Photo: Ayanda Maseko


It’s a mournful tune

like the sound of sleep

in the treetops overhead,

the sound of the sea moving above me

on me, but distant, touching

only my breaths

I woke to its heaviness this morning

It positions you

holds you there on the bed

looking at the ceiling

the back wall

the lines prismic

and you feel a despair you’d hoped sleep would take care of

but its there

and you get up

and move in this sound

   its heaviness

   positioning you

in this courtyard in your body, in your face in the mirror,

you, gazing at the bricks as the hand


moves the brush in your mouth


You try to figure this feeling

there’s a meaning in your breaths

a dead insect lies on the windowsill



This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven

Monkey illustration by Jemma Clamp


Cartoon crocs pointed us smiling to the bathrooms and down the path to the reception room; the female one wore lashes and a dress. We descended into a rising smell of animal park drying leather. A tall man with missing fingers stood behind the desk. His ranger uniform was adorned with park specific teeth. He had blotch red leather skin and bronze hairs on his forearms. He was having trouble with the card machine. An old man, the owner, came to take a look and told us we could go through so long, we’d arrange payment at the end. The prices of crocodile meat were on laminated paper signs on the back wall. The ranger, too big and clumsy behind the desk, went through a door to the kitchen behind to prepare food. The room was filled with curios, skins, animal heads and their scent. We went out the room to the enclosure.

    I felt my sister’s stomach sink. And laughed; I knew she abhorred places like this. Thirty or so crocodiles were in the pit. They were squashed up together, enclosed in a circle of grimy cement. They didn’t look real at first, looked like rubber, and they didn’t move. Some were frozen with their mouths open, their breath cold and silent like a dying breath filled the pit like atmosphere.

    “Well this is horrible.”

    “Yeah.” I laughed again.

    “I want to go.”

    “We’re here, let’s just…”

    We walked over and around the main pit on a wooden walkway. There were smaller enclosures with lower walls, dark green pools, unmoving creatures. We sat down to sketch a pair of Mississippi alligators. They were giant things with fat tails and coiled, bulking arms and their feet were clutched back against them like old hands. They lay like an old couple, idle in each other’s silence. We sketched them in silence too. Making any noise, even groaning, would disturb the stagnant tolerance that had settled there, and threatened to give rise to fouler odours better left buried in its silt. Sketching them seemed to relax my sister. She showed me her drawing and we got up and left.

    There was a sitting area under a thatch roof where other visitors had gathered to watch a tour guide give a talk on the park. We sat at a table with a large crocodile skull. My sister began to sketch it and I listened to the tour guide. He was Afrikaans and freakishly big in ranger gear with great Boer calves above his rubber boots. They clearly loved alligators and crocodiles, and the conditions of the park were probably fine for them, despite our initial reactions. The place smelled like death though, and drying leather, and shit. And crocodiles are hideous, especially in frozen crowds of rubber, in the hiss of air. When my sister had finished we went to the front desk. The card machine wasn’t working so I got the banking details from the owner and told him I’d pay him later.

    Out on the dust road we could breathe again. We stood around not speaking. Then quietly we decided to walk back to the tar road before calling an Uber. The dust road traversed hills thick with grass. It was just above a major road but we would have to walk quite far to get to a pick up point. We didn’t mind. I had Outkast in one earphone and apples and crackers in my backpack. My sister mulled weed in the palm of her hand as she walked, rolled it and began to smoke. Then she stopped.

    There was a monkey in the grass on the side of the road. Its eyes were closed and its breathing was faint. Its leg had a raw graze. Flies hopped on it. There was dust on the small flowers around it. My sister looked at me. She dropped a cracker near its face. It didn’t move. Sensing it was somehow inappropriate, she took the cracker away. It was on its way out, alone in the dusty grass, its breaths soft as death enfolded.

    “What do we do?” She asked.

    “I’m going to call the park. Maybe it can be rehabilitated.”

    The owner picked up. I told him what happened, where we were, and he said okay, and hung up.

    We waited. I kicked idly at the shrubs on the other side of the road, watching as they shrank and curled up after being touched. A white Mahindra came up the road, followed by dust, and pulled over twenty meters past us. The owner got out holding a white sheet, the sheet fell away revealing a gun. He cracked the rifle forward over his forearm, feeling in his pockets for bullets as he walked over to us. I looked at my sister with a what-the-fuck expression. She snorted a what-the-fuck laugh, shaking her head.

