Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Dear S, who survives Inimba?

I don’t know how to un-teach our children
all the tricks I teach them sleeping.

there are many ways to die                 inside your body

I watch myself         teach them           I want to jump

but I am screaming     inside my eyes:               do not do as I do

but they are chained to me             so close.so tight

If I push them off this mountain

will they survive me?

 - Qhali

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

For a young woman

You come outside, and I see you
– you don’t see me, but I look at you.
My life turns right around, imagining,
turns so utterly that I’m young
again, dark of hair, and slim.
But you become lined with age
and grey with life. I watch you still,
and thank God you are what you are,
and I am I. My mind lets you be.
This is the way of things.
I smile at you. The guitarist
strums his chords, and the singer sings.

 - Brian Walter

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

April 15th, 2020 (a.s) - Ndiyaxhwilwa

Ndinyuquzwa zimpethu ebuchotsheni
ulusu ngumkhence
ndizikrwempa ngeenzipho ezimdaka.

Ndikhwela iindonga ezithethayo
ndibaleka abantu abangenabuso
bayandixhwiphula.
Isibane sengqondo sicimile.

 - Qhali

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Group work

We wrote that picture stukkend
after every poet chose an element
so we could each gooi the writing
– the onion seller, the dark door,
the shelter, doodles on a blue wall,
peeping face, sitting woman with a doek –
composing openly and free. I said,
“What a poem we could make
should we combine our words
and shape all into one-ness –
our different strands of script
bending into verse-being . . .
Imagine what would be taught
by discussion: the disputes,
selecting which piece would open
our poem, which would follow,
which blend its being with another
to multiply meanings.” But we didn’t.
We left that task for each creative self,
for each multiplicity of mind,
to find resonance in contending thought.

 - Brian Walter

Friday, February 2, 2024

The Ecca Poets welcome their guest poet for 2024 - Qhali.
To kick-off the poetry posts for this year, here a poem by Qhali

Return to Tsolobeng


Two cubs in my hands
one with open eyes - the other asleep.
I’m placing them in my mother’s palms
tougher than mine - to shield them.
I’m going to the mountains for a while
where two old women wait for me
outside a green hut guarded by brown horses
at the top of a hidden mountain
overlooking an old river full of queens and secrets.
The two old women will only watch me as I build
with hands covered in manure to cast walls to find me
and I will sleep only to visit the elders, but I will wake
with the ones that do not speak, to save my children
from a life without rivers, and mountains, and horses,
and quiet, and land, and snow, and a mother.
I will wake each day despite the urge to stay on the other side
to build a home in Tsolobeng,
so I teach my children what is in a name,
so a life of colour is not that of complexion,
so a life of wealth is not that of the tangibles,
so that each click that comes out of my mouth
has a root with a home they can call their own.
I have been missing for a while, long before this trip.
Sometimes a mother needs to return home to be a mother
because sometimes this place can make you forget
how to be a human,
how to feed a child and be nowhere else,
how to look at a child with open eyes,
which turns you took that cut wires in you
because you are on an edge and the mind is screaming
and they are screaming, and the world is screaming
and if you say one more word, or take one more wrong turn,
whatever colourful string is holding your body together with your soul
will unravel.
I am going back to Tsolobeng
back to my ancestors’ land
where truth and sanity
wait in whispers.

 - Qhali

Friday, May 26, 2023

 Warm as sleep 


Light feeds the leaves:

these translucent
green flames

drowsing in sun’s
late afternoon fire.

   ***

Leaves in afternoon light:

to paint, in words warm as sleep,
as sun-drenched stones,

the glow of their mute
green speech.

 - Eduard Burle


Friday, May 19, 2023

klawer-aarde 

        vir my Feetjie-Fiona & Abs van Rooyen


ek het nooit grond besit
maar vandag met my vingers al hangend oor die klaviatuur
voel ek hoe dit is om
n stukkie aarde myne te kan noem
n stukkie swart en wit klank-grond
wat ek met die dieptes en hoogtes op en af kan klim

hoe baie klaviere het al onder my hande gegaan
onder my palms gesing
gebrand gevloei gevlieg
maar dan moet ek gou koebaai sê
want hulle was nooit myne nie

maar hier staan my eie klavier nou haar stewige staan in my see-huisie
is dit hoe dit voel om
n stukkie aarde te besit?
n stukkie woud?
n stukkie wind?
n stukkie oseaan?
n stukkie oase?

ek sien uit na die trillende horisonne wat deur die snare gaan oopbreek
die getye van melodie
ë wat die mure gaan afbreek
en die sterrehemel van die harmonie
ë
wat in my hart gaan inbreek
ek sien menigte klein oerknalle wat die punte van my vingers gaan lostoor!

maar vir nou,
buig ek neer voor hierdie klawer-aarde
en ek sê dankie  dankie   dankie

 - Lara Kirsten

 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Avian observations


Red-eyed doves on the roof:

she signals, he mounts,
then a flutter of wings –

the insistent repetitions
of blood that sings.

