Visual and Other Poetry

a selection from my private journals

I wrote my first poem at the age of 12. That was when I realised I could either make art or die, and it stayed that way for a long time.

My journaling has subsequently become increasingly self-aware. I now study the process formally to understand its role in memory formation and trauma mediation — beginning with how it relates to my own life experience. This is how I learn about private creative expression and poetic form, and how they soothe and heal, and bear witness.

These are a selection of poems from 2002 to the present day. In some, images form a poetic assemblage with my words to tell a story that’s more than the sum of its parts.

blank
August 2014

they have placed a muzzle

upon my mind

and I have allowed them 

to put it there

 

I have woven it myself

with the threads they’ve left hanging

on my open palm

pills I swallow ohSoMeek

twicePerDay

to avoid feeling SoFierce 

 

the friends who profess some care show faces stretched thin

with patience

and I behind a mask

with a storm inside

— but contained atLeast —

like a kitten grown in a battle

 

Numbed beyond fear I cannot

care about anything

not even the inexorable

drift of those I hold dear and the fewer

I am indebted to

 

you are a memory that is faulty

 

your words echo along my bedclothes,

running through edges of my furniture 

your image grows thinner,

your voice loses its nuance 

leaving only the scars of your words

 

— From the Book Of New Beginnings

your feet are my feet

your feet are my feet

the lips that I have touched

— my tongue tracing its contours —

speak my words with your voice

 

each toe flexed in pleasure identical

to yours, stretched also to its orgasmic limit

 

the beds that have held us,

the bath that has seen us talk for hours

dumb witnesses to half~ 

in love

and the bruises left by the wedge of our fathers and the hammers swung by others’ ignorant judgements

someone brought their pig to the park today

a hulking black and white thing

confusing all the dogs

and bigger than most of them

 

dogs were built for running —

I rose today at dawn and watched the sea

I counted the jellyfish trees rising

to the height of my window,

floating down towards the harbour

 

I counted the colours in the clouds

the birds flying overhead

the number of times the hammer hit an anvil on a construction sight nearby

 

Wishing for meaning in everything — 

something to cling to as a rhythm I could recognise as yours

 

I dissolve the anchor

but the salt takes its time.

I am not thinking of you

squirrels play ’round the oak trees on Government avenue

 

a man runs endlessly between posts in the Grove in which I sit, 

wet and training for Some Thing or woman or man

 

a hadeda. redbilled in heat

buries its head in the grass behind me, seeking a worm or two

 

the book on Foucault lies unread in my handbag,

packed next to other essentials like water, a notebook and pen

 

a homeless man, sombrero resting on his head ill-fitting 

walks by in conversation with friends

one with a crutch ticking away on the paving with each dysrhythmic limp

 

we are shackled and we are free

 

I am not thinking of you

I am master of all the world

I am master of all the world from up here

guardian of the river before me

and of the mountain, leaning against my back

 

keeper of the precious silence

priestess Queen priestess

 

there is an equanimity when the path ahead calls only your feet

a tidal wave at the tip of Africa

she wanted to drown, so

she took the whole world with her 

 

“A Tidal Wave At The Tip Of Africa!”

the newscasts exclaimed

 

an eye not falling on the quiet 

blinkingOut of her light

a raven caws

still is the wind for a moment

I can see all the way across the bay from here

perched upon a nest of snakes or mice. I am unsure

at this point, it seems the same

waterfalls leap down the mountain

eye does not think of you who left 

complaining “winter is a bitter season”

blind to the gift of rain —

Cape Town

 

a municipal worker clearing leaves fallen from autumnTrees

weaves arias into his work

at the top of his voice

 

how magic this moment —

to trace the minutes between now

and your coming
as once eye traced my fingers down
your clavicle —

lightly, lightly tapGentle
down your serpentSpine
step by exciting step
minute by quiet minute —

when you are gone

eye will plant an oak tree on your breast, in a grove of mangoes
sit in your lap
and curled within roots
cut the fruit with a hunting knife
and think of you

we will sit in your shade
those of us tribe who are left
and remember your warrior’s face
your chest
determination
your anger
and forgiveness

brother, when your bones are
returned to the earth
and eye remain walking
eye will visit you

eye do not await your coming

eye do not expect.