    “The fuck…”

    “There it is.” I said to him. “Must have been hit by a car.”

    He looked at it then turned to us, loading the bullets.


    “Is there nothing that can be done for it? Animal rescue, rehabilitation?”

    “No, no.” He shook his head.

    The bullets were small and silver. He cracked the rifle back. It was a simple, old gun. He stood over the monkey. My sister had walked ahead. I stayed to watch. He cocked the gun.  A direct line was drawn from his eye down the gun to the monkey’s head; a sharp, brutal angle. I winced.


    He grumbled and inspected the gun. I was still wincing. He took aim again. I winced waiting for that blunt death blow, for the monkey’s body to barely move, for the ground to cough.


    My God. I regretted coming across this poor thing.

    “Ah this happened before when I was putting down a horse last week.” Said the old man.

    The gun clicked again.

    “Ya, I’m going to have to get the other gun.” He said.

    “And there’s nothing you can do for it?”

    “I’m afraid not. He’ll join the circle of life.”

    There was a bit of solace in that, at least. I imagined the grass and flowers growing over the corpse, gnats and flies whizzing in the sun, his bones committed in time lapse to the earth, his verdant skull under a tree.

    “That’s alright. He’ll become one with the earth I suppose.”

    “Ya.” He said, walking past me to the car. “We’ll feed him to the crocs.”




The Martyr

He supported himself with the railing between the edge of the park and the road. His face was lifted into the sun and his eyes were closed. The cars that drove by were used to seeing poverty, beggars and street urchins and would have developed a calloused spot in their perception for such things, but this man’s face of suffering seared into each of them and their eyes burned with him each time.

He felt a dull thirst, and he felt as that thirst battled in the hazy creaking of his brain with the warmth on his face and his body clothed in trash bags. He found it tolerable enough to drift off, high away from the thirst and the pain behind his eyes, off to find God somewhere in a dream, in the warm death repeating at the tips of his breaths. He drifted blind as a babe in the blur of the cars and the sun and the wind in the trees, until the pain in his eyes brought him back and hours had passed. He would have to find water.

He floated down the pavement. He knew there was water at the church. He did not think of the cars that drove past. The world was bright. He felt light and lucid after standing in the sun for so long. It felt to him a sort of spiritual transcendence. He made directly for the church courtyard. He had to get to there before the pain in his eyes really was on him.

When he reached the gate he saw the Reverend was there. The gate had black bars and the Reverend stood behind it.

“Father. Asseblief kan ek ń bitjie water kry? See how I suffer, Father? I am so thirsty. Asseblief, Father.”

The Reverend studied him through his spectacles before letting him through.

It was darker in the courtyard. Lurid sunspots like hot coals floated across the bricks into his blinks, which had begun to sting. He crouched by the tap and drank with his mouth in the flow of water. The water ran cold and sharp across his skin. He drank all he could. When he stood up he felt the water’s weight in his stomach. Everything was dark now and he could feel the coldness of night in the evening breeze. The Reverend stood holding the gate open. It opened out onto the street.




Nantucket Sleighride

We drove on a mountain road

My father’s eyes were set on the road

and in the mirror

the colour of cold water

He sang with the guitar

and guided the wheel

with the silvery sun in his watch.

He felt powerful

He didn’t always feel powerful,

but he felt it then as the guitar thrummed and thumped

and his eyes advanced the road, the turns, plunging on

through the cold mountain air in the white BMW.


He pulled to the side and we got out

He looked out at the mountains

the whole snow-capped range of them

and let out a cry of laughter

It broke from him

from his reddening face

from his water eyes


a sound I’d never heard him make

And I looked up at the mountains too,

their dark folds

the thick drifts of snow in the ravines

the moody clouds both heavy and glinting

moving fast in the mountain wind

the frozen light

the shivering succulents

the burning plumes of aloes,

their dark smoking

muffled in the falling air


We stood there

only a moment

It was too cold.



