Friday, July 24, 2009

What matters

What matters is not
whether seize is spelled correctly,
or you use an ellipsis instead of an em dash;
not whether you used 500g of butter, when the recipe called for less.
Not the vendetta of the neighbour,
nor the spite of the colleague in the corridor.
What matters isn’t whether you wear horizontal stripes instead of vertical,
or the wrong colour camisole beneath your jersey.
What matters isn’t the power plays, the corporate games,
the stalled computer and the dropped connection,
or who will be the next leader to lead the free world.
What matters is the neutral breath, the needle-like teeth,
brushingaway the layer of dust, restoring your black coat by wiping it clean
with hands or kisses.
What matters is your world, reduced to kisses,
turkey mince on a plate, fresh air, the expectation that everything will be alright,
the pure wide-eyed surrender, your rush at life.

(Published in Illuminations, USA)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chapped heart

Nearly thirty seven,
and there’s a chapped heart on my chest,
paint peeling off the red silk-screened t-shirt.
My toe is pink and swollen from a bee-sting,
no bee in sight, just a sting left on a carpet.
A deepening of my face.
Evening implies a quickening of the pulse.
Summer nights are beautiful, I’ve discovered,
now savouring the cool air,
as though it were sweet ice-cream.
A wet rag brushes away the day’s oily accumulation.
The carpet in the bedroom needs replacing,
the colour’s all wrong
and the kitchen needs updating.

And the heart, the chapped heart,
well, it’s harder to deal with that.
Scrape a few more flaky bits off,
see the still-good t-shirt appear from beneath.
I’ve had it for over ten years now,
it’s worn well, never lost its shape or colour,
only the heart, scraping off now, chapped,
scored through,
indicates time’s passing.

(Published in Green Dragon 6)

Inside and Outside

Sitting inside I type,
analysing novels.
I learn about the secret Muslim marriage
called a sigheh, recalling seventeenth-century Persia.
There’s a psychiatrist detective hero with Parkinson’s,
a Swedish writer who died too young,
an ex-memoirist who’s astounded his critics
with his breathless first novel.
I conjure up other people’s fictional worlds,
I tell people whether to spend their money
on eight new novels.

Outside a grey bird, wrapped in a brightly coloured bathmat,
stops breathing, wing broken.
My cat, tired from the chase and capture,
eats his supper of mincemeat.
Outside his prey lays his head in his
wing, and quietly gives up the fight.

(Published in Green Dragon 6)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Load Shedding illuminates South Africans’ lives through shared experiences

Toward the end of 2007, editors Liz McGregor and Sarah Nuttall, under the auspices of Wiser at Wits, brought out At Risk, a collection of essays which portrayed life in South Africa. I wrote then that we needed more books of this kind: essays by a variety of writers which shine a light on facets of the past and issues of the present. I’m delighted that this second volume, Load Shedding, showcases the same depth and quality of writing, again by a range of writers....Read more here