Persephone and Zeus

Question? You ask me if I love you or just admire the hell out of you. I have this to say in return.

I like you. Your eyes house collections of self-portraits of every kind of material possession imaginable. Almosts. All I have are gorgeous almosts. Forgive me; I am afraid I may have already drunk the poison that was meant for the rats. It was an accident. The waves of a good man like Zeus will always come with a map. Some kind of atlas. A succession of cloud people will learn to tolerate you because the man who has fallen for you not only has an intellect but has empires too. There is something written in him.

Your hair was as thick as syrup. Your hair is a swarm of bees that awaits the fortunate villagers. Your hair was a specific colour. Dark and sometime I would see our children in your hair. As if, your hair was something otherworldly, ethereal and magical. You are my heart’s assignment. The object of my affection. Sometimes when I dream I see that the fishermen have caught malignant fish in their nets. You saw the girl inside me. Destroyed her in the end. I already know the ending to this story. I feel as if I have wasted something.

All along, I knew you would break my heart, even though I called you beloved. I can see you in the dark with your pig’s heart. I asked you quite timidly. Are you done with me now? You said, I am quite done with you now. I have no further use for you. Do not love me if the only thing you are going to do is break my heart? Do not love me if all you are going to do is the proof a hypothesis. The stars unite with the night. The details were left up to you. Completely up to you. You were the one who had to include me in your life.

All I want to remember is pleasure and the pleasure that you give me but it is never quite enough. I long to be loved and admired by both men and women. I tell myself that this is no big deal. It is what everyone wants but I know at the heart of it all it is not so. Heterosexual women want to be desired by heterosexual men and not by other women. I never wanted to be anointed or a prophet. Do not go on so. As if, it is a big deal or something. I change. With each autumn’s birthday that approaches, I change. It is comforting to believe we are just bodies.

With every fall, with every friendship, with every city or country that I move to, with every Kafkaesque movement inside my head, you, my blonde gravedigger one day I am afraid I will have to give you up to your children. I know the gist of your knowledge. I know the translations of your language and I want to be lost in neither. I slip into your skin. Afternoon delight. I slip into your skin. I become a woman. When I finally give up your butch flesh, sweat, tears, blood, bone, straw I become a girl again.

It is wonderful to be a girl and to see the world through the eyes of a girl even though you are a woman. There are the details of us in the grass. The outline of our bodies. Yours crashing and crashing like waves into mine repeatedly until we are one. Solidity. Anchor. I think of words like that when you are with me. You deliver your messages with such confidence that I just have to kiss your sweet face. I know that one day I will return to this ground. I will walk here but you will have passed on to the hereafter never to be seen from a distance again or heard from again.

I saw you. Love at first sight. I buried themes in the ground hoping that you would find them and when you did that, first you would find my eyes and put them to good use. Wear them as if you would wear rose coloured glasses and see the world through my perspective. I am elated that at my age I have discovered love. The love of mountains and of dogs. I will never forget that day that you made for a bed for me out of a field. I can hear you breathing and it is the most beautiful sound in the world to me. This journey has been strange.

I want to waste nothing of the sweetness of it. All I can remember of your passing through my life to the other side is your mouth and from here on out that is all I have been searching for. Duplicates of it. There was something so comforting lying down next to you, putting my arm around your waist, and feeling you breathe in and breathe out. It reminded me of childhood except we were not children. We were grown women. I was older. You were younger but at the end of the day, it did not matter. We were women in love.

Nothing could camouflage that. The shadow of pain lasts and lasts and lasts. For a while, whenever you lingered and I languished in your arms it was forgotten but only briefly. Let us build a home in the desert and we could make love all afternoon there if we wanted, you said. Your breath smelled like cake. What did my breath smell like? I was a late bloomer. You showed me photographs of you and your family. In one, you are posing with all of your friends in swimming costumes. You were the bravest one out of them all. You were wearing a bikini.

You hardly had any breasts late bloomer but you looked at the camera zooming in on you with a swagger and an honest confidence. I was finished.

Bough Down (a poem in experimental haiku)

Aloes from Bethelsdorp –
The green world’s-majority is not my home.
Only Goethe’s throne.

Mum’s June wedding lace.
Dad’s glove was lost at the church.
His Mrs. Dalloway.

There were her roses.
Granadilla hands in earth.
Ice lungs frozen. Night.

