Here are some bits and pieces written between 2 January and 20 April 2013. I will update this section from time to time. The idea is that you can print out the whole batch and go read it somewhere nice. Engels/ Afrikaans. Some are titled, others not. Some have/will become songs for The Buckfever Underground, others for Simply Dead. Just nod and pretend if you're not with me here. Thanks, enjoy!


2 january

out of the sunshine climbs the moths of the night into the ground into the flood into the thorn trees and bracken and bush by the gravel dam the lean-to goat shed and its sisal-poled shantytown sail through the stranded koppies and deeply ploughed ridges and the riches of the veld come in speckled lichen and dark-winged buzzards and the captain leguan calls a silent tongue along the ground for the souls to follow a small light at the bottom of the winding pools the silver line snaking slaking shaking the yellow pollen the exploding cloud the nightmouth open the wind cool the moths back in.

6 january

sitting inside a happy old tired thought
and the cars and buzzing flies
on the wet-lipped mouth and pause
the town a sliced open fruit
droplets slomo through the sky
the sky is the sky of the mute
a flock of starlings grow in number
swirl above the caravans and then
someone leans over and says
‘this is the end, this is how the end comes’

7 january

now you will come around the corner
and your smile will be alive and open
and from your hands will come words
‘shall we touch fingertips?’ I’ll ask
and you’ll say ‘yes, let’s do that’
sun will cut slices of cake
from the world around us
and daily troubles and tax
and syria and gunmen
politics and hate
will for a moment not be here
there will be nothing
just this

10 janaury

from inside the dying light
from the ping of the glass
when the shots die down
when the door of a home opens
sunshine and birds
spread across the world
of the hand of a man
and the heart of a woman
and the tongue of a child
and the wild woods crackle and pop
animals swim underwater
and fly above it and sit atop cliffs
and bark baboons and kudus
and bushbuck and dogs
down to the movement
of the cars and the cities
and the moonlit pipes
of the deepest down dark
of the mine and the murk
the money and the smirk
and the lazy swinging punch
the rubber bullets and armoured cars
the koppies and the knobkieries
the overalls and beanies
the gumboots and torn shirts
the lips and teeth and zol in there
the language the speaker
the listener the word
spit and shine
toe the line

13 january

winelands electric

we are in the prime of our nothings
and the tin roofs of our homes are blown to the poles
to expose our deeply set urges
to stay put and say nothing
to love and to hold
while a brass band plays underground
and the dust sparkles diamonds
for all the people here today
clap your hands say yeah
set your feet in the clay of the shade
made by the sun and the oaks and the wine

what we say is not all we are
but billboards, wings and black
the black of the night at our backs
as we turn around the blind corners
see laughs, lipstick and hair
but beware:

where the eye combs not
the world is a knot
a puzzle and a nail
a nest of words and hail

what the eye smooths out
curls up between our shoulders
where a monster is knitted
with no gloves to hold it
coals and smoulders
smokes and foals
a filly in brine

13 januarie

die strompelende soldaat

skuins uit die halfuur
strompel ’n soldaat
met ’n been in die mond
op die straathoek staan en kou
kon die minister nie maar net
brode bak en grou
met die hand wuif waar hy wou
en die misrabelheid weg kon jou
soos in bybelstories nou
in ’n ou geweeklaag
’n ge-arme ek ge-arme jy
gemene deler gemene gene
uniforms en vlae
party-t-hemde gespan oor party-mae
in ’n party-straat met ’n party-naam
word die partytjie geteken in ink
op die stippellyne gelaat
deur die strompelende soldaat
se stomp bloedvoete
getatoe tot die donker
met die eensame gefluit
deur die holte van die been
skoongeblaas van murg
witgesuig van wit

15 januarie

skuinsgeslaan deur die son
en uitgedraai deur die paaie van die land
verby die doringdraad en pale
die klinkers, die sparre
die heinings om die skape
en die bokke en die beeste
en die beste van die verderf
stap hulle met koppe op lywe
en lewens op stokke
en donkies op verslae hoewe
deur die stof en die reën en die wind
na die naderende golf
en die kind
op die heup op die rug op die wa
met die dooie woorde van mossies
opgefrommel in broeksakke
die golf van haas en gryp
van nie haat nie
maar nie liefhê nie
nie omgee nie
nie omkyk nie
nie opkyk nie
die golf van oormaat
en glans
van goue gans gaarmaak
op gods akker
en wagbeurt
waar die drenkelinge
in stadige aksie
uitspoel op die strand
met ’n hoedjie
in die hand

