the African National Congress (ANC) at the World Peace Council (WPC) in Helsinki.

it was a tumultuous time.

the Wall had come down.

Nelson Mandela was a free man and arrangements were being made for us, along with so many political exiles, to return to South Africa.

it was around that time that we were invited to a Finnish comrades home for a meal.

during the course of the evening I saw my mother hugging an elderly lady, who appeared to be sobbing, on my mom’s shoulder.

it was on the metro ride back to our apartment on an island just east of Helsinki that mom told us the following:

that old lady was a Karelian Finn, who after the 1940 Winter War (Talvisota in Finnish) found herself among so many who had to flee Karelia and became refugees in their own country.

the old lady broke down and recalled her days as a refugee in the merciless Finnish winter of 1940.

you see, my mom and that old lady who’s name i dont even know shared a bond that transcended race colour religion political social and ideological boundaries.

my mom and the fellow refugee shared a human connection of shared pain, displacement, and loss and hurt.

long may the humanity of ordinary people live on, often the poorest and most deprived and ostracised and banished who constantly cling onto the threads and fragile strands that make us human.

they remind us
they shame us

they jab us to open our eyes
they prod us to do more

and they tell us
what we know
but what we often forget …

that we, the people, shall always, always be many many more



with many thanks to the Kallio family of Helsinki, Finland.

for Anja, Jussi, Antti, Matti, Miikko & Liisa Kallio

thank you for your warmth and generosity of spirit and for your friendship




uBuntu …

every spent shell
ever silenced

lost to the tide

shares the desolation

each leaf

every tree

that ever fell …

talkin’ corneal-transplantation stitches blues …

in stitches,
tears stream down my cheek,

grains of sand sprinkle my eye,

( sigh )

a stitch in time,
may save nine,

but my lesson has been learned:

don’t get too big for my britches,

after all,

life has been kind,

even if it often leaves me in stitches …

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