Tag Archive: freedom


another year …

​as another flees, soaked scarlet by war, choked by the famished cries of the baby, torn by the screeching of hate, adulterated by the politics of intolerance, bruised by gender-based violence, shaming humanity by female genital mutilation, ripping our souls out by wanton greed, trashing our world with mountains of waste, scarring our planet with the oblivious ignorance of climate change, hacking us, binding us with the knots of intolerable pain,


and so, may the coming year be less violent, and more equitable to all.


idealistic claptrap? yes, I know, I know …


but at times like these hope is all that I know I  know …

farewell to Nelson Mandela

Today, as our thoughts and tears and love flow to our beloved President Nelson Mandela,

We, human-beings the world over,

say thank you, Madiba!

Thank you for your life, a life of principle,
a life of struggle,
of torture, of pain, of loss,

of a selflessness that you have embodied so completely.

In this often cold and callous world,

where we have been jaded by war, by intolerance, by racism, prejudice, and so so much economic and social injustice,

your living spirit shall live on!

your body, that has endured so so much,

your heart, your mind, your very self, which injustice and tyranny tried so hard to break,

shines on!

Your spirit shines and shall be the torch that we, your children the world over,
shall carry forward…

you may be struggling for life today,

but you have breathed life,

into the hearts of countless downtrodden people this world over.

I don’t know what to say,

my heart breaks today,

I want to cry, and I am crying now,

with a sense of loss and of sadness that I have felt when my mother passed away,

I cry for my loss, selfishly,

but I know you have walked the long walk to freedom,

the long and arduous walk from struggle and sacrifice to healer and peacemaker and statesman and father, yes,

father to us all…

I will miss you, My father,

I will miss your comforting presence,

I shall miss your smile,

and mostly I shall miss the gentle solace that you imbibed in us all,

your children the world over…

Live on, you shall, Madiba!

in the shacks of the Sowetos of the world, you shall live on in that eternal quest for economic freedom,

in the eyes of the pained and tortured,

you shall live on!

in the whispered prayers,

the silent thoughts,

of the dispossessed of this world who still continue to be left behind in this cruel world,

you shall live on!

Thank you, Nelson Mandela, as you make your way to join the ancestors,

Hamba Kahle Comrade President Nelson Rolihlahla “Madiba” Mandela!

Travel well, and go peacefully … … …

Buchenwald – 1979

walking towards horror,
my seven year old eyes,

were sewn open on that day at Buchenwald.

the reeking stench of death
was by now,
lost to the winds,

and ahead,

stood Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

Never Again!

we have said,
over and over,

and over and over,
but, but,

as Erich Fried* wrote,

it happened,

it is happening now,

and it will go on happening if nothing is done to stop it from ever happening again** …

    ____________________

* Erich Fried 1921 – 1988.

http://allpoetry.com/Erich-Fried

** taken from and inspired by Erich Fried’s poem “What Happens”

http://poetrypill.blogspot.com/2009/04/what-happens.html?m=1

afzaljhb@gmail.com

“first they came for the _____” ( Mr. Trump, fill in the blanks )

_______________

then they came for the. ______________

( fill in the blanks, Mr. Trump )

be careful,
the extremists appear to be on the ascendancy,

the brutal murderers of daesh and the neonazi drivel of trump,

so be careful: guard your mind,

never forget,
remember,

always,
always remember:

“first they came for the Communists …”*

* – Pastor Martin Niemoller

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Pete's Banjo

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Woody

May the 10th, 1994

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President Nelson Mandela's Inauguration 1994

Madiba lives …

The Wind Carries His Name

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Ernesto Guevara

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.

And,

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:

“Che”.

