Iron in the blood

Snick.
Snick.
Steady stroke
of diamond stone
hones the edge
of the ivory bone
handled hunting knife
not too long a blade
to scream badass alpha male
but long enough to
reach between the ribs
if push comes to shove.

Snick.
Snick.
Droplets of life
tremble at the sound
of carbon steel
meditating on the task
of slicing and dicing
digging for the truth
separating layers
dissecting gristle
stripping muscle bare
shaving the lard from lardass
biting into bone
all for the sake
of proving a point
of sticking to the facts
of knowing that
between known and unknowing
is a razored spine
of disappointment
if only life was as simple
to separate
as death.

Snick.
Snick.
The neck hairs bristle
the eyelids try not to
confuse the view
of metal once molten
fused and beaten with fire
iron in the steel
calling out to
iron in the blood:
“Be free,
Become one with me”.

 

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Father’s Day

Road trip with Dad
a visit to the lake
maybe fishing
a braai with steak and boerewors
but just a quick stop first
at the friendly bottlestore
Cheap box wine
and Mainstay cane
the all-day-breakfast of champions
Fishing started well then stopped for food
My dad more engrossed with liquid than the fish
His ham-fisted attempts to fight the fire with flames
Charred meat, soldered sausage
I didn’t mind just happy to spend
quality time with my father.
Bored and rummaging in the car’s cubbyhole
for playthings I pulled out
his gentleman’s pistol
a small Czech-made James Bond wannabe
the budget-bargain Walther PPK if you prefer
He sometimes joked about ending it all
saying farewell to this cruel cold world.
I checked the magazine,
loaded with shiny puny bullets.

A few hours later we started packing up
Always way too drunk to drive
but that never stopped him trying.
Weaving our way back
along a dusty dirt road
my mouth stuffed with
salt and vinegar crisps
and soggy chunks of hot-dog roll
I wondered if I’d make it home alive

Home to a bruised-emotionless mother
Home to an eating-disordered sister
Home to a defiantly-inflamed brother
who skulked in the shadows of
art homework and rock music.
Home where the heart never beats
Home where friends were not welcome
Home where every family gathering
was dissolved by the ninety-percent proof libations
of my father’s dedication to
holistic inebriation.

The drive home was liquid
the booze sloshing around
the old man’s body like the
dozens of empty liquor bottles
rolling beneath the car seats
and the steady streams of
tears and terrified snot
that poured down my
nine-year old face.

Quality time with my dad
consisted of this sea:
buckets and buckets of liquid
beating like angry waves
between the shores of
a drunk’s lead-lined liver
and a child’s eternal hope
some day things might
turn out different might
end up okay in the end.

More than thirty years later
I’m a father myself
I’ve done extensive research
on the cunningly-baffling
personalities of Cape wine
and Polish vodka
have started the journey of
one thousand and twelve steps.
Sunday is Father’s Day
Here’s hoping I’ve learned something.

Dream Time (a silly bedtime story)

A headstrong knight laughed loudly at liFe
Wept a little but never for long
Hardly cared about a faithful wife
He always looked forward. Tick tock.

His head overflowed with sparkling dreams
Battles to win, empires to build
Fair maidens to kiss near gentle streams
For liFe moved slower then. Tick tock.

The midpoint reached, a deep river crossed
Turning back the same as plunging on
His choice was made, into darkness tossed.
Steel was sharpened and sheathed. Tick tock.

In the distance a tall tower loomed
He ate his last crumb, drank his last drop
His bruised feet cried out, all hope seemed lost
Yet still the knight believed. Tick tock.

Weakened, spent, he climbed a thousand stairs
Counting each smooth stone with bitter breath
He contemplated all his liFe’s cares
Then reached an iron door. Tick tock.

The ancient portal heaved open wide
In the shadows he glimpsed a monster’s face
“Welcome, I’ve been waiting. Come inside”
It was himself he saw. Tick tock.

“You must think it strange,” the spectre said
“To have travelled so far, risked so much.”
In silence, he stared back at the bed.
Then drew his long, sharp blade. Tick tock.

He stabbed himself in both eyes, then cried.
So many dreams drowned, years swallowed up
“Traitor” he screamed, as the old man died
Then turned for home again. Tick tock.

Time passed quickly now. It always will
The nights grew cold and long, the road dark
Weakened now, he felt Death’s quiet chill
No angels sang for him. Tick tock.

See, I am that knight, fair maiden true
Do you still recall the gentle stream?
Before we die, remember this clue
Lovers’ dreams are time’s gift. Tick tock.

Lovecats

We move like cagey tigers. Oh!
We couldn’t get closer than this
The way we walk, the way we talk
The way we stalk, the way we kiss
– The Cure

Food for you my lover, my friend
Not a morsel is left to spare.
You strip me bare, expose my fear
You are the deep water I wade.

There was a time I thought you lost
Chased off by my loud mouth, my pride
Slowly, carefully, like a cat,
I slinked up to you in moonlight.

You arched your back, you hissed, you scratched
Quietly, you licked my hand wet
Breathed in, stretched out, relaxed and purred
I knew then I’d crossed your abyss.

