Tag Archive: a poem of hope


Above: Sweden Summer of 1990

Below: Johannesburg Autumn of 2008

Greater Kailash S – Block, New Delhi early 1970s

​she is my all,

picking me up whenever I fall,

walking beside me, fierce and tall,

unafraid of what is yet to befall,

my all, my strident constant,

my friend, whispering away lows in flashes of an instant,

she is my all,

she is,

she is all … … …

​walking on broken glass, exhausted by all that is crass, seeking the green grass, that may still, yet, eventually come to pass … … …

​bracing howling winds of fate, of love, 

enveloped by darkening clouded skies above,

what becomes of the heart that feels too much,

but desolate emptiness,

merely traversing the daily grind,

fragile are the bonds, the ties that bind,

still hopeful, still searching,

for the solace that seems so hard to find … … …

Johannesburg Blues

​Johannesburg Blues.

walking in this city of diamonds,

gold deep beneath my feet,

sleeping under her rainy skies,

embracing my newspaper sheet.

i had a life long ago, a woman too,

now I’m just a huddle of rags

while the women walk past

never reaching into their Gucci bags.

she left me, or i left myself,

on these bleak Jo’burg roads,

searching for that fix

at these desolate crossroads.

now i stand alone,

these empty streets my bed,

my blood soaking the earth

with drops of beaten red.

so i wish you well, friends,

i wish you gold dust amidst the fray,

all of you who walk on and away,

leaving me to beg or borrow,

to get through another Jo’burg day.

_________________
published in http://spadinaliteraryreview.com/

awake, alone … … …

​awake, alone,

dispelling night cold as stone,

yearning, aching,

for a kinder, gentler day,

when rivulets of tears drain silently away … … …

​sashaying to strains, melodies strumming my veins,

in low plateaus, through deepest vales,

soothing life’s pains,

banishing icy rains,

hushing sobs, shushing wails, grasping day by its reins,

steering a course on the seas of fate,

where fear and trepidation pales,

free winds coaxing me ever onwards, into fresh pathways, along unchartered trails,

with hope,

always hope, within sight of the lighthouse,

keeping me ever afloat, bolstering my sails … … …

a hushed heart

​whispered memories,

fade, falling to the ground,

momentary kisses, flee, never to be found,

ah but what becomes of the tattered heart,

mutely shrieking, hushed, without sound … … …

love is kind,

how often have you been told,
but you flog me with your words,

you thrash me with your eyes,

you mangle me with your barbs,

yes, love is kind,

thank you for loving me so … … …

Gone are the white masks and sheets,

today the KKK struts in plain sight,

on nameless blood-soaked streets.

The past still lives,

breathes,

spewing hate,

stereotyping and profiling and generalising,

‘the Nigger deserved it’,

they still say,

as they continue to hate,

and to slay.

Justice is blind,

we are so often told,

but it’s deaf,

and mute,

and can be,

and is,

bought and sold,

just as they once,

traded,

bought,

sold,

flogged,

whipped,

lynched,

and raped human-beings,

and just as each of those human-beings of colour was called a slave,

today, in the 21st century,

a person of colour,

still better ‘know’ his or her ‘place’,

or face the racist murderers’ hate,

and be shot down,

and be clubbed

and be beaten,to an early, shallow grave

#blacklivesmatter

the sieve of fate

​i saw her, a revelation in glorious technicolour, standing by the bus stop,

she smiled at me, wrenching my heart off my sleeve.

i see her still,

now in faded black and white,

wondering where she may be, after all these years, months, days, moments,

with time trickling through our lives,

knotting destiny into a silken weave,

time, ah time!