(For Ernesto Guevara)

Madiba

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Madiba stamp

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Guthrie Ledbetter Seeger

well they ask me why I’m so sore,
they tell me racism ain’t a problem no mo’,

they tell me that,
they tell me this,

sayin’ it’s a new world,
they tell me to bask in a state of bliss,

but i ain’t cool,
i don’t buy the drool,

cos’ I’m talkin’ post-racial blues,
walk awhile in my ragged shoes,

wearing my happy face,
jus’ tryin’ to make it in this godawful rat race,

so don’t be tellin’ this,
quit tellin’ ’bout all that jazz,

cos’ I’m sick ‘n’ tired,
of the sterile razzmatazz,

cos’ I’m talkin’ post-racial blues,
fallin’ deeper as i ramble in my ragged shoes,

don’t be tellin’ me about the post-racial status-quo,
cos’ I’m sick ‘n’ tired of the whole damn show,

yeah, I’m talkin’ the post-racial blues … … …

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” … I don’t think you and I are very closely related, but if you are capable of trembling with indignation each time that an injustice is committed in the world, we are comrades, and that is more important … ”

Ernesto Ché Guevara

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The African Rains

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uBuntu - the philosophy of the interconnectedness of humanity

Soaking,

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

Drenching,

the rains settle,
streaming through veins,

the thud-thudding of the heartbeat of Africa.

Absorbing,

the rains that settle,
within each of us,

herald rebirth.

And,
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
stumble,

even though we may fall.

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Remember Us

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“Remember Us” at the historic Lileasleaf Farm Museum in Rivonia, Johannesburg. Please visit:
http://www.liliesleaf.co.za/

(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 subtle constant of mathematics.

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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

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the African rains

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

Drenching,
the rains settle,
streaming through veins,

the thud-thudding of the heartbeat of Africa.

Absorbing,
the rains that settle,
within each of us,

herald rebirth.

And,
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
stumble,

even though we may fall.

common fountain

in a world tugging,
pulling, drawing & quartering,

each soul apart,

and as mercy, humanity, love,

effortlessly, and resistance-free,

departs,

embracing ignorance, hugging credulous unreason,

fracturing the human bones,
cartilage, tendons ripped,

shattered hearts, broken minds,

there can be but one answer,
simplistic as it may sound,

teach respect, not creed,
worship shared humanity,
shun lecherous greed,

then, and I fear only then,
may we truly, as one,

from our common fountain feed … …

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the illusion of control

the illusion of control …

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… so, life happens,
our infinitesimal plucking of strings,
somehow brings,
an idea, a glimmer of hope,
of control, an illusion really,

of just sort of kind of knowing on the whole,
just how the paths we dream up, are to be tread,

and so,

we weave, we dance,
oblivious to the fickle whims of chance,

we joust, parrying jabs,
picking at wounds,
scratching under scabs,

seeking this, that, whatever,
speeding on highways bound for never,

wearing our hearts on our sleeves, baring all, unashamed,

emotional sentimentality fluttering amongst dead autumn leaves,
starkly transparent,

yearning for that early ache,
that wondrous sensuality of synapses, sparking,
inflaming that early rush,

leaving me numbed,
in my shallow sewer, impotent and dumbed,

wasting away, lost in the well,
where no pebble ripples back

      ___________________

(brb)

(got to let the cat out for reasons only the cat knows)

     ___________________

so where we,
before the cat’s bells began to tinkle,
thankfully not toll,

ah yes,

the illusion of control … …

for Dr. Carl Sagan
1934 – 1996

memories of Madiba …

no more photographs, please!

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( Sweden 1990 )

live life now

live life now

clutching, grasping,
holding onto,

gulping down, hungrily,
each breath, every breath,

fearing the onset of the years,
the splinters of time

embedding,
piercing,

this moment, the very now,

numbed by repetition,
embalmed by trepidation,

of tomorrows yet to dawn,

suspiciously sifting through the strands of greying hair,

seeking clues,
the because to the whys,

the slow mornings,
restless nights,

jabbing reminders,
as years, decades,

scurry, scamper,
flee,
feeling it all slipping away,

standing, immobile,
stilled by the implacable sentinels at the doorstep,

these immovable sentries,
concealing the door,

that leads to today

been a long time walkin’
my long tongues been a-talkin’

blistering my feet
slipping and slidin’ down church street

lookin’ for a job
with decent pay

and here’s what all the signs say
ain’t no jobs round here today

so keep on a-walkin’
and a-talkin’

braggin’ and a-baggin’
yappin’ and a-waggin’

knowing there ain’t no place
that’ll bear my kinda face

cos’ i know there’ll never be
home for a-hobblin’ one like me …

scabbards

scabbards.

