24 August 2015

Dinner in the garden

We preferred to have dinner in the garden,
On a wicker table and chairs in the orchard
Under the trees, to smile when saying, ‘pass
The salt, please,’ looking at a disparate sun,
Like father in prison. My brother sat at the head,
Called the menu. The only thing we had to bring
Was furniture and salt. My brother didn’t know
That while mom put him at the head she was also
Telling him how to sit, how to pick the salt up
And how much to sprinkle it. When father got out
We were sick of raw fruit and vegetables. No one
Could look at a beet anymore. We were tired
Of the smell of meat from neighbours’ kitchens.
Every morning, even as we scrubbed ourselves
With Lifebuoy we looked at them scrubbing
Oily pots and pans, before we oiled ourselves
With aloe vaseline and made ready for school.

Judas and the Sanhedrin

Did Judas kiss Jesus as they say just to betray him?
For what the reasons were for his disdain turned this
into a full-blown religion whose snow-white saints
fly about listening to prayer. White wings, white skin.
So why did the fellow hang himself? It reminds me
of the stories of James Robert Baker, or Leelah Alcorn,
none of whom have become saints, the way thousands
of golliwogs hanging from southern trees have not,
people whose reasons for death are unclear, O Lord.
The Pharisees and the Romans knew not who Jesus
was, so when evening approached and they were sick
and tired of that bloke who drew multitudes to him,
and unto whom the people of Galilee were attracted,
they sent a message to Judas and promised him cash
if he could point out the son of man to them. Thirty
gleaming shekels; and they asked their messenger
to be sure to dangle the bag and to jangle the coins
before his eyes. Judas was fucked, for he liked money,
and although when alone away from the troupe
he would sometimes visit the local amusement scene,
he had a good heart. The guy found him drinking
at a bar, and subsequently left him there, struggling
with his feelings. Judas thought of kissing Thomas
instead, to mislead the Pharisees, but when night came
he walked the short distance up to the mount where
people were already milling about, and kissed Jesus
on the lips, smiled, and kissed him a second time,
after which he ran off to hurl that money of shame
back at the people who had given it to him, removed
his belt, and hanged himself on a low-lying branch.

23 August 2015

Feeding the ground

Out of a boundless kitchen in which I grew up
There’s no sound now, but that of intervening years,
A muted hum of men digging, lifting picks
Over their backs and striking, and before morning
A hole is ready in the ground, its mouth gaping
Like a hatchling’s waiting for food, as if the cemetery
Were a nest with little mouths to feed, the grim reaper
A parent to those mouths. In my mother's kitchen
Where I learned to sing, the diggers' muffled song
Comes through, hmmm ha home… hmmm ha home,
And again, and again, the beak of the picks falls.
I once asked my mother why only men dig the ground
At night, and she said “because men make children
Go.” And she turned around and with a lesokoana
Dug into the papa she was stirring. “We feed them.”
Sometimes she’d start a song, or tell a fable. Now,
When I hear the sound coming from the floor,
Or from the graveyard on the left when you go
To Loretto, I think of the night shift, and of men
Who work it to make sure that the ground is fed.

20 August 2015

Tsamaea Hantle, bra Winston, 1943 - 2009



Mankunku

Dark golden boat
on a sea
far away, rock with me
rock with me:

deep-throated bird
gentle me home
past the mud-lined street
where thoughts stick fast
and children pick rubbish
hungrily

the night flakes notes
from the scalp of my sorrow

hide in my pillow
and cry for me
© Kelwyn Sole 1987


"Legendary jazz saxophonist Winston Mankunku Ngozi died at Victoria Hospital in Wynberg, Cape Town, the ANC said.

Ngozi, 66, died from a heart-related illness, ANC spokesperson Brian Sokutu said in a statement.

'His death is a huge loss to South Africa, particularly the music fraternity. We join many South Africans in paying tribute to this jazz icon who became a beacon of hope and inspired so many artists.'

He said Ngozi used his talent to inspire social, economic, cultural and political change in the country.

Ngozi's recording in 1968 of the famous Yakhal' Inkomo album , together with Early Mabuza, Agrippa Magwaza and Lionel Pillay, earned him the 'Jazz Musician of the Year' award."
[source...]