Tag Archive: occupation


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

double-helixed uBuntu

double-helixed uBuntu.

image

these interwoven veins,
dna,
double-helixed,

microscopic,
binding us, all of us,
together, as one,

species, one race,
human,

me & you

us,
all,

through
this common
shared
truth:

‘I am because you are’*

all of us
together
as one

me & you = uBuntu*

image

image

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

the cycle of hate …

the cycle of hate …

reeking of venom,
soaked in the stench of rage,

still, silent, prowling,

lying in wait, to pounce,
maul, go for the jugular,
snap, sink teeth into,

then, of course,

allow the hapless prey to bleed out, then consume,

and naturally,
expel …

to be continued … … …

Humanity ?

Us men,
almost always,
men,

myopic, impotent men,

our manliness oozing, seeping,
dripping,
soaking,

in swathes of red,
scarlet blood on infant skin,

hardened,
caked,
dried on cold, dead flesh.

Who am i,
a man,

myopic, impotent,

my swagger puffed on conceit,

my country right or wrong,
my god not yours,
my culture your caste,
tribe, sect, ideology … … …

Who am i ?

a man ?
knitted into,
shared humanity ?

Perhaps ’tis time,
to let this rotten, festering,
glossy, botoxed, tucked, trimmed, diseased skin,

moult,

laying stark this sham,
this theatre,

these lies, the maggots burrowing deep,

into man,

chiselling, smashing,
beheading, hanging,
shooting, bombing, drone-ing, killing, raping, torturing, killing, killing, killing,

excising man,
ripping man out of humanity.

Yes,
i am man.

memories: Exile & Home

Mrs. Agnes Msimang,
ANC Stalwart and mother to countless South African exiles, during the struggle against Apartheid tyranny.

Long Live the Spirit of The Women!

Now that You have touched a Woman, You have struck a Rock!

Amandla!
All Power to the People!

( the photograph below was taken at Luthuli House, Johannesburg recently )

image

the photograph below was taken in Delhi, India, sometime in the mid 1970s

image

The Women

(for the countless women, names unknown, who bore the brunt of Apartheid, and who fought the racist system at great cost to themselves and their families, and for my mother, Zubeida Moolla)

Pregnant, your husband on the run,
your daughter, a child, a few years old,

they hauled you in, these brutish men,
into the bowels of Apartheid’s racist hell.

They wanted information, you gave them nothing,
these savage men, who skin happened to be lighter,

and white was right in South Africa back then,

but, you did not cower, you stood resolute,

you, my mother, faced them down, their power,
their ‘racial superiority’, their taunts, their threats.

You, my mother, would not, could not break,

You stood firm, you stood tall.

You, like the countless mothers did not break, did not fall.

You told me many things, of the pains, the struggles,

the scraping for scraps, the desolation of separation
from your beloved Tasneem and your beloved Azad,

my elder sister and brother, whom I could not grow
up with, your beloved children separated by time, by place,

by monstrous Apartheid, by brutish men,
whose skin just happened to be lighter.

You told me many things, as I grew older,
of the years in exile, of the winters that grew ever colder.

You were a fighter, for a just cause,
like countless other South African women,

you sacrificed much, you suffered the pangs,
of memories that cut into your bone, your marrow,

you resisted a system, an ideology, brutal and callous and narrow.

Yes, you lived to see freedom arrive, yet you suffered still,
a family torn apart, and struggling to rebuild a life,

all the while, nursing a void, that nothing could ever fill.

I salute you, mother, as I salute the nameless mothers,

the countless sisters, daughters, women of this land,
who fought, sacrificing it all for taking a moral stand.

I salute you, my mother, and though you have passed,
your body interred in your beloved South African soil,

you shall remain, within me, an ever-present reminder,

of the cost of freedom, the struggles, the hunger, the toil.

I salute you!

