Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Some Recently Developing Ideas

Posted by Simon Halliday | Thursday, May 25, 2006 | Category: |

harmonics 12.05.06

glancing at the sky

i see a star damaged

by the light around me

hemmed in the controlled

dispersion of our

electric lives

and I am humming an

awkward tune turning it

into a whistle

tuning into and out of

what makes the star

real in this moment

that i am watching it

seeing it and enjoying it's

damaged harmony with mine

Moving photos 14.05.06

I have photos of you

put up on the walls of

my room, slowly their

prestick-strength has

failed them and they have

peeled off, a corner at

a time normally. But

there are two of you,

black and white,

bleached sand, the curve

towards a breast as you

lie there, and these

neither peeled nor

took their time, they

simply fell. I don't want

to put them back in their

customary places, we

are no longer suited

to them being there,

nor am I sure if they should

be up any longer, grey

beaches of times when

you weren't away and

neither of us waiting

for the other to change,

for the other to stay.

Awoken dream 19.05.06


Trembling child of my thoughts

do not cower

you are neither hungry

nor thirsty



why do you cry?

I see neither wounds

nor scars on your

pale body, you



Yet there is a hand

and a pointing finger

that draws in

the sand of these


these predicted



these finger sketches

made in the sands

become golem-alive

the barefoot walking

water carrying mothers

of my mind's eye

hungry fingers scratching

in the sand meals they make

held earthenware strong

the strength of these clay fingers

is borne in their daily

water-bearing, water dreaming


without water, arid in

the African sun, the potter-

creators are weak and dry:

their makings cracking in

the heat, breaking in the

drought of it and once more

fading, the earth swallows

them and what was once blood

nourishes the parched land

sweet land that birthed

these golem dreams that

showed me the water-clay

children, hungry as they

were, but brought back

and dreamed at me, brought

forth, tied to me, and I, having

collected their sun-scattered

remains, wonder whether

I could have held back

the heat that so culled them.

I regret that I did not intervene,

that I watched in silence,

and bore witness to their shattering,

their last out breath.

Restoration 21.05.06

All it took was

some words, the

way you shook

your hair and a


from that I took


and there I had been

cowering in the

fear that the rest

that any more would

simply be shadows

you present me with


Interest 21.05.06

To batter against

what were the barriers

I had set up

to know that I

had erected these

structures, but be

unaware of the methods

of their de(con)struction

my god you have stirred

me up and it feels

so good to once

more engage and

be wanton for the

damage that you could

inflict on me in

letting you in

in the possibility

of your vision

beneath my closed

eyelids, to be unheard

by you, but for you

to feel the bass of

my voice against the

closeness of your skin

that would content me

Five Men 23.05.06

I scream wracked the windows

of my home tonight

and I am past the point

of tentativeness

I ran out to the calls of

“They're down the canal”

and a woman screaming

“Get the bastards!”

I had not run that fast months

my damaged knee, but the pent

frustrations of hijackings

break-ins and the muggings

of ninety-one year old women

spurned me onwards, I ran with

two men, I the biggest of

us three and I caught up

to the 'bastards' who'd

attacked my neighbour lady

five men in the darkness of

rondebosch, canal water and leaves

I stood there as they

shouted at one another

running and confused at

people chasing them:

the reverse predation

and it was stranger still

when they ran at me and
I stood my ground.

One stopped, waved a knife

and ran away. Although

I was not fearful, stupid as

that may seem, it would

have been more foolish still to

die alone there, having outrun

my friends, but I knew

I knew and I knew, that

part of me had wanted

to attack him, to make

him feel attacked, to rip

at his knife-hand with my

hands to punch him with

my frustrated fists and to

kick at the lowness of it.

Earlier I had tried to recall

synonyms. They came to me

as I ran my chase:

Dialectical. Disputatious.

And they were so damn

appropriate the dialectics

of the material, the stolen

and the gone – the paradox

the rich fearing the strength

of poverty as young men

race our streets in their

casual attempts at 'work'

of laptops and old ladies'

purses, the radios and old

shoes in cars, the left, the

lost and the alone. Gone.

A Primary School Classroom in a Township 25.05.06

Far far from the grasp of gusty seas and cling-wrap

beaches these faces the stalks of brown seaweed in

an ocean of white paint and ink-stained desks, they

are the wind-blown pick-'n-pay packet children of

Cape Town's shores blown into the overheads and

highways caught up in the barbed-wire berths that

surround the schools in which they were once sweet

once young, momentarily youthful in the bright, sunlit

corners of these too dim rooms. The boy with the

ink on his pale hands left his mark in the sand near

the school's gate, he glanced across his shoulder at

the rust tin soccer games, the gravel clean and innocent

in the face of all the running, the games and the

flagrant inaction, the careless joys of education

primary and formative as it should be. Yet it could

be more: with the ideas of carpets beneath feet, the

concepts of books on shelves and pencils in hands

or chalkboards that would meet with chalk, rather

than the drum of dull voices and their echoes on

cemented floors, the emptiness of bookless shelves

and the orchestral silence of unwriting children.

I would not claim that their tongues are not golden,

nor that their eyes could not remember the greens

and blues of beached days, but the talking, the reading

and the idea of imagination seem sparse here, it is

difficult to consider them, to conceive of what once

would have been imagined, would have been naked,

burning and eaten up by tastes gone dull from disuse

for the paper-thin boys breaking into the waves of the

smaller girls look on in shocked hair ways, eyes wide

at umlungu, eyes brighter still at how we so become

idols, how we are the moment by moment recreated

histories playing out our drums on the skin of their

ancestors, and them the heirs to lost thrones and further

gone lineages of men, bought, sold, liberated and sold anew.

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