A selection of poems from
TIME LIKE STONE
OVERLOOKING THE BLOCK
On the top step of the ladder
you stand staring across the roofs
of the houses, the tree-tops, over
the barbed-wire garden walls, the dirty
streets thronged with traffic, across
the small yards, their chickens and children
out towards the hill-side where the horizon
balances like a blade between two colours:
one filled with morning and bird-song,
the other with wings.
And the top step of the ladder
assumes your deep breath before
the long dive into the silence of dishes
stacked like headstones in the leaking sink,
the temper of the kitchen table, empty
tea-cups with cold stains in their saucers
and shadows, shadows of names in chairs
where voices once sat whispering
urgent passwords that ring with the fragrance
of moon-flowers, their delicate hands
lent to your loneliness.
But on the top step of the ladder
you still stand staring while the world
slowly ages, green to brown, unclothed softness
to naked cracks of taciturn habit.
And cold. Sundown.
Dusty haze dissolving distance. The smell
of hoary smoke in the air.
Out of the empty blue, suddenly,
scraps of ash like black snow float down
slowly into your open hand.
OF DROWNINGS AND DROUGHT
Old stones do not
other stones make,
nor fish spawn flowers
of drought and the afterdeath.
A dried shoot is unable
to drink where glass grows,
and only silence swims
in spaces the tongue leaves.
So swollen tides of the sky
at night convulse with stars.
So trees shed perennial tears
over darkness in the hand.
So a broken set of feet
dream swimming into distance.
So you send to the heart’s well
for a bucket of salt.
The new trousers you bought me
I’ve already torn (accidentaly, yes).
Also there’re some splashes – oil
or turpentine, maybe even printer
cartridge ink (who knows?) Anyway
they haven’t wanted to wash out,
I’m sorry. It seems
I can’t look after anything:
lost the proper use of my legs
before I was even born
and my hair, well, the bulk of it
didn’t even stick around till twenty.
I am really sorry about the trousers.
Perhaps you should’ve given me
the money instead.
THREE VIEWS OF A KAROO VELD
Time runs like stone
in these parts
of bleached grass and bone.
Shards of thin sky
bleed the veld
desolate and dry.
Starched winds cart away
scales of water
from night and the day.