Hear me, my son

(A poem written to my sons and all men. Presented at Irtiqa Magazine’s Rise Above Abuse Workshop)

 

Yours is not a hand unless it holds to guide, not strike

Yours is not an eye unless it looks with kindness, not anger

Yours is not a leg unless it walks with purity of intention, not to kick

Yours is not a tongue unless it speaks of love, not abuse

Yours is not a lip unless it smiles with tenderness, not disgust

Yours is not a finger unless it points within, not accusingly

Yours is not a heart unless it beats to uplift and nurture, not to instil terror

 

Hear me, my son

 

You are not a man unless you live your hu-MAN-ity

You are not alone

(A poem written to present at Irtiqa Magazine’s Rise Above Abuse Workshop)

 

Fear not the snarl of the lip that foretells rage,

Rage that rises without warning, without reason

 

Fear not the clenching of the fist that rains blows on your body,

a body already battered and bruised

 

Fear not the boot that endlessly kicks at your cowering fragile, frame,

a frame that has withstood and will withstand

 

Fear not the curses that reduce you to a shell of emptiness, of nothingness,

Words that stamp out your identity, your humanity

 

Fear your need to hide the scars and cover up the bruises

Fear your remarkable ability to pretend all is well

Fear your eagerness to forgive and forget

Fear your strength to stem the tears

Fear your hope that tomorrow will be different, tomorrow will be better

Fear your reluctance to seek help

Fear your patience, your tolerance, your acceptance

 

Fear your forbearance – it empowers the coward, the weak, the not-man

 

Overcome your fear

Celebrate your strength

Rejoice in your community

You are an individual but you are not alone

 

You are not alone

You are not alone

My love vow

I walk the parks of Johannesburg

A girlfriend, child and pet as companions

 

Sharing this slice of heaven

Nestled in the beating heart of this bustling city, my home

 

The fluffy coat of the puppy is reminiscent of russet

Contrasting with the sable of the Great Dane

 

My eyes scan the face of the owner

Smiling until his eyes disappear into slits beneath his bushy eyebrows

 

My gaze follows the arc as the eagle soars

Against the cerulean hues of the sky clear and bright

 

The urban skyline stretching horizontally

The structures of buildings and towers interspersed with trees

 

I sigh in gratitude

My heart contracting with love

 

This city and its people

This country and its humanity

 

Near and dear

Apart as one

 

The people I love are the platinum and carbon

Unpolished and dull awaiting the miracle of the light

 

The light of hope and freedom

Promised too long and nearly forgotten

 

Awaiting rediscovery

Desiring unearthing

 

Hands and hearts join

In commonality of desire for triumph

 

The path of unity

To address the past and usher in a new dawn

 

I vow to return your gifts and love

A vow for myself, a vow for all

 

My Africa

My South Africa

 

Till we are one and we are free

I vow

Hope first, South Africa First

Let’s start at the very beginning

A very good place to start

 

We will not lament the failure of departments, ministers, D-Gs, principals, teachers, parents or students

We who have failed our nation, failed our future, failed ourselves

The failure a trillion times worse than the pathetic pass marks and pass rates

 

Humpty Dumpty sat on a bank

Humpty Dumpty had a great fail

 

We will not bemoan the scandals of buying posts, thefts of catering provisions for children, dumping of textbooks or the burning of schools

That have mercilessly stomped on the heads of children they should have been nurturing

 

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor

Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief

 

Let every learner, teacher, official and parent be recognised

Let their self-respect make them proud and accountable

Let us build a nation of hope

Based on a desire for a new dawn

 

Reading, writing, arithmetic

Rearing, respecting, righting

 

Instil the principles of integrity, honesty and justice by living them

Light this fire within ourselves, our homes, our neighbourhoods and our schools

Feed this flame with love, acceptance, peace and purity

 

Twinkle, twinkle little stars

Illuminate the gloom and doom

 

Let us proclaim our desire to address the crisis

The crisis of education, the crisis of faith

Implement the best of policies, discard the worst

Come together without blame and judgment

To work and play and learn and teach

 

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow!

