Archives for April 2, 2014


Sons and daughters they’ve raised.
Cloth of love they’ve shared for years.
Cancer attacked the foundation – took them off
to hell for a decade and a half (called off remission).
Cancer reached the wuthering heights of America.
It became a country at war with itself.
Child soldiers marching through – matchstick men every one
thinking that they were the nation’s best.
That made me feel so small and inadequate
We weren’t intimate friends but did that matter
In the end nothing did because with time
You forget and there is a kind of peace that comes with that.

Women and men

Perhaps the history of fish and chips started in London. Salty, lemony white fish fried fish (in a baptism of sorts) usually hake wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper like a cherub in a white christening gown. I can see kitchen hands wearing aprons like costume standing anticipatory like a cadet over hot oil wearing their neat black net caps like turbans with their dark black hair tucked away (one kitchen hand has done the extreme. He has blonde hair). So the customer doesn’t find a stray hair. The air feels hot inside even I have started to sweat. Mayonnaise comes in tubs. They make their own coleslaw here in this little out of the way place but it is still popular with the lunch crowd, students from the university, business people swarm inside this place. Every season is hake season. It doesn’t matter to think that one day this fish might be extinct like what we’re doing to the dolphins when we’re catching tuna in nets. Even my blood has begun to boil in this heat. I need to eat. Even writers and poets need to eat to remind themselves that first and foremost they are notorious hunters and gatherers. Hunger reminds you that you are nothing without a full stomach. I’m having the calamari because it tastes of the sea. Salty. My mother is having hake white fish fried fish. Every fish here has gone to fishy-heaven. Nothing chemical about it. There’s no imbalance in this chain. Unlike genocide and climate change in this cool food hierarchy. The fat woman who stands behind the counter has hands like Buddha and I know for a fact she has secrets like any other. Her skin is dark like bittersweet chocolate, lips like pillows. Fat women have their secrets too. They keep them close to their heart like bone-thin reed-thin women walking-talking-skeletons. Those dancing closet anorexics bungling at feeding themselves with their eyes like slits gold bangles around their wrists. Why should there be a difference? I can feel the sweat dripping down my back. Hake is a pretty fish, an anonymous fish even amoebas are pretty under the microscope too and mitochondria, symmetries, trees, birch, driftwood, waves, the birch. Mummy’s sister has been gone for a long time. She’s gone to heaven forgotten the climate of the northern areas. Sweat is dripping down my back. I’m thinking of where I could be now. California dreaming at a university?
Investigating genocide and climate change. Standing in a protest march against sexual violence against women even though politics and the thread of violence frightens me to death. I’m thinking of reading Ezra Pound’s Alba out loud to remind myself of Neruda, Rilke, and David Foster Wallace.

And so we come to the beekeeper’s daughter’s suicide.

The glory of wisdom and ego shrunk to accommodate the villagers wounding spirits. She the significant one. She is my angelic conjured up myth. She who always tells me in her poetry to rise, rise again above volcano dreamers. Liquid deep are the secrets of my heart. The stem of intimacy grows silently. Give me enough rope and surely I will hang myself. The handmaiden’s pulse is there. The muscle is there like unfinished things from childhood.
It pushes at the difficult thoughts I have.

They have a hard appearance from the outside like a seduction theory, the blue steel of the sky, the land that borders on God, perplexity, sanctuary. Like poverty and death, the angelic dream of it. I am as serious as an ill tiger, I laugh like a hyena in the face of the man on the moon. I am a coping lioness. My mother did not keep me from children who were rough.
She wanted me to experience the world (that humanity is a violent species). My mother left me there hanging on for dear life. As a child the details of my life soon became embroidered by tortuous emptiness, the innocence of autumn cast out.

Bold smile through her great depression. Wife interrupted. Mother of Frieda and Nicholas Hughes. There was always a journey of moving forward worshipping the past. Where is the sun in an argument? Where is the physical body in flight in dream-mode? She saw the skylines of New York, had a London experience, and married an Englishman, a poet. Solitude and loneliness, being an introvert should have been included in the commandments.
Her bright faith and loyalty, the love she had for her children was like music from the heart.
Her bright faith was as bright as the lights in Los Angeles. Her loyalty was a prize. The glory of her bravery was unbalanced, and her rage was that most rare thing. Sylvia Plath, daughter and poet, wife and mother, gone too soon to heaven. Melancholia and of the sky in her eyes and the other half of her gone to hell on earth.

