Wednesday, 4 December 2013


Beach calligraphy and photo by Andrew van der Merwe
i take this pen
swallow the ink
drag the blade of word alongside my neck
and think how can i commit sentencide
without letting the blood flow

so it is with the fate of us writers
we are left to our own de-vices
to turn the blade
to swallow the poison
and hope that we can write
it down
just in time
so that
- literally -
of us writers
will remain behind
- - -

ek neem hierdie pen
sluk die ink
sleep die lem van woord langs my nek verby
en dink hoe kan ek self-woord pleeg
sonder om die bloed te laat vloei

so is dit met die lot van ons skrywers
ons is aan ons eie sinne oorgelaat
om die lem te draai
die gif te sluk
en hoop dat ons
die na-woordse nota
kan bewoord
- letterlik -
van ons skrywers
sal oorbly

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Cross Roads IV

"This guava-pie is the best I have ever eaten!" exclaims the Wretch.
The days have been warm this winter and the guavas have ripened
into sweet and heavy specimens. "I woke up with fruit-flies in my pipes
this morning" the Carillon excitedly reports "They are good company seeing that I have been rather lonely these past few months."
The Cave-Dweller smacking his lips on the guava's juices splutters "It has been too long since I have tasted fruits of such richness."
The Loner, clearly envious of the fruity breakfast he is not invited to
partake of, mumbles "How quickly sweetness goes to people's heads."
The Wretch wipes his mouth with one grandiloquent gesture and enunciates "These fruits taste so much more balmy in my mouth than this damn vinegar-tongue I have been cursed with!" All of a sudden the Carillon chimes a jovial melody from her boisterous bowels. "These blessed fruit-flies are tickling me in the most curious ways Hahaha!" The Cross Roads surfacing from a deep slumber confusedly remarks "Where are these sounds coming from? This is too jolly for my ears right now." The Wretch, still overjoyed from the guavas, insensitively shushes the Cross Roads "Come now, a bit of a janglin' tune is what we all need here on this desolate plain." The Anarchist, with arms swinging irately at his sides, storms up towards the Wretch "How dare you give such opinionated advice? Sweet fruits and tunes will not save the world from your wretchedness!"
For an elongated moment everyone looks with stunned eyes at each other.
Even the Anarchist could not hide the shock his own words caused him.
In the act of the Prehistoric Postal Agent opening his mouth in readiness to utter an appropriate or inappropriate reply, he is instantaneously silenced by a great clashing sound. "I am falling apart," the Carillon laments. The Prehistoric Postal Agent leaps to the Carillon with a concerned speed heretofore unseen by anyone.
After inspecting the innards of the Carillon the Prehistoric Postal Agent proudly broadcasts:
"I have good news and I have bad news."
Everyone pleaded to hear the bad news first.
"The bad news is that our most devoted and dutiful Singer of the Skies has lost one bell."
Everyone gave one loud sob and pleaded in great consternation to hear the good news.
With a mischievous smile the Prehistoric Postal Agent continues "And the good news is that it was the out-of-tune bell."

* * *

Although it is not necessary to read the Cross Roads poems in sequence I guess (and hope) it is rather interesting to follow the escapades of the characters as they appeared in the previous Cross Roads. Here the links to the first three Cross Roads poems >

Friday, 29 November 2013

Thursday, 21 November 2013

New Earth

that is where I want to be
there where continents of sounds
flow from our fingers
and our throats
and we give birth
to a whole
new earth

Nuwe Aarde

dit is daar waar ek wil wees
daar waar kontinente van klank
uit ons vingers
en ons kele vloei
en ons aan 'n hele
nuwe aarde
geboorte gee

