Sunday, June 05, 2005

South Africa: 32 Exposures

i.

Arrival in Johannesburg airport: So many
White faces: I must be
in the wrong country!

ii.

That is, till I see
the baggage handlers, who all look
just like me.

iii.

STANDARD TIP IS 5 RAND! the airport sign
says, ONLY TIP THOSE WEARING ORANGE
VESTS!

iv.

The woman with
bare breasts, looks like she has
something to say:

Amandla, or
I refuse to die
of AIDS.

v.

Zulu must be the loveliest sound
to ever caress my ears: Soft.
Percussive. Music. Click-Click!

when spoken. For example,
ngqongqoza, has two
clicks & means

to knock. Ngqongqosha has two,
too & means
to carry a child on one’s shoulders.

vi.

To stand
so tall, yet balance
so much: a woman's work.

vii.

Such bright scarves sing
as they are beaten
against the rocks.

viii.

Is such a shade of purple possible? -
The locusts look like they're painted
by an Artist's hand.

ix.

Yebo, Mr. Cow,
are you coming or going
down this dirt road?

x.

The skyline's teeth
will swallow your eyes!
the sangoma sez.

xi.

...

xii.

This Xhosa girl is taught
not to look
me in the eye,

But when she sings
I feel the floor
rise.

xiii.

Where have all the diamonds
gone? Certainly not
on her black hands.

xiv.

When he leaves for the mines,
the moon is full. It will fill again
before he returns.

xv.

As he flaps among the clouds,
the shrike's impossible tail
drags through the acacia trees.

xvi.

Zulu lightning show: How do
our bones, the sky, the earth
rumble so & not fall apart?

xvii.

There goes
another lion -
yawning.

xviii.

Zululand is greener than
even Ireland: No wonder they came
& would not leave.

xix.

Tea time for one
is work time
for another.

xx.

End of the day, 25
kilometers home: Left.
Right. Left. Right...

xxi.

Chakalaka tastes
just like it sounds:
Boommmmmmmmmm.....

xxii.

Night here is so dark
I cannot even see
my own skin.

xxiii.

Radio deejays transmit
in eleven different languages: What
a wild dial!

xxiv.

With my 2 left feet
can you teach me
the latest township dance?

xxv.

How odd it is to be suddenly aware
of the American accent
coming from my own mouth.

xxvi.

BIGGER! STRONGER! LONGER!
the witchdoctor's promise -
even here.

xxvii.

Named after apartheid's architect,
Verwoerd Ave. still runs through the heart
of Johannesburg.

xxviii.

EUROPEANS ONLY:
The letters on this park bench
have faded from use.

xxix.

Another expired goldmine,
another horizon of ghetto: WELCOME
TO SOWETO

xxx.

Heavens! Is THAT mammoth
yellow thing really a tank
the Afrikaaners used?

xxxi.

How can one man's heart
hold so much
forgivenesss?

xxxii.

How long can this
red clay withstand
so many buried

dreams?

6 comments:

BLUE said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

light!
~BLUE

Anonymous said...

A picture is usually worth a thousand words...

brokenbeatnik said...

Love it, bruh. You can see the pictures, whether they were taken with a camera or now. Such a concise yet full picture of a travel experience.

I read one other poem like this once that was submitted to SoulsticeNet back when I used to run that. . . it was about five Van Der Zee photographs and was beautiful.

Hope all is well out your way.

Christina Springer said...

MFA splinting the bones of your verse together? Dang! This was one evocative piece. I love the clips of image, the way they link and then suddenly stride off in another direction.

One that really really worked for me was "Amandla! or I refuse to die of AIDS."

uhurumahlodi said...

This is a brilliant piece. I would love to revisit it and use it if possible. It has to be seen and heard

M. Ayodele Heath said...

uhurumahlodi, glad you enjoyed it. Feel free to share! :-)