17 januarie

now in the blinking lights of the communication of nothing
and the ongoing words and the updates and the edits
where we are all perfectly suited to ourselves
and just about nothing and no one else
where we are overly familiar with everyone’s facades
and the walls we build and the posters we make
our mating calls and displays of skill and daring
the snaps and the chirps and the likes and the glimmer
of every day a brave new world
every day a brand new remake of a human from a mould
every day a slight tilt of the frame, back to straight

instead of digging until fingers bleed
instead of open-mouth kisses in bars
instead of a veldfire
instead of falling down the stairs
instead of stars and lightning
instead of running until your lungs rip
instead of listening and laughing
instead of falling asleep with a book
instead of smelling the inside of a dog’s ear
instead of holding your breath underwater
we are here
on facebook

20 januarie

in die hel is niemand op facebook nie
in die hel lees niemand boeke nie
in die hel kan niemand lees nie
in die hel ry niemand met safety belts nie
in die hel is daar nie safety belts nie
in die hel jaag mense
in die hel is daar nie appels nie
net gifappels en slange
in die hel ken almal jou naam
en faal jy die een breathaliser test na die ander
en verskyn jy voorop koerante
wat uitbrand in jou hand

21 january

day in the highlands

tracking up the hillsides
where the homes huddle under
tattered banana groves
well-worn benches
and hand-rubbed potatoes
and glossy globs of tomatoes
and children’s toes
tickling the skin
of tanzania
a bird passes over
with its heavy hornbill
clacking out a baby’s cry
the sun ripped from its blanket
the breath of dead leaves
the steaming, worming soil
a little fire where road ends
and the young men we have met
hold our smiles in their hands
and us theirs in ours
I leave you by the smoke
and set out up the ridge
the spine of a slice
of the world
on a slow bounce
through space
and the eventuality
of our lives
and a trogon dances around
in the mist and mystery
of a branch holding out a hand
the down an abyss of moss
down the inside of the crater
I scramble down the past
past the fears
the disbelief and traditions
older than the rift right here
the birds and the colobuses
who shake the treetops by their hair
loosely fly like weird
arboreal dogs
and I dive into the lake
with the lip of the mountain
closing around me
down the throat of lava
leave the clouds shapeshifting
the fleeing ducks
the oxygen
towards magnetic earth
heavy elements
the place where
the top
spins on the finger

22 january

an aeroplane flies over the slow warm night and the bay and the lights a broken black dance of here and not here and i sit and i think of a small house on a mountainside with a fireplace for a heart and a flock of birds of books shear down the slope cutting the time into mahem minutes and osprey seconds and wind-swallow split seconds and feathers and squeaks and the thought rushes across my face and down the lining of the inside of my shadow percolates through the broth and blood around my organs the crow’s nest of sinews and veins around my bones and leaves through a tiny hole at the back of my skull back into the small house into the fire into the chimney out into the kloof in amongst the birds in amongst the books, gone

26 januarie


onder die bestek van my gesig
is my skedel ’n fossiel
en die spore van my frons
en die rimpel van my oë
dieselfde as die lyne
wat ons oopkap uit rots
dieselfde splinters bene opgespoor
oopgeboor en afgestof
pas in die dele van my skelet
waar skrapnel en tyd en kanker
oor die eeue my voorskadu
oopgeskiet en hand na mond
aangespoor het om te swoeg
wakker te slaap
en in die hande te spoeg
met fyn onfeilbaarheid
’n spies in die huid van ’n dier
te forseer en te draai en te dood
of met hande uitmekaarskeur
en eet of vreet met bloed
wat by die punte van
die elmboë ontmoet
en soos ek hier by my rekenaar sit
saampoel soos ’n fyn net
en oor die aarde span
al stywer en trom
met die liggiese wip
van die wiel
van die mensdom

