Monday, January 29, 2007

Recent poetry

Posted by Simon Halliday | Monday, January 29, 2007 | Category: | 1 comments

Well, I haven't put much up of late, but this is some of the stuff I am working on. I am experimenting with some techniques. I implore you to read it out loud. I am still working on conveying some of what I hear when I read it into the grammar and structure of the poetry. I think it is working quite well, but still warrants work. So yes, all work in progress, but thought you'd probably want to read them. Enjoy.

My smelly grandpa 15.12.06

Teenage intents
abounded in you.
You, who died a
grumpy teenager in a body
bereft of adolescence

Scarpering off for booze,
pisses in the bush,
scaring nurses with the
exposure of your

age-shriveled penis
in its swamp of matted
grey pubic hair.

There was an air around you,
medical miasma
your body’s sherry-cravings,
the smell of a mind losing itself.

I remember your lost body,
collapsed in on itself
like a summer chair.

It was fitting that you
died in summer.

Everything smells stronger
in summer: urine,
wine, your breath.

All captured by heat
brought to redolent demise.

I don’t know if yours
was a noisome death,
But I hope it was, that maybe
your corpse stank a bit,
or your bowels passed foulness.

You would have preferred
to be unquiet, unclean.

Stanhope 19.12.06 edited 07.01.29

I took a moment at the
stop on Stanhope bridge
Table Mountain set
against a sky tinged with

pansy shell and Greek blue
the clouds were vanilla
and white foaming the
waves of the sky-sea

for I moment I was drowning in the sky

the immensity of the mountain
the rusted scaffolds that
scar the glass
of the second-hand dealership

the cars,
the drawn-faced drivers
in their BMs, Mercs, Audis
the exhale-inhale of motors

all resuscitated me, held me.

I drew in sudden breath.
My golf’s engine clucked at me.
A thick-fingered man was scratching
at my window, his fingernail broken

like a hatched egg. He offered me a
wire-beaded Christmas tree that
wouldn’t die in the South African sun.
I was blinded by my awakening,

ignored him, frustrated at the clash
of the urban, the human
with my drowning dreams.
Awkward, I drove home.

A set of keys 20.12.06

and an innocuous white
plastic thing that sits in
the nest of near silver

I focus on them briefly
a mace spray with a
cross-hatched knoppie

the nozzle points away
from the man whose hand
rests on them.

The spray looks like a
or maybe toothpaste

I couldn’t help but stop
talking momentarily
letting my tea cool –

I forget it’s come to this.
The table that
the keys lie on
looks steely stark

it’s really just grey
and not all that
Curious reminders.

Open Windows 06 edited 07.01.24

The heat pushes down.
Tar births form on the road
bursting up black tar bits.
My windows are closed.

I've sanctioned open windows.
To be private, have silence,
To ignore the fact:

that the man outside holding
pamphlets has open skin
wide and sore on his palm.

He can't offer jokes to a
closed window, neither
could it shake his hand.

Behind me, an open-windowed
car is bombarded with singing,
stomping, clapping, hands.

Fingers wreathe out.
Change exchanges hands.
Hands shake.

My face births a salty
litter of tears and sweat.
I am pushed, I am pushed by heat,

by frustration, by everyday
annoyance at beggars, by
my angriness to close my windows.

Atlantis 07.01.06

I dreamt a diluvian flood
washing the mucky streets
of Cape Town

it was the homeless who died
shacks were swept away
rubbish was flushed
deep into the ocean

my city was left
very, very clean

Cape Town is not meant
to be clean, it's a dirty
english in afrikaans in xhosa
brown, white, black, yellow
pink, garlanded, christian, moslem
hybrid city,

in its cleanliness
in its flooding
Cape Town washed
itself away.

part of me wished the city had sunk
that it had been vanquished by the sea

an unmarked and watery grave
would have been appropriate

Crash on the corner of Main and Rouwkoop

A body turned sideways (or looking
backwards I couldn’t tell which).
A mottled brown-grey dog,
a used-zeb-sponge kind of dog
pulled its tyre-chewed hind legs
along the road behind it.

Its legs looked like a tattered bride’s train
stained scarlet and brown.
They left a snail trail of blood on the road.

And I couldn’t help but think of coca-cola tin red
and that made me think of drinking it
(coke not the dog),
and it would have to be cold, icy
and it might have been after a run
which is what that guy on the road could
have been doing when the car hit him.

Sucks to be him facing the wrong way.

A little Lego-man.
Almost like you could pop out
his legs and give him new ones.

His shoes wouldn’t fit.