1.

aren’t we all,
at the heart of it all,

just scabbards.

mere,
just,

vessels,
into which,

we pour
our hope, love, fear,
desire, prejudice, anger,

scabbards all,
right at the heart of it all,

filled to the hilt,

brimming with jingoistic murderousness,

bloated on bigoted hair-trigger rage,

primed,
ready to slay,

in the name of something someone,

some entity deity belief oldage, newagey, or thought-up yesterday,

sounding needlingly familiar,

a few words,
names,
hearsay,

primed,
coded,

prepped to slay,
itching to strike,

that
first blow,

shock & awe!

drawing first blood,

drop by drop,
bleeding out,

blood spilled,
again, and again.

2.

the colour of the bloody rivers in flood:

red.

red to the hilt,
brimming the scabbards,

scabbards,

mere,

and finally,
just maybe,

perhaps,

just.

double-helixed uBuntu

double-helixed uBuntu …

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these interwoven veins

dna
double-helixed

microscopically
binding

me
you

us
all

through
this common
shared
truth:

‘I am because you are’*

all of us
together
as one

me
you …

… uBuntu*

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* – uBuntu is an isiXhosa/isiZulu concept that espouses the “belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”

the tears of olives

the tears of olives  …

trickling down shrapnelled flesh

tears fall

like
blood
on
bloodied
cheek

while in the sun

lifeless bodies
lie cold as stone

still
the tears of olives
flow

salty sentinels
of memory:

pain
suffering
occupation
hunger

the tears of olives
perennially streak

etching pathways of dust

between alleyways of desolation

hopelessly bleak

yet still
the slaughter continues

as more dead bodies

rot
reek

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uBuntu = humanity

all roots
alive

weaving intricate veins

over our shared
common plains

feeding tributaries
slipping over streams

all so

one sea
one world
one earth
us all

may be fed

like our shared blood

for
the river feeding us

all of us

the river ebbing and flowing through our veins

etching tributaries within all of us

is of one colour

it is

all of it …

red.

  ____________________

uBuntu is an isiXhosa/isiZulu concept that espouses “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”

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an immigrants lament

gazing at the sky
i often wonder why,

birds soaring,
high in the open sky,

are free to fly?

is it that they have wings,

for i too have wings, friend,

so,
i often wonder why,

huddled against desolate sleet,

and,
i often wonder why,

buried under flimsy newspapersheet,

that i too have wings, friend,

i too have wings!

and my wings,

are my feet!

What is uBuntu?

uBuntu …

every seashell

ever silenced
emptied

lost to the tide

shares the desolation

of
each leaf
of
every tree

that ever fell …

_____________________

uBuntu is an isiXhosa/isiZulu concept that espouses “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”

uBuntu

uBuntu …

every spent shell
ever silenced
emptied

lost to the tide

shares the desolation

of
each leaf

of
every tree

that ever fell …

bought. sold …

it feels fungal,

the itch of hate,
stab of resentment,

souls wounded,
walking along avenues inlaid with broken diamonds,

passing edifices of gold,

where anything,
anyone,

everyone,

neutered from human to being,

commodities,

bought. sold.

Survivors Guilt

Survivors Guilt

who are we who walked away

unbruised
from the battles that raged

from the countless struggles that were waged

who are we who walked away

scribbling words
through teary-eyed

scribbled
nothingness

weakened tired
fatigued odes to the memories of all those who died

who are we who walked away

while comrades fell
fathers and mothers bled

while the blood of so many martyrs was so selflessly shed

who am I to walk away

cocooned vacuum-sealed
my conscience inured

sterile and impotently  packaged

while the war rages on
leaving far too many souls behind

their lives
their dreams

their tomorrows broken
savaged ravaged

who am i?

history …

misty tears fall on splintered parchment

history simmers

the shackles of centuries cast off

the chains of oppression shattered

embracing new horizons

dawning
&
trusting once again
in that unfinished dream

of less famished tomorrows

i am unable

i am unable

to give up on you

you
who have etched your soul

chiselled deep onto the walls of my vagabond heart

you
whose smile is carved

along the alleyways of time

so wherever i may be
it shall always
be that smile
of yours
that i
see

forgotten decades

yesterday reaches
straining to hear

cries of decades lost

half-forgotten
inaudible

ancient history

now
barely a strand

and that too
adrift

alone

but

but

still
etched

if
for an instant

across endless nights
yet to dawn

alone. at last.

cast away,
lost,

like
strewn flotsam,

on an empty shore.

alone.

at last.

