Monday, July 18, 2022

An ending

The man with the shaven head has given up
his hair

because he has lost, because he has lost her;

because she’s made it quite clear –
that something, for her, has changed irreversibly;

because no matter how often he can say those words to her –
say them as he did only yesterday, as he goes on saying them
even now – they cannot unsay those things that have been said;

because he can see, there is no place here to hide;
because nothing can stop
what is pushing them, has moved them apart;

because she – troubled, lovely – more lovely perhaps
than she’s ever been to him –
she is so far from him now;

because if there is a future for them – whatever it may be –
it isn’t here or now,
and each of them must try to find their way;

because perhaps even from pain, and from all
that now is lost,
someday, something may grow;

because even if it was – even if it still is – this fight
is no longer worth fighting for.

- Eduard Burle

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Escher tuimel in die digtersharte

ek wil 'n gedig skryf
wat soos Escher
jou kop en lyf laat dryf
op met die trappe af
wanneer jy dink jy rym na regs
gooi hy jou radar na
links
jy dink jy het gaan visvang
en nou sit daar 'n voël in jou net
die dubbeldwarsterugspieëling van metafore
die interweef van dimensies
kruisbestuif die oorvleueling van persepsies
en soek nie om die positiewe van die negatiewe te onderskei
hulle is gesmelt in dieselfde gesig van die munt
'n gedig met geen begin of einde
'n oneindigende verdraaiing en intolling van
'n duisend digtersharte
wat jou dieper en vlakker
verder en nader bring aan die perspektief
jy bly jou inasem uitasem
terwyl jou vryheid verstrengel lê in
die labirintynse arms van hierdie vers

 - Lara Kirsten

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Clement

Out of the gossamers
of sleep – those wide lands
beyond consciousness, teaching, healing –

eyes open
to a yellow room,
like a city of jewels.

Head turns. Burglar bars paint
gentle patterns on the curtains
– rows of long-nippled breasts,
kissing, feeding permission to see:
an egg, congealing
in the womb of heaven –

perhaps another clement poem
I can write down as testament
to the relationship with earth?

While the wild geese outside
concert as usual
to the day's ripeness unfolding –

the moment for a moment
is
golden.

– Silke Heiss, 21st May 2022

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Five short poems

Sharing dessert with you:
forbidden
sweetness …

***

Wind and palm tree greet –
shadows ripple, writhe against
the far garden wall.

***

In the dream the journeying of hands, the canopy of her hair.

***

She shifts gears
down pleasure’s highway.

***

Driving miss daisy
in the back seat,
her engine purring.

- Eduard Burle

Friday, June 24, 2022

Safely through

The purpose of your poems
is not merely to observe,
certainly it isn’t to disturb –
no: the words work to connect
your heart
with certain, chosen things out there

– the tree's bark, its falling leaves;
a jogging man, with children, cycling;
gardeners in conversation, striding by;
fishermen with gear,
for a night on the jetty;
diligent women, led, mornings and evenings, by their dogs;
the balding bushbuck, with his stately horns
and soft, wise eyes;
or, simply, streaming rain.

Each item from the cornucopia
pearls forth its shimmers –
each word is a choice vessel,
shipping
the prizes
of wonder, kindly belonging –

as the day dawns,
your moving hand guides your mind
safely and serenely through
even her worst storms.

– Silke Heiss, 29th May 2022

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Bird

for MB

There’s a bird of fire in the sick man –
the man who climbs the hill of his illness.

Someday, the fiery bird inside the man,
like the sun retracing its arc above him, will die.

The bird inside the man stirs. It says:
pull that book from the shelf; or:

play this album today – and this one, too; or:
go outside

and walk with your thoughts
under the trees; or:

call a friend and drink from the well
of shared stories; or:

risk love, without worrying about where
it may or may not lead.

Sometimes, when the bird flits into his mind
and speaks, he listens;
sometimes, despite everything, when he follows
the bird’s advice,
he finds he is translated into flame.

 - Eduard Burle

Monday, June 13, 2022

dit is nie toevallig

Madame Poësie,
dit is nie toevallig dat
jou Poesie sonder die umlaut
die ingang van die wêreld en
al sy wondere is nie!

O Poësie,
Jy is my Poesie sonder die deelteken
die kolkgat van ekstase
die fluweelsikloon van verrukking
die peristaltiese kern van Kreatiewe Begeerte


die kwikstertjie

die kwikstertjie kom deur die koffiewinkel gepyl
hy weet presies hoe om
om die stoele, rakke en menskoppe te navigeer

soos wat die kafee leër word
vlieg hy weer na binne en trippel
met 'n ratse self-vertroue oor die vloer
pik al agter die krummels aan

sy lewenshouding soveel aantrekliker
as meeste mense bukkend oor
hulle fone en koffiekoppies

 - Lara Kirsten  

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Sniffing out trails poem series

    1
No cure

Ragged from a wakeful night,
chaos of dreams and drafts
of things you've yet to write,
stiff-necked and -limbed
from studio work, you take
your mind and body panting,
up the hill, down the hill,
past the jetty, into the marshland,
carrying your sandals,
frozen-footed, to accompany
the blank, brass sunrise,
predictably striping the water.