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Cross Roads III

With tears in his eyes the Cave-Dweller looks at the Cross Roads and bemoans his woeful state "I was hoping to set off on a journey to the Greener Lands, yet here I am forever stuck at the Crossing of the Roads. What will become..." The Anarchist chips in "Plant Green Seeds under your feet and it will rise up into Green Shoots and you'll have your Green Lands."
The Cave-Dweller answers "If I were to cultivate my own Green Lands I don't want you hanging around serving up unwelcome advice!"
In the far distance the Carillon chimes gently in 
the northernly wind "I wonder whether I will be welcome in these Green Lands? Nowadays, everyone seems to want Green Lands for themselves, fence it off and live on their ownsome selves. Lonesome ownsome Green lands..." the Carillon sings. 
The Wretch comes stumbling out of his hole, his vinegar-lips properly chapped and blistered, he enunciates slowly and deliberately "Why all these moanings?  I thought I was the one to carry the world's sorrows on my back."
The Cave-Dweller, not believing that he is still stuck at the Cross Roads with all these interjectionists contributing to his overly overwhelmed state of mind, utters in great dismay "I am leaving this very instant, I can not stomach these interminable pronouncements!"
Out of the thick shadows the Loner comes crawling and breathlessly gives voice to his rusty syllables "Mister Cave-Dweller, you can not run away, you belong in your Cave. The Green will get too Green for you and you will become insatiably unsatisfied."
At this moment the legs of the Prehistoric Postal Agent could be seen sprinting over the plains.
The Wretch vocalizes what was on everyone's mind "Argh, not him again!"
The Carillon chimes out one cacophonic chord to announce the arrival of the Prehistoric Postal Agent.
"What a dismal looking company thou art. I have come from yonder to deliver some invigorating news."
The Cave-Dweller rolls his eyes and exclaims "Make haste with your news, my Green Lands are waiting impatiently for my arrival!"
"That's the very thing I have come to report on" the Prehistoric Postal Agent glibly states.
"At the International Green Lands Convention it has been agreed that the Green of the Lands needs to be replaced with something new - inhabitants are getting disinterested and fatigued by this monotonous colour. It has been voted that Mauve is to be the new colour gracing our landscapes."
The Cave-Dweller couldn't help thinking aloud "Huh - I'm moving to Mauver Pastures - that doesn't sound pleasant to my ear."

The links to the previous two Cross Roads poems >

Thursday, 14 November 2013

grond en vertering

en in die dae van die voete wat klou
aan die teerdruppels
tussen krake van vel
voel ek hoe my bene
al hoe korter word
in die smelt van die lyf
totdat ek verval in
die redding van grond
en vertering

Thursday, 7 November 2013


Ek her-besoek dikwels my ouer gedigte en vind dit interessant hoe dit my maak voel. Dikwels kry ek skaam vir die naiwiteit en ongekunsteldheid van hierdie vroee''r werke. Tog is daar 'n paar wat my nogsteeds diep laat glimlag, soos hierdie een, so agt jaar terug geskryf:


Kyk of jy die volgende kan beraam:
tel al die vokale saam
vermenigvuldig dit met die som totaal van die konsonante
(jy mag nota’s maak op die kante)

Tel die lettergrepe saam, bereken dan die vierkantkwadraat
(Jy moet mooi beraam en geen stap uitlaat)
Maal bg. met die totaal eksplosiewe van elke woord
Dis ‘n som van ‘n ander soort

Bereken die proporsionele verhouding tussen werkwoord en punt
Jy sal gou die sin en rede vind
Deel dit met die wortel van elke dubbelsinnigheid
Woord en getal lê nou oral verspreid

Maal die omtrek van die metafoor
Met die diepte van die sin
Moenie jou som tot-taal verloor
Anders moet jy van voor begin

