Tag Archive: art


“Ode to Joy” – Beethoven 9th Symphony sheet music from google
“Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh

Poem Series – Vincent van Gogh and Ludwig van Beethoven #1 to #10

1.

Vincent and Ludwig # 1.

“Do you know, my dear Ludwig, that I’ve sold just one of my paintings?”

“Yes, Vincent, do not despair, my friend, they cannot, will not, fathom the flower that reveals its petals before their eyes”

“I suppose you are right, old friend. They cannot, will not, hear your ‘Ode to Joy’, though it is you who are deaf!”

“But my dear Vincent, you do hear my ‘Ode to Joy’, deep in your soul”

“Yes, I hear it, I feel it, Ludwig, flowing like liquid paint through the canvas of my veins”

“My dear Vincent, I too feel your brush-strokes, and in each swirl of colour I hear your joy, and I can touch your pain”

“What does that make us, my friend? Two men cast adrift on the bluest seas, leaving nothing behind, yet heading nowhere. What does that make us then?”, asks Vincent.

“Human”, replies Ludwig, smiling.

“Human, yes, dear Ludwig”.

“And that is enough”, says Ludwig, almost to himself.

“It is enough”, smiles Vincent.

“To be human. It is enough.”

Vincent laughs, as Ludwig watches a gentle wave caress their toes, through their tattered shoes.

Symphony No. 5 sheet music from google

2.

Ludwig and Vincent #2

‘what inspired you to write your 9th?’, Vincent asks Ludwig.

‘madness, dear Vincent. Distilled, concentrated madness’.

‘wasn’t it madness that drove you to sketch starry nights above a sea of Irises?’, Ludwig asks Vincent.

‘madness it was, Ludwig. A madness of the soul. Restless, frantic, maddening madness’, whispers Vincent.

‘what does that make us, my dear Vincent?’, Ludwig murmurs, leaning close to Vincent.

‘sane’, says Vincent.

‘yes, Vincent. Sane’, responds Ludwig.

Vincent reaches up and feels around for his phantom ear,

Ludwig smiles, touching his ear that once could hear.

“Irises” by Vincent van Gogh

3.

Talking with Vincent #3

Alone,

in conversation with Vincent, we talk.

‘loneliness got to me’, he says with a smile.

I smile. I know.

‘I tried, I honestly tried’, says Vincent.

I know. I tried as well.

‘I tired, eventually I just tired’, he said with a wink.

I am tired too, I said.

‘I know’, replied Vincent.

art from google

4.

Vincent and Ludwig #4

“we are mere vagabonds, scraping here and there, never belonging anywhere, and never wanting to belong somewhere” said Vincent to Ludwig.

“yes my dear Vincent, we walk this earth with tattered shoes, our madness binding us in friendship, feted now and then, yet mostly left to ramble through our lonesome lives” Ludwig says, looking down at his weather-beaten boots.

Vincent and Ludwig share a smile, each knowing the feelings felt when sinking deeper into the depths of despair.

“your ‘sunflowers’ always bores a hole into my heart, my dear Vincent, your flourishes live in the swirls and your warmth and love for humanity shines through, tearing at my insides” Ludwig murmurs to Vincent.

“just as your ‘ode to joy’ bores a hole into my soul, with your unselfish, transcendent love for all living beings, alive and resounding in every note” Vincent says, looking into the distance.

“what are we, my dear friend, tortured by our inner demons, left to rot by the wayside, torn and broken by this harsh world all around us” Ludwig asks Vincent.

“we may be mad, and maddeningly so, my friend, but why do we see the smiles washed off the faces of the sane, why do we we tears trickling down from far too many eyes” Vincent says with a rueful smile.

“yes, my dearest Vincent, it often appears that this whole world, this whole veneer of civility, these people who have enough yet always clamouring for more, while those who have nothing hunger for just scraps” Ludwig says, almost to himself.

“and we see it every day, in their greed glazed eyes, their grubby grabbing hands, their world they call sane” Vincent mumbles.

“what are we then, Vincent, in this world of naked oppression, in these places of vulgar ostentation, in the midst of all this madness” Ludwig asks, looking to his friend.

“we are sane, my friend” Vincent says tugging at his phantom ear.

“sane, yes Vincent. sane” Ludwig says with a smile, his fingers feeling his ear that once could hear.

“sane“

Self Portrait by Vincent van Gogh

5.

Vincent and Ludwig #5

Vincent stared at the early evening sky.

