Mick’s Ashes

by Michael Keeling

Under a darkened sky
soft rain falls gently on the wind

Reefed from turbulent seas
paddlers ring a rock-bound pool,
spokes in a hallowed wheel

In fellowship we stand above,
silent witness to a last request

Prayers in gratitude, linked hands,
strewn ashes stay awhile
then slip beneath red roses

Under a darkened sky
soft rain falls gently on the wind.

Grandmothers

by Angela Prew

In days of old, grandmothers
we’re told, knew their role.
Sat, wrapped in shawls,
in rocking chairs by the fire,
told stories to the children and dispensed
wisdom and recipes to their mothers.

Today’s grandmothers rock
with the children. Shawls
have become pashminas, long skirts
replaced by jeans.
They still know their role;
keeping up with technology,
never showing their age.

The Elements

by Cornelia Rohde

(a lipogram)

The eye remembers when trees stretched free,
dew nestled where fern dresses swelled green,
veld scent preened, reeds smelled fresh,
herds fed serene egrets,
deep kelp reefs nested eels.

Here, greedy steel, cement deserts creep.
Grey bells knell the
feckless end.

Siblings 2

by Annette Snyckers

At your wedding so long ago
in the grey stone church —
your mother-in-law stiff-upper-lipped,
our mother beaming in blue,
I was nervous,
for I had duties as flower girl
to my big sister,
had to guide your long satin train safely
around sharp bends in the aisle —
for a faint-making moment
it caught on a splinter.
 
I look at the wedding photo on your wall
and see my half-hearted smile;
my dress did not fit right.
Or was I afraid of losing you?
 
You were always way ahead of me,
but your steps have become slow,
shuffling towards that place
you do not want to go –
I find myself right behind you now,
still worried about splinters
on the last treacherous stretch.

Lagoon

by Elizabeth Trew

Each drew new meaning from the waves’ collision.
Sea broke on land to full identity.
                                 Seamus Heaney, Lovers on Aran

 
The land rises and falls
battered by the hungry Atlantic
that mouths roughly along her shore.

Little by little the land gathers her strength.
Stepping into the waves she places her arm
into the sea to shield his blows.

Little by little her arm lengthens across his path.
He turns, flows softly into her channel,
her warm body yields to his gentle waves.

Land and sea join in the long afternoon.
She opens an eye, becomes a lagoon.

Summer School

by Lise Day

(after Frank O’ Hara)

It is 16.29 in Pretoria a Tuesday
three days after Summer School began
It is 1976 and the green Audi
broke down on a long straight road
so I got here in a tow truck
and I don’t know how I will get home

I am going to lectures and studying
Mtshali’s Sounds of a Cowhide Drum
he is a Black Poet in White South Africa
cows watched where my car broke down
also The Flea by sexy John Donne
the lecturer wrote ‘fuck’ on the board
he saw nuns in the class in wimples
and wanted to get that out of the way.

I am staying with my husband’s bosses’ mother-in-law
in a flat on the top floor.
I get home at four and she asks me to buy a loaf of bread.
I take the lift.
I sit in a corner, sniff tears into my scarf, eat the bread
read Death of a Salesman which is in my handbag
because the lift is stuck.
I hear voices ‘Iemand sit vas in die hysbak’.
‘It’s not iemand it’s me’, I shout
and I need to pee and it’s after four o’clock in Pretoria
when everything stops working.

Not Lost in Translation

by Elaine Edwards

She said, “Your car will be safe with me, sir.”

But I think she meant:
As you see
I’m a seventy- something Caucasian female
weighing, at the most, 46 kilograms
so how could I possibly challenge
a determined thief?
But this is a job
that gives me some
dignity.

You said, “Thank you.”

But you really meant:
I will give you a decent tip when I get back.

And then you both smiled

(and that needs no translation).

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

by Michael Keeling

City of mosques and minarets
where tramlines criss-cross streets
and tourists stand bemused.

Where people-thronged bazaars
display the jewels of temptation
and spices clog the senses.

Where down the steps of surprise
Roman columns reflect on soft lit water
and ghostly carp swim past medusa heads.

Where wonderment stops breathing
and silence is enhanced
by the drip-drip-drip of unseen tears.

Where discernment is
a subterranean sea,
life blood of a besieged city.

Pause, reflect,
ascend to the light of reality
carrying the shock of amazement.

Charity

by Angela Prew

The ‘poor’ sleep on cardboard,
wear rags, beg at street corners,
push supermarket trolleys
filled with trash from dustbins
of the wealthy.
“How dreadful,” we say
as we look the other way.
We pack a bag of old clothes, tins
past the sell-by date;
leave it to be given out
by someone else.
We never meet the needy, but
we have filled a need,
stayed clear of contact.
How cold is Charity.

The Wonderment of Taxonomy

by Cornelia Rohde

(Found poem)

10th C. classification of plants and animals from the celebrated Chinese encyclopedia, The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge:

those that belong to the Emperor,
embalmed ones,
those that are trained,
suckling pigs,
mermaids,
fabulous ones,
stray dogs,
those that are included in this classification,
those that tremble as if they were mad,
innumerable ones,
those drawn with a very fine camel’s-hair brush,
others,
those that have just broken a flower vase,
those that resemble flies from a distance.