slipping away,

down fate’s random sieve … … …

​fleeting dew disappears, in gardens of blazing petals,

another day recedes, ushering in night,

yearning to be caressed by the moisture of morn,

(to strains of lilting birdsong)

when another day is born … … …







talkin’ democracy blues … … …
the platitudes come fast and thick,

when gone is the carrot what remains is the stick,


when a government shuts its ears to what the people need,

puffed up on hubris and profiting from greed,


democracy dies a little each day,

what more can i say,


cos’ I’m talking democracy blues,

step out of your comfort zone,

and take a stroll in the other half’s shoes,


maybe you’ll understand a bit better then,

that it ain’t all just about being zen,


it’s about bread and water and jobs for all,

heed the people’s call or be prepared to take a nasty fall,


cos’ I’m talking democracy blues,

so get your feet out of your thousand buck shoes … … …


your hand to hold

​and though the day be harsh, the night cold,


my world is warm, with your hand to hold

​awake, through the long bleary night,

aching to shed the detritus of passing day, to soak in hopes’ light,


awake, alone,

floundering within my visionless sight,

waiting for this new dawn to break the desolation of cold dreary night,


hoping, hoping,

with all my being,with what’s left in me,

bracing for yet another merciless fight … … …

a phantom day … … …

jagged faultlines of memory, sunken crevasses of hopes, of dreams tucked away,

for another time, a better place, another year, a less harsh space,

for a phantom day … …

whispers of yesteryear,
ravaged promises, savaged oaths,

squirming away,
down gutters of fate,

so don’t tell me of destiny, no patronising me with vows of love,

i stand alone now,
under winter skies,

desolate, in the slicing sting of the rains that fall from above … … …

another day dawns,
night yawns,
scurrying away into days’ waiting arms,

memories of you,
meander through my broken being,

your smile, your very whole,

offering solace,
to my vagabond soul … … …

For Tony Benn
( 1925 – 2014 )

You have not passed silently into the coming night,

your conscience towers above the brittle edifice of capital and of greed,

for as long as there remain hungry mouths to feed,

your soul is enmeshed within our collective whole.

You have not passed silently into the coming night.

Your battle is done,

the war!

the war is far from won!

So we pick up your scarlet standard,

and we continue to rattle the foundations at No. 10,

though today,

today,

we pause,

today we say,

‘Hamba Kahle’*,

to you,

our comrade,

our leader,

our towering ‘Big Benn’.

for Anthony Neil Wedgwood “Tony” Benn.

(3 April 1925 – 14 March 2014)

* – ‘Hamba Kahle’ means ‘go well’ in isiXhosa/isiZulu

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no more photos please ...

Stockholm
Sweden

Summer 1990

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sunset over Jo'burg

😼

fleeting dew disappears,
in the garden of blazing petals,

another day recedes,
ushering in night,
yearning to be caressed by the moisture of morn,

to the strains of lilting birdsong,

when another day is born … … …

my wishes are simple

my wishes are simple … … …

my wishes are simple,
desires few,
gazing upon a leaf,
nourished by dew.

my wishes are simple,
dreams hardly grand,
hearing birdsong in this desert,
together, hand in hand.

my wishes are simple,
my heart calm,
resting with you ‘neath this palm,

years rattling bones,
wrinkling skin,
greying our hair,
ever so thin … … …

embers of love … … …

Rivulets of tears,
flow into gutters,

hearts break,
whispered truths shatter.

Love persists,
stubborn, obstinate,
unyielding,

a tempestuous deluge,
seeking murmuring eddies.

Love persists,
unflinching,
battle-fatigued,

lost at times,
floundering in muddied waters.

Love persists,
when stormy clouds gather,

the embers crackle, burn, tinder aflame,

deeply knit,
out of the piercing rain … … …

hewn | carved | embossed

hewn into my being,
carved across my heart,
weaving through my mind,
embossed in my soul,

it remains,
a persistent reminder:

your name

fractured dreams, like moulting skin,
pepper the cold ground,

memories ablaze, raging through frigid hearts, thawing beneath the winter sun,

emotions recoil, reel,
as love flitters and skips,

on wounded knees,
in a corner to silently kneel … … …

tears of dew … … …

Dew, like tears,
envelopes the morning rose,

petals glistening,
remnants of night,
echoing across the hue infused plain.

Fleeting dew,
like murmuring rain,
caressing each petal,

while far beyond the flowers of morn,

memories of the dew,
remain … … …

honeydew lips

destiny
fate

somewhere
someplace

alfoat on honeydew petals

mere strands

filaments

years trickling through
fingertips

lost whispers
dreamed caresses

awake
alive …

smouldering
ablaze in the cauldron

of

destiny
fate

of convergent wisps
sprinkling kisses

on your
honeydew lips

The Cost of Revolution

(in memory of the June 16th 1976 student uprising in South Africa)

You hurled rocks, stones,
Molotov Cocktails,
Sling-shots against the brutality of racial oppression.