Bird, leaf, madness, jealousy all symbols of life, of humanity and so we come to adulthood.
Now her poetry educates young people’s minds now that she is no longer flesh, bone. I think a present-day Sylvia would be reluctant to be called beautiful, lonely, misguided, depressive, and intelligent. A Sylvia who lived a madness life, who fell ill at the end of her life, is a Sylvia whose heroism lives on in her poetry, her soul’s progress, the people who relate to it destination anywhere.

And so we come to the climate in the northern areas. The actor with their deceptive perspective. The offering from the salt of the earth burnt by the sun. The angelic link between the owl and the moon and the aware moon is a beloved and ancient witness to the stars, to evil, to the human race and all their purification rituals and dreams. Dreams between mother and daughter. Son and father, adopted prize, paper fragment. The lines of all these things appear in a hopeful climate. The lines are there complete. I am still chemistry. Particles lingering and floating in the air – romantics every one. They came from all over (my observations). Observations from childhood at a glance. I am only the passionate instrument of my faith. Warrior of light it is almost heaven. Wounded as my soul is wounded isn’t every soul? There is an authentic contract drawn up between earth, the universe and humanity. Poverty will be the death of all of us. I was mum’s second choice – I had no inheritance. Men drink women in for hours on this side of town. Children no longer live in an age of innocence
Each one suspicious, rough, picking up bad habits.

After the birds flew away winter came.
This is what I can see with ‘my eyes’. I taste the bread of life. I waited all winter for the heat of summertime. There was silence in every room of the house. A fire in my heart that burned as bright as a moth’s pilgrimage towards the light. There was a common sense of the world inside my head. I walk into the sea and feel the weight of water against my spirit and my body. The sky is a wild blue. So here I am now there I was then I don’t know. How it came about the writing part of me that bit. Those goals I never thought I’d become a poet. The waves broke over my head drowning visitors every one. The silver lining makes every being a living survivor navigating from this world to the next. Even the strained mother-daughter relationship will fill the fridge with thanksgiving food. It hurts when I smile at strangers. It feels as if I am drowning in a waterfall. And now we come to unconscious love and passion.
Your first hurt, your first love, and your first everything where all affairs to remember, were voyages, and discoveries. When I was a butterfly-goddess before women had wings.

And then there is the alcoholic in recovery.

I may be cynical, getting older, more set in my ways and I may not have the tongue of an angel, or much love for my fellow man. My recovery begins with slowly peeling back the layers of pain that you experienced by anyone as a small child, those hurts that your parents caused you growing up, when you were bullied on the school field or by your siblings. Death becomes you people say and I was close to it once or twice

Mental illness makes for riveting reading, that chemical romance. When the liquor is a cold thirst quencher and golden brown, texture like a pilgrimage, a small happiness that deprives me of self-loathing on good days it feels as if I am stepping into the sea fading away on the bad days it also feels as if I am stepping into the sea fading away fading away to nothing, a hopeless cause filling in the blank spaces with a drink (If my childhood was wonderful maybe I would have turned out different).

Or if I could still see the world around me through the eyes of a child, if I could have the imagination of a child. All my life I’ve wanted laughter to fill in the details, the perfect wife, those children but I never followed that sunny road instead my path is blue and my mood too. I reach for my cigarettes. I’ve taken note of the African Renaissance and I write a little poetry. Depressing poetry. I’ve been in love before. Women can never resist a poet and a man who they think they can change.

For a long time I preferred alcoholism and being alone. Living in that half-hallucinogenic half-dream world (I could tolerate that). Not the width of a thread of the planet earth, the material world, or modern society. Flashbacks now to those warm nights. The nights of when I was a child of the wasteland of the eighties. If I had married I would have been a disappointment (some men never grow up). I was still a boy at heart even though I was a grown man.

I remember those pretty nights, those warm nights, those savage years as I slowly became a young man who ventured out into the strangeness of the night. And became acquainted with the stars, star people other men who drank like me and didn’t believe in silver linings, divorced men, men who remarried, men who were unhappy in their relationships and I thanked God I wasn’t one of them. I was but I wasn’t. The air was always alive with possibility and flashbacks of the time when people told me I had so much potential.