Bereken die spoed van die rym
Jagend deur elke lyn
En plus dit by die radius van my oë
‘n Moerse getal, kan jy glo!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Do not eat and read: It is dangerous to your health

canned, bottled,
sealed, salted,
pickled, marinated,


boiled, cooked,
roasted, refined,
diluted, reconstituted,
fortified, modified,


sprayed, sterilized,
iodated, irradiated,
sweetened, powdered,
skimmed, dehydrated,


pasteurized, coloured,
anti-foamed, clouded,
purified, buffered,
inverted, thickened,


flavoured, filtered,
emulsified, artificialized,
baked, popped,
fried, liquified,



deboned, dehusked,
peeled, pitted,
shelled, chopped,
sliced, diced,


shriveled up


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

die brons flaminke wil dans

die brons flaminke
wil dans

die sement hadedas
wil huil

die pêrel eende
wil vry

die baksteen-voorkop
wil sanik

die marmer dye
wil tril

die plastiek tonge
moet smelt

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

sy het die amasone in haar lyf

haar are pomp met die slingerende sissings van boomslange
haar vel tril met die dartelende vinne van piranhas
haar keel rinkhals met die stuwing van 'n ryp penis

al wat sy nou nog soek is die woud-koors
wat haar sal laat tol in swetsende spasmas
haar mond sal laat skuim met wier en mos
en haar lyf sal oopbreek sodat
haar skelet val soos dolosse
wat die lot van hierdie wilde wese sal spel

Friday, 25 October 2013

the breathing is informing the writing

(i literally wrote each verse line between my breaths, taking conscious note of breath, thought and the writing hand)

i write according to my breath
a deep in
and a deep out
get a rhythm in the inflow
and get a release in the outflow
in this one sentence i see the blue skies of my soul
and in this outbreath i see the rushed footsteps
of wanting-to-let-go
one sentence and the next
aaah aaah
with the in comes the expectation,
the hope, the balance of air
on the tightrope of thought
aaah aaah
let me breathe, please let me breathe
like swimming underwater
i hold my breath throughout the verse-line
aaah aaah
come on, don't breathe mid-sentence
aaah aaah
more than tightroping,
this is hanging on for dear life
aaah aaah
i can only write so fast
and think so fast before my breath runs out...
aaah aaah
measure           pace   each   phrase     with      flowing        elegance
aaah aaah
this is not emptying-the-mind-exercising
aaah aaah
this is tuning and toning the brainflow of poetry
aaah aaah
what could i have done without the
aaah aaah
without the
aaah aaah
there'd be no life
no outflow
aaah aaah
clinging onto the pen
while the breath lasts
my mind begins to empty
with this breath
am i getting lazy, sleepy
to create the next thinking, poetic breath?
aaah aaah
interesting to watch how the breathing
is informing the writing
aaah aaah
this is literal conscious breathing
so fully conscious of the in-breath
that it makes sentences come
floating in on my dizziness
aaah aaah
be kind to your breathing
be kind to your organs of breath
don't force the breath
let it hang
suspend itself on the top of your metaphor
aaah aaaaaaaaaaaaaah
that was a long breath
beautiful circle of the in and out
in and out merges
and this poem

Thursday, 24 October 2013

wat my oë aanskou

die berge trap diep spore in my hart
die pieke
die valleie
die dale
die mis vasgevang
in die klowe
die lowerrykheid van groen
die grashange
die fynbosbulte
die ouhout-klompe
die glans van die golwende grashalms
fluister vervloë verhale
die kontoere smelt soos
trane in my oë
mag ek vir 'n oomblik
'n stukkie wolk wees wat
die berg-flank lek

- - -

die mis gaan lê soos
'n diep, lang sug in die kloof

- - -

die woude brei groenwollig
hulle dik, ryp steke teen die hange

- - -

laat my weggaan op
'n tog ver buite my kop
verby die horison wat
my oë kan sien
kan ek my skedel soos
'n granaat oopvou
en die sade van my denke
laat val waar hulle wil val

- - -
ek kyk na die muur
los elke steen op in my oë
al wat oorbly is 'n
korrel sand in die hoek van my oog

Thursday, 17 October 2013


ek het lank laas geskryf. ek was siek. ek was aan't hoes vir 4 weke en my kop duiselig en gedisoriënteer! lewe het aangegaan, tog my wakkerheid en teenwoordigheid van denke was nie hele-mal so lekker nie. net gister begin ek weer soos myself te voel. ek sit toe die eerste woorde wat in my kop kom op papier neer en maak die volgende gedig daarvan. In die tweede gedig wat daarop volg gebruik ek weer dieselfde woorde maar skep 'n ander gedig. ek wou sien of my gedagtegang en assossiasies met die woorde sou verander met die tweede gedig - 'n tipe van "self-ondersoek".