You fell on the streets of Soweto,
Thokoza,
Kagiso,
Sharpeville,
Tembisa,
So many more I cannot begin to mention.

Tasting the acrid stench of tear-gas,

Feeling the flesh ripped off your bones by their dogs,

Drenched by water-cannons,
Stung by rubber-bullets,
Whipped by sjamboks,
Shot in the head by bullets,
Paid for by your country’s gold.

You stood trial for Treason,
Facing the hangman’s noose,

You stood firm, you did not break,
Even though,
You had wives, sons, daughters, lovers, brothers, sisters, and friends to lose.

The revolutionary dream burned bright,
In all your hearts,

Even as the jackboot of Apartheid,

Fractured your bones and tore your families into broken and splintered parts.

You left your brothers,
Sisters,
Sons,
Daughters,
Lovers,
Wives,
Comrades and friends,

Seeking out foreign lands,
With only the ammunition that you held in your hearts, your minds and in your never-wavering hands.

The enemy did not waver either,

Tyranny didn’t cease.

2 AM knocks on doors around this land,
Meant to stifle, to intimidate,

Yet,
You took a stand.

Hungry,
lost far away from home, pining for freedom and your loved ones,

Still,
You stood firm,
You fought on,

“Release Mandela and all Political Prisoners” was your cry,
In capitals of far-off lands,

You feared not the bayonet in the enemy’s hands,

The revolution was burning bright,

Even as the dawn of Freedom was in sight.

Finally on a February day,
They released him and the joy was palpable, nothing stood now in the revolution’s way.

All the while,
The enemy consolidated its power,

Paying off traitors,

Seeding violence,

Orchestrating mayhem to taint the noble cause,

And still you took the tyrant’s rifles and clenched their muzzles in-between your brave jaws.

Never standing down,
Backing away,
Retreating to safe space,
The fire of revolution burned,
Spreading through the plateaus and valleys and townships and cities and villages in this pained land,

And still,

Still,
You held that Kalashnikov in your hand.

And when that day of freedom came,

You felt the stirrings of joy and pain and yes,
Of shame.

You felt the shame of leaving those you left behind,

You tasted again the pain,
Of economic hardships,
Of capitalism and its illusory promise,
Of a revolution left incomplete,

Till,
Every man, woman and child has enough to eat.

A revolution still incomplete,
Where hunger stalks the night,
Where mercy,
And comradely solidarity,
Left last night on a first-class flight.

You stand tall still,
Working as you always have,

Polishing the metal chariots of those you once bled for,

Still feeling the injustice,
Of not having the two cents more,

That deprives you of your daily bread,

And you try hard to remember,

Whether this is the revolution,

For which so many died,

The countless whose names remain unsaid,

The brothers and sister,
Mothers and fathers,
Lovers and friends,

Who lie cold and dead.

(dedicated to all South Africans who sacrificed their lives, their families, in pursuit of the revolutionary dream. A dream that remains a dream to many, and a dream that will continue to be dreamed)

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frozen dew … … …

frozen dew,
thawing beneath the winter sun,

imbibed by murmuring leaves,

vanishing,
its magic spun,

comforted that night is done … … …

choosing to love another, regardless of gender or colour,

a revolutionary act in a time of hate.

choosing to love another, beyond gender or creed,

reveals humanity’s true face,

beyond gender, religion, or race … … …

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the wandering nomad

rootless, adrift,
neither here nor there,

the wandering nomad roams,

trudging through avenues of memory,
slogging along highways of loss,

whispering on a breeze of fate,
murmuring in a swirl of tears,

the wandering nomad knows no abode,

but the treacherous open road … … …

my poem at Lileasleaf Farm Museum in Rivonia Johannesburg as part of the permanent Umkhonto-we-Sizwe  (The Spear of the Nation MK) exhibit.

http://www.liliesleaf.co.za

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(Dedicated to the countless South Africans who gave their lives for freedom and democracy)

Remember us when you pass this way,

We who fell,

Who bled,

Remember us when you pass this way,

We who fell so that countless others may stand,

We who bore the brunt of the oppressor’s hand.