27 january

the elephant’s eye

on the sunburnt mountains of the cape of jerusalem
where children in booties and dogs looking for cookies
black lizards emerging from cracks and push-upping blue ones too
are specks on the back of an invisible song
sung by wind and the earth and its words
we zigzagged into the eye
of the elephant that couldn’t die
stood there holding the throat of its permanent gaze
down over the city’s rolling haze
pac-manning along the streets of its maze
dwindling out at the horizon
with flat soccer balls and lost kites
then down we go to the dam
the black dam of coke
where children laugh and swim
and we put our bodies
to the test and float
and dive and breathe
and smile

28 january


when I fall asleep at night
and the sediments of sleep
sift down upon my face
cementing my body to the sheets
and my bones to the mattress
so that i’m there but not here
at the bottom of a river
but afloat in the sand
of an upside down world
the roof of a cave
where ferns and bats
can walk and squawk
slipped into the hem
of a cloud which is about to
unburden its rain
on a fire in the berg
or I stand silently
on attention
inside the trunk of a pine
in a forest
submerged by an avalanche
on a planet we’ve never noticed
in the blind spot of our own
i am a small owl
inside an egg
i am a disposable cup
and a nut in the cheek
of a squirrel
inside an elephant
balancing on one leg
in a circus
with no whip

1 February

walk fast, whistle

walk fast, whistle
cock your ears and listen
hold your line
hold your own
wind the window down
tap the beat on the wheel
look up, greet
touch a hand and feel
float a thought
to the rafters
smile at strangers
do not diet
don’t be quiet
eat tomato sauce
do not hold back a tear
drink beer
do not drink and drive
talk less about yourself
talk less
mess up, apologize
eat pie
humble pie
open your eyes
look inside your friends
and ask them how they are
take a trip round the darkest bends
together, tracking the trail
of the wandering star
to as far as the road goes
the ship would sail
the story slows
hits a sandbank
and the phosphorescence
in the water glows
and grows a blanket of silence
in which you can be wrapped
sometimes be quiet for an hour
sit in the veld and observe
if not ants, birds
if not birds, bats
if not bats, buck
pick up pretty stones
and twisted roots
seed pods and mice skulls
carry them home
arrange them on the sill
trace their outlines
against the days of life
lemonade, cold
tea, slowly
coffee, with a rusk
write with a pen on paper
purchase pencils
postcards to distant friends
travel alone
travel far
travel to the point
where you swivel on your heel
and remember where you come from
who you are
why you came
phone your parents
phone your siblings
phone your school friends
phone your sick friends
phone your friends with children
sometimes, switch off your phone for a week
do not check email
do not use a computer
sleep for twelve hours
three days in a row
until your dreams return
read a thick book
a 1000-page book
a book with difficult words in it
a book with an open ending
Roberto Bolaño’s book
walk around the house
in your underpants
or naked
without drawing the curtains
do push-ups, run
when the wind blows strongly
lean into it
and open your arms like an albatross
burp, fart, shit
pee outside
and especially, next to highways
wipe your bum
with something other than toilet paper
buy the newspaper
even if you don’t read it
support the idea of a poem
write poems, bad or good,
hidden or shown
purchase binoculars, study birds
investigate trees
consider different types of grass
stop by a road-cutting
and look at the layers of rock
picnic, own a thermos
wrap sandwiches in foil
eat peanut butter from the jar
drop it like it’s hot
drink coca cola
when it’s hot
drool on your pillow
cut the shit
dislike money
donate money
spend money
earn money
look after money
but dislike money
do something you like
if it’s an office job
remember who’s the boss
and who’s in charge
and that you’re the latter
swim in the sea
or in a river
or a farm dam
hold your breath for a long time
open your eyes underwater
float on your back
close your eyes
listen to the sound in your ears
the slow, dark, deathly croak
of your brittle body’s
cooked and cracked
organs and bones
slowly paddle back
to where you can stand
look at the person
waiting there
walk over
kiss her

5 februarie

in my kajuit op die see
sus die golwe my weg
na die land waar bome ween
waar winde veeg
die god omgee

