“A Poem for Joy”

This is a poem for cloudless days,

for lunch in a garden

with your favourite music

musing from the speakers.

This is a poem for the love

that lives inside your throat

and the arthritic cricket croaking

its own song from afar.


This is a poem for weather

that matches your mood,

leading your mind on a dance


This is a poem for joy

and boundless blue skies,

for wind through palm trees

and the weaver’s crafted nest.


This is a poem for a deaf conductor

who made symphonies of his silent world,

for the strength he had

to finish his last with:

‘O friends, not these sounds

but some more joyful’.

The wind picks up and

the palms start to whisper.


“Karangahake Gorge”

Water ran around me:

flowing mountain crystal

mixed with filtered light,

falling through foliage above –

a symphony of sensation

in ferned glades with

every kind of green and silver

bathed in summer light.


A burnt temple of tree,

once massive kauri,

sentinel of the greenlands,

stands stark and hollow.

From within, feeling electrified,

I know the earth is a conductor

of acoustical resonance,

singing from here, its soul.


I remember all this,

seeking words in a forest

like small pieces of poems

left waiting to be found

on an overgrown path,

but I remember the faces more,

my fellow walkers and

Beethoven’s Ninth.


The crashing choral chorus

proves that, even in dark caves,

the human voice has always

resonated most.


This poem was written with a quote from The Interpreter (2005) in mind, but I can’t find an easy link, so here it is:


The gunfire around us

makes it hard to hear.

But the human voice is different…

Even when it’s not shouting.

Even when it’s just a whisper.

Even the lowest whisper

can be heard over armies

when it’s telling the truth.

“Metaphorically Speaking”

Religion intrigues me,

although I seek no sermon,

just Joseph Campbell’s

God as metaphor,

which must mean

we are but figures

on the stage

of speech.


My god is

a rainbow-melted hill on fire

and a butterfly’s silhouette

against the stratified sky,

burnt to apricot by sunset.

Despite a weakness for dice,

she knows Einstein

and has forgotten the church.


(It appears that my link to Joseph Campbell’s 1987 Hero’s Journey has been ‘removed by user’. Nevertheless, if you don’t know him, do yourself a favour and look the man up. He was epic. Literally.)

“Sunday Afternoon”

“And then my heart with pleasure fills

and dances with the daffodils” — William Wordsworth


I walked into nature today,

not the nature I know,

although the cicadas sound similar,

if less insistently symphonic

then still cymbalic.


Nature’s static

crackled across the

antennae of trees;

broken phrases punctuated

by beautiful words.


Words like Wordsworth’s

lonely, long-white clouds

and blissful solitude,

flooding in with the tide

through the mangroves.


Those trees strike a note:

ecosystem engineers

which survive daily change

orchestrated by cosmic force

(and the cicadas)


I came no closer to knowing

the secret of life.

But, perhaps I came closer

to life.

Maybe that’s the secret?


“Maybe I Lied”

Maybe love’s not an ocean.

Maybe it’s just a bus station

late at night

with an unattractive couple

holding onto each other

for as long as possible

while another couple practices

really cheesy dance moves,

twirling around

in their own universe

like the moon and her sun,

casting their complimentary light,

regardless of who looks on.

“A Lover’s Wave”

Love is an ocean,

with wind-whipped waves

rising out of blue

then breaking.


Sometimes they smash

onto the shore,

a messy

salt story.


Or they rise again,

sea slipping between

his fingers, sinking

deep into the sand.


No sooner

has he left

than he misses the

salt sound smell.


He must not forget

to find a shell for

his beating blood to

become a crashing bell

so that even far inland,

away from love’s laugh

and the bluebreaking waves,

he can hear you for a moment

deep in the ocean swell.

“Found in Translation”

I come from a country

with eleven official languages,

where the first speech

was painted on cave walls

with the red ochre of our soil

and the charcoal of our fires.


A country of the Old People,

of Shaka, Cetswayo and Dingaan,

Smuts, Verwoed, Botha

Rolihlahla, Tambo and Sisulu.

The land of Saartjie Baartman

and spitfire sunsets.


I come from a country where

names were used to divide,

to oppress,

carrying a history of

separate development

that echoes in guttural growls


and clicks no colonial mouth

could ever find its way around.

I know the power of names

because I understand so few

in a country where many take

one name for the modern


One name for the traditional,

far removed from me.

I know the power of names

because I do not know so many,

cut off by barricades placed

in the townships of our past.


But I also know that

what we are called

matters less than what we choose

to call others we don’t understand.

Listening is a universal language,

just ask the artists of our caves.


This post is response to the Weekly Writing Challenge on names.



My poems are darker than me.

Sometimes it’s imperfection,


But sometimes it’s because

the world is sad.


There’s a story of a singing clown

who doesn’t speak,

traversing this world with

only a lantern and a briefcase,

spreading sadness and beauty.


Like his name, his life

is a gathering of broken glimpses,

interrupted reflections

pooling randomly on the ground

after the downpour.


I like that

he makes no attempt

to join the dots or

paint a smile

on his lined face.


That he makes no effort

to assure others, simply

finding his own song of sadness,

making it beautiful,

then leaving the stage


with only a box of tissues

left behind to remind us

to embrace sad beauty.

That muddy puddles

are part of our song, too.