(for the brave women of South Africa, of all colours,
who fought against racial discrimination and Apartheid)

meagre scribbles

broken wings, shattered,
hugging the frigid ground,

emotions scampering,
flitting between smiles and tears,

peaking crests, plunging into valleys,

of loss, of fear,
of future unclear,

of that,
of this,

often pain,

and,
sometimes,
sometimes,

a shard of,
bliss.

there shall not be peace …

as hunger rumbles,
desolation stalks,

poverty numbs,
apathy dumbs,

there shall be no peace,

until hungry mouths are fed,
till poverty slithers away,

back into the coffers that prey,

the greedy upon the needy,

this is how it has always been,
is this how it shall always be …

untitled

and when this shroud,
the skin we moult,

traversing eons, sipping kisses, lapping tongues,
mingled meadows of scarlet red,

the standard waves amidst,

the smoke, the swollen pollen, detritus of ills-scarcely-forgotten,

to flutter on the ramparts,
aloft, again,

for the pot simmers,
and the light of hope glimmers.

capitalism 101

capitalism 101

when it breaks,
shatters,

rendering souls mute,
hearts in tatters,

does it bother you at all,
that for you to rise,

so many must fall.

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.

the glitterati

the glitterati feast,

neatly,
dismembered spirits,

salving consciences,
bidding to
purchase redemption,

for continuing crimes,
that don’t make the headlines,

business as usual,

the glitterati,
lost in a fine-wine haze,

sparkling carats dazzling,

leaving the dregs behind,

as the
blindness slowly slithers,
sinking talons,
gnawing at the bone,

while the sweaty, bloody,
the pained,
lost,
the far, far too many

batter and shatter,
hacking away,

deep beneath our gleaming golden city

for pieces of glittering stone

lost, i am …

lost, i am …

i am lost,
have been for quite a while,

cast aside,
tossed,
amongst the rubble,
of those of us who didn’t work hard enough,

study as much,

slog and strain like the good people i see,

walking past me,
everyday,

thinking to myself,
where did i go wrong,

was i not as strong,
as the good people i see,

who walk past me,

feigning ignorance,
or maybe not,

perhaps just not being able to see,

my tattered rags,
my blistered mouth,
my feet, bruised and scabbed,

my soul, my dignity,
savaged, and stabbed,

so i am lost,
in this ocean of humanity,

that walks past me,
everyday,

and it still gnaws, i have to say,

after all these years,
having shed my quota of tears,

it is i,
who embodies these good peoples fears,

why,
i still ask,

why don’t you see me?

the other half

the other half.

dregs, urchins,
the unwashed,

people,
almost, though not quite …

epithets pummel the pummelled,

elements torment the tormented,

hate, mistrust,
conceit, greed,

yours and mine,

fuels:

the diesel of hate,
the anthracite of apathy,
the hybrid greed:

as the beast of indifference gouges,

for the beast has needs,

it hungers,
it scavenges,

it continues,
evermore,

to feed.

fleas

sweltering,
trapped,

saltwater all around,
fleeing death,

surviving death on the seas,

to be greeted,

as fleas.

tripped

tripped,
brought to ones knees,

fleeing beds of nails,
shrapnel pockmarked dreams,

crossing deserted seas,
swallowed up,
regurgitated by merciless elements,

to be washed ashore,
dead,
cold,

broken,
lifeless,

on countless,
pristine tan-soaked beaches,

invisible,
unseen,
hidden in plain sight,

mute,
hushed,
silent,

as the soul of dumbed down,
traded,
inebriated humanity,

bellows,
howls,

and screeches.

image

The Immigrants Void – Sculpture by Bruno Catalano

image

http://brunocatalano.com/sculpture-bronze2/sculpture-en-bronze-bruno-catalano.php?galerie=1

young refugee

an immigrants lament …

image

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!

it is just that
my little wings,

are my tired
little feet …

        _____________

(photograph of a Danish border guard playing with a Syrian girl)

seeds

image

seeds …

swept up
by the dust

scattered remnants
of lives once whole

now
buried
interred

in cold dead dry ground.

image

seeds
swept up
by the dust

seeking a glimmer

of hope
of the promise

of
a better tomorrow.

