Sunday, November 29, 2015

Some New Poems

The Motorway

On the False Bay end walls hide 
a suburbia of cottages and flats
and a graveyard with small crosses 
and jars of artificial flowers. Funerals
clog the road  on Saturdays, but in the week
it slinks with dogs and tik-heads,
crawls with girls and boys − schooldays 
with satchels, Sundays  to the beach with towels.

Today is Monday so there’s washing in backyards
A pair of boys push Supermarket trolleys,
piled with a harvest of suburban dirt-bins.
Men stand by the roadside on the Southern side.
One holds a paintbrush and a pan, another
stares out dull-eyed, a shovel by his side
still shiny after weeks of waiting.

At a rubbish-strewn alleyway entrance
drugs and gossip are traded in the afternoons
−.a dead body in one of the upstairs flats.
been there for two days, they say.
Yes, this is gangland, isn’t it?
A church, a school, a mosque, a shopping mall, 
the spaces between them strewn with plastic bags,
bent tins and cool-drink bottles.

But among the tenements, succulents are
struggling to survive in a guerrilla garden
and someone has planted lavender bushes
by a blue-washed wall


The course flows like a piece of verse.
Spaces between words −
green grass between obstacles.
Numbers show line breaks,
commas and semicolons, pauses
for twists and turns. Some jumps
are words not to be taken straight.
You must go round them and
approach them from a different angle.
A tunnel curve hides meaning for
a moment; then a mid-stanza
see-saw shatters concentration before
a leap in another direction.
A struggle up a frame comes next.
A stop, another leap and then
a smooth run leads towards
a surprise ending.

Tonight I listen to the wind’s soft groans.
They sound like cattle lowing.
The cows that used to graze here by the vlei
have all been moved to other fields.
But when I lived in George
my neighbour used to keep a dairy herd
and cows grazed in the field behind our house.
One Sunday night my neighbour’s wife called me
to help them pull a calf. Four of us there were
to strain on ropes tied round the legs. 
Little, black hooves came first,
then a brown soft-nosed head.
At last the whole body gurgled and plopped down
onto hard earth, and the calf lay there panting,
waiting to be licked to life.
and as she nudged it, the cow mooed
softly like the moaning wind 

1 comment:

  1. Dear Margaret. Have just read the copy of The Last to Leave you left when visiting Liz the other day. Every poem was poignant and thought-provoking and shocking in its simple authenticity. I love these new poems too. You are a great poet and the most generous person. Thank you.