6 februarie

anene booysen

die wind het gaan lê
op bredasdorp
dit is saterdagaand
en anene booysen
is dood
sy was weggelok van ’n partytjie
sy is weggelei van die lig
in ’n swart kombers
van onverstaanbaarheid
vier mans het haar verkrag
haar bene gebreek
haar vingers gebreek
al haar vingers
haar toe oopgeslag
ingewande uitgeruk
in die sand gegooi
in ou meulestraat
op ’n bouperseel
waar sy as skoonmaker
gewerk het
in die week
sy het nog gelewe
haar swart grasshoppers gedra
toe sekuriteitswagte
haar kry
sy is hospitaal toe
waar haar grootmaakma
wat haar grootgemaak het
ys op haar lippe mog drink
en kon hoor dat
anene moeg is
en wou slaap
worcester toe
vir noodoperasie
en sterf
sy het een van die lafaards
die moordenaars
die verkragters
die mans
wag – een van hulle
die verdagtes
was ’n vrou
en sy naam gesê
dit was miskien haar ex-boyfriend
dit was iemand wat saam
met haar grootgeword het
in dieselfde straat
soos ’n kind in die huis
hoe moes dit gevoel het
om sy naam te sê?
die wind het gaan lê
op bredasdorp
en in die stilte sit ons almal
in die rietbos en brand

7 february

suitcase heart

i carry my heart in a suitcase
i hold my fist in its place
that’s how i walk out the door
that’s how i leave you behind

the river is still in the morning
i walk by the whispering reeds
with a song and a broken longing
by my side my suitcase heart

it’s a battle of a butcher and a dove
it’s the bruising of an eye and an eye
and an arrow through wings of our love
and wounded i take to the sky

i carry my heart in a suitcase
i hold my fist in its place
that’s how i walk out the door
that’s how i leave you behind

this heart’s got a long way to go
and i’ve got to keep it alive
so i wrapped it in my finest silk
and tucked it in the toe of my shoe

it’s a shoe i wore when i met you
it’s a shoe i danced with you then
and the shoe i slipped off in the moonlight
when we swam away then

i carry my heart in a suitcase
i hold my fist in its place
that’s how i walk out the door
that’s how i leave you behind

the morning is dismembered from above
as i walk into the valley of the graves
and the women i meet by the thousands
are followed by the ghosts of their husbands

(but) by our sides swing our suitcase hearts
safe from hatred and the harm in the home
to be opened when the time is right
to shine in the burning night

i carry my heart in a suitcase
i hold my fist in its place
the blood will coagulate
and i’ll leave the rest to fate

i carry my heart in a suitcase
i hold my fist in its place
that’s how i walk out the door
that’s how i leave you behind

i carry my heart in a suitcase
i hold my fist in its place
the blood will coagulate
and i’ll leave the rest to fate

12 february

end of day

by the end of the day
the city falls back into
its roasted valleys
hot streets
and blanket of smog
like a done
driven over dog
on the highway
of hooting headlines
and headless hopefuls
with their roofs
chopped off
and spouting
nicotine-stained furniture
1960s lampshades
dust mites
enamel plates
television sets
until the liver runs dry
the lungs crack and break
and the bladder floods
the sombre statues downtown
now turning slowly
coming to life
above the tide
to the sky
the moon
a sickle

17 februarie

ver op die droomsee
ontmoet ons in die golwe
met ’n bak varsgesnyde mango
bokkems en melk
lê onder ’n laken
tot die wind bedaar
die blaaie en blaai
die boeke en lees
die verte nader
met ons harte op die dek
waar die meeue daaraan lek
en die boegte fyntjies knaaf
in die wier en mis en nag
wyl ons kerse aansteek dan
met die hoofgemaal began
en die fosfor en die sterre
uit die ruimte en die spieël
oproep en ratel
klingel en klatel
visweb uitsuig en komeetstert streel
kieu, kop en kosmos-kleinte
oer-atoom en ou peperboom
die speld in die water
die blom in die berg