Who Killed the Marikana Miners?*

who killed the miners at Marikana?

definitely not the executive

nor the executives
far removed from the grime
and the slime

Who killed the miners at Marikana?

not the Prez
and not even the Press for a change

strange

so who killed the miners at Marikana?

the unions perhaps
or the errant miner
led astray

in that obscene demand for better pay

who killed the miners at Marikana?

not armed cops,
firing bullets of lead into the back of the head

execution-style it’s been said

who killed the miners at Marikana?

it seems no one can be found

as bodies decompose deep under gold dust ground

while families grieve

there
ain’t no one around to take the fall

so
who killed the Marikana Miners?

no one

no one at all

* inspired by the protest song “Who Killed Davey Moore”, a topical song written in 1963 by American folk singer/songwriter Bob Dylan.

June 16th 2015 South Africa

June 16th 2015
South Africa

1.

the blood of the valiant flowed,

absorbed by our famished soil,

our battered pained earth,

moistened by beads of collective sweat,

the endless toil,

where the valiant rest.

2.

or do they?

do the valiant rest
beneath our African skies?

do the valiant rest?

no.

they do not rest.

they recoil.

this is not what they fought for.

we’ve betrayed them.

we’ve betrayed the core …

the whys and the lies…

why do tears fall from broken eyes

in blinding times of the lies of the wise

when spurious tongues dribble and drool

deeply enmeshed in the cesspool

of me myself and i …

when hunger is leased

venom slips through unleashed

me myself and i

as the scavenging resumes

its shutup
and its buy-bye…

for Pete, Huddie, & for Woody

talkin’ self-loathing blues …

I’ve been walking,
and a-talkin’

ramblin’ & rollin’

through deserted streets flowing with tears

down cobwebbed alleyways reeking of fears

just a-yakkin’ and a-scribblin’ these paltry rhymes

no absolution on sale at this carousel of blood-soaked crimes

just a-screamin’ that my tongue is fractured, broken

penitence perhaps for splintered words spoken

yes just ramblin’ along,

at ease at last

free of the shackles that bind my heart

crawlin’ on stage,
fatigued by this, my well-rehearsed part

dismissing clouds of promise

shredding whispered iloveyous

burning yesteryears struggles

denying my past as nonsensical farce

caught in a rat-trap
the walls closin’ in

tossin’ what’s left of me into fates’ dustbin

talkin’ too much as ever,

scribbling meagre rhymes to quell the mania

flowin’ in my veins like noxious poison

ramblin’ & a-rollin’ along

a doleful dirge for the paths I have chosen

shattering to pieces emotions frigid and a-frozen

just a-trippin’ through this circus parade,

seeking nothing much

‘cept the shelter of the shade

yet the paths wind
casting me adrift

on an ocean of tears
alone and at sea

squinting through blinded eyes that no longer can see

the pain etched on my own face

a wretched immigrant never knowing its place

so I keep ramblin’ and a-rollin’ along

bleeding out from a million cuts

always on the outside lookin’ in

while they dance and drink and cackle and fuck

leaving me to wallow

mired in the muck

so I ramble and roll and stagger through

discarding sentiments that once burned so true

suckling on apathy under skies of plastic blue

squinting through a foggy blur

life sprints past jabbing and a-pokin’

its parting words a venomous slur

whispered in a  sickly sweet cacophonous murmur

I stand alone

a vacuum now fickle
and
hollow

yet

I ramble and roll

searching for a sliver of a moment without desolation

without sorrow

and

as I stagger along as I ramble and follow

the one constant

hope

hope

H O P E

hope for a less savage tomorrow …

(for Pete, Huddie, Woody)

peace | love | uBuntu

“The Justice Boat”* – A Poem for Judge Sueli Pini …

sailing through Amazonia,

“The Justice Boat” traverses the archipelago,

bringing justice,

a measure of human dignity,

to those who are almost,
always,

the forgotten.