Ludwig looked at his friend.

“why do we feel so alone, dear Ludwig, just look at this canvas, it bathes us, blankets us, and is filled with flashes of light” said Vincent.

“flashes of light, soaring like an orchestral crescendo, a blanket shared with a friend, yes, and yet, my dear Vincent, ifeel desolate”, whispered Ludwig.

“do you see the empty space between the flashes of light, my friend, that space is what your music colours“, Vincent said.

Ludwig looked up, smiling, ” yes, the space your colours infuse with hope, with every stroke of your brush, hope for those caught in all the empty spaces“.

“hope for us all, in each of our very own, empty spaces, yes“, Vincent smiled at his friend.

“empty spaces, but infused with colours, music, and hope“, whispered Ludwig, his smile broadening.

“hope“.

“hope“

art from google

6.

Vincent and Ludwig #6

“they call us mad, dear Vincent”, Ludwig said to his friend.

 

“even as you sketch starry nights on the blank canvas of this torrid life”.

 

“yes, my dear Ludwig, they call you insane too, even as you pluck odes to joy from the depths of deafness”.

 

“they call us mad”, whispers Vincent. 

 

“mad, indeed”.

 

“I would rather be mad, than numb”, breathes Ludwig. 

 

“I too would rather be mad than what they expect us to become”, Vincent sighs as the two men share a smile.

 

“mad, yet never mere shades of ice”.

“Café Terrace at Night” by Vincent van Gogh

7.

Vincent and Ludwig #7

“i paint starry nights, Ludwig, to help me forget each torrid day”

“and i compose odes to joy, Vincent, to keep pain at bay”

“we are alike, you and i, dear Ludwig”, Vincent says as he sketches a smile

“yes Vincent, we are alike, our tattered shoes yet to carry us across so many a mile”

from google

8.

Vincent and Ludwig #8

“I often wonder how hands so coarse are able to infuse a stark, naked canvas into a symphony of sensual brushstrokes”, Ludwig says with a wink.

Vincent laughs, “as have I, wondered that is, how such a stark raving mad soul may transform a mere gaggle of notes into soaring orchestral harmony”.

Ludwig smiles, nodding at Vincent, who smiles at his bruised hands.

“Wheat Field with Cypresses” by Vincent van Gogh

9.

Vincent and Ludwig #9

“i often write to Theo, my heart dripping bloodied ink on paper, burning up the parchment. Theo is my brother, dear Ludwig, who often sends me money, to get by” said Vincent.

“i understand, Vincent, life has dealt me similar circumstances, a jangle of cacophonous silence instead of the song of even the solitary bird” Ludwig breathes.

“i sketch my own pain”

“and i compose mine”

from google

10.

Vincent & Ludwig #10

“oh to hear a bird singing perched on a fresh twig, weeping down willowy branches, into an azure stream”, said Ludwig to Vincent.

“yes, my friend Ludwig, my nightmares aren’t raucous, but silent”, murmured Vincent.

“a desolate silence”, Ludwig breathed.

“loneliness”, whispered Vincent.

“loneliness”.

“The Potato Eaters” by Vincent Van Gogh

11.

Vincent and Ludwig #11

“my dear Vincent”, breathes a pensive Ludwig.

“have you found any work as yet. I ask it rhetorically because I know the answer”

Vincent smiles, “your wit hasn’t forsaken you, my friend. Do you know that they call me a “Van Gogh-wannabe”, and I try but always in vain to explain to them that I am a van Gogh, to which the kindly people look at each other and say”,

“and look he even ‘looks’ a bit like Vincent van Gogh and the charlatan even dresses like the great artist himself. The cheek of it”

Vincent laughs as Ludwig shakes his head in what seems to be utter astonishment.

“but my dear Vincent, that’s exactly what they accuse me of being – ‘a Beethoven clone’ – alas my friend, what lesson can we learn from these bizarre happenings?”

Vincent smiles, tugging at his phantom ear,

” they barely acknowledged us as human beings during our times, my dear Ludwig, and in 2015 they accuse us of masquerading as the ‘great’ ‘genius’ ‘incomparable’ Ludwig van Beethoven and Vincent van Gogh”.

Ludwig laughs heartily and sings lines of a song Vincent thinks sounds strangely familiar…

‘… this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you…”*.

*Lyrics from Don McLean’s song “Vincent”.

Für Elise” by Ludwig van Beethoven sheet music from google

12.