The idea of alcoholism gave me an identity for a while. I isolated myself from a part of humanity that considered themselves to be the middle classes. Sometimes I would drink in my house by myself and sometimes I would go out and drink. The house is so quiet, too quiet, so I drink to escape the facts of the matter, the bad habits I have introduced into my life. But in the end I wanted to save my skin, I had enough of ‘to suffer means to sacrifice’.
And the fact that addiction gives you bright conversation.

And so we come to the stories of four women. Beginning with Alice’s oyster shell. Where has everyone gone? Into the trippy harsh climate of hedonistic and decadent nostalgia. They’ve preferred it over and above life, existence, sitting in a room filled with the knife edge of silence, the sharp depth of it, reading literature from that Austrian great Rilke, people have appeared to prefer the empire of the sun to the cold, preferred sacrifice and conversation. I hate the word suffer. Sacrifice. Surreal but there’s a brightness to sensitivity, vulnerability, imagination, visionaries (was Alice a visionary) and understanding.

And so we come to Etty Hillesum’s world of wonderland. The house is so quiet (where has everyone gone?) I have found a book am reading fragments from a diary. It contains love letters, a German love story, and a story about a concentration camp. She is feeding my brain in all those vulnerable spaces with all this bedazzling information (the diary belongs to a Dutch Jew who was captured near the end of the war). She was captured near the end of the war and I wondered did she ever miss flowers when she was in that camp?

Alice was a mystery. Was Alice a visionary sitting down to tea parties in a wonderland? And following a white rabbit? Was she a girl with the soul consciousness of a Brahmin? It feels as if every day I’ve died a little. Digged a little deeper to the roots of a granadilla Southern Africa to find my sister like a keepsake my empress from my childhood. With this little heart of mine I feel I will no longer continue to shine. If I do not have her autumn love, her discontentment is my discontentment. Big, bright neon lights burning in a city filled with bold people, old people, young people, star people, couples, families, homosexuals buying art and property in a Johannesburg that has stopped calling for me. Why won’t she believe me? Instead I can be found cooking with layers. I left people behind in my past behind glass walls, brick walls. They’ve all evaporated from my sight, these lessons, and those songs. The man that I loved I have lost him forever to his wife and his children Wasted years but not a waste of my intuition, not a waste of intimacy. She tells me that she is going to London at the end of the year

And then I take a breath.

And so the second sex comes of age when a man wounds them like an animal or washes away their childhood sins, or whispers in their ear sweet nothings and tells them that they have lovely bones. We’re not normal unless loved. Until we’re tangled in the obsession of it.
Will you catch me if I fall? And so we come to the ballad of the near-wasted generation.

As I progress towards you, towards possession. Lost in Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, wuthering heights, America, English literature, Rilke’s letters to a young poet. I draw lines through the clouds in the air picturing every silver lining that passes me by. Through God’s flute comes a prayer like a jewel in the dust, the unbearable bittersweet lightness of youth, and being young at heart and torn. I’m dreaming all at the same time. There’s a river that runs through it, a legend of a river, epic like the feeling that you have when you’re in love with a film star. There’s always an open road ahead, a mirror to my soul.

South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa do you remember the forced removals, apartheid, and swimming? Swimming in a river, when there was a department for Colored Affairs? There was no white bread toasted for your breakfast, no jam,
No boiled egg, red cappuccino, daddy and mummy reading the morning newspaper
You garden boy, you kitchen girl were treated like lepers, worse than dogs
You were raped, cheated and bullied, butchered and murdered, and suburbs were pillaged and turned into slums overnight and a sharp light drifted into focus. Some days would have a brave sweetness about it and other days the near-wasted generation would venture out to kill or be killed. Slow men, slower women, and mute children.

Africa, Africa, Africa, and Africa once again I am devoted to you. What does love feel like for you? The link to the international outside world. I want to be saturated by you. I’ve seen glimpses of your trauma. Your suffering, the genocide, civil war, unrest, refugees, camps, the slave trade. I’ve seen glimpses of the color of your children’s skin. Albino, white, colored, black, mixed race, and everyone is as precious as porcelain. Under our sky even the soft and hard Lolita, the promiscuous, the prostitute, young men with that arrogant filter from their heads to their mouths, our gathering of musicians and poets are like the circle of the golden sun. I don’t care for the ego, for these things anymore – the paraphernalia of violence
And for the discontent for so many is a permanent assignment for them.