There is a Dentist on board,
extracting molars at midnight,

with the aid of a pocket torch,

and there’s Judge Sueli Pini,

tirelessly striving to bring justice to those most in need of justice,

from neighbourly disputes,

to child – support payments withheld by errant fathers,

the Judge brings the courts to the people,

“The Justice Boat” sails on,

and may the boat of justice,

sail ever on …

* – “The Justice Boat”

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/fightforamazonia/2012/02/201222713552170402.html

For Pete Seeger, Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter and Woody Guthrie…

It was a long time ago
when you put your words into song.

‘This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender’ you scribbled on your old guitar.

You wielded that banjo and guitar as weapons,

fiddling out a hail of truth.

Of solidarity.

Of immediate calls for peace.

You said of Leadbelly, that ‘Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man’.

You sang and spoke through dust clouds and relief lines.

You taught us all, to seek out hope wherever we can.

And when they tried to call all of you ‘goddamned reds’,

you sang on ever louder and louder, rattlin’ their prejudices as they slept in their plush beds.

You rode and you rambled and thumbed your way around,

this land that is my land and your land too.

For you believed all this earth was shared common ground.

And when you sang of overcoming one day,

the injustice and the pain that you witnessed along the way,

they branded you a commie,
a pinko,
a nigger and a Jew-lover.

An enemy of the state.

While your banjo and your guitars wrestled their blind hate.

‘This machine kills fascists’ you etched on that guitar as well
but they were all deaf,

for they could not hear the tolling of the bell,

‘the bell of freedom,
the hammer of justice,
the song of love between your brothers and your sisters’.

And they knew not that they were the ones who would sizzle in their own bigoted hell.

And then came the marches.

You were there too.

Marching and singing with Dr. King in Birmingham and Selma.

And you faced their ugly spit,

their venomous rage,

their clubs and sticks and knives,
but you always knew,

that your cause was just and that the truth would one day prevail.

However long it may take, you would never give up.

You sang and you marched and you strummed yourselves,

victoriously into their jail.

Then they shot him down,

they shot Dr. King dead,

as they burnt and lynched many, many more.

Yet you stood firm,

you never wavered,

your blood was red after all,

and they could not tarnish the truth’s core.

And so it came to pass,

that Woody went on his way.

To his pastures of plenty up in the sky.

And Huddie too,

said his last goodbye.

And you were then one,

and you may have felt alone and overwhelmed by the battles and with all that was wrong.

But you saw that the people were with you.

As they had been, all along.

So you fiddled that old banjo,

dragging it through Newport and Calcutta and Dar-es-Salaam.

Through countless unknown halls in numberless unknown towns,

across this earth,
turning,
slowly,

putting smiles of amity on faces that were once pock-marked with disillusioned frowns.

Today as I pen these poorly scribbled words for all of you,

for Woody, Huddie, and Pete,

I do so in gratitude,

for after all the travails that you’ve been through,

I know that you know that this world still has its fair share of hate,

and of loss and of injustice and of gloom,

but I also know that you know that though all the old flowers may have gone,

there always will be,

as there always must be,

fresh flowers,

that will be ablaze somewhere,

driving away the apathy and reminding us all,

that this world has for all of us,

plenty of room

The Mahatma

He walked with us,
us common folk,

&

Empire trembled as he raised a fistful of salt…

He walked with us,
us common folk,

&

Empire teetered as he weaved his home-spun…

He walked with us,
us common folk,

&

Empire was rendered impotent by his moral conscience…

He walked with us,
us common folk,

&

Empire crumbled,

&

the sun finally set…

He walks with us still,
us common folk,

&

we dare not give up the struggles…

He walks with us still,
us common folk,

&

we rise up,
we fight,

for he walks with us still,

The Mahatma*

* – Mahatma means ‘Great Soul’

A Child of War …

a child of war…

 

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

raqqa 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..

afzaljhb@gmail.com

Buchenwald – 1979

Buchenwald – 1979

walking towards horror,

my seven year old eyes,

were sewn open on that day at Buchenwald.

the reeking stench of death
was by now,
lost to the winds,

and ahead,

stood Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

Never Again!

we have said,

over and over,

and over and over,

but, but,

as Erich Fried* wrote,

it happened,

it is happening now,

and it will go on happening if nothing is done to stop it from ever happening again**

* Erich Fried 1921 – 1988.

http://allpoetry.com/Erich-Fried

** taken from and inspired by Erich Fried’s poem “What Happens”

http://poetrypill.blogspot.com/2009/04/what-happens.html?m=1

afzaljhb@gmail.com

For Comrade and President Oliver Reginald Tambo (1917 – 1993)

Escaping the omnipresent shadows,

eluding the sweaty palms of the torturer,

running to shed this sorry skin of shame,

in hiding, here and there, with no one,

yet everyone to silently blame.