Vincent and Ludwig #12

“Your ‘Sunflowers’ evokes the beauty of a sublime sonata to my deaf ears, my dear Vincent”,

“Ah! but you do hear! You hear the passions that torment my soul, my dear friend Ludwig”,

“And you paint in the colours of my dreams, Vincent, where I am alone in a field of sunflowers, as the moonlight caresses each tender stem”,

“Yes, Ludwig! Just as your ‘Moonlight Sonata’ moves me to tears, the tears that you see as delicate drops of dew on the sunflowers of your dreams”,

“Sunflowers bathed in soft moonlight”, smiles Ludwig,

“Oh yes, that same canvas of night that sways to the delicate touch of your music”, Vincent says with a wink.

Ludwig smiles again, as Vincent laughs a hearty laugh.

Beethoven Symphony 9 sheet music from google
“Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh

the duality of time

 

      

 

 

the duality of time …

 

   

 

time

erodes.
loves, lives, hearts.

 

 

souls, spirits, selves …

time

mends,
wounds
a salve,

a balm.

 


knowing only that

in the end,

 


there shall be,

 


only
stillness,

silence,
peace,

calm.

 

 

 

 

 

for women everywhere






for women everywhere …




they said she was opinionated.


they castigated her for not following the norm.


they dismissed her for being “loud-mouthed”.


they spoke disparagingly of her for flouting cultural, religious, sectarian narrow-minded claptrap.


they damned her for unclipping her wings, as she soared free into the open skies.



she is you. 



and may you always be you …





​in love with hope








​in love with hope …



she comes to me,

offering solace, gentle words whispered in my ear,


she placates me,

her words a tender caress, dispelling fear,


she seduces me, as sure as she breathes fire into my soul,


she teases me, offering glimpses of the promise of being whole,


she heals me, when i’m down, battered blue black,


she picks me up, shuffling my self as bones achingly crack.




in love with her, i know now, without her, i would not cope,


in love with her, i know now, she is abiding hope,


hope lives,

hope breathes,


always … 















for Ché



(14 June 1928 – 9 October 1967)



The Wind Carries His Name.




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.




They still 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.


Ché





(50th Anniversary of the assassination of Ché)
               _________
my Chè tattoo – right arm

if i only could










if i could …




if i could sip the nectar of your honey-soaked lips, etching poems on your burnished skin with my fingertips,



if i could embrace you, enveloping your body whole, whispering odes to love mined deep from my famished soul,


if i could share this desolate life turned true by your side, no longer fleeing, nor searching for places to hide,


if i could, if i only could.


i would …






freeversing the blues



freeversing the blues …






tears trickle down far too many a cheek,

while bigotry and hate like raw sewage reek,

down these cellophane faces in plastic towns,

while hope in the well of misery drowns.




the fractured spirits never seem to mend,

even when swallowing the latest trend,

gagging at the emptiness of last week’s buys,

desperately polishing facades while the barren heart cries.




we crawl as we trawl the roads for joy,

spitting yesterdays away like some overused toy,

fleeting moments never savoured whatever the ploy,

we become the enemies we seek to destroy.




why do we slam the doors shut on faces hungry and needy,

don’t we already have it all for us to be so callously greedy,

while we suck the blood and drink the tears of the ones we chase away,

condemning them to ghettoes in which they absolutely must stay.




when will we excise the demons on which apathy feeds,

will we ever kill off sweatshops serving our wants and not our needs,

will we ever stop putting guns in children’s hands,

will we perpetuate the lie of where the tomahawk missile really lands.




what grotesque metamorphosis have we been subjected to,

where we whistle down corridors oblivious, blinded to all that is true,

throttling the many for the benefit of the few,

all the while supping on heaving tables as if we don’t have a clue.




will we continue to feign ignorance of marital, partner, and child sexual abuse,

discarding each fractured soul as if they were stale news,

blindly turning our heads and thusly perpetuating male hetero-patriarchy,

keeping the blinkers on, while banishing the sordid truth we pretend not to see.




when will people of colour all around the world be seen, as human beings and not merely chattel,

as people, as a part of humanity, and not as some half-bred form of vassal,

to be used and discarded like stale garbage that needs to be trashed,

while on single malt whisky we gleefully get smashed …




… and when will all the world share in the bounties of this earth,



so that we may truly bring a more equitable, a more fair, a more just world to birth.











deciphering silence …




you and i,


shielded by silence,


barred from ourselves,


inured against feelings,
exiled hearts,


building ramparts,
a berlin wall,


that may fall.



