Waiting for Inspiration

by Elaine Edwards

Despite the sharpened pencils and moleskin notebook she’ll not be enticed.
Nor does my glistening monitor and expectant keypad impress her.
If I want to see her in the day I have to be gardening,
or cooking, or chatting to friends;
pretending indifference, watching from the corner of my eye
as she lurks behind the shrubbery, hides in the pantry, skulks among the cobwebs
in the cracks above the door.

Mostly she likes to come at night
when Paul is breathing gently next to me (finally asleep after a punishing day).
Gliding into the bed between us,
she whispers promises , fills my head with images,
stirs my blood and takes away my breath.

By morning she is gone.
My moleskin notebook is intact.
Its pages still virginal.

ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM

by Michael Keeling

I don’t know if it is
and I have never taken
the trouble to find out
but when I was at school
it was a question
that cropped up regularly
when quizzes were on the go
(like that railway station in Wales
that ends in gogogog)
and I thought some new boy
probably hadn’t heard it before
so I would be the Clever Dick
because I myself
when asked
had never heard of the word either
and of course
would never admit it
but just say oh that one
you’re right I had forgotten
and change the subject
to cricket or football
and as for knowing
the meaning of the word
well I’m not sure I do
to this day
except someone
did tell me
once
that it is to do with the church
(a subject I’m not too hot on)
and if someone was trying to
disestablish the church
and I didn’t agree
I would be on the side of the
antidisestablishmentarianismites.

By the way
is that the longest sentence?

Deflowered

by Angela Prew

My beautiful flower
deflowered.
In one night,
her light extinguished,
her vivid life discoloured,
the joy of youth siphoned out.

My eventual acceptance
of that unacceptable act
was in my head but not my heart.
To be the rock that she required
I could not allow myself to feel.

Now, in her novel
we live through it again.
That night, in all its detail,
is essential to the plot
and I, as critic,
experience that unimaginable act,
ripped apart
as she was then.

So when, with emotions tautly strung,
I read about ‘corrective rape’
in our Townships
my skin crawls
with horror.
What these ignorant young men
excuse, describe as necessary,
to introduce the girls to ‘normal sex’
is nothing less
than murder.

White Nights

by Cornelia Rohde

“But one day, I know, it will be otherwise.” Jane Kenyon

Stilettos click on the
stones of St Petersburg,
on streets where the starving dragged
sledges with corpses through snow,
while besieging Nazis savaged the
glittering ballrooms of Tsarkoe Selo.

Women with candlelit shoulders,
red smiles, flaxen hair, sleek in Dior,
sip Beaujolais from cut crystal,
suppress the ghosts of their grandmothers
who huddled numb in bomb shelters.

We watch Porches, Bentleys, Maseratis
race down chic Nevsky Prospekt
where defending cannon held fort,
notice pink-haired punks
studded with metal slouch by
purple shoes of a grey-haired sweeper,
one plucky survivor
of a million dead from the siege.

We smile as a downy cheeked groom
lifts his bride from
a black Humvee stretch limousine
to pose near the onion domed
Church on Spilled Blood.
Around them, prams roll
in parks blushing with blossoms;
lovers and magicians trade tricks
in the lavish sun of White Nights.

We order salmon blinys and Baltica beer,
half expecting to dine on broth
of a thousand nightingales’ tongues,
watch an ostentation of peacocks
preen past our table.
We prefer not to recognize
that darker days will
come again. We would rather
lean into the light.

Other Pleasures

by Lise Day

‘Hmm’ the gynae notes
‘sexually inactive’

Hidden in the cleft
beneath the curving breast
of Titties Baai
and her nipple rock
I slip naked
(too large to skinny-dip)
into the icy blue
beyond the numb
the tingling of each hair and pore.

On Paternoster’s streets
(forgive me Father)
I buy illicit crayfish
plunge into the boiling pot
just six minutes
peel back the scarlet lips
nibble the creamy flesh
butter and lemon
oozing foamy juices
slip down my throat

Dance the tango
(perfect partner in my head)
thrusting hips sliding steps
stamp to the tribal beat
jiggle the buns
wobble the bosoms
twirl my feet
lost in the sound
of ’Freshly Ground’
create my own fandango.

This Marriage

by Elaine Edwards

This marriage is wings sails paddle rudder
harness leash tether
lifebelt and straitjacket.

This marriage is apple crumble
horlicks peanut butter beef casserole
not curry monkey brains oysters and frogs legs.

This marriage is woolen blankets
crisp sheets soft pillows
a hand holding mine in the middle of the night

This marriage is lavender rose petal cologne
jasmine peach vanilla thyme
not musk patchouli cloves or sweat

This marriage is steady flame cool waters
balmy air dulcet tones
not crackling furnace frozen wastes murky swamps

This marriage is.

Three Sisters, Karoo

by Liz Trew

lookalike sisters
freckled and round
in soft shale brown
black eyes glinting in the sun

sow seeds of grass in their rockeries
hear the church clock
and farmers’ wives bringing butter and lamb
and roses into town

highway sisters
tell their long journey across the Karoo
watch clouds of dust pass by
truckers driving in with daughters of the town

satellite sisters
eyes in the sky
look to the stately turn of stars
shining nightly over town

Bring us clouds of rain!
the sisters cry to the sky
playing their musical rocks
with the wind

brown sisters
in shades of green in the rain
each with a different flower in her hair

Waiting

by Angela Prew

They wait
for jobs, for food,
for tomorrow.
They stand,
talk to friends,
smoke small rollups
of newspaper.
They stand
waiting,
waiting.

We arrive.
They sit along the wall.
“Molweni,” “Good morning,”
“Goeie More.”
Trays of peanut-buttered
bread,
urns of sweet, sweet
rooibos
to share between a hundred
hungry men.

We drive off,
waving goodbye. .
They drift away
to beg at street corners,
to wash windscreens,
to ring doorbells,
to wait.