You could pretend, but
truth is, there's beauty outside
only when you're clear inside

- you're missing your beloved,
his so-everything-not-you being –

face it: for that degree of loneliness
there is no cure.

    2
Better


Setting it down –
writing your gripes,
does make the situation,
somehow, better.

    3
Crutch

It's not wine,
nor even work,
it is, simply,
my pen. I even have two.

    4
Sound

One of the reasons
I don't type my poems
and writing
is

I'd miss that breathy,
scratchy sound of
the pen's fountful nose

sniffing out trails
on the paper.

– Silke Heiss, 31st May 2022

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Three Tankwa Karoo Poems

i am a drop

water at my back

blue sky up above

i am a drop

contained in

the walls of my mind

crack me

i want to seep into

you

* * *

float

my [scattered] thoughts

float on

the [togetherness of]

water

* * *

my ears stare

my ears stare

into

the distance

trying to grab hold

of

the furthest




silence

* * *

Tankwa Arts Residency, April 2022

 - Lara Kirsten

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Four short poems

1

Light years still to go –
only one sojourn to learn
all he needs to know.

2

At the edge of an internal precipice –
self-preservation, and a longing for joy,
add their voices to the conversation.

3

Still looking for
enchantment
on the road to
disenchantment.

4

She keeps a lighter
on her person – what else
lights her days?

 - Eduard Burle

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Digterlike ruggraat

Ek skryf hierdie gedig vanuit my ruggraat
Ek lei in elke sillabe vanuit my werwels
Laat die metafoor haarself om die volbloedige kolom weef
In tollende kolke ontwaak die oer-pols

Ek buig agteroor in ‘n wyduitgestrekte boog
Totdat my mond uitbundig oopval
En die son nie kan help om reguit af te duik
Na die kernsenuwee van my ruggraat

‘n Son begin te spruit tussen elke rug-sinaps
Die strale stroom met vaartbelynde spoed
Deur al die donker en newelagtige begrensinge van my selle

Ek buig vooroor met my knieë en voorkop al soenende die aarde
Innerlik omhels ek hierdie sonkragtige ontploffing
Voordat dit uit my vel peul en ekstaties my digterlike bedoelinge verblind

Ah, jy kan letterlik die letters sien afdruppel teen my rug
Hulle is altyd daar
Herinner my aan my digterlike ruggraat
en om sagkens saam met dit te beweeg en nie teen dit nie

In die gedurige giet en hergieting, ontwyk die gedig voltooiing
Probeer heeltyd daai perfekte natuurlike buiging te vind
Vanwaar elke vers kan uitstrek
En uitryk na jou soos warm ledemate
Om jou te omvou met waaghalsige ruggratige gretigheid

 - Lara Kirsten

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Then

Luminous lilac and indigo
jellyfish
stud the misty shore;

a lone, bent walker
sinks steps
through the pristine sand,

stops, extracts
from a sling-bag
pen and notebook.

Black oystercatchers let her,
then,
much closer than before.

– Silke Heiss, 18th January 2022

Sunday, March 20, 2022

your voice

your voice rustles
through my soul
like the homeward flight
of a flock of sacred ibis

murmuration


when you kiss me
a murmuration of swallows
break through
the summer skies
of
your mouth

 - Lara Kirsten

Monday, February 28, 2022

Man at the market

I saw a man
at the market –
he put me in mind
of a future you,
filled me with strange
focus, like desire,
and my eyes
followed him.

He had, like you,
a slight monk's patch,
was worn by years,
yet strong, his frame lean,
his arms and feet bare.

He moved with an appealing pride,
born of fearlessness
I caught a whiff of,
and he smelt familiar.

His head, like yours,
a little heavy on the body,
yet held high in lion style,
albeit the 'mane' (just like yours)
was not lush, but fine-haired:
no coarseness there.

When I first laid eyes on you,
three years ago, in a queue,
you were smiling
at a cashier in the Foodzone,
a little ducked, or shy,
and my pre-mother, pre-wife past
flooded back all at once,
in a rush.

The man at the market
reminded me of a future you –
a male counterpart, perhaps,
to what I am becoming?

Simple and bejewelled
and magnetising, wild,
composed
and free.

