25 February 2015

Choosing a leader

Their horse trots up a path among sandstone rocks
with its load. It has no reins but seems to know the way.
At dusk, just as the sun is setting, the cold raises
its head at them and hisses, a child and a woman
on a horse, a man walking behind. They will soon
get home, tonight there is their horse and the moon
to guide them. And tomorrow after porridge and bread
they will head back to Maseru again to look for work.
They have chosen Lower Thetsane this time, from house
to house, and will talk about how they can help. 'Farmer,'
the man will probably say, 'but the rains haven't come
for more than a year now. Soil is hard football field.'
The one looking at them will express an inability
to help. The child will cough. Every day for a month
they have come, breathing town air and swallowing
rejections, and every day, just as the sun is sinking,
they will again be on their way home. This February,
in two days, write their name in Letšeng dust on a ballot,
refract it in water and sound it in a river song,
them and no one else. Their unknown name is not
on the roster, not listed on the future of this nation,
of this Lesotho, but they are here and they are there
also, like the mountains. Are they the morning of a certain
twenty-eighth of February? Will they and Mphatlalatsane
be the rooster destined to usher in a new morning--
that guy, woman and child, are they close to new life?

24 February 2015

Tuesday poem: Upon reading ‘facts about the moon’

When I started writing this, as a confession,
a solstice was circling the world, Stonehenge
was rife with worshipers, my wife was drinking
mojitos and rutting. I sat on the edge of our bed
and heard whales calling from the coast below.
Sometimes when the mood sets in I’ll fling dishes
to the sky (manhole covers are too heavy for this),
or resort to a frisbee in the park at night, see it wane,
then yield to a death its circle finds in words
and is captured by them. Big-arse plate for near moon,
tea saucer for far, bulb-in-the-sky little moon—
now when I look at it straightlaced I only see zits
on the face of the man there, among fields of craters
in the stillness of time where Michael Jackson
would have loved to walk, alone in Laux's poem.
My heart sits in the heaviest atmosphere of itself.
Silence is the only thing about this that is true,
a perigee-syzygy rendezvous with sun and earth,
hinting that in the end death is unlikely to be fair.
----

Facts about the moon: http://goo.gl/emqfzl
More Tuesday poems this way

21 February 2015

Christmas in Maseru

I am going home, where the windows
are shut because the rooms are resting,
each with its memory of life in it; footfalls
sometimes leave one and enter another
past the corridor, whose air is stale. I recall
my father walking there at night, leaning
on the cane of those walls to his bedroom,
moved by having his children all at home.
When was the last time that had happened?
His memory is fading, though, but still waits
each year for the next Christmas; as usual
he will tell us to gather and bring the cattle,
and based on the reflex of a father’s instinct,
point one out for the sacrifice. Village men
come with knives, women with tin vessels
in which to milk and rinse out the entrails
for the hors d'oeuvre. Church is still a usual
affair, and at the altar our Lord Jesus stands
and is baptised with Senqu water by national
hands joined in union. Just Ubuntu, of course,
which says that home is where rivers of love
leave their source and travel to the ocean.

19 February 2015

Truth

I saw truth fall like a bolt of lightning
and break into bits on the asphalt of our lives
(despite the fact that the sky was calm and mellow),
and when it did even the grand acacia trembled
from the branches down to the soles of its roots;
and every life was made bare. The egg cracked open
to reveal itself, the mango and the guava peeled their skins
and gave up the souls of their flesh. Some more truth
entered a poem hidden in a chest, and stripped it naked,
like a nude on the white sheets of some artist’s futon.
I began to read it, earnestly at first, then wilder and louder
until I was shouting like a mad priest whose truth
frothed at the mouth, the balcony of my flat a pulpit.
Afterwards, when my breath abated, I traced the path
the poet had taken, and was bathed in his vision,
till day broke and I stood at the end, which was to me
a land of exile, marvelling at how the trees beyond
the river leaned toward light, where there were animals
grazing quietly in a clearing. And I swear neither I nor they
heard the roar, till one lioness and four other bitches
hunting with her were already airborne with their claws
open, the truth being that each day of our days teems
with the same urges that move a predator to leap,
and the prey to quickly get the hell out of there.