al hierdie self-verkenning maak my vreeslik pedanties

al hierdie self-verkenning maak my vreeslik pedanties
my maag voel lighoofdig
hoeveel tyd sal ek moet verspil om
beter snot te oes?
ek lê weer my woorde soos die stukke
van 'n legkaart uit
en amper glo ek dit sal my verbeelding verskerp
maar al wat gebeur is my hart palpiteer
en die papier wat net stil bly

een goeie ding van verveling
is dat dit so 'n skoon gevoel is
gestroop van modderigheid

die heeltyd huh en frons ek
ek druk my ore toe
want die grommende hoofweg
trek stywer soos 'n galgtou om my gedagtegang

ywerig skrop ek alewig my tande
maar die wol bly sit!
hoeveel tandeborsels het ek al deurgeborsel?

beterskap gaan kom slegs met drome en berge
my skelet wil weer die kontoer van dans en klippe voel
hoekom soek ek 'n lewe wat lê?
die horisontaliteit sus my kop
hoe kan ek op enige moet en behoort aandring?
gaan hou piekniek met sjampanje
dit sal jou voorskrywende geaardheid temper
of dalk nie

raai-raai die wit sal eendag tot 'n einde kom
en die 5 kg ink wat ek agter in die pad laat lê het
maak my beter voel, ek glo so

asseblief laat die keuse maklik wees
my voorkop en kneukels is al lekker senerig van al die tob

hoe sal die lees van hierdie woorde in jou kop klink?

dis interessant om te sien hoe die eerste sin
altyd netjies en venynig die gedig bepaal
maar weet: geen begin kom sonder 'n einde

- - -

en die tweede gedig:

raai-raai jou skrywershand sal van sy senerigheid ontslae raak

hardloop weg van die elf ekke van die vorige venynige gedig!
hulle probeer jou nou net te verwar

my maag lees die eerste woord "hardloop"
en frons vraend "waarnatoe?!"
ek kan nie 'n maag wees sonder 'n ek nie!
ja, hy is seker nou al dik van die verveling
van hierdie self-verkenning

die ek wil altyd 'n nes skrop
homself kom neervly op die papier
stil kan hy ook nooit wees nie
altyd besig om pedantiese berge van alles te maak
dit maak glo die hoofweg vir die verbeelding oop
hy behoort eerder sy kop laat lees
dis nie sjampanje wat hom so lighoofdig maak nie!

toe, toe, moet nou nie so voorskrywend wees nie
die lewe is 'n legkaart wat gedurig
daai laaste paar verlore stukke soek

dit klink asof jy minder jou tande moet borsel
of selfs beter, gooi die dekselse tandeborsel weg
jy verspil tyd man!
gaan sus jou skelet met 'n piekniek
lê en droom van skoon lug
die galgtou van jou keuses sal verdwyn
en die snot wat heeltyd jou neus laat palpiteer
sal teen 'n einde kom

so maak hierdie wit jou ken lig
en geen hoeveel en hoekom sal jou weer kom pla nie
en raai-raai jou skrywershand sal van sy senerigheid ontslae raak
bietjie vleis aan sit is goed vir tye van die grommende honger
en eet daai 5 kg sak boontjies!

al wat oorbly is: ek wens jou beterskap toe!

huh, is dit jou manier om my goed te laat voel?
hoe netjies-verbaal soek jy al weer skoor

Friday, 6 September 2013

did you know that you can taste the burn of willpower on your tongue?