deathland I

in deathland i draw the curtains
of the bullet-blown windows
and the furtherdown uncertains
the blacked breeze ‘n’ blows
grow the skin of the nation tight
across a skull of men and might
there’s hooting now and hollers
roving dogs burning dollars
the apocalyptic leaves
of an economy of mean
and a gunshot cracking the eaves
on the eve of a murderer seen
slinking across television screens
amidst the screams of fawning teens
and the burst of a sickly spleen
of all our insides
of all our souls
for the stink of the hides
crackling over the coals
in the backyard by the pool
by the neighbourhoods of our hearts
is all crazy, all fool
all walk on, all bit-part
and instead of stopping
we keep on starting
the engine and the fireblade
the military cavalcade
of the hatemachine and smoke
we hold too dear to die
the choke the fade the joke
the lie the past the lie
shopping shitting shopping
raping rapping raping
by the mall of carnage
by the crater of misunderstand
at the ruins of the wreckage
outside the window
of deathland


18 february

deathland II

i draw the blanket of bones to my chin
some my own, some of kin
and i close my eyes
in deathland

the burning house is a light to some
moths come to sacrifice
our smiles and artifice
our silence

with a spade in hand and a bent back
sweat dripping down
into the solid ground
the deepening hole

when the clock lacks hands
and time is a shrill bird
in the parched land
of silver and sin

the animals roam in packs
by the seams of the city
smelling us out

the child is alone
on a spinning wheel
in a park with no gate
no fence

the wind saws an afternoon
in two
the sun drills a night
in half

the dream is a hurricane
the hurricane is here
here is a bedroom
with no walls

in a place with a new name
a place of black oil
and gas
and forget

the forefathers have risen
the mothers of the nation
are awake
in the hills

and they look down upon
our sleeping faces
our blanket of bones
in deathland

19 february

deathland III

i dream the dreams of the blind
who might have seen as a child
so only recall rocks and blood
tree and dog shapes, mud
the rest is sound
and textures
and the gravity pulling
at the lip of a cliff
towards the hollow depths
of deathland

i dream the dreams of the unborn
of the lost, the forlorn
a gate is left open and i roll
down a highway black as coal
a tumbleweed on fire
the river of life
streaming from my mouth
north to south
east to west the breadth
of deathland

i dream the dreams of the dead
there is nothing left to dread
the harbour is full of wrecks
just scarecrows left on deck
to wave goodbye
to the gathering dark
where the starlings form a painting
a second coming
in the sky
above deathland

20 february

deathland IV

the boatmen of the world
have been left without
a sea to sail upon
and now ply their trade
on sharp-pointed pirogues
in the narrow canals
of our veins

the shepherds of the land
sheepless since sunday
are now calling in vain
in the echoing spelunk
of our vulture-picked-clean
chest of a church
where the last
of the flock
on the pulpit
has turned and left
an exit wound

the car guards of the city
have but oxwagons to watch
in the wrong little epoch
of reflective loin-cloths
and language too deeply imbued
by symbolism and shades
to be understood
by the lady
with the gold rings
and gucci

the funeral undertakers however
have a fun time
as they count
the neatly dug rectangles
in the eternal city lodge
of our funny fucking lives
in deathland

22 februarie

die munte

die munte glip af
in die koel ysterkele van
en daai masjiene
waar jy sjokolade
chips en koeldrienks kan koop
in matmufgoedkoop
om twee-uur die oggend
voor jy gaan uitpass

die munte spoel uit
op strande waar g’n mens
ooit handdoekoopgooi
g’n hond snuffel
net spookkrappe daaraan torring
dan los en eerder
iets vlees gaan aas

die munte is in ’n koffieblik in die grond
by die papajaboom in die agterplaas
waar die voëlhok jare gelede gestaan het
voor die brand en die wegtrek
wat die stemme hier stil gemaak het
sjiep-sjiep, stem ’n mynah saam
in die sagte top
van die wurgvy
se prooi

die munte is diep onderwater
waar dit donker is
en altyd donker sal bly
tensy die see verdamp
en die koraal en barnacles
wegval en ontbloot
lawa dalk kom skoonskroei
die ou, ou wind
die bodem blaas
en blaas
en blaas

die munte is in die broeksakke
van seuntjies en tienerdogters
ou pruimhandoumas
ma en pa
die palm uithou
vir suiker en melk
koffie en spyker
meel en drank
swiet en sout
die halwe hand
vol maalvleis

die munte is in katakombes
sarkofaag en vlak graf
piramide en stapeltjie klip
in die karoo en egipte
by die inkas en chinese
op die vars verdoofde oë
van ’n warmgevatte lyf
by ’n donkie nou al lankal
in die pad lê en verstyf
in die kaste versink
van die lang verblyf
van die biltongmonnik
die rietdroog heerser
die per capita gesanik
se inskink en bewoë
kop laat sak
en aanstap,