As I progress towards you, towards possession with an almost criminal intent, carrion and Kevin Carter on my mind. Moses Molelekwa, Dulcie September, George Botha, Brutus and Biko, including Lumumba this is my story, suffering in silence is not unique. Making it is, making it through to the other side perhaps this is why communities are afraid of speaking about it – soloists everyone. Some say there is such a violent intent on this planet to destroy, to sabotage but there are still ways of finding peace, of finding yourself amidst sanctuary.
Inviting people to your sanctuary is out of the question. Everyone must journey and find their feet on their own pilgrimage. I am still revisiting the past, still rewriting history and I guess I always will.

And so we come to a thin place.

Windows of perception are the system of mysteries. In all parts of the world there are hot spots, stained with blood. Parts of Africa too and there’s a sacredness of values kept holy, kept away from the ego, something quite concrete. And the human spirit is like a flowing river, a thin river that flows gently, wherein life is a gradual process from living to dying, no education for barbarism there. The chicken is my father who can never stand up to my mother. Romeo why didn’t you love me instead of a suicidal ghost nation filled with girls made out of the thin places in air. I breathed in the air of London. Walked in my father’s footsteps at the palace in Versailles. His odyssey slowly became mine. I look at the stars balancing act. We are blue. We are pure. We are part and parcel of the past. We are the alchemic web that lies beneath. When we are naked we are at our most vulnerable. To get to the green sea we trust our gut instinct. We walk on the burning sand to get there. We are what we are. We are biological father and daughter. We both have measured the turning points in our lives. We have loved. We both have realized the loss of youth. We are made up of salt and light. We are both silent when we think about Richard Rive. Particles add up. It’s a fact of life. It’s human nature. An achievement called progress.

And a dialogue by a lake, between visitors, winter guests.

Why are you crying? Someone asked. And a voice in the darkness answered. Because of the parachutes and bombs. They come like a thief in the night. But a German love story is forever. What is written on a child’s body is different to what is written on an adult’s? In those days nobody knew what female depression was? All people had were their dreams and the dreams they had for their children and during the war the German children still saw rainbows when it rained cats and dogs. Death would come – and the living still suffered on in silence. Writers would write and rewrite history. Daughters became wives and mothers even during the war for they thought it would pass quickly like another season. In this silent world there’s only soup and children who play in the lonely streets. There’s a buoyancy to angelic creation. Men died and some became legends. Characters and gardens were altered by war
So was the industrial west, and bones. Evil touched lips and clothed Auschwitz. Maps, tongues, trains, creative thinkers, every Jew was taken while green leaves turned brown

And pale rain poured down from heaven. Souls too and there was no more cake, bread and pudding for the young only sunlight and water. Snow came and grew cold in the young’s hands and women who lost their men to a bloody war did not know God’s peace for some time in their lives.


I have often spoken about death.

Sometimes it comes like a loud shout, a big bang deliberately but sometimes it is strangely quiet as if there is a royalty to its element. And then there is the earth that we fold the body physically into, throw dust on it and pay our respects or the ash that we hold in our hands. And then afterwards when the family gathers to eat, to sup together, to break bread there are a lot of things I assume they surrender, that they let go of or don’t. Head under water is the only place I can let go of all of these things. There is no echo, nothing to distract me, evaporate me like smoke and it’s the only place where I know of the top. It is not rain pouring down, wires growing from my head, nightmares that come to me in the middle of the night that worries me so, illness.