did you know that you can taste the burn of willpower on your tongue?
uninvited it simply sits there
you can not move it
you can try to outwit it
take it for a ride if you want
but burn it will burn
and not leave you alone
and so i can only keep marching on with all that i am
through labyrinths of lost words
through blood dances
and filtrated information
through frames of technologica and self-images
blinding fears, genetica and freedoms
through sorrow and flowers
and always through love
through choirs of wild voices
through african soil and mirrors
i push my way through
how can i stop
when such a path lies under my feet?
through waves of oceans and green of apple trees
through the grape-sounds of pianos
and always through flames
i thrust through with my whole being
with wind around my calves
words boiling and insurgent in my jowls
i can not but quake with 
this tenacious willpower

het jy geweet dat jy die brand van wilskrag op jou tong kan proe?

het jy geweet dat jy die brand van wilskrag op jou tong kan proe?
dit sit ongevraagd net daar
jy kan dit nie skuif nie
jy kan probeer om dit te uitoorlê
ly dit om die bos as jy wil
maar brand sal dit brand
en jou nie alleen laat
en so kan ek net bly aangemarsjeer met al wat ek is
deur labirinte van verlore woorde
deur bloed-danse
en gefiltreerde informasie
deur rame van tegnologika en self-beelde
verblindende vrese, genetika en vryhede
deur verdriet en blomme
en altyd deur liefde
deur kore van wilde stemme
deur afrika-grond en spieëls
dring ek my weg deur
hoe kan ek stop
as so 'n pad onder my voete loop?
deur golwe van oseane en groen van appelbome
deur die druiwe-klanke van klaviere
en altyd deur vlamme
beur ek met my hele wese
met wind om my kuite
woorde kokend en opstandig in my kieste
kan ek nie anders as om te tril met
hierdie moedswillige wilskrag nie

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


During the Site_Specific International Land Art Biennale I contributed my performance poetry to the Fences  project of artist and cultural activist Erica Lü
ttich. She discovered the story of Krotoa, also known as Eva, and she and her Boitumelo Sewing Project knitted a beautiful and richly colourful cloak worn by Mokhema Hlaganani, who played the part of Krotoa. 
Interesting to note is that Krotoa worked in the household of Jan van Riebeeck from the age of 11. She served him for about 10 years until he left the Cape in 1662. She was the niece of Autshumao, also known as Harry die Strandloper. Seeing that she could speak several languages she was appointed as interpreter, emmisary and negotiator between the newly arrived Europeans and her own people, the Khoisan. She was related to royal Khoi family and this made her even more desirable as a pawn for Van Riebeeck. She was highly regarded as someone with great diplomatic skill and a knack for intelligence gathering, and this while still only a teenager. (She is also known as being instrumental in the emergence of the Afrikaans language).  Although she was the first Khoi woman to marry a European, Pieter van Meerhoff, and the first Khoi to be baptized as a Christian, she was always more at home with her own people. Another Khoi interpreter, Nommoa, accused her of being a traitor to the Khoi. One can only imagine the conflict of loyalty and identity she was experiencing. Toward the end of Van Riebeeck's stay in the Cape of Good Hope he started to doubt Krotoa's intentions and fidelity to his cause and believed she was passing on strategic information to her own people so as to turn them against the colonists. Because of this struggle with her identity and belonging, and possibly for other reasons she was lead to drink and other behaviours that the biased tellers of history would make us believe. The last 5 years of her young life she spent incarcerated on Robben Island. 
Why her story was not known for all this while: her blood runs through some prominent white Afrikaner families. 
The piece I conceived consisted of five poems  - "Fences" dealing with the Colonialist/Ownership/Safety theme and the other four poems, "Vir Krotoa", "Vir Sara Baartman" (written by Diana Ferrus), "Aan Ingrid" and "Street Woman"  inspired by women who were challenged and/or scarred by man-driven societies. 
By the visionary hands of Erica, she brought Plettenberg Bay's neighbouring communities together to participate in various art projects, including the rigging up of the fences used as part of the performance. Kudos to Erica for the inspiring and heartfelt work she does! 