24 february

baboons 1 – bachelor 0

a clear set of fingerprints
on the counter
by the plunger
where a last sip of coffee
was left untouched

somehow nothing fell off
the crammed desk
even though a muddy foot
was left next to the
computer mouse
the piles of CDs
show no signs of struggle
the condom in its pink packet
did not elicit any interest
as large hairy mammals
surveyed my
bachelor pad
and found it to be
a fine place to forage

they did not watch DStv
nor read a book
even though
i would like to imagine
that the pages of
the dickie bird autobiography
look marginally disturbed

access was gained
through two small windows
in a sworn affidavit
landlord brandon
claims four were in the flat
one came for him
but he prodded it away
with a broom
and they fled

they left with
the butter, a bottle of anchovy fillets,
tub of ice-cream and a
chicken dish
my mom made
back in december
and which i
left out to defrost
planning to eat it
all week

the ferrero rochers
erns brought to the last braai
but which we forgot to eat
were dropped from under an arm
during the hasty retreat

they took no romanita tomato
touched no carrot
left the garlic and mustard
in their spots
in the fridge

brandon says they sat
on the neighbour’s roof
eating my custard

the monitors were on duty
but claimed the platoon had split
scattering through the neighbourhood
causing confusion
and stretching defenses
moving stealthily under cover
of broad daylight
and a lazy saturday afternoon

they waited for me to leave
they saw brandon leave
i was 30 minutes away
eating sweet and sour
pork with noodles
at the thai place
in steenberg
when the call came from jen:

“I’ve got bad news for you,
you’ve had visitors”

the party

at the party we are going
to be drinking too much
and we shall dance
where the furniture
normally stands
and tell stories
and listen to stories
about cocaine starters
geriatric orgies
oscar pistorius
baboon tuberculosis
the plight of the bushmen
the landless
the loveless
the too much
the too little
and our faces shall merge
to be koi fish
wobbling in the sky
and the dancing
shall pick up
and limbs and moves
elongate and slide
detach and unhinge
flaming cotton fields
a bloodied arrow in a heart
hallelujah, hallelujah


in hierie republiek van ons
klou ons snags aan mekaar vas
en hou elke droom by die brug
aan die hand en stap
saam met die nou pad
na die blou lug en
sing die stil gesang
van wintervoëls weg

in hierie republiek van ons
met die donker hart en
swaar gewonde geskiedenis en
bloedspoor deur die wattelwoud
en pyl wat ratel deur die longe en
die honde onder in die kloof
wat spoorkry en vat
en nes uitmekaar pluk
en kis spyker en hamer
vind die hand van die volk

in hierie republiek van ons
dryf die busse en die karre
vol kinders onderwater
en waai die blaaie van die boeke
verdoof deur die gange
van die skole waar die woorde
op swartborde staan en stol

in hierie republiek van ons
rol die tolbos deur die dorp
met ’n naelstring agterna
en tarentale skreeu en skrou
hou die dag terug
hou die haan plat
hou die stom stil
dek die storm op die tafel
onderhuids bo-op beens
in die vleis en spier en siel
van die elkeen hier verniel
van die almal hier vermal
van die mal en gek
en doodnormaal

in hierie republiek van ons
is die steen des aanstoots
steeds stadig aan die blom
in die ploeg van die land om
die drom waar die hande
die vuur se verbande
afskil en naderherd
vreet en eet
ieder en elk
sy broer

in hierie republiek van ons
is die laaste kans
die stadig dans
deur die verkeersirkel vleg
van die sterre en maan
met ’n hond onder die arm
deur die smeulende boorde
van die selfmoorde en andermoorde
en moorde wat nie eers
bedoel was
te moor nie

in hierie republiek van ons
die sagte glimlag van die laaste vrou
in die tent van lig
waaruit die poel ’n otter
snoet en duik
en wegdrup
en wink
en weeg
en wik
en wip
en weg

5 april

when we are just naked bodies in dark rooms,
all shape and size, wrestle and roll, sweat and soul
- the past races under our unseen feet -
a fleet and foul sail, full to the wind, rattle and ho.