Its skin was red, orange and green, tasted like butter. A mango is delicious from the first time you taste it, I tasted my first proper mango in Swaziland (all that summery goodness came with its warmth, that sweetness on my breath, juice on my clothes, sticky fingers but shadows must meet somewhere and all I wanted to see was London). I remember the mangoes you kept for me until I came home from school (you would put it in the fridge until it was cool, the orange strings of flesh) or we would have avocado on toast, or French toast with fresh coriander leaves fried in creamy butter or hotdogs and chips as only you could make them where Swaziland was my home for a year. You died before your time, my second mother. Your hands pale, hair dark and as you became more ill with the more weight you lost but you were still beautiful to me. Leaves shake and rot in autumn, spin around, around and around. You were my star amongst all souls. I miss epic you every day. There’s a loss that comes with breathing. But the stranger in the ghost house has no voice. He does not speak of self-help, a shelf-life. A double life, red dust, dead parakeets, sweat running down his wife’s back, the madness and despair of Liberace. Something is unanchored yet still beautifully functions, is productive. It is called family and the awareness of coming home, a flag was planted here in the South’s wilderness where a genocide took place, there’s whisky in a glass, an afternoon cocktail. Books that are a sanctuary. An Eric Clapton record is playing. The red dust of this county does not speak of self-help. There is a suicide. A death in a river. And the police come. This is August: Osage County.

The police come in the middle of the night. Like the detectives in plainclothes that came to my house in the middle of the night when my brother took a knife and stabbed my father. Nothing romantic about it. About the onslaught of death, of it catching up to you like a thief in the night, a cat burglar, a cat drowning in a bag with her kittens, that is how I felt as if I was a drowning visitor. I saw guns that night I led a double life. I pretended I did not see or hear anything and inside I was numb. When I saw my father’s blood. It had an oppressive quality to it like everything in my life so far. The drugs refused to work. So I took more and more of them slept all day and all night.

The double life of the romantic jasmine. It lives and it dies and it lives and it dies. I can talk and talk and talk and no one will be listening to my conversations, eavesdropping on them. Down the winter road I came across men who stare at goats. Men who were good dancers or American soldiers who took German lovers during the war. Men who were good actors, some were heavy drinkers in my mind, and philanthropists. The knife was sharp. It struck air again and again and again. And then is was anchored in skin. I didn’t scream. I was a Scout’s knot.
Ran in my sandals to the neighbour’s house as fast as my feet could carry me. Outside the air felt cool as rain. How I wished it had rained? But there was no rain that night and they called the police.

There’s no romance in death. Hair and flesh coming loose. And still daddy was left standing, unafraid. My brother was prancing around all of us, smirking, smiling with cunning deceit, high he was having his cake and eating it too. Pinned daddy to the bed with his arms like shark teeth. My mother had ran away in the dark. I was left with notes of grief, a stem and a route to follow. A flowering bleeding heart making waves, beating fast. It was Christmas. But there were no presents only a winter road to follow.

To hell with it if I do not ever fall in love. It is a case of much ado about nothing. I have lost my mind and recuperated in hospitals. Once again become anchored to reality in recovery. I do not have a brother and I do not have a sister. I do not have a mother and I do not have a father. They live their own lives, so they amuse themselves, selfish people everyone. While I am kept sheltered in Pandora’s Box. It is a box filled with romantic villagers of my own making. What a comfort they are to me. I am an orphan on Okri’s famished road. I am Nabokov’s and Kubrick’s Lolita. And soon I will be forgotten like breath. The moveable a feast of sex, romance and death. Damaged, damaged, damaged but I must not speak of it.
It will be the death of me and I must live without the disease, the stain of trauma a while longer, sit on my throne, collect bones like arrows that fall from the sky. Curiosity has killed me. Men have killed me extraordinarily. But I have nine extraordinary lives and am left smiling like the Cheshire cat.

This is the brother who I am supposed to love. I do not admire him anymore. I feel nothing for him when I remember that night from hell. House of huger. House of hell, of madness and despair. If he had a gun we all would be dead. I cut up the onion, seduced by its layers. And I cry for what has been lost, gems every one. There are diamonds in my eyes and I blink them back. My youth, my youth, my youth and there is no ring. No ring on my finger, all those chronic wasted years. Now he is Lucifer manning the gate to the wards of hell. My beautiful, darling boy what has become of you?

The secrets that we keep are committed to memory. They’re lessons in the needs of people around us, a lesson in obedience, sometimes even wisdom. And it takes bold work for us to realize that the future is bright when sometimes we are challenged, when we have to mine glory. And make a ceremony out of it. There are profound ingredients that goes into making a spaghetti bolognaise. Family is of course the first priority. Next the butcher, mint from the garden and limes for the cocktails. Footsteps on the stairs and laughter scribbling in the air.
Perhaps avocadoes were the first fruits (food for thought) in the Garden of Eden even before Eve was made from Adam’s rib via the maturation of a human soul and a vortex in flux.
Sun and moon. They are miracle angelic beginners every one each day. Daughters nicknamed so for jasmine and yesterday, today and tomorrow. And then as if woken up from a dream the day begins.

