Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The police constable/ poet in court


 Tell us where you saw the accused.

 At a place where two roads meet, I stood

and pondered on what path my life would take.

Where exactly were you standing?

At the corner, your honour, of Beach road and Main Street.

And when was this?

The sun had long-since dropped behind the mountain peak

and the moon’s rays were painting  a silver path across the bay.

What time exactly?

Seven forty five, your honour

What was the accused doing?

His fingers, stretched like chicken’s claws,

 clutched at the concrete rim, while his scant and spidery legs,

see-sawed, and scrabbled on the  cemented surface.

I beg your pardon?

He was climbing over a wall, your honour.

What did he look like?

All sinisterly draped, dark as night, with features hid in black, concealing, fleece.

Could you repeat that in English?

Sorry, your honour, I meant to say he was wearing a black tracksuit and a balaclava.

And what did you do then?

I called upon the miscreant to render to me an account.


I said “You’re under arrest,” and hand cuffed him.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Flamingos at Sandvlei


I have fallen in love with flamingos. They are so weird with their upside-down beaks, their snake-like necks and the absurd quacking noise they make and at the same time they are so elegant in the way they carry their heads and move through the mud like models on a catwalk. Since they have come to forage at the vlei, dog-walking has become a birding expedition and I now go out burdened with binoculars as well as dogleads and poo bags.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Clouds stained a dirty grey
oppress the looming mountain,
curl round the rocks,
and rumble empty threats of rain.
In the air, a faint scent
of damp ground and,
 a metal taste of lightning.
Leaves shake a little,
cling a bit more tightly to the stem,
but grass, pale and wilting,  
bends down in the wind
to touch the white, dry sand.


At dawn −
an urgent bugle call
notes like trumpet blasts run
up the scale and down again.
It’s some bird – a shrike or hornbill
making leaves shake in the ngwenya tree
A coucal in the hedge
pours liquid music from its beak.   
In the distance a car drones −
early on the narrow country road.
I hear the dogs bark, look out,
 see them chasing
a slithering leguaan into
the disused swimming pool.
Bees bundled in the eaves
resume their swarming.
I can smell coffee brewing, bacon frying.
Everything is up and stirring
pretending to be new

Stories for Children


A pair of Foolish Plovers
Ali Baatjies
Will Weaver
The Carpet Shop
Mouse Tale
The Prince and the Pavement Poodle
The King of the Vlei
Picnic at the Vlei
Christmas Stockings
Lucky Friday
Toby Runs Away
Eagles in the Forest
Mother Goose on the Loose
Curiosity and the Cat
The Story of Sam
To Catch a Rainbow
It is the season of Lent - fasting, discipline, dust and ashes, reminders of mortality, all those unpleasanr things. And it has been a bad time for this country too. A time of horrible shocks: the brutal rape of Anene Booysens, and yesterday, the arrest of our hero, Oscar Pistorius, for murder.  This country is an evil place., a violent place, a dangerous place especially if you are a woman. Why then do I love it so? Why would I not want to live anywhere else?  Am I crazy?

Thinking about this question carefully I come to the following conclusions.
Firstly, I am blessed to live amonst so much beauty. Driving along the coast this morning, I fall in love again with False Bay, the mountains, the beaches the sea, the fynbos, the birdlife. Can anywhere else cpmpare?  But, as Hopkins says about Wales "only the inmate does not correspond".  But is this true? Newpapers paint a picture of corruption and violence, but personally I  find myself surrounded by people who are decent and kind. In fact some of them are good and wonderful people.

Then: Good things are happening all around us, if we only look about us and keep our eyes open to see them.  The general outrage at poor Anene's fate is one. Another is the generosity of ordinary people. Appeals for help for victims of flods and fires are always heeded although these disasters are so very frequent. Another thing that gives me hope is the number of very good articles I have read lately furthering the cause of equality and justice for women. And many of these written by men!

To go back to the subject of Lent. I have been reading what Isiaah says about fasting.  Basically he doesn't think there is much pont in it if you just go on living the way you have been, pursuing your own interests and ignoring the needs of others. Doing without pleasures, giving up one thing or another and making yourself uncomfortable and often irritable and quarrelsome too,( Isiaah points out that this is often the result of doing without food) is not much use if nobody else benefits.
What does he think is pleasing to God?
"the kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear......Then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon.

I am ashamed at how little I do to lessen the darkness around me.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

How did I manage to lose this blog again? Perhaps I am just impatient and if I had waited after typing in the blog name it would have appeared as it has in the past.

However, I seem to have got here at last and am ready to enter something new.
What is occupying my attention at present is the problem of what to do with what I write.  Of course, like most writers I know, I write for myself first of all.  A story, a poem,  or perhaps a memory, cries out to be written down. (This is what happens quite a lott of the time.) but once committed to paper, you want to share it. Belonging to a writing group is very satisfactory. The others in the group are obliged to read your writings or else to listen to them being read aloud.  The flipside of this is that you are, in turn obliged to read or listen to theirs.  These sessions are very pleasant and were quite suffieint for me for a long time, but then I had a story published on the net and a piece for children published by an NGO.  This was heady stuff. I felt as though a I was becoming a proper author! And then-- to my amazement, after attending regular poetry workshop fo a while, I was approached by a publisher!  Can you imagine! Actually approached! This lead to a little book of poems seeing the light of day and to a few invitations to read at gatherings of like-minded people.   It was scary but great.  I felt like a celebrity. (almost)

Now after several years of writing almost every day, I have quite a large collection of unpublished short stories and  poems.  I have not been entirely unsucessful in placing them. A few poems have been published in journals and a few stories in internet magazines.  I have also given printed copies of my children's stories to my grandchildren and to the grandchilren of friends.  I wondered about puttiingtogether another collection of poems, but I have had second thoughts about this.  I asked my publisher how the book had been selling. She told me that sales had almost covered expenses.  That doesn't sound very wonderful to me. Althoug she sounded positive about publishing another book, I can't see that there is much in it for her.  I think I must be content with belonging to writing groups and attending poetry readings.