so my friend,


lay your head upon my chest,


and let my fingers run through your hair,



lulling you gently to rest.



life is far too short anyway,


to squander even a day,


so rest, my friend,


rest,


and lay your head,


upon my chest …








let us …





let us …




let us leave this place of jagged shards of glass, this place of crude spiked splinters.



let us leave this place of rotting words, this place of camouflaged jibes.



let us leave this place of race and of class, this place of us and of them, this place of prejudice and of tribes.



let us forge our own path ahead, choosing the simple purity of love instead.



let us walk on together till our hair turns white and till our skin wrinkles and pales,


we will have each other at least, if all in all, our great escape fails …















the bipolar conundrum …





something splintered
the fragmented mind,

deep within
flimsy neurons,

on
that day in may.


something splinters
flimsier dendrites,

each and every bloody day.







The rains over Jo’burg






The rains over Jo’burg* …





The parched African earth soaks up the liquid offering from the heavens,


birds sing, ululate,


a chorus of catharsis flows through the barren land,


merging into a symphony of renewal.



The rains pour down,


transcending dry tinder of yesterday,


chasing insipid moments away,


drowning in a cacophony of jubilant life.



Life that rumbles,


streaming down desolate alleyways like meandering tears of joy,


drenching this mad, 
wonderful, insane, bubbling city of gold*,


this Jozi*, our eGoli*,


thirsting for nectar from the skies above.



Moments of undistilled mirth,


herald the arrival of spring,
a triumphant rebirth,


jubilant,
ecstatic,


as the Gods of Africa, the spirits of the ancestors,
smile down upon us.



We of flesh and of blood, of muscle and of bone,


thawing our hearts from frozen winter cold as stone,
infusing hope,


as the fragrance of rain on dry soil sketches rainbows,


seeking respite behind heaving clouds of charcoal grey,


the rains banishing winter chills away,


while graciously welcoming spring to stay.



The rains over Jo’Burg cleanse leaves on trees,


rinsing the detritus that listlessly hung,


dry and scorched by the merciless winter sun.



But today,


there are songs to be sung.



Today I am with the heavens,


no longer a mishmash of fragments,


and as our city breathes, 
purified by bounteous, rejuvenating rain,


I am whole, once again.

   
            __________

* – the different names that refer to Johannesburg.

* – eGoli is an isiZulu name that means “City of Gold”.





My Bruce Springsteen Songbook …




Growin’ Up in Delhi town, far away,
from being Born in the USA,

your words rang true to me,

nothing more so than when you sang Cover Me,

as i ached for release from my urban Jungleland,

to the rock ‘n’ roll tunes of The E-Street Band.

you made me weep with your melancholic My Hometown,

as i related so deeply to I’m goin’ Down,

cos’ when you sang, you sang from the depths of your Hungry Heart,

all the way beyond the seas from Asbury Park.

your lyrics slicing deep, scraping away the veneer of cellophane,

stuck inside the prison of my Downbound Train.

i remember the first girl i met,

with Bobby Jean stuck in my lovestruck head,

and as we walked hand in hand through the city’s park,

all i wanted was to be, with her, Dancing in the Dark.

i believed that we were Born to Run, far away from that Brilliant Disguise,

far beyond the Darkness on the edge of Town,

escaping our fragile spaces, on our Rocky Ground.

when Little Steven sang Sun City, it gave me more of a Reason to Believe,

singing truth to power, raging against Apartheid’s vile hell,

for all who from racial discrimination had no reprieve.

and when you sang with Tracy Chapman, Peter Gabriel, and Sting, all of you on stage for the Amnesty international concert,

you carefully picked your principled fights,

as we all sang Bob Marley’s Get up, Stand up, stand for your rights.

as i grew up, on that forked Thunder Road,

you reminded me of The Ballad of Tom Joad,

you lyrics cut straight to the bone,

when you belted out your sarcastic classic We take care of our Own.

you made me cry some more on the Streets of Philadelphia,

while so many sweated it out in many a Darlington County,


and the wealthy smiled and grabbed at this earth’s common bounty.




oh how we joined you in the chorus, when you sang Woody’s angry This Land is your Land,

while you paid homage to the countless immigrants in your powerful and visceral American Land.

i imbibed your words, feeling them course threw my veins when i was bruised and tender,

because you spoke to me of holding on tight to hope, to the words of No Surrender.