– Silke Heiss, 17th January 2022

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

In the orthopaedic ward

I brought so much here with me today,
so much I wanted to put down
as I walked into this hospital to find you:

the invisible wounds I carried,
and the way I’d invested in them
in order to be right about something, anything;

whatever I know about negotiating
for power or leverage;
the necessary ways of listening suspiciously
I learned from Marx and Freud and Nietzsche
and their beautiful, high-minded children;

the swaggering confidence that comes
from being the new thing, the bright, beautiful stranger
with the golden key that can unlock the castle –
that, that most of all.

Ah, but you know as well as I do
that you can’t put down your past or your learning –
can’t put down anything much at all.
And even so, I walked into that room
feeling lighter, estranged from my voice;
strange enough not to know
what to say, how to hold you.

And all I remember clearly of that visit
is the astonishment I felt –
my one hand gently holding your bionic knee,
softly humming a James Brown fragment to you –
slightly breathless, slightly out of tune:
“I feel good,
and I knew that I would.”

 - Jacques Coetzee

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

A basket of love poems

In the spirit of Valentine's day, Ecca Poet Silke Heiss collected a variety of love poems from the Ecca Poets. Herewith the selection.


Catch him


As the mists at last clear,

a robin comes to the troughed aloe leaves

to drink.

 

You can’t see him from your seat

splashing, sipping, flipping away –

so I write this poem

 

to catch him

for

you.

 

Norman Morrissey

 

(published in To the Far Horizon, Hogsback: 2015) 

 

Namibia

 

Pitched camp. And the mopani bush is quiet;

the evening still, the clouds adrift –

the first clouds we have seen these two weeks.

You have taken the kids out to see the cheetah

at the research centre: some breeding project

for an endangered species. I sit amongst our things,

with day’s heat setting in the west,

a Windhoek beer a-downing for my thirst:

I’ve worked up quite a heat, pitching the tent,

in this desert land, spreading our sleeping gear,

laying out a meal, for you and the boys. 

Ah, my love, you are encamped in the fenced

wilderness of my heart. Our place is made. 

Come home now, and rest. Love is such a rare,

endangered beast, we must deliberately protect,

so that coming generations may know.

 

– Brian Walter

 

(published in Brood, Ecca Poets, Hogsback: 2010)

 

For Clara, 19 months


Language is an envelope:

inside it you might find

a tiger, a dragonfly,

or a smooth river pebble.

 

By now

your own naming of the world

is gathering pace like a river . . .

 

Just when the sound of the words

“Mond” and “Sterne”*

became, for you, moon and stars,

I do not know,

 

but there is wonder

in your eyes and your face

as you look to the sky and say

“Mond”, “Sterne”.

 

You are the bright star

in my universe,

and a moon, too, often in flux.

 

Together with your mother

we form a triangle, a clan,

a constellation.

 

In the years to come,

whatever they will bring,

may your light keep reaching me

just as it does now.

 

Ed Burle

 

(published in What It Is, Ecca Poets, Plettenberg Bay: 2020)

__________

*“Mond” and “Sterne” should be heard according to their German pronounciation, i.e. ‘mawnd’ and ‘shtahne’ (‘a’ as in ‘glad’)

 

Each day its reverence


Waking

into my consciousness,

gradually re-kindling my flame,

 

I want to press

my forehead

against your shoulder –

 

innoculate

by touch of pulse

your tissue, vapour, fragrance

against whatever dangers.

 

Ah, Love, let us protect each other

from those moments in our selves

that do not sing –

 

let tender touch of skin on skin

to each day

its reverence bring.

 

– Silke Heiss

 

(published in Greater Matter, Poetree Publications, Johannesburg: 2019)

 

jou borskas

        vir Kim

 

jou borskas is die perfekte houvas
soos 'n warm rotswand waarteen ek hoër en hoër uitklim

my hart spring met 'n swier uit my ribbes
en kom lê polsend teen jou bors

jou sternum smelt weg
my hart skop nes teen joune

in rooi, nat ekstase 

 

– Lara Kirsten

 

(published in Alles is Anders, Ecca Poets, Knysna: 2021)

 

Caving

 

There is music

in the way you say my name

 

sounds of Coldplay

ringing in the air

reminiscing your hands up my shirt

bent over literature,

philosophy

and cups of cold coffee

in our cave

 

Where our bodies share secrets

and our minds made love

to childhood foes

and grown up dreams,

not knowing

if tomorrow holds enough books

to keep our story alive.

 

– Alvené Appollis-du Plessis

 

Love Fury

 

Today the world is coming through the walls again –

through our computer speakers, declaring

that doom is imminent, insisting

that we are turning the earth into a fire –

 

just like the one I used to imagine, burning

on and on into eternity

when I was a Protestant boy.

 

Today it came to me: what if

that vision was accurate? Maybe I’ll find myself

one of these days, in a long line

headed for extreme weather. I don’t know.