Dolls in childhood – dead
Things. Once attached to slippers.
Church. Girlhood friendships.

Origins of wives –
Daughters, girls. A dramatic gulf.
Ruined geraniums. Roasts.

The Rural Countryside

The rural countryside
Has its own welcoming committee.
It has its own encyclopedia.
It has its own dictionary.
Every year I throw a parade
In my honor. Why not?
Why is family always hurting family?
Describing matters in the system.

Do they not have anything better to do?
Like make love, instead of war.
Stories about family life
Will mature you in old fashioned ways.
Sickness depends on culture.
Maturity depends on your mother.
Great poems are meant for the dark.
For night swimmers. For viewpoints.

The rape of the lock is found there.
At the end of the world.
The halo of the laughing carcass.
Ghost stories and erosion.
Birthday girls and photographs.
The dodo bird and the rhino’s horn.
Excuse my blood, my church hat.
While I visit the museum.

Fragments of summer
Ravenous village of stone –
Sadness is wasted in youth
A wilderness history of it
We are on a path walking
To meet each other on a road –
A road filled with studies
I have a wounded body

So we meet in a rural forest
Or on that sunny road –
You have a wounded body
I was scared of that vision
In all of its sacred glory
We are lovers of the Arctic Circle
If it still exists. We were family
Once. Daughters and sons.
Before we were poetry.

For Mum

Pale feminist you.
Bliss in a vintage dress.
Under a potbellied sky.
With your rouge pots.
Your lipsticks that taste like cream.
Your comaed flowers.
They plant their halos.
You dig them up.
You plant them somewhere else.
Somewhere where there is sun.

She knows the world.
She knows it in the Biblical way.
English is not her first language.
She has two daughters.
Her son is the baby of the family.
The avocado tree is flowering.
It is being brought to life.
Resurrected somehow.
The pomegranate does not.
Something is in the way.

Nature’s bride.
With climate change comes an elegant mess.
Mum is nature’s bride.
Her hair is a halo. Tungsten.
I worship this angel.
All her trilogies. Her choir.
With her sibling rivalry.
She carried me in her womb for months.
She was there when I realised my dream.
My dream of becoming a writer.

She raised me lopsidedly.
I have forgiven her for that.
With a little bitter, a little sweet.
I admire people who live in the wilderness.
There is squalor out there. Cacti.
I worship the hills in her eyes.
The valley that covers her physically.
She experienced loss early in her life.
We never talk about it.
Our family is like that.

Ruined Geraniums

Chasing wild sheep and ambulances
An insomniac’s trick
I have discovered an empire
The empire of the introspective
I am a superwoman and actor
Dramatic and always being
Brought to life by it
Provocative and enchanting
Exotic and intimidating
How to stay calm under pressure
A wolfish din far away in my head.

On Illness in Southern Africa (a poem in experimental haiku)

Cracks. Healthy fiction –
Pomegranates. Troubled life.
Bleeding fruit. Cement.

Diary of Salt Lake –
Passage into Bethelsdorp.
Myths of beloveds.

Roses. Stars. They hover –
Suffering has a numbed womb.
Cross the seas threshold.

Honed crystalline grief –
Life in the Northern Areas
Quotes luminous cores.

Houses should have dogs –
Walk, dig holes or cha-cha with them.
You’ll relive childhood.


My Virginia Woolf in disguise –
My veil, my apprentice, shaman, owl wise.

I see Jean Rhys’s ghost in-intervals.
Joyce Carol Oates’s hands, and rouge.

Rapture. Oh, rapture.
There was Plath’s lipstick.

The milk, the buttered bread, Ariel.
Gas. Gas. Gas and stamps.

Updike’s father’s tears.
A child’s eyes can see the worm.

Daddy’s painted drum.
Let the dishes rot-into-nothing.

Hemingway’s earth does not waste-anything-in-the-end.
The cornfields of Illinois are pretty

Where David Foster Wallace
Grew up. His childhood

Was made up of bonfire anecdotes
Shark teeth and infinite jest

He was the pale king sitting on an earth-throne
The so-called psychotic bewitched by libraries

By the halls of Amherst the Midwest where of-all-things
Genocide took place. Murder and speeches

His dream songs. They came from space
He gripped his pen. Left behind an alphabet of supernova writing

There were monsters hiding in the closet
Monsters under the bed. The room is smaller

Than he remembers when he returns home
From Amherst water and lobsters pouring out of him

As he evaporates. America offers shelter for some
Meat and potatoes kind of women and men

Worms, holes, the dark, maniacs
Hooks already programming him.

