OppiKoppi, Paradeisos

Excuse me
while I lose myself
In this dome of dusty tracks, history reloaded & reality deconstructed

Misconduct, reconfigured, shamelessly blurred
The docks fitted with stale beer, hefty blankets of smoke and gore 
Smells of sweet guilt
The couch fleas sucking and sipping
Jumping to the same rhythm
The one in their heads that burn
Let this warped congregation sing its hymns
Oh holy, holy, holy
We’re lost, come find us

The dirt, musk, trample with malice
It smells of a shared promise
One we made to the Gods
That we’ll surrender and scream
dance until our lungs need help
Fortitude within us
Unless you’re on your bed
Crying to be taken
Why would you cease this warped paradise? 
One that promises you complete freedom
And one that ends too suddenly
Leaving you heaving for more 

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Your Majesty

In December, I had an opportunity to visit the Victoria Falls. What I had known of it was stuck in history books and hearsay. I knew it as “a big waterfall”, an immense natural wonder. Little did I know that it was so much more than that. That nature cared for no man. That it ran wild and free and beautifully and that it wouldn’t stop. That the visitors wouldn’t stop.

vic

If there was any sort of sign in the Universe to let us know that God or a higher being was around us, then I think the quiet of nature, the loudness of nature, the simplicity of nature and it being complicated at the same time is that sign. There’s more to us than what we know.

And it’s in those moments where we can just look on and feel grateful that we are witnessing, that we can be inspired.

Your Majesty

 

Gliding fingers on the face of steel strings

And Livingstone’s son roars

masquerading as heaven’s pool

but the devil and ghosts and angels appear

swallowing the smoke

hearing it enter your heart

so it can never leave

drowning so words can’t cry

humans mould themselves into a great self

unaware that the thunder hits us all

we make up reasons that this is the only life we have

until the smoke whirls, falls, whirls, falls

no chance of a trapped corner

Vicky with her ten-minute smoke break

where the world is forgotten

Your Majesty, it roars

without an interlude

it growls at the human who thinks

that all of this doesn’t matter

As Africa bleeds hope

 the skies place a cloth over the torn table

The smoke that thunders

falling and yelling

Can you hear me, Can you hear me

Your Majesty, it roars

Platform A

(Me waiting at the Gautrain station; Was feeling a tad bored waiting for my train. Wrote something on a piece of paper and found it in my handbag yesterday)

 

There’s a buzz, a machine

linked to a schedule

and if you listen closely

there’s a muted sense of

 

absolute adventure

 

a cry for the box

four cars that reek of routine

vessels that hold the

one, two, three

Who should I pretend to be?

the deepest gates

where will I go

who will I be

 

The faces

interchangeable

 

pretty robots who seek

nothing but the start

the finish

raindrops that scatter

gather

form their own kind

when so many are off to be one

and make your plans

the bolts will listen

but your mind

it’ll lift off

and decipher the formidable

the minutes pretending

they’re nothing

or everything

 

the carts of comfort

become torture chambers

Die volgende stasie is

whatever you want it to be

where will one go

who will I be

 

The faces

interchangeable

 

 

 

The concert

 

Forty thousand memories

and lips that remember the words

Off radio days, that lonely playlist, the TV at 2am

Hands to the sky in case this moment is gone too quickly

A friend’s glance that lasts for the verse you both know all too well

That breathe-in-eyes-closed-tight runaway instant

the lights fade

and we erupt to another consciousness

Where nothing can touch you but the words

 

Forty thousand reasons why they’re there

Forty thousand whispers to the chorus

A moment where you can scream

your pain

Your happiness

Your ecstasy

In a choir that feels the same way

The forty thousand bodies turned facing

Lights in the dark, a man who grips a microphone

His guitar telling a joke everyone knows

But everyone keeps listening to

 

And in the crowd

A girl pretends she’s written it all

It’s just for her

The man walks away from his friends and raises a head

It’s just for him

The front-row leaps

The back crew crane and are lost

 

It’s just for you my friend

 

And in the echoes,

the encores,

the queues,

the hours that sting of awe afterwards

Your heart is trapped

In the forty thousand

 

And it’s all for you my friend

 

Bravery

(for my brother Brent on turning 21)

