Category Archives: Mga Tula / Poetry

The Ghost in the Glass – a first draft

The Ghost in the Glass

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language.
And next year’s words await another voice.”

– T.S. Eliot

He took two photographs of himself
as if he were a ghost trapped in glass.
Shirtless, the sun striking him
directly from above, he could feel
ultraviolet rays penetrating his skin.

A fool foolishly marking the last day
of another year in a country where he remains
alien, though not on paper. He Skyped
with his family back home the day before
with his webcam turned off.

A glimpse of his mother on her birthday
was all he asked for, her sight
having left her years ago. He saw everyone
there peering through the tiny lens
of his sister’s tablet. No one saw him.

-o-

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Poetry | Books LIVE

Bookslive writes about the 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Awards.


Knife Cut on Leather gets featured on Cha

Cha: an Asian Literary Journal has picked up another one of my pieces.
I wrote “Knife Cut on Leather” some years ago and didn’t quite know what it was or where I could send it. So it lay in hibernation until I joined a private online discussion group whose generous but critical members (critical and supportive in the best way I can imagine) told me to forget what to call the piece. It was apparently complete as it was and I should let readers decide what to make of it.
Please read and tell me what you think of the piece.

HERE IS THE LINK to Cha.

Copy of leather


Off the Wall on 9 March 2015 – THE HAND THAT LEFT THE PUPPET GASPING

If all goes well, I’ll be reading at Off the Wall in Observatory’s A Touch of Madness bar and restaurant here in Cape Town. One of the poems I intend to read is “The Man Who Wished He was Lego” which appeared in Sixfold. I shared a link to that in an earlier post. But for those who missed it, HERE IT IS AGAIN.

I’m hoping not to make the audience fall asleep. Well, an audience would be nice to have in the first place. So if you are in Cape Town or plan to have a weird night on Monday, come on over. 🙂

I’m also going to read work included in the recently released NEW COIN POETRY bumper issue. If you ever read contemporary poetry, this journal has got to be on your list. Convince your local library to subscribe to NEW COIN POETRY (check them out on Facebook).

cover with hand

Hmmm wait, might as well post the poem here for lazy readers who cannot even click to a link. haha.

-o-

The Man Who Wished He was Lego

His hands would be yellow
and forever curved
into a semi-square “C.”
Designed only for quick
and easy snapping

of pieces meant
to fit. His shoes
would be the same color
as his pants with no zips
or buttons, no pockets

for slipping in notes
that could be shredded
in the wash. He would need
not worry about the shape
of his head, or haircuts

and thoughts for that matter.
And best of all, his chest
would be stiff and hollow,
far too small
for a heart.

-o-


Birds will have dominion when I take swallow form

It has to be one of the longest title for a poem – or at least a poem I’ve written. It was first published in Our Own Voice in September 2012. Today I remembered making an audio recording of me reading it. Click HERE or the photo to listen to it. I know it’s pretty rough and Kermit the Frog doesn’t like imitators. I am posting this recording as I send it to my mother back home who is very ill. I wonder if she can still hear me.

Photo found on Wikimedia by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html. I have a photograph of the same type of bird, one that sat on the bricks by the kitchen window. One day I hope to find it for sharing.


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.