Category Archives: Capitalism’s greed

I don’t need a greeting card for my dad

There are far too many celebrations used to justify spending on things one doesn’t need or really want, thanks to consumerism.
I don’t like celebrating Father’s Day. Not since my father passed away. Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever did anyway even when he was around. It just wasn’t part of any family tradition, I guess. One can argue making such a day special can be seen as superficial. Each day should be celebrated with the ones we love, for, as with everything, all this is temporary. We’re all just passing. Yeah, others have said that before and probably in better ways.
The youth are often uninterested in what the generation before them lived through – what made them happy or sad, what they wished before they ended up with a particular job that wasn’t their first choice, what their favorite shirt was, and other details that seem inconsequential.
I only know a few things about my dad before I was born. He was a good soccer player and was offered a scholarship to keep playing. He had to refuse it so he could work and support his brothers and sisters. He joined the military. Imagine if he had chosen just for himself?
He passed away when I was on the other side of the world. My sisters put the cellphone close to him as he muttered various sounds no one could make out. I doubt he knew it was me on the other end.
I was with my wife and our twin daughters who were too small to have any memory of that day. We were at a function organized by parents of twins and multiples. There were farm animals in the stalls being petted by laughing children not far away from where we were sitting in the grass.
He never got to read the following poem (which I may have shared here or elsewhere before).

Paper Skin, Bone of Bamboo

These were all we needed:
an old pair of scissors,

two pieces of sturdy
but pliant bamboo, split
to the width of a finger
the span of my young arms,

newspapers, the gray skin
rubbing off on my palms,
a fistful of cold rice
to glue everything together.

Last was the longest string
I could steal from my mother
as she lay in restless sleep.
Then there had to be time.

All these things grew useless
without time. They waited
to be gathered, to be touched,
pieced together with patience.

They waited for father.
Those newspapers could have told me
scraps of stories, something
about his absences, nights

and days on end. Curfews, arrests,
insurgents, offensives,
puppet masters, empires.
Back then words mattered less

to me. All I wanted to see
was that kite defying claws
of TV aerials and rusty roofs,
the grasp of remaining trees.

From both our hands
that kite took off and saw
the sprawl of lives made intimate
by a common silence and struggle.

It took on the wind and sang.
Blurred all words on its skin.
Stillness in between mad search
for balance became its dance

to its very end.
Although those rare afternoons
never lasted long enough,
that kite was relentless, fierce

in its defiance of wind
and ground, everything
that dared to take away
all that fragility,

all that majesty.

-o-

from Alien to Any Skin, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2011.


Sniffing Out Madness

One photo from a Donald Trump campaign caught my eye. Sometimes you need not look further.

Trump campaign crazy look lady terrified baby


Sinking the ship you’re in so you can build a new one

 

That seems to be the only logic behind Zuma’s axing of Nhlanhla Nene as Finance Minister. From the broken pieces of this ship he’s surely sinking, Zuma promises to build a new South Africa – perhaps with China cheering him on.

The announcement came just as the so-called 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Children was coming to a dismal closure (from 25 November to 10 December, Human Rights Day). Zuma tells us to take his word for it, to trust him though he fails to explain why someone who has stood to fight corruption by taking on the untouchable Dudu Myeni is being shown the back door with the lights turned off down a dark alley. Maybe Nene is just one more obstacle removed so the Russian nuclear deal can push through. Will there be anyone bold enough to take on the shady dealings with petroleum corporations (led by Shell) and the proposed (already approved under the table?) fracking of the Karoo?

Zuma, even before he stepped into those big shoes Mandela left (and Mbeki who was ordered to go barefoot), set the local newspapers (and got international coverage, too!) on fire for months with the story of an alleged rape of a friend’s daughter. One has to remember he took a shower. Then there was the Schabir Shaik trial which magically left Zuma unscathed and apparently even revitalized, no, emboldened. The blood from Marikana miners didn’t seem to taint him either. The famed firepool of Nkandla must have some magical powers (interesting links here).

Is it just us who are mad to imagine there is even a sinking ship? All along we’ve witnessed things that were too hard to believe. Yet they keep happening.