Remember us when you pass this way,

Leave a flower or two as you pass along,

Sing! Sing for us a joyous & spirited song.

Remember us when you pass this way,

We who fell,

Who bled,

Remember us when you pass this way.

Remember us in your tomorrows,

As you remember us today

Amandla! The Struggle Continues…

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the enigma

oblivious, as petals,
wreathed in sublime dew,

each breath taken, finite.

the enigma:

how many more,
how few?

6 things racists say:

1. Some of my best friends are black etc …

2. You can’t keep blaming Apartheid/slavery etc for everything that’s happening now …

3. I’m not a racist but these people …

4. Must they have so many children …

5. They’re not like our people …

6. I’m no racist, but you can’t help people who don’t want to help themselves …

in your eyes #14

in your eyes #14

consumed by the crowd, deafening silence assailing my ears too loud,

slipping away from the raucous row, the din of moments, the savagery of the now:

finding you,
my open sky so blue,

seeking peace, elusive,
rented out on a married lease,

give me a kiss, honest and true, deep,

in your eyes, finding the peace, that renders me a bore,

exhausted, fatigued,

needing only you, in your arms a restful sleep … … …

monstrous beasts

why call humans animals,

animals do not kill in the name of religion, caste, creed, or race,

animals?

monstrous beasts more like it … … …

A Bipolar Scribble

a bipolar scribble … … …

thoughts racing, taking on the whole world so cruel and wide,

‘I’m fine, I say, I just have to decide’,

do i stay in bed again, swirling down a maelstrom of gloom,

or commence in the spring-cleaning of my already spotless room,

ah, decisions decisions,
far too many to divine,

‘I think I’ll scribble endlessly on, because really, really, really, I really am just fine’

when i leave my ink behind, ever searching for slivers of hope in the shape of a rhyme,

i breathe, i live, feeling sorrow slip through my fingers,

because scribbling for you is where the peace lies, the peace so elusive to find … … …

nothing leaves a heart reeling more than the heart filled with an abundance of feeling

in your eyes #13

in your eyes #13

clasping onto hope,
fragile strands of sanity dispelling unseen phantoms,

lost amongst the suffocating crowd,
cloaked in your invisible shroud,

fortitude restraining you from crying out loud,

still your fire rages, crackling embers testament to your dignity,

your insolent defiance, ever steely, seeing through the lies,

your quiet strength resting deep,

in your eyes … … …

in your eyes #12

your light blazed bright,
a comet slicing through the moonless night,

enveloped by your sight, dimming the pangs of my darkening plight,

i found my peace, in the blue open skies,

of your eyes … … …

Branch | Bird

nestled on a branch,
a solitary bird sings its mournful song,

the branch undulates,
straining to bear the bird’s weight,

offering respite, succour, peace,

just a little,
a little to ensure the tiny bird is at ease … …

burnished by the sun,
petals fade,
as another day is done,

lulled to rest,
assured,
that morning dew shall soon come,

invigorating life, again,
and for a fleeting moment,
banishing all strife

jacaranda street

breaths drawn,
echo across fields of green,

a plaintive song,
teasing the grass,

paths once walked,
hand in hand,

now burning highways,
of cold stone, dead concrete,

yearning for bygone days,

walking, together,
on your jacaranda carpeted street

cinnamon kisses,
sprinkled on honeydew lips,

sate the thirst,
of parched desire,

“hold me”, she said,

we have many a mile yet to tread … … …

crushed flowers lay casually strewn,

apathy into warm hearts are hewn,

what is this life so hopelessly out of tune,

tell me before I disappear over the barren dune … … …

remembered oaths,
churned out vows,

spilling into overflowing goblets,
weighed down by heaving plates,

not for me, this plastic charade,

not for me, the passing parade,

for me, the scent of your hair,

for me, you and i,

beneath the swaying of a palm,

in the shadow of the shade

under clouds of despair,

feeling lost,
gasping for air,

clasping onto filaments of hope,

may your strength never forsake you,

may you hold on tight,
fanning the embers of that hope,

may you find solace to live, to breathe,
to cope … … …

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