A dog and his runner.

The car looks like a discarded apple core
pushed in the road’s gutter
thick-thin-thick smashed from the side.

The old lady driver from the home down the road
got out undamaged (thankfully), she looks like
her hips could have broken in surprise,
wobbly-jelly grief-wrought hips.

*When marimba rhythms start to sway*

Maybe she’s guilty about the difference
in age, she knows she’s going to die soon
and she’s just killed someone, or at least helped
to kill him. Or maybe she doesn’t like seeing dogs in pain.
Or maybe her peach pit face looks like that normally,
all the juice squeezed out, purple eye shadow running.


*Dah da da da da dah!*

In the lights from the crowded cars,
in the red-blue-red-blue flashes from
the ambulances, police, traffic cops
it’s a club scene

*When marimba rhythms start to play*

People bent over, swaying, standing
the wetness on their faces
could be sweat instead of tears

*dance with me, make me sway*

Crowd in the corner from the nursing home:
bowlers day out

*like the lazy ocean loves the shore*

wobble-jelly granny jive

*dance with me, sway me more*

i-pods really shouldn’t be allowed to
play music at times like this.

*Dah da da da da dah!*

I wonder if the dashes on the road
Are meant to look like bread crumbs
Telling us where to go, where not to go.


“Hansel and Gretel crashed today
at the corner of Main and Rouwkoop.
It is supposed that they confused
the dashes in the road for breadcrumbs.”

Silly, silly Hansel and Gretel.

What would they have looked like
if the witch had put them in the oven?

Maybe something like that girl they took
out of the car, once it had finished burning.

The paramedics covered her over quite quickly.

Taut Love

Love can be a taut, thin-lipped emotion
for me. In fact I imagine it as a
particularly stern elderly
lady in mauve with her
hair clasped tightly behind
her head in a grey bun, with wisps
of floating hair that trail behind her.

I can’t fathom why though.

Possibly it’s the shadow of my father
who loved me with gusto and
the outright, overwhelming flamboyance
of red and yellow wool tied to rusty
bicycles (me with blonde hair
giggle-screaming as we flew
pell-mell downhill).

That of course wasn’t the shadow

It came in those moments when
I recall trying to read by moonlight
so he wouldn’t know I was awake
his mood so dark it swept away
any and all of the bright array of
memories left by red and yellow wool.
His darkness a fulminating, smokey
Signal Hill burning darkness.

But in all of this he still taught me
something about love, in his laments
over his lost wife, my mother whom
he still loves, but can never regain
(divorce added to his darkness)
he taught me about children and their
affection for bright colours and bicycles
and people who laughed in admiration.

So maybe love is taut and thin-lipped.

Maybe it’s the dark, wavy hair of my
father now gone an aluminium grey,
maybe it’s the way his skin looks pocked,
wrinkled and overused by the sun, and
how people say he’s starting to look his age.

Maybe love is the taut skin on my face
when I see him and I make every effort to
remember him as he was, so that I can
appreciate him as he is now: his moods
less severe, his ebullience dampened
and his pleasures taken in the stasis of life.

Love is the skin of my father’s face
slack from its sixty odd years of being
a face, but within it buried the same
taut, smiling, rushing, scheming of
something newborn and unreplaced.

When I run Cecilia Forest 07.01.24

I get a sense of how green
Is meant to taste, it burrows
Up into my nostrils, down
My throat and clutches
My lungs in an asthmatic grip

It is dark and beery.
Somehow still clean, and
Cut like the edges of leaves.

It will not be exhaled, it
Will stay deep in my chest,
In the back of my throat
And it will linger green,
Dark and brewing until I return.

To Swallow a Winegum Sun 07.01.26

When your urine is that
granadilla lolly yellow
cloudy and sherbety
and pungent as pine resin
you it’s the height of summer.

You know that the heat
you’re feeling reached
the point where you didn’t
think you could get any hotter,
hours, maybe days ago.

But still, you’re at work
in your office with the
scraggle-carpet floor,
the windows open and a
kite of sweat, the shape

of once colonized Africa
across the breadth of your back
and nothing, nothing you do
will make you cool for
a valuable period of time.

And that makes you angry.
At Summer. Though how anyone
could be angry at a season baffles you.
You’re angry anyway.
You wish that the orange-yellow

winegum of a sun could be
popped in your mouth
and swallowed.
Maybe that could cool you.
Arrest your sweat for just a minute.

You go to the beach and order
a granadilla lolly from the
coloured ice cream vendor
in his white Ola overalls.
It’s what we do.