Monthly Archives: December 2010

Capturing Christmas

                                                     An hour of hard driving, 
                                                     we arrive in a
                                                     cough of red dust.

                                                     We have come to take
                                                     Christmas photos, a small
                                                     gesture for big-hearted workers.

                                                     Coy children peer from behind 
                                                     adult legs, then disappear into the
                                                     day beneath giggles.

                                                     Ushered inside a mud brick
                                                     hut, the only light peeks through
                                                     low open doors and unsealed cracks.

                                                     A fool would surmise Christmas does
                                                     not live here; this house
                                                     devoid of trimmings.

                                                     Children return wrapped
                                                     in dusty suits
                                                     and faded satin.

                                                     As the family settles, there is no
                                                     mistaking, the flash of pride, as
                                                     we expose Christmas.

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Battlefield

                                               It is dry season.  Clouds gather
                                               in a promise of rain; the empty stomachs 
                                               of Boabab trees rumble, their arms crooked
                                               with unanswered prayers.

                                               Impala living on nervous tension
                                               brave the flat plains of back-burnt
                                               grass; eagles with front row seats
                                               scoff at the sealing of fate.

                                               Herds of zebra and buffalo cross off
                                               the days before migration, they know
                                               the lions are lying low and
                                               naming their troops.

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Surface Tension

All morning, higher than
the heads of executioners,
the sun rose above bearded men,
the raw iron of their machines
and fell without an echo
at dusk on the shoulders
of a grim highway.
 
Tired bodies fold in, as the Chevy
engine screams in second gear.
The halogen glow of headlights
casts shadows over tree roots,
broken veins on paper thin skin.
 
On wooden crosses, on the surface
of wolf-toothed swamps, on the cold edge
of a starving child; black threatens, always.
What death hasn’t tainted, dust suffocates.
 
They remember nights on the soft graves
of children, brushing blades of grass
from their knees, how they could catch
a piece of sky if they weren’t so alarmed.
Terror tattooed in the eyes of their women;
long gone the gentle sway of hips
beneath cotton dresses; bodies tensed and
expectant only, to cradle shadows.
 
All is silent where the dead lie under their strict
burden of rememberance. Beyond the barb
wire fence, traffic roars and the country goes
about its business with its usual noise.

 

* a collaborative poem written with Graham Nunn

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Breakfast

                                                Standing on the crater’s rim,
                                                morning draws back its
                                                breath, my body chilled by
                                                thinning air and rising anticipation.

                                                Steep roads open the landscape, 
                                                exposing one mystery at
                                                a time. Yet still, my eyes have no
                                                knowledge or time to prepare.

                                                Half way down, vultures
                                                scrap and bicker over
                                                bones stripped bare of
                                                identity.

                                                At the river, greedy Jackal’s tap
                                                dance the dust, salivate 
                                                impatience, as a lion
                                                takes her kill.

                                                In the distance, wilderbeast and
                                                zebra share breakfast; converse about
                                                safety in numbers and having
                                                eyes in the back of your head.

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