9 april

we walk with heaviness through the world

we walk with heaviness through the world
because there are too many people
and we are all in the honey
and we say it’s hard to walk in here
but we forget that it’s honey

we are the sum total
of all the sweetnesses we love
we sleep in the shadow of all that has gone before
death is a golden river snaking across
a warm and inviting land

we walk with heaviness through the world
our bones are stones shaped like bones
we sink when we blink
when we think we swallow thoughts
our throats bend like straws
our lungs squeeze out words stuck between
the pages of a wet book
in a drowned library

we walk with heaviness through the world
in our concrete clothes
and suitcases filled with bricks
and our true homes – our skins –
are the first and last things
other people judge us by
caress us by
hold us by
hold us to the wind
so that the sea can blow us away
hold us to nothing and everything
and laughter and full stomachs
and love and dogs
and a grassy hill covered in cattle
and the song of the bokmakierie

13 april


through the city we walk like ghosts
in the absences of one another
without shadow or sound
our memories and thoughts
occupied elsewhere
bridled by friends and work
and traffic and the news
and a cloud in the sky
or a wave holding its pose
but when we face each other for a moment
when the surprise slices us open
and all the things we know
run out of our eyes
and back into the other’s lungs
like the air from a long locked-up library
then we retreat into our crevices
like lizards
and the sun slips across dust
and we realise we have lost
the use of our hands
and that our tongues
have been dissolved
by all the silence
all the stone

die groot verstaan

net soos die hare op my arm regopstaan
die son en die maan, die groot verstaan
die water uit die poel opgedrink
die voël met die tak rinkink
die duiker in die kloof verdwyn
die oumense in die stede aan’t kwyn
slaan die weerlig die veld aan die brand
en brand die berg die bome tot sand
sodat die verlede se hande oopvou
die son en maan, die groot onthou
tot ’n beker aan ’n moeë mond
die soldaat se bebloede wond
die graf in die grond ’n reghoek
uit die oond ’n varsgebakte koek
die kombuis is waar die mense skuil
terwyl die winde buite huil
hier is die hart vandaan
hier is die groot verstaan

restlessness blues

all this holding out
all this sitting around
at or near computers
or screens or phones
all this writing of walls
and on walls and fake walls
all this noise and music
all the names and numbers
all the events and birthdays
all the shops and streets
all this rushing around
just to rush around
and keeping up appearances
of having to rush around all the time
in order to get a rush
all these mirrors, all these photos
all the things we have framed but will never hang
all the art we own kept in storage
all the drunken nights
all the nights without stars
all the nights without wind
all the nights without
just without
all those dreams you get
about nonsense and school friends
and dead grandmothers and old dogs
all that
all this restlessness
all this rolling around of creaky joints
all this worry, all this tax
all this chasing, all this crap
all this we brought upon ourselves
all this we refuse to leave
all this we love
all this restlessness
that tugs and pulls
and spits us out
and swallows us again
and chews
and spits out
and so on
all this holding the line
the toeing of the line
the dropping of the line
drawing the line
overstepping it
all this is a net
in an aquarium
in a theme park
in the polystirene cup
in the hand of someone
playing the restlessness blues
on the table top of the world