 

All I have to exchange with you,

to set down here against the likelihood

of apocalypse as night falls,

is this clear image: the two of us

standing side by side

this day six years ago,

when we promised to surrender

to a different, slower burning,

to offer ourselves up to a different fire.

 

So I’ll be on board when they say

we must cut down on emissions.

When they ask us to leave smaller footprints

of carbon on the earth, I’ll sign up,

or at least sign the petition.

But there’s a secret, sustaining

fire I keep close to me,

guarding an inner space science has not named;

and I guard it every day so it doesn’t collapse,

so the world won’t keep growing smaller inside my chest.

 

 Now, as opinions harden, as feeling

and thought are both blunted from misuse,

may I always carry with me

these traces of our fiery pilgrimage.

May something in me remember

how to be molten, to remain

hot and excessive, in tune

with things hidden under the earth;

willing to change my shape

to contain this old love fury

that makes and unmakes us every day.

 

Jacques Coetzee

 

Green tomatoes

for Sheila

 

“… apart from that

the house remains the same

since you have gone. I suspect

the clock has stopped in sympathy

with silence, cars at night

on the Alice road, pass,

a distance slower.

I couldn’t find the bread-knife,

bought some rolls instead

(the shop lady said they

would keep forever if I freeze them).

The man from East London came

about upholstering,

I said we’d have to wait and see …

He left his card “in case”.

O’ Yes, I almost forgot, surprise, surprise!

I pulled the curtains back

to watch the rain, hey presto,

there they were, blushing in rows,

the green tomatoes

you left to ripen.

P.S.

When are you coming home?”

 

– Cathal Lagan

 

(published in Sandbird, Alice, Lovedale Press: 1999)

Monday, February 7, 2022

Heron poem trio

1 Two herons

On a dune –
a partnership of grace:
together and apart,
telling me something
about the simple truths
we face: me
and my heart.

2 Reach

Two herons and I –
three points on the beach –
watching, still,
and wondering.

The morning haze combines
our pondering,

the distance between us
a riddle
to reach.

3 Two herons

Needle-heads
on threads of neck,
bodies grey and blue,
weave me, on my walking feet,
back, to thoughts
of you.

– Silke Heiss, 22nd January 2022

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Neanderthal burial site at Shanidar

The time between us and them –
what is it? Sixty, seventy, eighty thousand years?
Or the time it takes a team
of bright-eyed archaeologists
to map this cave and read the many bones in it,
to decipher their cryptic message:
this pollen, surrounding the body
of the patriarch;
bones that have healed imperfectly
after a savage injury? Or the time

they must have had to tend to him,
to gather shards of who knows what stories
to warm him there, unable now
to hunt or gather food himself?

Our instruments suggest
the timeline, can hope to guess
how often they returned to this place,
how many generations of dead
lie buried here. But what songs they sang,
or what they feared or worshipped
as they brought their wild flowers
we cannot say. From this
or any other distance, it is impossible
to establish the shape of ritual
to everyone’s satisfaction.

 - Jacques Coetzee

Thursday, October 28, 2021

kamerade

ek laat my een oog toeval
en sit my vinger liggies op my oogbal
ek voel die ratse reaktiewe spierkragtigheid wat
my oog heen en weer katrol

met my vinger in sagte aanraking met
die flinke oog-aksie
besef ek net meer hoe
hard die oog deur die dag EN die nag werk
hoe ver en fyn sy kan sien

ek hou my handpalms warm en
saggies oor my twee oë
ek murmureer 'n innige dankie vir
hierdie twee kamerade
wat so mooi na my kyk

 - Lara Kirsten

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Unfinished music

     for Hugh

All day I’ve been following your clearest lines:
walked within easy earshot of the sea,
though I sit at my desk inland, and hardly move at all.

So often you’ve walked the beach at Scarborough,
listening for the sea’s many voices,
that by now you conjure them effortlessly:

voices of drowned sailors; echoes
of spent empires, their arrogance
scattered for all to see; the separation
of lovers, of parents and children; and always
those long, empty beaches, for us to walk
down, down through the seven ages to oblivion.

And you, choosing not to be overwhelmed
by that grand chorus, learned instead
to fasten your mind to each shifting

detail; to pare down language
to its essentials:
everything you saw and heard reassembled
into digestible fragments
of the great, unwritten script –

seventeen syllables summoning, again and again,
hints of bird-calls, salt spray,
ascetic silence, and the silence
after lust and its merciful quenching.

Dear friend, I’m sorry that time
always returns; that in the end
there has to come an end to exploration.
Meanwhile no rock, no bird, no grain of sand,
no gesture of yours or mine
is identical to any other;
each one a fragment
of that great music you still hear
and channel, which must of course
remain forever unfinished.

 - Jacques Coetzee