seeds
swept up
by the dust

sinking roots
hoping to belong

somewhere
anywhere

fatigued
spent

waiting
hoping

for days
moments
tomorrows

a
time
&
a
place

where one
need not

be
ever smiling

and to be
always strong

image

“am i buggin’ ya, don’t mean to bug ya” *

isn’t it tiresome
exhausting

to keep on
keepin’ on
hearing
seeing

bad news

all day
all night

must become irksome
to say the least …

(pure horror) not another mass ISIS execution

(pity) not another image of death on a beach

(apartheitude) not another african-american killed by the police

(pure unadulterated pity/well-meaning) not another endangered animal killed by trophy hunters in the savannah …

ad nauseum
ad infinitum

( clicks ‘like’👍 on a friend’s post

a cutesie pic of a couple walking on a beautiful beach, on a perfect summer day

somewhere in the mediterranean )

     _______

* from ‘silver and gold’ off u2 album ‘rattle & hum’

the immigrant at home …

the immigrant at home

image

fatigued
pained

cast adrift
shunned aside

living
existing
on
islands of despair

deprivation
death

human beings
you and i

who just yesterday
or perhaps many lives ago

were
hounded
persecuted
jailed

cursed
spat on

rendered
alien at home

and
then

lost at sea

mere cattle
to be hauled

onto desolate cages

mere cargo
in the
economics of flesh

and
who
now

are
everywhere

cursed
spat on

and
told

to go home

image

silence swells
drowning out the ceaseless chitter-chatter of days

innumerable
lost somewhere along these pathways

and having walked upon a few

and
crawled many more

i too
feel

that feeling

of feeling
bereft of hope

ah but

sprinkle some dreams coated with lies

glazed over
empty hollowed eyes

avert your sight
when they
stare at you

all cold
and
washed-up
and
dead

their
cold gaze

questioning
perhaps?

… questioning
us who feign death

on many a similar sun-drenched beach

while still squeezing in

4 hours a week
of community outreach?

image

lost in this ocean
of complicit howls

wails
hollow words
crocodile tears

it has no meaning
this life

these breaths we consume

nothingness
it is

just
half-muttered realpolitik …

one dead kid on a beach

… so that’s what it takes

more effigies
paraded on 24/7 TV

go look up the word ‘blowback’

and perhaps

unlike aylan
who was fed to the sea

you atleast

may
finally be
able to see

what really is
and not simply what you want it to be …

when tides of innocence wash up

dead
cold

empty on terra firma

why don’t i shudder
why don’t i care

‘cept for churning out some paltry scribbles

as the charade continues

as the world

salivates
& dribbles …

image

maropeng & the cradle of humankind* …

shared hopes
on
bloodied earth
of
common dreams

winding along myriad streams
whose
source is here
beneath our multi-hued feet

flowing
into a shared humanity
this shawl that should encompass us all
by
binding us together
a species with blood that is red
always red

for
we are all

the children of Africa

branched off
spread wide

but
of this soil
and
of this earth

foreign to none
hewn as one

so tell me again
what was it that
you were saying about “the bloody foreigners”

        ___________

*

Maropeng is a Setswana word meaning ‘returning to the place of our origins’

https://www.google.co.za/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.southafrica.net/articles/entry/article-the-cradle-of-humankind-gauteng1&ved=0CLMBEBYwH2oVChMI9rmAuazexwIVR4kaCh2uWQuy&usg=AFQjCNHs2O4mPw5TG94YGxFA4EBjPJlnPA

bloody foreigners …

bloody foreigners …

these bloody foreigners

zimbabweans
somalis
angolans mozambicans syrians
pakistanis
turks
congolese
rwandans
indians

etc etc etc et al.

these bloody foreigners
flooding our clean streets

taking jobs away
from me and from you

ps: aylan kurdi was a bloody foreigner too

the migrant …

image

i couldn’t bid my beloved farewell

i didn’t hug my mother

i had argued with my father that morning

then

i left
fled
crouched
starved

and
died

in a lorry in austria

a boat off the coast of libya

washed ashore
cold and dead

i am that migrant

image

an immigrants lament …

image

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 …

image

The Immigrant …

Seeking solace.
Seeking a home.