Two years ago I wrote In die Grond en Blom skyn die hoop - a poem touching on woman's strength, her eccentricity and hopefulness. When I came across Krotoa's story, I thought back on this poem and saw how well the words fitted her. I re-wrote certain phrases and tweaked here and there for the poem to become:

Vir Krotoa

sy het vele warmgebakte kranse ontdek langs die woude
het hul gevul met klippe, voetspore en uitgekapte wense
die dou lek sy vroeg-oggend van die boegoeblare
en vee haar wange met die sagte son wat deur die skeure breek
sing sy alomheen die liedere wat resonant oor die vlaktes aanrol
'n vrou soos hierdie mag nie stilbly

hoor hoe haar stem deur klip en geskiedenis breek
sien hoe sy vrouwees bevry
deur met grond liefde te maak
in haar skyn die hoop
wat nog by ons mense spook

en so bly sy opstaan, 'n ware vrou,
gevul met drome en verwarring
sy doen haar daaglikse pligte
met grond onder haar naels, borduur sy die kontinente aan een
sy is alleen, net sy en haar haar tong
praat sy vir die onthalwe van ander,
maar nooit vir die onthalwe van haarself
prinses die een dag, 'n pion die ander,
haar identiteit verskeur en verkrag
'n vrou soos hierdie word maklik misverstaan

hoor hoe haar stem deur klip en geskiedenis breek
sien hoe sy vrouwees bevry
deur met grond liefde te maak
in haar skyn die hoop
wat nog by ons mense spook

en so het sy oor die berge met haar aardsvlerke gevlieg
nakend soos net die veld en lug daarvan hou
leerken sy die laaste helder paaie van oorlewing
dra vuur en klippe aan om die laaste vestiging te bou
waar lug nog diep ingeasem kan word
en grond diep gegtrap kan word sodat groen lewe
uitrys uit water en klei en 'n nuwe wêreld aanbreek

hoor hoe haar stem deur klip en geskiedenis breek
sien hoe sy vrouwees bevry
deur met grond liefde te maak
in haar skyn die hoop
wat nog by ons mense spook

soms verloor sy haar kop, maar nooit haar hart
sy druk haar lippe en bors ferm teen die aarde
voel die vibrasie van minerale krag
grond is bly om te voel hoe diep hierdie vrou haar spoor trap
'n vrou soos hierdie kan nie stilbly
in haar skyn die hoop
wat nog by ons mense spook

Photos taken by Erica Luttich

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Earth Pods

Photographer Werner Strauss has recently sent a few pictures he captured a few weeks after the AfrikaBurn festival of Kim Goodwin's wattle structures, The Earth Pods. With the photos he sent us a very moving letter expressing his gratitude for our contribution to the festival. It really touched both Kim and I to receive the words and images from Werner. 

It is the first photos we have seen with clean and clear space - no tents or costumed merrymakers in the back or foreground. 
Sun, shadows and textures perfectly captured.
Thank you Werner for this gift.

I have been penning down several bits of writing inspired by the Earth Pods but could not get anything off the ground. With the arrival of these photos something just clicked and the poem started to come together:

with hands we make things
of the earth
and for the earth
we weigh
we measure
we lift
we bend
we pull
we stretch
we hit
we weave
make nests for our creativity
and so the Earth Pods have risen
they have come to life
and stand on their own three feet
independent and strong 
slightly ruffled by the wind
but never blown down
a wee bit stirred by the onlooker's wonderment
but never collapsing
lightly rustled by questionings of what they are
but never limited by any speculation 
they be anything the sky wants them to be - 
deep ocean creatures
bustling microbes
alien spacecrafts
the sound of kissing
seeds picked from our souls
restless fertility
a tolbos tumbled by the winds
the fingerprints of the gods
nests for our wandering souls
fruits from the spheres
wooden syllables spelling poetry in the sky
moving filaments seen on the insides of our closed eyes
the mating dance of desert wind and sand


listen, they are singing with
the vocal cords
forsaken trees
hold them in the blink of your eye
they are treasures of the earth