   ***

The storm approaching –
and yet, where
the aloe stirs,

a familiar
winged visitor –
nimble, undeterred –

sunbird.

   ***

Dark glint
of beak, eyes, and feathers,
as he veers, manoeuvres, flip-flaps away –

startled crow.

   ***

The call of an owl –
how deep the well
of night.

 - Eduard Burle


Friday, May 5, 2023

verrukking van klank

vlugtig vlieg die ritmes uit my vingers
en draai ek in 'n kolk van ekstatiese malkoppigheid
totdat swart en wit,
spier en hout,
son en vel
ek en jy
een word
die musiek ons vasboei
die melodie ons in hegtenis neem
en die wispelturigheid van die sikloniese ritmika
ons verewig gevangene hou
in die verrukking van klank

exuberance of sound


flightily the rhythms fly from my fingers
and i turn in a whirlpool of ecstatic madness
till black and white,
muscle and wood,
sun and skin,
you and i
become one
till the music shackles us
the melody takes us captive
and the moodiness of the cyclonic rhythm
ensnares us forever
in the exuberance of sound

 - Lara Kirsten

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Extracts from a runner’s notebook

Now, as before,
the path traverses        

the mountain’s shifting cloak                                  
of light and shadow.                                                 

   ***

That stillness, deep as strata,
of which the mountain
is made.

   ***

Heat travels in waves
from the earth –

for now, the sound
of his footfalls, his breathing,

the cool
of an inner oasis,

keeps
him going.

- Eduard Burle



Monday, April 24, 2023

dit is hoe ons kies

     vir Portchie

o februarie jou mooi en warm ding!
ek gly diep binne in jou murg
daar waar die werwels van somer spruit
ek sny my hande diep in die seisoen se lieste
en ruik die beurende vrugbaarheid

die oseaan is koel marmer vandag
ek dans oor die strandpaaie
met hande wat soos hibiskusse blom

die digkuns rinkink al agter my aan
vir 'n verandering is ek voor die digkuns die pad af
my tone proe die verslustige velde
lank voordat hulle in woorde ontkiem

dit is hoe ek en jy kies om hierdie dae te leef:
duikend, dansend en verwend in elke nuwe nou

 - Lara Kirsten

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

 Haiku

for Hugh Hodge

On today’s page an orchard
of haiku, the scent
of freshly picked lemons.

   ***

Lemon-scented words:
today’s harvest of haiku.


Sea fragments

for Hugh Hodge

The story
rewritten, erased,
upon the wrinkled skin
of the sea.

   ***

The appetite of the white
mouth of the sea –
a hunger for words
that will not let him be.

   ***

Tongues of the sea
phrase and rephrase
the young monk’s questions.

 - Eduard Burle

-------------------------------------------
young monk
– some of Hodge’s haiku feature the character or persona of “the old monk”; this figure is often used to explore spiritual, religious or existential themes.


Saturday, April 15, 2023

First hold

Twelve black oystercatchers head sunward,
while a boubou flutes
from the bush in the dunes;

the grooved rocks turn gold –
on this first reconnoitre
of my new hood,
this is a moment
to hold.

– Silke Heiss, 7th November 2022

Monday, April 10, 2023

Notes from the Cederberg

Shadows climb
these shape-shifting mountains,
changing with
the changing light.

   ***

This harsh and unforgiving light,
this slow attrition –
of sheer and splintered stone,
of baked and cooling earth –
purifies my sight, moves me closer
to what it is I mean to say.

   ***

Above the valley’s dark:
ripening clusters of stars
dripping light.