My very good friend who showed me around Durban back in November, a day after the 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award, said Zuma is considered by his countless supporters to be a prophet. Perhaps there is no crisis. Only non-believers.


I Look Almost Presentable

Jacana Media posted on its Facebook page photos from the awarding ceremonies of the 2014 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award held on 4 November. I avoid being photographed most times – as I very much prefer people to read my work. But it was a special evening. I got to shake hands with a lot of important people, including Ambassador Roeland van de Geer, Head of the European Union delegation to South Africa. One of the many interesting moments I remember was the look of surprise from the highly respected Dr Mongane Wally Serote when he saw who had written “Illegal, Undocumented.” He judged the competition without any idea who wrote what. For the record, I never achieved this much recognition in my country of birth. Before the release of my first book in 1992, Beneath an Angry Star, I remember quite a number of people congratulating me not for having published at such a young age, but for apparently winning a national literary competition. Alas, it turned out as mere rumour – or worse, that the judges had changed their minds once they found out I was practically an unknown poet. Gripes. Time to let go of that, Jim. You can’t expect everyone to like you or what you write. All you can do is keep on writing – whether it gets read is another matter. And so I will. I have to.


The Poem version of “Mass Murderer on World Tour”

from wikimedia modified

Yesterday I shared a news article on a former world leader. I didn’t know I’d end up with a poem of the same title. Well I’ve put up the first draft for critique on one of the websites I sometimes visit. You can read it and comment while it’s up HERE.

I appreciate each and every feedback. You may not agree with my work and I certainly don’t want you to just accept what I say. Goes both ways, this thing called respect.

Thank you.

The original image (which I then fiddled with) is from wikimedia.


A day before the day

Jacana Media has generously made available the three poems up for the 2014 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award. HERE is the link. My poem, “Illegal, Undocumented,” is part of my manuscript SKY FOR SILENT WINGS (or OSAMA, YOU ARE NOW OPEN COUNTRY… or THE MAN WHO WISHED HE WAS LEGO… yup, I still haven’t made up my mind which title to use, and neither has my fictitious publisher decided to accept it or not… maybe I should dream of another publisher?).

ladder from wikimediaoriginal image from Wikimedia


Day of Rage and a previously posted poem, “Rent a Horror Movie”

After seeing Jon Snow’s “Unseen Gaza,” many years ago, I wrote a poem called “Rent a Horror Movie.” It is full of rage, but one that is like a fist in the dark. HERE IS THE LINK TO THE POEM.

-o-

The following is taken from the BDS Movement.

Gaza Calling: All out on Saturday 9 August Day of Rage

Join the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Movement today. Demand Sanctions on Israel Now.

As we face the full might of Israel’s military arsenal, funded and supplied by the United States and European Union, we call on civil society and people of conscience throughout the world to pressure governments to sanction Israel and implement a comprehensive arms embargo immediately.

Take to the streets on Saturday 9 August with a united demand for sanctions on Israel.

From Gaza under invasion, bombardment, and continuing siege, the horror is beyond words.  Medical supplies are exhausted. The death toll has reached 1813 killed (398 children, 207 women, 74 elderly) and 9370 injured (2744 children, 1750 women, 343 elderly). Our hospitals, ambulances, and medical staff are all under attack while on duty. Doctors and paramedics are being killed while evacuating the dead. Our dead are not numbers and statistics to be recounted; they are loved ones, family and friends.

While we have to survive this onslaught, you certainly have the power to help end it the same way you helped overcome Apartheid and other crimes against humanity. Israel is only able to carry out this attack with the unwavering support of governments – this support must end.

This is our third massacre in six years. When not being slaughtered, we remain under siege, an illegal collective punishment of the entire population. Fishermen are shot and killed if they stray beyond a 3 km limit imposed unilaterally by Israel. Farmers are shot harvesting their crops within a border area imposed unilaterally by Israel.  Gaza has become the largest open-air prison, a concentration camp since 2006. This time, we want an end to this unprecedented crime against humanity committed with the complicity and support of your own governments!

We are not asking for charity. We are demanding solidarity, because we know that until Israel is isolated and sanctioned, these horrors will be repeated.

– See more at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/gaza-calling-all-out-on-saturday-9-august-day-of-rage-12423#sthash.NW8glK7y.dpuf