We are Alive
spoke of the many who died trying to reach The Promised Land,

to give it a shot, of Working on a Dream,

when crossing The River would impossible seem.

today, as so many are still sweating it out Working on the Highway,

you never fail to infuse hope,

the eternal hope,

of Waitin’ on a Sunny Day …






Dedicated to Clarence Anicholas Clemons Jr.


(January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011)









the owl …



perched atop a tree stump,

it watches.

it sees.

seeing through ancient eyes,


it watches.

it sees.



shuffling its feathers,


it watches.

it sees.

its free skies stolen, its branches broken,



leaving just stumps to sit on,
having seen too much.




my loveliness 

my loveliness waits,



through decades of lost haste,


through trials and grief,
peaceful days and dire straits,


my loveliness waits.



i wait …


through decades past,
for kisses meant to last,


i wait,


to hold my loveliness,
in these lonesome arms,


i wait,


transcending lust,
overcoming desire,


i wait,


to be burnt to ash,

in the furnace of her raging fire.







​the subtle constant of mathematics …






rigorous proof.


simple. constant. real.


not this implausible charade, this illogical masquerade,


all our perambulations,
wasted wordy navigation,



our tottering,
our swaying,



our constant greed,
to believe,


clinging onto inexplicable human need,



the belief in fantasy:


fantasy as staple nutrition,

upon which our collective illusions,



continually feed.


















on the cusp …






trawling turquoise seas,

cast adrift,

                   your eyes caressing fitful slumber,

                        whispering paens,

           soothing the ache,


of this weary traveller,

parched,

               thirsty,

                            alone,


cresting waves,

                           treading water,

             hither and thither,


a tattered heart,

                             a wounded soul,

        bathing my being,

                                      nestling,

       in cocooned dreams of your sugarcane lips,



seeing,

            feeling,

                         tasting,

                                      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,

                                    entwined,


hungering for your tongue,

fiery,

         insistent,

                         true,



soaring above vagabond skies of blue,

             unshackled at last,


             craving only you …



















my 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 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’.



she smiled


she smiled.




I told her that I love her.


she smiled.


I vowed to love her forevermore.


she smiled.


I said “let’s walk this earth together, not knowing where the paths lead”.


she smiled,

“let’s” …









minutes merge into tears, spilling from eyes dimmed by the years, lost in the blurred fog that never clears, screaming out silently so no one hears,


the tormented cries of a man lost and broken, shredding  scribbled rhymes never to be spoken, amidst the charade, nothing but a mere token, baring his heart, nakedly open,


to wander these slippery streets alone, far from the promises set in stone, cut deep, the wound stinging down to the bone, yet still searching for the means to atone,


after all these years swirling down the drain, the rough taste insipid and plain, whistling a bygone dreary refrain, always first at the station, yet always the one to miss the last train,


setting off on a journey, seeking redemption for the lies, tearing at the shackles, twisting a lifelong of severed ties, to that place where sorrow eventually dies, away from the deafening deluge of hollow cries,


where peaceful waters gently flow, where the pace of breathing is soothingly slow, where lush green meadows grow, where anything is possible, where feelings are malleable as dough,


at last reaching that hallowed space, where misery evaporates without a trace, to finally feel a belonging, a bond to a place, to no longer be ashamed to wear this same old face,


to lose oneself beneath the brightest skies of blue, with you by my side, feeling my only wish coming true, tasting the freshness of the early morning dew, at peace, finally, in a haven built for me and for you …







i love her





i love her.




1.



she found me, when torrents raged, splinters gnawed,

she found me, when my wings were shattered, my heart tattered,

she found me, when i was desolate, aimlessly crawling,

she found me, in the depths of despair, deep in the maelstrom, aching for air,

she found me, trapped in the quagmire, sinking in the clutches of the foggy bog,

she found me.



2.



she reached down, her hand extended, a gesture that infused hope in me,

she pulled me out of the den of emptiness, the abyss of loneliness,

she helped me stand, on my torn legs, her shoulders bearing my weight,

she fed me, nourishing my soul, as i imbibed her warmth,

she led me into pastures green and alive, awash with colour,

she held me, in the cocoon of her embrace, her hair a waterfall drenching my face.



3.



i was not worthy, of her delicate touch,

i was not worthy, lying in a discarded alleyway,

i was not worthy, of her healing embrace,

i was not worthy, of her tender love,

i was not worthy then, i am not worthy now,

i had nothing, and still have nothing to give,

still, she loved me, and loves me still.



and i love her still …



i shall love her forevermore.





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