The immigrant finds,

rotten prejudice.
Fungal anger.

The immigrant,

alone, hoping for,

A solitary chance.

To belong.

The immigrant,
alone, always,

an outside entity.
Eternal outcast.

A viral threat.
A reeking odour.

The immigrant,

ever alone,
and alone knowing,
that no place exists,
but that lost home.

immigrant song

are we broken by spoken barbs spewing out of sewers cloaked beneath acceptable garbs while the blades of splintered humanity are sharpened into lethal shards of ‘my country right or wrong’ under the comfortable charade of clinging onto feigned piety dragged along weaving new lies obfuscating what’s right and what’s wrong waving flags like swords wielding swords to behead and to subjugate the many who’ve forever been on the wrong side of the gate shut out of the dream pummelled by untruths of working hard and doing more and shutting up because we need the money the greenback the notes the coins the oil the designer innerwear that barely shrouds the stench of putrid opulence of festering greed of capital and influence and power ripping out each seed by the by wishing a better life for all a hasty goodbye because when love and life and hopes and dreams and aspirations and desires and aches and yearning for something better just a bit better not much not much at all except for some grain for the famished and respite for the numberless banished cast away into the currents of the seas swept along islands of stillness breaking ashore with the waves of happenstance.

so yes
yes

“that’s how i got to be here”, the immigrant says …

flickering moonbeams …

flickering moonbeams …

on ancient shores
retracing steps

wet sand beneath bare feet

sipping kisses
hungry

sweet.

in distant streams

soul heart body mind
bathed as one

in sundrenched streams

flowing
ebbing
teasing
tugging

tasting
lapping
meandering

breathing caresses

wildly flickering
like
giddy moonbeams

on the cool wet sands

of
our beach of dreams

that gentler way …

that gentler way …

sometimes in dreams
this world feels a much gentler place

where hunger stalks nights and days no more

where we share this earths gifts

more equally
less greedually

a gentler place

where we’ve bade farewell to war …

sometimes in dreams
i taste the hope

of a gentler world

where songs of joy may be heard each day

a gentler world
where we all

all of us
together

as one

always
always

always
strive to find

that gentler way …

( inspired by Pete Seeger’s “Last Night I had the Strangest Dream” )

http://stopwar.org.uk/music/pete-seeger-last-night-i-had-the-strangest-dream

the immigrant at home

the immigrant at home

fatigued
pained

cast adrift
shunned aside

living
existing
on
islands of despair

deprivation
death

human beings
you and i

who just yesterday
or perhaps many lives ago

were
hounded
persecuted
jailed

cursed
spat on

rendered
alien at home

and
then

lost at sea

mere cattle
to be hauled

onto desolate cages

mere cargo
in the
economics of flesh

and
who
now

are
everywhere

cursed
spat on

and
told

to go home

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

The Infidel …

The Infidel …

The infidel writes,
blasphemes,

rejecting cellophane sermons.

The infidel whispers,
cursing,

the benevolence of the higher power.

The infidel chokes,
gagging,

on the odour that emanates,
from self-righteous mouths.

The infidel waits,
patiently,

for the retribution that must arrive.

The infidel casts off,
the labels of faith,

of belonging,

of sanctimonious snobbery.

The infidel refuses,

To beseech the merciful god,

And to cower,
And to kneel.

The infidel stands,

At times alone …

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”Jesus Christ

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

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…

Talkin’ Death in Gaza Blues

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

take a walk in Gaza today,

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

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

so take a walk in Gaza today,

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

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

while you diplomats and peacemakers and politicians were buzzing around,

so stop buzzing,

and take a walk in Gaza today,

and for once,

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

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

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

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

who gives a damn?”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

because they simply disappear down the drain.

And how can you not stem that ocean of tears,

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

So can you take a walk in Gaza today?

and what possibly could you have to say?

to the numberless mothers who have cried oceans of tears,

again and again and again,

or are Gaza’s mothers’ tears forgotten,

because they simply disappear down the drain.


(for the people of Gaza and the Occupied Territories)

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