 - Eduard Burle

 

Monday, April 3, 2023

klok

my hart trek
in die vorm van
‘n klok

     ek prewel ‘n gebed
     mag ons nie lui raak met liefde en
     nooit die noodsaak van die skeppingsdaad minag

ek begin lui van diep binne my bors
dit tril en ril deur al my spiere totdat my lyf
opstyg en beier die wye lug in

     word wakker wêreld, word wakker! 
     die nuwe dag breek aan soos ‘n seisoen van swaeltjies
     in vlug na die reuk van somer


bell

my heart pulls
into the shape of
a bell

     i murmur a prayer
     may we not become lazy with love and
     never underestimate the necessity of the creative deed

i begin to resonate from deep inside my chest
it shudders and shakes through all my muscles until my body
starts to rise and chime through the whole sky

     wake up world, wake up!
     the new day breaks like a season of swallows
     in flight after the smell of summer

 - Lara Kirsten

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Children playing

Children playing in a river –
all they don’t yet know;
all they’ll someday never know
with the same
undiluted joy and clarity.

    ***

The game of what to reveal
and what to conceal
is played over a lifetime –
the child learns quickly.

   ***

The child plays
behind fences and walls;                                            
the game she plays
has neither fences nor walls.

 - Eduard Burle


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Eye in the heart

These banks of seductively round,
pastel-coloured stones;
these blue rock-plates,
motionless, but swirling
with gestures of water;
or those mud-hued formations over there,
clustered with small holes,
in a devoted mimicry of foam –

must be trying to impress me.
And they succeed! How many
millions of epochs did it take
to make this elemental love affair hold
all the changes wrought upon it
by sun and moon and sea?

And how many times
did the wind breathe in and out,
to build the eye in my heart
that feels these growth-rings

– in a place that warms and cools me
deeper than skin?

– Silke Heiss, 16th November 2022

Thursday, March 16, 2023

A pastoral

          i. Cerberus

At the gate the dog:
and he doesn’t know the children
and he is jumping madly,
so the kids are freaked

but we say go quietly,
one-by-one, quietly,
and let yourself be smelled
and be known.

And it half works
– the dog is fine,
but the children go through
in jittering groups

like out-of-place spirits
in an underworld,
as though they would fly
but have nowhere to go.


          ii. Classical wind

In the wind up in the hills
above Kwanobuhle, Kariega,

my words are blown,
swung out of my mouth,

lost to mind and meaning,
flapped away from any intention:

this is my home, my countree
– where unlucky words

flit from me like the oaken leaves
of the Sibyl, ancient at Cumae.


          iii. Smell


Alert in nose
we come into the new place

seeking memories
of the familiar,

sifting out,
trying to ignore

till we find
al fresco here

home.


          iv. et in Arcadia ego

Out from Helenvale
amongst the hills

with cows, a tractor,
farmlands:

there’s no traffic,
shouting,

no brass band getting ready,
with the thump of a random drum,

a few blown notes scraping the air,
for the funeral

of the band-master’s wife:
there’s no fear, here,

just the quieter rhythms,
trees nodding in the breeze,

and grass bowing,
as my soul ducks and dives

back through Helenvale streets
and the grave images of your hood.

 
          v. Out here


We walk across the veld,
dodging the cows,
and across the dry river,

up through the woody stand
of Port Jackson Willow,
past the wild buddleja,
into the shrubveld of the big ants,
the tortoise, the caterpillars:

and the wind is always whipping
our dreams, blowing them
through the bushes, across the veld,
and out to those mountains
there, in rainland.


          vi. In words


In the group, photographers
– a big camera, cell phones –
and videographers in the making.

Out in the veld with the wind
blowing through our words
we walk amongst photographers

who capture us. But here
I catch them back in words
that click into focus.

 - Brian Walter

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Can’t argue

It is beautiful to sit
with you –
checking for whale spume
on the dark blue horizon,

here, at Haga-Haga,
watching the turquoise waves
come in at different angles,
break on the partitioned rocks.

Rocks, inlaid by time, into themselves,
opaque, open: like secrets
of truth you can’t argue with –

just as you can’t argue
with whales moseying
along their way,
nor with me
beside you.

– Silke Heiss, 20th November 2022

Monday, February 27, 2023

Being there

The loud ibises flap
the dusk breeze,
cackling their hadeda call.
House sparrows hop
on the grey tar.
I’m waiting for the wagtails
to come, to settle in the trees:
they roost here at night.

As do I.

From across the road
the elderly come
for the Wednesday special:
couples, or small groups,
to have a night away
from their old age home.

As do I.

After a hot day
the clouds are out,
slowly, slowly drawing
the light from the sky.
This evening, ah, the cool breeze,
the late afternoon draught
makes peace with the moment,
calming the coming dark.

As do I.

- Brian Walter