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Category: Poem

She sits there opposite me

She sits there opposite me
In that old chair of hers
Knitting those strange shapes she made
Toys, animals, useful things
So many – I have some still
In some forgotten corner of my life

She sits there opposite me
Wrapped against the cold
Her breathing sometimes shallow
Sometimes laboured, sometimes still
So far, so very far
From my youth remembered time

She sits there opposite me
So frail and grey and worn
Her vibrant life reduced, debased, displaced
By depression, despair and pain
And saddened we
Sit with her and we cry

She sits no longer where
So staunchly once she did
Her one warm chair now empty stands
Soundless like a vault
And poorer now we live
With remembrance of a once great life

29/11/2009

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Heat Haze

Beneath a sky cast sapphire blue
By a stand of lonely blue gum trees
Some cattle gather shaded from incessant heat
Still they stand, panting statues
Except for ears flicking flies away
Across the red dust dry veld
A dust devil whirls tall
Past shimmering, stuttering skull white houses
Hurling papers and bits
In an impotent rage against the hot hard ground
From the distance the sound of a tractor ploughing
Deep furrows in a deeper landscape
For mealies
Or sorghum
I sit out on the stoep this African afternoon
And view, through pipe smoke haze
The distant koppies and blood red ground
Of a Western Transvaal
Held in heats oppressive grip
I drink my fill
Of homemade pineapple beer
Chilled in a glass filled with ice
And gaze serenely on this placid place
Unable to move or think or talk
Wet with sweat my clothes cling
To a glistened body tanned brown
By sun and wind and work
But not today

22/04/1998

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The Sin of Underprivilege

And another one dies
Of AIDS, of TB, of cancer
What does it matter?
We don’t care
Why should we?
It doesn’t affect us
Secure in our towers of privilege
Looking down on those below.
How easily we condemn their poverty
From our exalted positions
Do we really need them?
We ask themselves
They are just an eyesore
On our cultured landscape
They don’t contribute anything
Useful
To our lives
We are better off without them!
And outside
Another one dies.

16/07/1990

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View from a window

Sun setting
Behind hills of brown
Crows fly
Crows cry
Beneath greying clouds
The old shepherds road
Lies empty now
A home for thistle
And heather
And memories
A burn peat stained
Chases down
Steep gullies
Over rocks and tumbles
To darkening river below
And flows sludge slow
Under stone still bridge
Past field
And bank
To forest shadowed
All is quiet now
The still of dusks deep desire
For peace
And solitude
And death
Of day
And birth
Of night

19/09/1998

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A walk

The grey cold of winter rain
lashes face and hands and me.
Raven clouds dark as my damaged thoughts
lie overhead, threatening, sinister.
Muddy paths leading to muddy places
through trees scoured clean by loathsome storms.
Past verdant leaves indifferently slaughtered
scud across my shadowed dreary view.
Hearing no-one, seeing no-one and being no-one
trudging onward, slipping, stumbling, sliding, swearing.
My mood as black as longest night
companion to my wary winter woodland wander.
Sombre thoughts of death unfettered rise
unbidden to my mind.
I must escape this path, this wood, this life
or stay forever snared in this leafless, lifeless grove.
I reach the edge of brooding breathless copse
driven to the open fields of freedom before me.
And still the grey cold of winter rain
lashes face and hands and me.

07/02/2017

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I Found A Photograph

I found a photograph the other day
Of me in younger clothes
Squirreled away buried in battered cardboard cave
Dingy, dusty, damaged,
Dumped in haste behind old books
In a long forgotten corner
Of an aged loft
Where all my other junk
Of long past lives
Lies forlorn, discarded
And there I saw
The well remembered outline of my youth
The thirsty eyes
Full of hope
And love
And innocence
The widely smiling mouth
Whose wisdomed words
Like golden oration spewed forth
Unfettered by latter doubts
But heeded only by unheeding night
Those ears so often catching
Sounds of joy
And laughter
And pain
And longing
The shoulders broad like Atlas
Yet tender
Refuge for tormented souls
The arms full ardour
But loveless left
The hands so willing
But always clumsy
Tripping over words
And tasks
And life
And I in longing know
That this is how I want to be
And not this deserted frame
That I have now become
Oh the years have turned
And I have turned
Into dust and yearning and nought
Tumbling to my inexorable end
Of dust and dull oblivion

10/02/2017

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A walk along a river bank

Through the chill mist comes the honk of lonely goose
From an island over in the stream
Somewhere out of view
In the grey light of early day

In the field cattle stand
Lowing, guiding the days bright entrance
Chewing cud and grass
Viewing world with watchful eye

From nowhere the wheezing whoosh of wings
Tells us of swans arising
On tall columns of milk frothed air

Ahead on dewy bank
A heron statued stands
A grey sentry to our approach
Along path
Sided sometimes by sloes
In their season

Distant comes the whispering
Watery sound of weir
And mill and stream
And the church bell tolling
This hour of dawn

At the gate in the corner we turn
And homeward head
To a world more frantic
Than this timeless place

22/04/1998

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