Head under water. Silently pushing off from the wall of the swimming pool doing lap after lap. Here is where I find my sanctuary, my second home and solace from the world outside. I am not like the other girls. They’re all younger, thinner, and confident even though they’re still flat-chested, and flirtatious from where I am standing. Head under water again. I’m praying it won’t be the house from hell again tonight. I’m watching films, reading books, wiping my father’s bum (there are no secrets between us). We talk about our past lives, our nine lives, love and the measure of it, how the devil made work for idle hands during apartheid, during the Group Areas Act, the Nazi war lords, Hotel Rwanda. We talk about the women in his life, past and present, the first woman he ever loved and lost and the measure of it. I become distracted. He becomes distracted and I get up to make cups of creamy coffee, lukewarm coffee. We discuss Valkenburg (the mental institution in Cape Town where he resided for a few months), the first social worker he ever met. This is all for the book I am writing. Walking in his footsteps. Night after night I make a casserole and the two of us sit down to eat at the kitchen table. He walks, he shuffles, he walks, and he shuffles. Sometimes he sits outside with Misty, the dog in the sun. He is forgetful, he stammers, he has a short attention span but then again I guess memory loss comes with age. Last night he wet the bed. There are people who would make a mockery of this situation but when you’re knee deep in it with someone that you love, intimacy is nothing, acknowledging that he is becoming older is everything. I’ve become an old woman overnight. Suddenly I have grey hair, the wisdom of a lake, a slight tremor in my hands, I suffer from anxiety, and I can’t sleep at night. He calls for me in the middle of the night. He needs me and so this teaches me that I am not cruel. I am a woman now. Something has replaced the darkness in my life. I have discovered the stem of meditation. Its face, its route, my life’s journey in this crowded house and tears. My mother does the laundry. Not such a terrible woman after all. If only all women could be like her. Tough. Made of holy guts, an insatiable instinct, almost a clairvoyant instinct. She lives like a nun and eats like one these days. She eats like a bird making soup, after soup after soup that only the three of us eat. As an adult I have fallen in love with the terrific goodness of barley and the healthy protein of lentils. Split peas reminds me of eating a home cooked meal in the afternoon’s at my grandmother’s house in the afternoons. My paternal grandmother’s hands were beautiful. Wizened because she suffered from arthritis, dark brown and warm with the texture of the sun and freckled. She was my moon, my moonlight. A bowl of warm soup with home baked bread that tasted more nourishing and filling than the shop bought expensive kind. My mother promises us all a long life if we drink concoctions of herbs. Dried rosemary, tinctures, tonics, homemade green smoothies with parsley, spinach from our vegetable patch and coconut milk. Head under water I reflect, I meditate, I breathe easy. I swim with the fishes, schools of them in this swimming pool. It lights a candle in my heart when I swallow water. My brother makes stews with his home-grown carrots and corn. All I can make is spaghetti. Frieda’s spaghetti. It is so cold now. The world feels so cold. It feels as if Iraq has descended into my thoughts again. Sarajevo. Rwanda and the African Congo. I am a young woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But I must be strong to carry on, remain brave, act bold. Sometimes I can hear Tchaikovsky. My father has taken to his bed. He has depression. The William Styron kind. I wonder if John Updike ever suffered from depression. I know Hemingway certainly did. What about J.M. Coetzee, Radclyffe Hall, Vladimir Nabokov, Kubrick? And the filmmakers, writers and the poets who were heavy drinkers? But I leave that in God’s hands for his commentary, all those signals. I’m old before my time. I’m an old soul. My babies are my books. Infertility is a complication. I am a complication. Complicated, an empty vessel, envious of beauty like any woman, of youth, of the girl, of children in childhood and sometimes I feel dead inside (not numb or cold) but as if I have a dead mind. As if I am lame, pathetic, stupid and have one blue eye as blue as the sky on a wild Saturday and the other is green. As green as a mocking sea, mocking school of fishes carrying on, surfing along, swimming by on their own survival journey with their world occurring in an awful dead blue silence. With the fingers of the sky so far away from them.