You’re only a hope away

 

 

  • With thanks to children nursery rhyme authors and musical composers

Freedom Day

The rusty tap is at the end of a dusty, dirty track

A drip of water that may not last till you reach the sodden earth beneath it

The queue snakes along sluggish

Past the pit toilets that overflow

Hold your breath and turn your face

To see the broken windows on the school

The building without a principal, a lab or menstruating girls

Two teachers on indefinite sick leave, one suspended for sexual abuse

Classes of forty now bursting at sixty

 

Your father waits for the bucket you gingerly carry

Don’t spill one precious drop – all are thirsty, all are dirty

Baba needs to wash before going to the dump where he will pick through rubbish

Selling paper and plastic to buy a loaf of bread and a tin of fish, maybe

The mine closed down and with it the hope that you would matriculate

A job for you when a man of fifty searches for his dignity in a pile of stinking rot?

 

Sisi wears the frayed T-shirt that bleeds the colours of the South African flag

Faded like the shine that was the rainbow nation

She is rushing to the stadium for the celebrations

Freedom Day! 27th April

 

We are liberated

We are enfranchised

We are whole

A slow rush

I have struggled to learn the hardest of lessons: patience

 

Patience – my most trusted ally, yet my most consistent challenge

 

An exercise in patience?

A test in perseverance?

 

No. More than exercise. More than a test.

 

A journey

The convoluted and treacherous seas navigated

Though stormy weather

Through calm waters

Through beautiful mermaids of encouragement and hope

Escaping hungry serpents from within

The days shorter, the nights longer

The light longer, the gloom shorter

 

A journey of love and hate, struggle and accomplishment, fear and acceptance, darkness and light

I have learnt and grown, developed and thrived, died and been rebirthed

… eventually clearing to reveal the destination

 

And as I finally land this shore, what do I see?

I am on an island and beyond this shoreline, my next sea beckons

My next journey begins

 

Patience, my greatest master, tester and applauder has prepared me

I am ready to dive in and swim to the next shore, and the next … a slow rush … a slow rush

I’m on the road to nowhere

Distracted, but aware

Needing but notwanting

Needing but notwantingtowant

 

I felt, hoped, prayed that we, youI shared the distracted awareness

You heard my need, my not-want, and my wanting to not-want

 

But you are strong, resolute, committed

Did I say strong?

 

You make your heart stiff like the steel like your body already is

you turn away from me,

you turn to your commitment, your resolution, your strength

 

I am here and watch you there

I cherish and commend you there

Ilove again and Ilove some more

 

And I covet yourstrength

I envy your notmissing

 

‘Who is he?’ they ask

And I answer –

he

is

my

air,

myfood, mywater, mythought, myheartbeat, mysunlight, myrain, myrivers, myocean, myfear, myhope, myyesterday, mytomorrow, myzenith, mynadir, mybirth, mydenouement, myphoenixrise and secondchance, myfriend, myfamily, myfirst, mylast

 

He is myself

 

Yet this self, this complement/compliment

of myself

as my aspect

as myself,

my north ern hemisphere

my south ern hemisphere

my other/same self

 

This self that can continue without me, this you is not me

 

As we eachself/otherself step to the departure,

you see the road to continuance

And I see the road to nowhere

My song

Music washed over me and I was there

The sensation physically spiritual, spiritually physical

 

My ears heard but my skin felt

The pores of my skin’s sheet, my skin’s sheath

opened wide and deep to the roaring, crashing decibels

My skin tasted and swallowed the sounds

 

My ears heard but my heart sensed

My ears heard but my centre shook

My ears heard but my voice longingly lamented

My ears identified but my soul recognised

 

The sound waves reverberating and echoing off my vision to reveal

A kaleidoscope of stars-sparks-sparkles-fiery-fiercely alive

In brilliant dreamlike hues, shades, depths, gradients

To be bathed in a rainshower of sultriness

And then shivery numbing drops of liquid music

Dripping and thundering

 

And the music became my skin

 

I wanted

 

More than anything

I wanted

You to wash over me

I wanted you to be that music

 

You are my music

You are my skin

You are my song

Me

You see me, feel me

Know me above all others, above myself

You, who knows me truly and deeply

You recognised me even before I knew I am me

 

Patiently waiting, softly nudging

Gently drawing the possibility, the reality

The picture so true and perfect that to reach out and touch and taste and breathe in was all I could do

 

Until I was ready to accept me

I ready to be me and know me as you know me and see me

 

I am because you knew

You showed me, and invited me

Took my hand and guided me

 

And now I am me for me

For you, I was me forever