Leaving the lips once kissed behind,

to a refuge impossible to find,

not a word of sad welcome,

severing all ties that bind.

And then finally off to a new dwelling in a faraway alien land,

reeking and drenched in a foreignness so blatantly bland,

never fitting in, though always dreading being shut out,

singing paeans to hope scribbled in the sand.

You left your country, your home, your very own place of being,

you fled, into exile, far away from blinded eyes so unseeing,

and you held to a principle within, and you stood resolute,

till the shadows felt themselves in shame fleeing,

We salute you! And all like you, and the so many countless more,

into whose flesh the tyrant’s sword so cruelly tore,

We salute you! You who fought at home and you who left to fight,

from afar, on often a bleak and distant shore

scribblerofverses@gmail.com

For Pete Seeger, Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter and Woody Guthrie…

It was a long time ago
when you put your words into song.

‘This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender’ you scribbled on your old guitar.

You wielded that banjo and guitar as weapons,

fiddling out a hail of truth.

Of solidarity.

Of immediate calls for peace.

You said of Leadbelly, that ‘Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man’.

You sang and spoke through dust clouds and relief lines.

You taught us all, to seek out hope wherever we can.

And when they tried to call all of you ‘goddamned reds’,

you sang on ever louder and louder, rattlin’ their prejudices as they slept in their plush beds.

You rode and you rambled and thumbed your way around,

this land that is my land and your land too.

For you believed all this earth was shared common ground.

And when you sang of overcoming one day,

the injustice and the pain that you witnessed along the way,

they branded you a commie,
a pinko,
a nigger and a Jew-lover.

An enemy of the state.

While your banjo and your guitars wrestled their blind hate.

‘This machine kills fascists’ you etched on that guitar as well
but they were all deaf,

for they could not hear the tolling of the bell,

‘the bell of freedom,
the hammer of justice,
the song of love between your brothers and your sisters’.

And they knew not that they were the ones who would sizzle in their own bigoted hell.

And then came the marches.

You were there too.

Marching and singing with Dr. King in Birmingham and Selma.

And you faced their ugly spit,

their venomous rage,

their clubs and sticks and knives,
but you always knew,

that your cause was just and that the truth would one day prevail.

However long it may take, you would never give up.

You sang and you marched and you strummed yourselves,

victoriously into their jail.

Then they shot him down,

they shot Dr. King dead,

as they burnt and lynched many, many more.

Yet you stood firm,

you never wavered,

your blood was red after all,

and they could not tarnish the truth’s core.

And so it came to pass,

that Woody went on his way.

To his pastures of plenty up in the sky.

And Huddie too,

said his last goodbye.

And you were then one,

and you may have felt alone and overwhelmed by the battles and with all that was wrong.

But you saw that the people were with you.

As they had been, all along.

So you fiddled that old banjo,

dragging it through Newport and Calcutta and Dar-es-Salaam.

Through countless unknown halls in numberless unknown towns,

across this earth,
turning,
slowly,

putting smiles of amity on faces that were once pock-marked with disillusioned frowns.

Today as I pen these poorly scribbled words for all of you,

for Woody, Huddie, and Pete,

I do so in gratitude,

for after all the travails that you’ve been through,

I know that you know that this world still has its fair share of hate,

and of loss and of injustice and of gloom,

but I also know that you know that though all the old flowers may have gone,

there always will be,

as there always must be,

fresh flowers,

that will be ablaze somewhere,

driving away the apathy and reminding us all,

that this world has for all of us,

plenty of room.

scribblerofverses@gmail.com

For Comrade Chris Hani (1942 – 1993)

Mowed down
by hot lead,

your blood flowed
into our African soil.