Potholes and Speedbumps


James knew who to call and called him.  The girl had described James earlier as the skeleton from a Tim Burton film. His shoulders were hunched in his cloak, and they shook as he laughed, his jaw below the phone unhinging with an audible clacking. They all wanted weed, but they weren’t as drunk as him. While he spoke the girl turned to us. She had never seen him like this before, she said. She was embarrassed. “He used to be sweet and shy and charismatic, and now…” He was shouting orders on the phone, his wild eyes roving the dark yellow roads. Sipho was used to this. I couldn’t comment. The person on the phone wanted to sleep but was on his way. I would tag along. I had all this whiskey and there was still plenty of space in the night to feel better.

A car pulled down the road. Green, squeaking, mismatched panels; an old sedan with weak yellow headlights like gas lamps, turned around and pulled up next to us with an abrupt bounce. The girl was hugging James from the back while he smiled at the car. We’d met the driver earlier at the first bar. He had a strong face, thin lips and long hair tied back. He was still up from the previous night spent high on Ket with James.

“Get in my…my chariot.” He spoke in an impression and laughed.

She sat in the middle seat and I sat beside her. There was a dreamcatcher hanging from the rear-view mirror. James told him where to go as we drove. The guy drove fast. He turned with his head in the turns. The car shook across potholes and speedbumps. He didn’t stop and turned hard at a four-way stop. After taking a left, away from the light of the town and down a darker road, he remembered he had music. The music came on gruff and tinny and warm from the speakers in the back. It was a tape, some old blues. He showed us its case.

When he pulled over, James and Sipho got out and went down a road to a house. I got out and so did the girl and we stood away from the car on the corner of the two roads. The driver stayed in the car, laying back with his foot out of the door and the music playing. There was a white streetlight cool on an oak tree by the parking lot next to us. The light was on her face too, like moonlight. She had soft eyes and a quiet mouth and I looked at her while she spoke and offered her whiskey which she said she shouldn’t drink before she took a sip. I looked at her and asked her questions, calmly and sort of dejected while looking at her. And then I’d have to look away, to the oak tree, to the car, to steady the intoxication falling warm into her. And then I’d look back, calm and dejected into her eyes while she spoke and let frustration feel far away while we waited. They came back onto the road from the house.

They hadn’t got weed, but they knew a guy they could get from back in town. The girl sat in the middle and as I got in after her, the driver peeled off and I was thrown into my seat before I could close the door. James howled us on as we clattered too fast down the road. I glared at the back of the driver’s head before settling down.  I had signed up for this. I felt her next to me and the warmth of our legs touching. I hazarded a sip of the whiskey and lifted the cup to her. She declined. I looked out the window: no moon, just yellow haze on the sky and on the trees and the roads like caution tape. The driver swung the wheel with his head lolling as he ran a red light. They were laughing in the front.  He screeched around a final turn before pulling up behind my car on the main road of the town.

Everyone got out to buy weed except me and the driver. He lay back in his chair and brought his left arm back so that his hand was pressed into the headrest in front of me. His hand was pressed firmly into the headrest. It looked as if he was looking out the rear-view mirror but the slackness of his body and neck revealed that he had begun to doze off. I sipped the whiskey. There was only a little left. Hollow blues played in the dark yellow roads. My car was parked just in front below the dreamcatcher. The driver’s hand was pressed firmly into the headrest. The last of the whiskey turned weightily in the cup.



Rabbit Stew


The sunlight went slowly on through the dust and the fleshy corrugations of clouds, slower than the wind turning the turbines black like the wind that came from the trees the cold evening before the hunt. The sky was cold and clear besides the stark clouds – the sun’s eye turning from leaving them dead and grey above the wild grasses getting darker as they’re stirred in the wind.

Through the grass they stalked before the headlights. In the headlights – I can see he’s still breathing – Another was loaded. Their shadows falling in the shadows of the clumps of wild grass and the grey with gold running through hare took another, final shot. They moved on it and saw that it was dead under white torch light, on grass green again and one picked it up by its hind legs and it’s eye rolled back with the bright brown stare of life just fleeted and not the frozen fish eye under the white torch lights as they gutted it standing in a circle with its blood wetting in streaks across the white fluff of its underbelly.

Cleaned and prepared, they ate it the next day with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes; all with forks dipping into the pan placed in the centre of the table.

