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.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Io Scrivo

Posted by Simon Halliday | Tuesday, February 27, 2007 | Category: |


Driving the N1 is a baptism by fumes:

Total immersion in the smoky viscera

of internal combustion, their invasion

of your nostrils turns your snot black

and gritty as last week’s left-over ash.

It was midday on a Friday in December,

and the traffic was thick as turning yoghurt

left out on a summer’s afternoon.

My fingers gripped the steering wheel so tightly

the bruised leather of its contours

stuck to the skin, adhered to my

knuckle wrinkles like old, viscid malt.

* * *

Rub your thumb against your index finger

when your palms are slightly sweaty.

You should get the kind of squeaky,


“No, I don’t want soup”


that inhabited my car

(small, white, no aircon,

the tyres going bald)

Yes, you’ve got it

– that kind of hot.

* * *

I was driving the N1

out of Cape Town.

It was holiday time.

dogs of war (revision)

the dogs

(of this war)

are weakened

they’re without food

they’ve devolved to water ripple ribs

to necks so thin they look

like they’ve grown fins

I see them skulk

Langa's streets,

the other orphans of this

filial affair

sanguine and loyal

they’re left behind

without caregivers

sans family

amidst the real orphans,

the opal eyed glue-sniffers

the cup-your-hands-to-catch-

water-from-a-tap beggar boys

bent on catching something,

even if it is aids and

“they’re far too young for any of this”

and “I agree” and “it happens”

and it just doesn’t make

sense that we can’t do anything

about the fact that dogs are the

survivors of families dead by aids.

There are dogs dead

and dogs dying in the street.

That’s just the dogs.

People are doing the same thing.

And white people I know seem to cry more

about dead dogs (flies buzzing)

than lots and lots of dead,

poor, unemployed, black, people.

‘same difference’

some of them say.

the salt of lost oceans

in a kiss

I taste the salt

of lost


on your lips

one Day crafts another

Sunrise starts

its claim of Dawn

a steady consonance

the coalescence

of rays of the sun

their ocean reflections

their shimmers in rivers

their clasp on glass

form sunlight’s shackles

on Daytime

yet the lock’s decay is steady

the Aurora of night

slip the chains,

and Day is released to Darkness

Nighttime stakes its claim

unreflective, unshimmering,

but clasping and bright

as a changing Moon

that relights the night

then relinquishes its hold

as Sunrise starts

its claim of Dawn

a steady consonance

the coalescence

of rays of the sun.

just so

as we lie in the half-night

your teeth and tongue

make playful chiaroscuro

of its darkness and light

your lips cross-hatch

your mouth, your teeth are the

paper-thin white that sits

beneath every charcoal sketch

none of them have had your face

tight against this black and white

blanket, your back up and down

with night-breath, and the slight

curve of your shoulders as you clutch

the pillow to your breasts: pale,

caught by moonbeams that cleave

the curtains and tie you with the such

enormous strength of the night-time,

silk slivers of ropey darkness,

that bind to a sketch of you in bed

in the half-light, the sublime

just so you are caught in the artistry of dreams

The height of care

was the sagging skin

of my grandmother’s elbow

dipped carefully

into hot bath water

She would dip and stir

dip and stir

as she patiently awaited

the perfect temperature

she would gently sing

‘til the folded-in skin

of her elbow said:

this is right, bathe him now.

She would lift my

brother by the hefts of

baby-skin beneath the armpit

and slowly settle him down

into the water: his vetkoek feet

then his lumpy legs and

plump tummy ‘til he sat in

the bathwater solid on his bum

she soaped him with method

to end she would pour the elbow tested

water over his head,

he’d chortle. She’d laugh.

The importance of ice-cream lids

Over the back-seat

front-seat separation

a father hands his son

the lid of an ice cream tub.

The boy, held back by the

black seatbelt, strains to claim

the lid from his dad’s hands.

Finally, he nabs it,

grasps the booty and takes a moment

before slowly licking the

circumference of the lid

The circle of chocolate

diminishes in the face of

his concentrated ministrations.

And afterwards, left with a half-moon of

melted chocolate ice-cream,

face and fingers all dirty brown

and a once-white T-shirt

He smiles. His father in front,

who should be angry at the mess,

instead laughs, and laughs, and laughs.

And I

And I’m sitting inside this

Big house in Bishopscourt

And I’m hungry and my food

Hasn’t arrived

And the doorbell rings

And I think at friggin last

And I go out to the gate

And there’s this delivery guy

And I was going to tip him

Just under 10%

And his wife and his little baby

Are inside the cold car

And it’s raining, and it’s wet

And I have my food

And his wife and his child

Are in the idling car

And I give him over 20%

And I leave feeling slightly…

And I have so much

And he’s a delivery guy

And it’s a Friday night and his wife

And little boy are in the car

And my meal gets cold

And I eat it like that

And it still tastes ok.

Currently have 1 comments:

  1. Simon,

    You're such a hottie