For Sylvia Plath

Addiction to neon –
Sumptuous marriage. Playful.
Montage of ill health.

Now what does that all mean.
Let us take the word ‘neon’.
It can mean stripes of light.
Hallucinogenic Technicolor.

‘Sumptuous’. Does that mean
That we are sitting down to a feast.
Us gulls to fill our bellies?
Fatten them up with tiny golden

Arrows of haiku’d up words
And sumptuousness. And now
We come to marriage and playful.
Let us go skinny-dipping in them.

Let us not let ill health
Keep us back. Our bones are
Ancient. Everything lovely
About it. Out there are our

Doppelgangers reminding us
Nothing is by accident. They
Tell us to sit down at our desk
Writer, poet and to make a living

Out of it. In time we will
All fade away like squiggles
Of moonlight and my brother’s
Laughter is explicit. It fans

Itself into waves –
I have been here before. A-fri-ca!
I still burn for him.

Yearn for him like a plague
Yearns for famine. Those lean years.
He feels nothing for me.
I am a useless zero. An empty cup.

So I have haiku’d life away.
Worn this chip on my shoulder
I am a distillate. Mere fog.
Now I play at writing maps.

Diary of Fitting a Museum inside a Suitcase (twelve experimental haiku)

Blood knot. Tap root –
Passage into Helenvale.
Primitive Buddha.

Buddha of Salt Lake –
Ice lungs. Glaciers taste like salt.
Pirates find glory.

He gutted the fish –
Trimmed the gills neatly.
Hollywood squalor.

A scrape. Slow dance. Church –
The Buddha has seen skylines.
A sheet of music.

Hens in the backyard –
Past. Slick glaciers. Wren. Music.
Fig jam. Biscuits. Faux.

Spring and winter boots –
The butcher’s wife. Cake. Bread.
Author’s words lost moons.

Cairo. Ghost stories –
Kitchen table wisdom. Lamb.
Sprigs of rosemary.

Missing war. Alice –
We are made up of dead stars.
Drink up your school milk.

Red. The Christmas card –
Boughs. A series of mania.
Library of wounds.

Minor earth. Silence –
Typewriter and wedding cake.
Secret handshake. Glut.

Cold vertigo. Feast –
Faces solemn in the crowd.
Asphalt Winter Sea.

Grotesque Oracles –
Of nature’s bride. Alleyways.
Cardigans. Wormwood.


In this story there are two sisters.
One is a case study being held under observation.
Her day starts with pharmaceuticals, on pins and needles.
Good morning. Tell me. Confess this.
You said last week you would make the effort.
Set the wheel in motion. Release all the silver
Linings of the clouds of your surface tension.
Tell me the words you would like to hear.
Make yourself happy. It’s a sin not to try.
Blue is the sky. Blue is the swimming pool.
Blue are the building blocks, paint, and the box of rye
Toasted crackers, the earthenware, the plates,
And my high school swimming costume
With the white stripes that I changed into in
The school bathroom. Lap after lap. I felt lucky.
I use blue crayons to draw vowels and consonants.
I’m chained to them. Built a home for them

Mapped out inside my mind’s eye’s atlas.
I want the beauty, the purity, the suicidal illness
Of innocence, the pleasure of English literature
And the wuthering heights of it. I fell for you
Because there was something about a paradise
About you. Something exotic like an avocado
In a suitcase in Sylvia Plath’s iconic bell jar, like
An American who puts on a fur coat before
She turns the key in the ignition and fills her lungs
And head with carbon monoxide. I am a Romantic.
The war poets dead and buried. They never
Completely recovered from the war. Slaves every one.
In the end aren’t we all slaves, take the housewife
For example, the poet or the Romantics?
The other sister is bored with life. She has so much
Money she doesn’t know what to do with it.
So she gets a visa and goes to America, Thailand, and India.
She never has to phone collect from overseas.

When I look up at the night sky I know
There are stars, the moon, the Milky Way.
Perhaps Milton is looking down at me a father-figure.
Inspiring me like Rainer Maria Rilke or Goethe.
As they stretched their arms outwards
Toward imagination so do I. Imagination
And the ‘voice’ can be complicated, complex,
And psychological, and I’ve learned so can I.