14 april


ek ontmoet jan in die nag
langs die pad by die
commonwealth memorial graveyard
waar sy kar gaan staan het
ons bel sy vrou, of eks-vrou
van my foon af
sodat sy kan kom met ’n sleeptou
en terwyl ons daar wag
en die see hier naby roer
en soms brander
vertel hy my van sy dogters
die een van saldanha het vir die ander ’n nier geskenk
en die oorplanting is gedoen in die emirate
waar sulke dinge selde gebeur
want die moslems doen mos nie sulke dinge nie
tog kompeteer die sjeiks teen mekaar
en drie oorplantings is gedoen
die twee moslems is dood, maar sy dogter het geleef
en leef nog steeds
dit is omdat hulle so gebid het, vertel jan
die christen het oorleef
en die sjeiks kon dit nie vat nie
en verbied toe verdere oorplantings
en hy raak stil want sy oë is nat
en sy stem raak weg
altwee dogters is geskei
en jan en sy vrou, of eks-vrou
kyk na die een se kind, die skrander dogter
die pa is op interpol se lys
en skuil in windhoek
waar hy R73 000 per maand verdien
hy het droog gemaak in die emirate
pornografie op die rekenaar
fondse misbruik vir hoere
en – snuif – jy weet daai goed ook
vertel jan my terwyl ons wag
vir sy vrou, of eks-vrou
met die sleeptou
terwyl die sterre bo ons
saam wag
kalm en koud

18 april

ek kan jou glimlag nou volg
deur die dik en dun van nag
in die fyngevoel tussen
wysvinger en duim
waar stof en grassaad,
soms kerriepoeier en klei
losgevryf word in die wind
en die reuk van tamaties
vir weke lank rus

nou is die telefone stil
en jy slaap met jou ooglede
soos motte teen die drome
en jou bril op die bybel op die bedkas
is onnodig vir waar jy onderwater swem
en ons hande vat deur kinderjare
en deur die lewe lei
en kuddes beeste
en bok

wanneer die daglig oor die berg verskyn
is jy gereed om melk by te gooi
en suiker, en te roer
want jy weet waar elke ding staan
op die werf en tuin en land
en dat alles buite hier
omgespit kan word met kompos
politiek en leiers en lyding
om braak te laat blom
leem te laat leef

ek hoor nou jou stem
in die nat drup van voëlgesang
by die rivierwilg en visdam
die vuurpyle en palmiet
en die insekte leef
onder ons voete
en die honde kyk met hartseer ore
na die voorstoepdeur
waar iets roer
en die tyd stop

19 april

fish hoek fisheries

at two minutes before seven
on a friday night in life
i join a short queue
at the fish hoek fisheries
logo: a fish
location: fish hoek main road
lighting: fluorescent white with teases of blue
order my hake and chips
plus an extra fish cake
salt and vinegar?
yes please
and then step back
with my slip
number 38
grand total R45
and join a small crowd
of other waiting people
who came here compelled by
an urge to eat tonight
finger-thin slices of potato
deep fried in oil
and hake, mostly hake
but also sometimes snoek
and calamari and rolls
and if you really want to rock out
triangular heartburn
a samoosa for R3, 80
the orders roll out erratically
at the sound of a voice
from behind the counter
we all lift our spirits, prick our ears
but it’s 26, then 34, then 29
and where is number 25?
number 25!
i can see my fish cake
already wrapped in a piece of paper
but my chips are in the making still
and in the mirror on the wall behind the counter
i can spy on the other customers
and observe
that i blend in because i have a beard
and that i too felt like cut up bits of potato
and fish fried in batter
on a friday night in life
in fish hoek main road

20 april


soms is die see net reg
vir wit seilbootjies met wit seile
ander kere weer bloot haai
of dolfynskool wat maal

die berg wat ek soms klim
verander van karakter soos ek styg
halfpad is jy moeg
maar bo rustig

daar is bobbejane wat
hier naby slaap wat sê:
daar is mense wat
hier naby slaap

ek hou daarvan om voëls te identifiseer
maar ek verkies
onbekende, skugter
grys voëls

wanneer die son sak
beteken dit die aarde het gedraai
soos dit moes draai
tot môre

jy kan vliegtuie in die lug sien
of meeue en jakkalsvoëls
of miswolke en sterre
of niks

met die beweeg van lug oor my gesig
verander my kyk van kyk
en lig die kleur van my oë
akkedisblou na groen

die antwoord lê in ’n brief
iewers in my deurmekaar woonstel
as ek dit afbrand gaan alles
net so aan