He holds a knowing look
a bravery that’s understated
but deafening
a kindness that reaches beyond
a person’s heart
With honesty, with age, with wisdom
comes a man who holds more than he knows
a man that holds love for the world’s unknown
the world’s little mysteries
his world’s people
his world’s love

He understands his place
treats the universe with a sense that it might go away
he will hold your hand because some day it will go away
he’ll be there if you need him
whenever you call
he arrives with a humble stride, a steady hand
a helpful glance to the sky
everything, everything will be alright

he has a never-ending hope
that he will climb any worry
that he will conquer any struggle
because he has already been knocked down
he’s gotten up
stronger
braver
wiser
better than before

And now the world is new
and it waits for him

His eyes bright, sensing that over at the horizon
there’s another, and another, and another
that’s how he lives
that each dream sprints onto fresh dreams
that each day can be filled with new faces
new desires
a sense that nothing will be better
than a family’s embrace
a crush’s kiss
a father’s teaching
a mother’s helpful way
A sister’s knowing, shared thought

So go on
because there’s a path that has never been walked on
it’s stones brushed new from the earth
the wayward journey
well, it’s up to you to carve the way

So Brave one
beside life’s crushing, awful, beautiful, splendid moments

Remember that you are you
that nothing can alter your way
that you hold so much purpose
so much grace
so much love

No one can beat you off the track
that no one can waver your head
that no one can speak of you without knowing
your heart

Gym

splash

the binding

choreographed

with a push, the fat man grunts

the skinny girl squats

the sweltering box of things and hopes

in a ten-minute shot

the counting to

the counting down

the gain and loss of

our shadows

the measured stake of a man’s grip

a steady dance of happy pain

the ordered flock of traffic mongrels,

the young who tumble in training wings

the old who check their pulse,

a need for their past

and the inbetweeners

who grab centre stage

a flex

a lipstick lady with no order

going through the motions

the pressure to be the dolls that aren’t actually real

the queue for perfect

and the line to leave before the bite into a burger

gladiators with no victors here

the bend,stretch of shameless dressing

the promise that it’ll be like this everyday

 

Jozi

Black and lights.

The man who sells pink covers,

a fake snake

The Star’s flashy headlines

The Sun’s gripping story

A tokoloshe stole my wife!

The posters of ‘buy this!’ and a horrible life

 

Up here, the air is rampant with coal

Cars choking
People sweeping

Druggies coughing

Heiresses laughing

The towers touch the tarnished heavens

The champagne in fenced-off castles

The glitz of Mercs

The taxi, the passing taxi, the falling apart taxi

Those ANC shirts

The march on, marching on to

…freedom?

The statues that tell another story

 

 

Time that is not now

Here, time is nothing

 

The cash gushes in floods

Legalised stock, foreigner counterfeits

The pidgeons fat

The beggar thin

The land of milk, honey and sin

The stay-at-home something with the Gucci

The Chinas with their gelled up hair, their unbridled youth

The taverns late at night

brewed in foam and someone hitting you

 

 

Across the face

As if you feel anything

 

Be cold

N1

The hoot, the scoot, the metro loot

Bra, can I get away with a fifty?

The hens in bakkies

The pimp with the wheels

The lipstick in the corner

Get your wife some roses

 

The downside cafes

Filled with people who don’t need glasses

The seamless coffee, the rock that blares

The hip hop flair

The promise of savouring

Music

Until your heart caves in

 

Sky-scraping hopes

Bright-lit dreams

Gold

Diamonds everywhere

Urban refinement

Afrika se Groot appel

Ferris-wheel charm

Wear my tux

 

The abandoned heaps

Of sand

The abandoned ideas

Of hope

The hi-jack

Guns up

The idea that we’ll never elope

Tin roofs hit by sunset rays
Cardboard signs that says

 

You’re sweet, Jozi

You sell yourself

On Bree Street’s buzz

You make promises

Give yourself

And leave

Oh Cindarella

 

Jozi

Dark

Bright

A smash of the glass

The boon of the lake

The trivial parks that greet autumn

The prawns

The little children pointing at the giraffe

Suburbs change to suburbs and back

 

We come back

The late nights

The drag on the dance floor

5c pieces fall into the man

Fall out of hungry heads

The shine

The gleam

 

It hurts my eyes

It warms my heart

Happy Birthday Madiba

Thunderous

Deafening icon

A boxer’s gloves

A saint’s heart

A fighter’s rage for freedom

Making colours washed

And carrying hope

under chain

under history’s turmoil

confusion

and schemes

 A strong heart

And hope that this will be his legacy

A forever design

Struggle in life, life for struggle

After climbing a great hill, one will find many more hills to climb

 

And he climbed

Flag on the hill of colours

sweeping moments where people shook their heads

prayed

ran away

only to find that the flag kept waving

 It always seems impossible until its done.