Murdered you, yes, they did.

Silence you, they never will,

for your voice,

your spirit,

speaks to us still!

D-Day June 6, 1944 …

Mowed down by lead spewing from Nazi machine guns,

Young men sliced on the the beaches of Normandy,

Blood stained the salty sea crimson,

Torn limbs and lifeless bodies scattered along Juno, Gold, and Omaha beach,

Young men, shredded by shrapnel,

Holding the line,

Inch by blood-soaked inch,

As the fascist juggernaut was brought down to its knees,

And still the fight raged on,

From the eastern front to the acts of valour,

Carried out by partisans in the name of freedom from the jackboot of Nazism,

There was a young man called Spartaco Fontanot and I end this poem with a letter he wrote to his mother :

Dear Mum*,

Of all people I know you are the one that will feel it most, so my very last thoughts go to you. Don’t blame anyone else for my death, because I myself chose fate.

I don’t know what to write to you, because, even though I have a clear head, I can’t find the right words.

I took my place in the Army of Liberation, and I die as the light of victory is already beginning to shine … I shall be shot very shortly with twenty three other comrades.

After the war you must claim your rights to a pension. They will let you have my things at the jail, only I am keeping Dad’s undervest, because I don’t want the cold to make me shiver…

Once again I say goodbye.

Courage!

Your son.
Spartaco

(Spartaco Fontanot, metalworker, twenty-two years old,member of the French Resistance group of ‘Misak Manouchian’, 1944)

* – from Eric Hobsbawn’s book ‘Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914 – 1991′

Port of Call

Port of Call
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
with the breath of the ocean a caressing balm,
soothing pained memories away,
to the swaying of a solitary palm.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
feeling the brushing away of all past turmoil,
on a quest for solace, ever so hard to find,
yet comforted by the crashing of the waves,
as the tide cleanses all pain,
and leaves despair far, far behind.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
drenched in a sea-breeze of mist,
that hushes the ache of bygone moons,
tasting the salty tang on my lips,
as the burnished sun,
over the distant horizon,
swoons,
 
and dips.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
searching, ever searching,
for a slice of solitude,
as memory bids a final adieu,
reaching under the sea so vast,
and seeking comfort in the depths,
while embracing,
the tomorrows to come,
wishing that they be true.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
seeing my truths drown,
as they slip beneath the turquoise waters,
 
feeling my heart ablaze,
with a passion that rarely falters.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
yet knowing that I am home at long last,
wishing the waves would wash away,
the defences that once stood,
like an impregnable wall.
 
 
Barefoot on a talcum beach,
 
alone, not lonely,
 
I have found, at long last,
 
my final port of call.

Walking in Gaza

Walking in Gaza …

Walking amidst the rubble,

a mother wails.

The bloodied rags that once clothed her six year old daughter reeks of caked blood,
stale urine,

death.

Walking amidst the rubble,

a father weeps.

The shelling reducing the home to bits of this and bits of that,
burnt flesh,
charred memories,

death.

Walking in Gaza,

amidst the smouldering school,

the bombed – out hospital,

the blood running into the sewers,

now clogged with emptiness.

Walking in Gaza,

amidst the savage fallout,

in – between the mangled homes,

the shuttered bazaars,

Hope lives.

Hope breathes.

Hope soars.

Walking in Gaza,

the resistance to tyranny holds firm,

as it has,

as it always will,

as it always must!

Amandla Intifada!

The struggles continue…

NOSTALGIA: My Family: A Historical Journey Through the Seasons – Part 2 by Afzal Moola, Johannesburg, South Africa.

NOSTALGIA: My Family: A Historical Journey Through the Seasons – Part 1 by Afzal Moola, Johannesburg, South Africa.

For Dr Maya Angelou
(1928 – 2014)

Vanquished by the day one may be,
Beaten down by the barren night.

Faltering at times,
at times upright.

Still one stands.
One still fights.

For though one falls,
One must rise*

*this scribble of mine was inspired by the poem ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou

http://writespace4iw.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/nostalgia-my-family-a-historical-journey-through-the-seasons-part-1-by-afzal-moola-johannesburg-south-africa/

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