Thursday, 8 August 2013


my naels byt ek met 'n ritmiese onsekerheid
die sweet korrel tussen my borste
ek is vlugteling uit die stad van Woord
ek deins met onafgemete tree
val oor ongelykhede in die kobbelstrate
tuur terug oor die afstand van my vlug
my lot, my lot!
Woord lê in puin
my tong verklip tot stilt...


i bite my nails with a rhythmical uncertainty
the sweat beads between my breasts
i am a refugee from the city of Word
i stumble with unmeasured steps
trip over the unevenness of the cobbled streets
i gaze back over the distance of my flight
my fate, my fate!
Word lies in ruins
my tongue petrifies to silen...

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

vir die onthalwe van nie verstaan

vir die onthalwe van nie verstaan
voel ek woorde aan jou
trap ek die verhoog met my lyf

tou draai ek om my hande
drink uit leё koppies woorde
speld veiligheidspelde aan 'n swart hemp

sit voor 'n sonhelder sak vol nartjies
skil een na die ander se ronde koppe af
om die soetsappige vlees teen my honger tong te lê

vlos ek my tande sodat jy my mond kan aanskou
borsel ek my hare om die borsel te herhaar
lees ek uit 'n boek met wit blaaie in persies geskryf 

stapel ek klippe op in 'n wankel hoop
gaan sit ek langs die ou man met die wynglas
wat hoop ek kom sit nie langs hom nie

die alleen druppel rooiwyn lê sy fossiel-lyf
teen die holte van die glas
tilt dit na my mond en proe gis en stof

vingers van sop lek my tong
bodem van bord val op my spoeg
die roosmaryn stik die brood

die mond van die tygerberge tuur soos 'n grot
my tong troos ek met druiwe
dood gekook in suiker

die vrou wat jou afloer uit haar donker oё
groet my met haar lyf
die kop van my regter skouer ruik na jasmyn

Monday, 5 August 2013

Ode to Garlic

Oh Garlic, what homage
can we bring you
and your graced state
of bulbousness?
Packed tightly into
your little white dome
we want to break you open
and spread your cloves like
shining white pebbles onto
the shores of our meals.

Oh, Allium Sativum,
brother of Onion, Leek,
Chive and Shallot,
you turn my mouth
into a warm hearth.
You who have grown
rich and full in
the dark soil of the earth.
Proud should the lily be
that you are part of her family.
When we peel you
your skin breaks into
the fine wings of a white butterfly,
flitting and refusing to be taken hold of.
When we crush, bake and chew you
you suffuse the walls, 
our skin, tongues and throats
with you pungency.

Your strength does not
lie in size or weaponry;
it lies in the way you smell of the sea,
of the suurbossies on the dunes
of the dark moist corners of the Tsitsikamma
and of soft, curled-up young ferns.

I grow impassioned with
the spirit of you.
With your unavoidable presence
no long-fanged demons
will walk through my doors.
If the Egyptians invocated you 
at the ceremony of taking oaths
and the Greeks piled you onto cairns of stones 
at the crossroads for an offering to Hecate,
then I can take a hold of you,
smear you on my forehead and temples
and beseech the poetry of you
to land upon my tongue. 

As much as you try
you will never be
insipid, tasteless,
dull, boring or bland -
you hold too much excitement
and urging energy of restless underground wells.

I go to the market,
enticed by onions, potatoes,
ginger, squash,
coriander and mushrooms,
yet I am never satisfied
until you lie with your orbicular lightness
in my basket.
Stuffed in olives,
crushed onto pizzas
grilled with prawns
sliced into pickles
blended with pesto
concocted with green beans
mixed into hummus
brewed in soups
fused with pasta
alchemized with butter
united with olive oil - 
you are herb and spice,
fruit and vegetable,
fire and lily,
gold and silver!

Hail the garlic crushers
for theirs is a divine deed.
Releasing the bulb’s bitter-sweet juices to all of the world
might just dismantle all arrogance,
melt all iciness 
break down all pretense.