Stocking Filler

by Lise Day

When I was a child I read
of this exotic fruit the
tangerine. Golden, fabulous orb,
trapping the sunshine of distant
Eastern lands. In post-war
Europe even an orange was
precious. Peeled and presented
with reverence. But tangerines
existed only in fables. Story-book
children found them deep in
toes of Christmas stockings.

Now I am grown-up, and despite
the attempts to recapture
that old glamour through names
like mandarin and clementine
the tangerine is a mundane fruit,
stripped of all exotica, missile
at the rugby, sold in sacks,
transmuted to a common naartjie.

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Freedom

by Liz Trew

leaves a window open
lifts the latch
lets itself out

Freedom travels across boundaries
passes dark hours, rides the tall wave
feels the furnace

Freedom pushes and struggles
cries and sheds blood
arrives different – new

Freedom waits, active and still
undoes and unwinds
looks behind – beyond

Freedom powers its own house
reaches
holds unknown music

Freedom unfreezes its streams
looks afresh
at the face of another

Freedom broods, gives birth
in the blood of itself
is never alone

 

 

 

Thirst

by Annette Snyckers

One warm day follows another
into what we used to call winter.
No rain falls,
dams dry up.

We buy bottled water,
hoard the plastic bottles
in cupboards like treasures –
to be rationed out
in the small blue glasses
I keep for special occasions —
on that inconceivable day
when the taps
spit
only
air.

I also buy a string of glass beads,
cold under my fingers,
pale turqoise
like the ice of a glacier.
I hang them
above the basin.
I touch them
to remind me
of water.

The Week That Was

by Cornelia Rohde

I saw my first corpse today.
I try to visualize her floating
down a river with a tulip
resting on her breast.

I like the compassion of Ram Das’s
words: “When all is said and
done, we’re really just all
walking each other home.”

I practice standing strong
and steady like a tree.
If I slow down the chi
moves more naturally.

When he’s here, I think
how great it would be
to have my own space;
but now, a lacuna.

A fraught poetry session:
a muttering young derelict rips
off her belt, spills Jacques’s wine,
damaging his braille computer.

I must focus on clearing
the detritus of my life.
I think of Kunitz; live
in the layers not in the litter.

It cheers me that everything
that has happened to me
is mine and that I get
to tell it in my own voice.

Life Outside

by Angela Prew

Now we live on the Main Road
where, passing beneath our window,
we have a constant parade.
two busy periods occur week-daily;
early traffic starts at dawn,
a queue of lorries, vans and cars,
and a steady stream of trailers from the bottling plant
bustle into town.
Occasional bursts of hooting or sirens
draw us to the windows or wake us from our rest
and, from time to time, sounds of collisions
and wails as ambulances, rescue vans, police cars
speed up to clear the road of battered people,
animals and goods no longer fit for sale.
The traffic thins out after nine
as the workers line up, slowly, to return home.
Matches enliven the quiet weekends,
cricket and rugby, both played at our rear.
We know at once which side has won
by the time and volume of noise.
For us, the old, whose limbs have stiffened,
there is constant amusement outside.

Krishna’s Mercy

A Fibonacci

by Cornelia Rohde

Down
holes
among
the pipul roots
great hooded snake gods
live in rich underground cities
built of precious gems
whose brilliance
lights up
the
world.

Some
like
dreaded
Kaliya
with his hundred hoods,
vomit poison, destroying all
near the sacred river
Jumna’s banks
that flow
deep,
broad.

Heads
rise
fearsome
from the depths
engulfing Krishna
when he dives to retrieve his ball.
He becomes so huge
the demon
is forced
to
yield.

Released
child
now dances
on those heads,
but he spares the brute
when his lovely Nagini wives
beg for his pardon.
Playful Lord
forgives
vile
rage.

Appropriation

by Annette Snyckers

What I really wanted
was the forest,
that fecund place –
it smelled of damp decay –
where spots of sunlight sifted
through the green of spring.

I took it for myself,
let suspicion fall
where it may –
after all,
they left it in the shed,
perhaps they didn’t
even care.

Just before I fall
asleep, I can almost hear
the wind in the trees,
the rustling leaves –

the painting hangs
above my bed.

 

One Precious Thing, from Rohingya Refugees

by Elizabeth Trew

Found poem

I bring from across the water
my make-up box – eyeliners and powder –
I love to make up my face.
I bring this bag of puffed rice –
my best thing to eat.
I bring this bottle of oil for my mother’s headaches –
I rub a little on her temples for relief.

I leave behind my cattle – bloated, dead on the shore.
They were like my children.
I am drawing all of them on this paper.
I am drawing my favourite yellow dress, burnt
in my burning village – draw it exactly
as it was – bright colour with belt and sequins.
I leave behind my father’s photo – handsome, strong man.
I am drawing his face to remember.