eye did not take extra special care
with the rooms today…
their smells, their colours, their textures…

my face in the mirror did not concern me overmuch
with its raggedness:
one too many late nights not bumping into you —

we are a generation

abandoned by mothers
even those who are there
inadequate

and they, only too badly
served
by their mothers
in turn

eye sat and watched the clouds

on the old stone steps
heads about me turned to the ground

this Mass:
a purrfect union between air
and water

the folds shift in upon themselves,
close: like egg whites frothed
or the gigantic skirts of a loving mother

the clouds do not care
they darken with Being
then dissolve without feeling
in the moment of living

everShifting and
free.

eye would like to travel

the quiet places with you
inhabit silent spaces

spend afternoons reading on the same bed (when it’s raining)
under the same sun (when it’s not)

head on your lap
your hair through my fingers
the pressure of your skull on my thighs

eye am the iceberg, but

also the ocean beneath it

aquifer
the underground lake
an endless network of depths and spaces
vast silences
the source code of the black waters

the occasional drip of heavied mist
from stalagmite onto floor

eye am not the forest only
but the space that contains it
above and below

and through

YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU STILL

YOU KNOW
EYE LOVE
YOU STILL

you know eye love
you
still

you know
eye love you still

you
know eye love you still

you know
eye love you
still

a woman stands alone on a salt pan

at her feet, endless Urth
above, only sky
— high clouds, the break of day

air: crisp

hair loose
lengthed to just above an elbow, straight and heavy
it drifts on the lightest of breezes
caresses a cheek

three vultures circle
patient, spiralSlow, thermalFree

silence: of sound underWater

She lightens, a slow acquisition of translucence inSkin
beComes like paperLantern

the cracks show now, like the ground  beneath her heels

She bursts, with the silent contentment of a star being born

from her belly, dissolving
into nothing —

there it is, that drop —

 

cyphered in a moment

the resin poured in by a great invisible god

to settle within my cracks and harden as skin between

me and the world

 

eye have been ambered

thinking clearly

in ways with words that dare not compute in foreign brains

to be within no gaze understood

sadness can be

like carbon dioxide bubbles expanding your blood

to bursting

with no way out

nor leaving trace on the outside

to shout for your muteness

some languages are more beautiful than others

          and speak in tongues creating worlds divine

with rounded edges, they weave into brains a soft transmission from one idea to the next

Autumn is a favourite time of mine

in this city, HomeForNow

 

on the days the sun shines it is too wet for the miceQuiet

          too cold for the emptyShells

 

when the earth smiles with tears

it remains inconvenient for lovers to uncurl themselves from their bedclothes

and all the slaves look down at their feet

 

it is quieter

and eye come out to play

today your twin walked towards me

as eye left the gallery into a daze of autumnSun

 

caught without meaning

          my body like pebbles catching the breathTide

          on shores smoothed by endless surprises such as these

 

Ache. knowing eye’m grown

attached to what can only be an idea of you

 

beautiful, still

is the very thought of you smiling

until the Fears come —

Io, eye am homesick for my own kind —
the girl bathes her rusk in coffee

with a spoon held carefully over her cup

 

          she doesn’t want any crumbs at the bottom of her tea,

though you cannot beat the homeliness of a warm soggy biscuit

 

we remark upon our peculiarities

          a knot is tied

another thread of goodhearted laughter chimes

          our class is bonded

eye rose today into a mist

          the jellyfishTrees were matched by what came from off the sea

so thick eye could smell it tap me on the nose

all the way in my eyrie

          after crossing the dirtyCity

 

thwarted a viewing of the dawn

it remained beautiful

 

purrhaps eye’ll enjoy winter here

amongst the giant coral tops, storms

and the occasional call of the seagull

in moments of artistry we approximate the divine

 

as in the weave of bodies on a dancefloor worthy of the name

          bodies feel coordinates held within music

translating sound, as magicians do, into four dimensional space

 

a moment, and it’s gone

yet we remain divine

          shadowed only by thoughts, and stories we sometimes take to be real

we share our stories with people who carry worlds of equal weight —

Note: I work with assemblage as a medium, so my creations often include others’ work. I do not claim that work as my own, and all that I do is for non-commercial use. You’re welcome to contact me for a list of sources.