Now we hunt liFe as man and wife
The “fruit of our lions” has grown!
We’ve watched over our kitten love,
Cursed to fail, we have yet survived.

In trusting this wild alley cat,
Your sleek feline charms have blessed me,
Nine times over and many moons,
Transformed my yowling moods to swoons.

_________________________________

Note: When I first shared these words at a poetry evening, MR the convenor guffawed loudly and bellowed out: “You didn’t just use the phrase ‘fruit of our loins’ did you? Oh my God man, I can’t believe you just said that!” I stupidly agonised about it like a ponce but actually damn it all, I like the King James Version of that old testament phrase for offspring. While it may offend some overly-sensitive ears, instead of ripping it out, I’ve humbly bastardised it.

The Tear

I was eighteen once
And so in love.
I was an awkward cliché
Wrapped in passion.

I had Nothing
You were my Everything.
Such soft simple words
So fragile
Almost childish in their lack
They still feel so soft
Like your lips, your skin
Like the gentle curve of your neck
The insides of your wrists
Held open in surrender.

Yet not childish,
perhaps child-like.

One night
In the middle of a raging storm
Out on the water somewhere
I turned in my sleep
Opened blissed-out eyes
To see a single, sad tear
Roll slowly down
The soft, smooth mound
of your cheek
Whispering gently as I recall:
“My Love what troubles you?”
Alas, too distraught,
You said Nothing.

I’d never felt so content
As I did lying naked with you
Yet to be with you
In your arms
In a raging storm
As you wept
I’d never felt as wretched.
To be loved
And to be Beloved
Yet to know your sadness
Was so intimate
So much a part of you
The one I adored.

Your anguish
So much a part of you
It could barely seep out
One tear at a time
In the dead of night
As I lay sleeping
In the arms of a raging storm.

Wherever you are
My beautiful friend,
my once Beloved,
you who taught me
the terrible fear
and longing
of intimacy,
The breathless wonder of
Being loved and in love.

Remember me,
Remember.
I was eighteen once.
And yes,
Oh God yes,
so were you.

Wat Sê Jy?

NOTE: NSFW If you’re easily offended by words

11 Feb 2013
For Anene Booysen and Jyoti Singh Pandey

During recent office intercourse
A young Woman laughed out loud
“I don’t want to say it” she said
Waited a bit
Then did.

If you’re easily offended by words
then best you take a smoke break now
or step out for a coffee.
If you’re easily offended by words
then Fuck You.

The young Woman asked simply with a straight face:
“How would you translate ‘Vagina Monologues’
into Afrikaans?”
I tell you she laughed out loud
Because the answer,
when laid out on its back
with legs open wide is:
“Poes Praat”.

Let the victim speak.
Poes Praat.

In Delhi,
A Woman was raped
And died
In Bredasdorp, a small farm town,
A Woman was raped.
And died.

If I get in my car in that small place
and set off for India,
Google Maps tells me to take the N1
for about 20 000 kilometres
or 275 hours (give or take)
There will be water and ferries involved.
But I know it’s not a road trip I look forward to
What connects them more than miles is blood
You see these women weren’t just raped
They were gang-raped.
Jackrolled,
They each pulled a train.
You see these women weren’t just gang-raped
They were fucked to death.

“But rape’s been with us forever,”
Somebody says:
“An accepted weapon of war
Collateral damage.
Ask the Romans
Ask the Barbarians
Ask the Women of Berlin in 1945
Ask the Women in Auschwitz
Ask the Women in DRC
Ask the Women in Gukurahundi.
In fact ask any man you know
who’s ever been to war.”

But her fingers and legs were broken
Take a look

A dirty iron rod was shoved
Deep inside her Cave of Pleasure
Take a look

She was fucked with a broken beer bottle.
Take a look
Her skull was caved in
Her gash was gashed
Her stomach was sliced,
and like Judas in the tree,
her insides spilled out
and screamed for help
where they lay –
in the dirt, in the sand
where they fucked her to death.

If you’re easily offended by words
then Fuck You.
Her blood cries out,
“I am Woman, hear me scream.
Hear my Poes Praat”.

South African statistics
are screaming silently:
You already know
Somebody
Who has already raped
Somebody
You already know.

So if you’re still listening
Wat Sê Jy?

The music of freedom

Guitar chords strumming the silence
A welcome song of prayer
A place full of expectation
Faces poised in hope
Yet weathered with despair.

A woman’s pure voice rings out
Announcing a bargain sale on freedom
Another singer with long raven hair
Sways in gentle time to the tune
Of prisoners being set free.

Even as my pen caresses the page
The music makes it weep
In a sympathy of trembling
The words reach out, touching
Hearts that open slow, hesitating.

If freedom is a song, listen
Music bearing open-door promises
Rusted keys turning in broken locks
The oil of hope trickles in
Moving the machinery of the soul.

So many questions, so many seekers
Looking forward, hearts’ eyes open
Hands wide to receive the gifts
Made possible with music and song
Running forward to embrace hope, again.