And it wasn’t ridiculous

The brawl for recognition and humanity

Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.

And may the rays flicker

Burn

Smoulder

 When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.

So we carry on with beginnings

With no end in sight

So we can keep

An inheritance of abandon

And promise

 Qunu’s father

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

And we get up

And again

And again

Grahamstown

 The stench

Of youth,

the rebel

cut-price specials

Beer buckets, cider rings and sour tongues

Bar floods, no toilet paper, wooden-floor dances

table confessions, smelly smiles,

bang on the weekend

 

 Mullet

Cig

Beroxide

Lilac

The street is messy with rage

And delirious youthlings

Bleeding purple and carelessness

Crackling and punch fogs

Between Friar’s queues,

Rat deck conversations

Pirates leftovers

Monastery’s cavernous hypnotism

Late-night Simba snacks and Coke

First year virtue

Oldie poise

3am post-drinks with the boy you’ve always seen

We meet all the people we’ve seen

Waving in Pick n’ Pay

Wimpy’s consolable grease

Sugar

1ply

Noodles

Ready-made chicken

thin-based

 

A scramble on the donkey streets

The Mail pokes around town

All Stars trudge through debates

Campus is bright

Hippies, jocks, learners, profs, the philosophy major

The law man in tie

The girl barefoot

rugby shorts

The cameras, video camera, recorders, poking around

Pens ready for a comment

Hanging heads in class

scribble

On the hill

Below

Beaver meat and serenades

Pool crashing and soccer games

Great Field’s purple dialect

Talks of camaraderie

A scrum

A plastic bottle with shameful wine

Beach weekends

Sand and messy starts

Sparksgo off

The break of a window

High Street’s delirious

Boys begging for cents

Wiping windows down in muck

Cathedral swollen

Specials on the side

Stalls of beads and paper

The ice

The fest faces at long tables

the deserted middle

The swelter

Overalls musings

Viv discretion and

VC rap

Tape around the mouths

A march to decision

laissez-faire

A bubble of iniquitous pride

a valley of demure adolescence

a bar sopping in stories

Purple glaze: Pretoria

 Purple glaze

Soggy streets

The lightning flash

The shudder

Picket fences

Booms

Sunnyside without the sun

Sky buildings below

Women sell their legs

 

Voortrekker steps

Steps

Steps

Still steps

To those before us

 

The boy on Atterbury shaking in shorts

The student who pops

Hatfield’s fanatical

Die manne wat rugby kyk

Loftus se blou blou hart

Scrum boeta!

 

The dancefloor’s illegal

As they swing around

swig the cane train

Shudder

Across the road, robots swap

Police on the trail

Midnight meals

Burnett is burnt

In high-rise cheques

And morning regrets

Shudder on the railway tracks

 

The old

Set in the dingy

The president’s place

With men who have no faces

Guns and get out

The helicopter garage

The parks rich in green

Tanned in June’s rime

The statues that tell of beginnings

Politician palace

Embassy entourage

 

The little blazers

of four-squared schools that march

the derby days

the chugging buses

the snag

 

The malls glitz

The Kolannade’s swift

Cars with lights, wheels with stones

The Sunday flea market bargains

The church-goers

The sinners who collect Friday nights

Afrikaans se plek

Engels everywhere

The rock, the smoking rock

The dance of the night

N1 buzzing through hell

Adverts that sell you

Die FM wat kook

 

Streets we name by their old names

The zoo’s circling happiness

THE CAPITOL

The paint

A zoom zoom with the train

Phuza

 

Menlyn movies

Square is juvenile

Tiger Tiger roars

Ty’s cries with heels

Arcadebounces off rocksters

Brooklyn’s coffee and cake

Aandklas’ se ou Queen en Marley hits

Duncan’s high eats

The gardens sparkle

The ponds with the nannies

The putt-putt caves

 

Purple glaze

In the capitol’s rays