Joan Metelerkamp
Joan Metelerkamp

Joan Metelerkamp | Now the World Takes these Breaths 

now the world breathes freely
now it takes
note grant gives

fifteen minutes is a long time breathe  freely a long time
to have breathed to have taken breath to have
not to have held –

separately light leaves
police at Kareedouw paramedics
everyone my son called for help
neighbours, fishermen, the others on the cell phone video
who clambered on the rocks, NSRI,
the brother who had to choose to let go to come out himself,

the body washed up four days on  om Eersterivier to Oubaai.

From Now the World Takes These Breaths, Modjaji


Danie Marais
Danie Marais

Danie Marais | New Eyes

Love is not a doctor,
it’s deep narcosis –
nature’s very own date-rape drug –
and it was only years later that you and I
came to in a small semi-detached in Woodstock
at a yellow kitchen table with a cockroach
caught in the digital clock
of the new microwave, and a blowfly
banging its banging its banging its head against
the kitchen window pane.

You were scraping butter
onto your toast, and I could not
believe I had never noticed
the gaping black Mommy
hole sucking away in your chest.
I kept staring.
It was an hypnotic, singing sound –
a siren.

You looked up and smiled, like stitches
coming loose.

You were the spitting image of my wife.

In the room a baby daughter began crying
for us.

Originally published in Afrikaans in Solank verlange die sweep swaai, Tafelberg. The English translation appeared in in a burning sea.


Vonani Bila
Vonani Bila

Vonani Bila | Extract from Ancestral Wealth

If you were alive today, madala –
You would tell me about that rope
That roamed in your nightmares
The rope that made you so impatient
That made you hate everything about your wife
The rope that made you hit her
And want to kill her with a knife
The rope of which prophet Muvhangeli said:
U nga yi rhwaleli loko u yi vona endleleni ya wena
(Don’t pick it up when you find it placed on your path)
The tough rope of wicked relatives
Who had long sized your neck
If you were alive today, madala –
You would tell me how you and Ngholeni picked up that dead rabbit
Early in the morning on your way to work
How you skinned the rabbit with delight
How you wanted to cook it for lunch
When suddenly a strange man came
And touched your forehead
And said, “and hi yena papantsongo wa Frank.”
Then your forehead ached and pounded
And when you came back home from work
The same strange man
Hobbled to your house
All he said was one sentence:
I needed to find Frank’s brother’s place
Then he vanished
Stealing your heart
Placing it in a cave
Planting a cockerel’s heart in you
And you coughed and coughed

From Bilakhulu!: Longer Poems, Deep South.


Dan Wylie
Dan Wylie

Dan Wylie | Though its Matter is not Corrupted

She slopes along behind some soldiers, cockerel
youths with rakish berets and trouser-legs flared for trouble.
Loyalty for her’s a rough rope for the neck.
She holds her head low, folded ears set
in that resistant plane between alertness and despair.
Her over-used dugs dangle blackly, dried mulberries;
the tigerish brindle of her coat is blanched
with uneven colonies of mange.
Pamberi! cry the princes, and stride forward.
The rope jerks; she trots. Obedience is her defence;
for the sake of peace, the occasional lick of pap,
evasion of the corporal’s whimsical kick,
she will follow them into the ghettoes and the camps,
the converted cattle-trucks, the chambers of death itself.
Above all, she will remain silent:
the vernacular of the natural hunt is silenced;
the argot of the loving body is silenced.
The bonus of a puddle or a mouse must suffice.
As for the Revolution, that must look after itself.

From Slow Fires, Fourthwall Books


Thabo Jijana
Thabo Jijana

Thabo Jijana | Outside, Inside

Here I am, on this frigid Saturday
in late 1998, kneading my eyes
and staring up a sloping Melindo
Street in Kamv’elihle. It’s past
cockcrow. And raining – a gentle
shower, like baking flour off
a sieve. I go from the sidewalk
to the front stoep, then I am
at the window inside, watching
the mamas of the kitchens (damp
dresses and OK shopping bags as
bonnets) scamper past. Any time
now, I know Mama’ll be walking
through the gate; she’ll have her
nurse’s cap. She’ll be tired. She’ll
be angry; there is nothing I can do.
So I make it to a bench near the
door to Madi’s bedroom, and sit
down. On the carpet, there’re the
blood drops – I’ll tell Mama it was
Madi who started it, that I didn’t
mean to. And then I’ll make a
stubborn face; Mama’ll shout that I
take off my pyjamas, find a washbowl
of water and pour Omo. And then –
then I’ll rinse my hands clean.

From Failing Maths and My Other Crimes, uHlanga Press,


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