The light beyond the horizon was cast upon the clouds’ corrugations in old ribcages and spines, a severed rabbit foot, snapped off, falling away with the guts in a black bag that night and later, under a full moon, its bones.

Rabbit stew head


Rabbit Hunt

The first time we went rabbit hunting was a few weeks ago. My friend told me he had left his air rifle back in Infanta and so the method of killing was to be the new tires on his bakkie. We left at night, picking up a few of his friends before making our way to the abandoned golf course where, as we approached, he assured us in an ecstatic variety of accents, we would find ourselves some “bitties”.

We bumped along a set of tire tracks with our headlights on. James would then amble the vehicle to and fro across the road, sending his brights searching, swaying across the terrain of the once maintained golf course. Clumps of tall grass and bushes like bunny ears occupied the smoother fairway, growing in number towards its edges to bushes, tall grass like reeds and great divots. He swung the bakkie with a reassuring degree of experience, all the while commentating the adventure in Hugh Bladen, then Steve Irwin, an unidentified Russian and then he was singing for the rabbits in a cooing falsetto: Come out sweet rabbits, we don’t want to hurt you, we just want to…kill you. We chuckled like children. I was the voice of compassion and morality, voicing concerns that should not be brought up on a hunt. This was my first “hunt”, if you could call it that, and I was partly trying to offset the rising bloodlust inflected in the conversation, trying to ensure we were having a balanced dialogue, something that should not be done on a hunt.

“Are you going to kill me a rabbit Jimpy? You better kill me a rabbit.” Said the girl from the backseat with a wickedness that still for some reason surprised me to see in a woman.

“Don’t worry my sweet little…ferret.” She was laughing. “A good rabbit.” His voice went to a falsetto, “A good sweet juicy” then Golem, “little rabbit, a precious little rabbit.” He started coughing.

It was Lady Macbeth and her schizophrenic game ranger leading us on through the fine drizzle to the blast of trance music.

“There! Just up ahead.” The guy behind me had his eyes peeled.

Sitting in the headlights, the round-with-ears shape of a rabbit noticed the Ford Ranger bakkie with new death-hungry tires or maybe just the eyes and sounds of death and blinded and suddenly terrified it began bounding off. We bore down on it, accelerating, gaining on it as it sprung for a thicket. The tall grass was getting denser and we followed it with our eyes in its hops appearing just above the grass.

“Oh God!” I yelped.

“Kill it (my king).” She hissed.

It was just in front of us, jumping in zigzags which James predatorily saw through, dodging with the impossible litheness of a talented coloured winger which James, an avid rugby player, possibly followed. We were on it and in the crucial moment James anticipated its step to the right and turned too in a driving tackle.

He stopped the car and got out.

“Did we get it? I asked, getting out of the car too.

“I’m not sure.” He said, walking behind the bakkie, shinning his iPhone torch at the ground.

I followed, scanning the area and seeing nothing. The others had gotten out too and we walked scouring the ground in the hum of the idle engine in fine drizzle lit by the car lights and the torches.

James had gone back to the car and was shining his light by the wheels and under the car.

“You think it could have got mangled up around the axel?”

“Ya and in the wheels. Just check the other side.”

I inspected the wheels and the axels and saw, thankfully, nothing.

We were unsuccessful in our subsequent attempts that night, and we drove away from the misty moor of the abandoned golf course with a lightness of conscience. Perhaps the rabbits and their feet spared us the misfortune of the Shakespearean tragedy we were unable to set in motion.


My Voice is Dead and Musicless

My voice is dead and musicless, I write in it,

It sees itself and warps into an eccentric

spasmodic wave

that subsides to a flatline

My voice is dead and musicless


My voice is dead and musicless, I repeat the line

maybe that will give it life, stylize it

to a novelty? Desperate to be vain

It subsides again

A dull flat line


My voice is dead and musicless

My scribbles are insect

-like a fingernail scratching at the coffin lid.

Survive, survive…

It subsides


My voice is dead and musicless

drab, but another human

drab; but another human

with a sigh it subsides.


Polar Sunsets


Glass film, fiery cold behind

burning behind the blue wisps

and orange, like winter morning on snow

ice, the sea a film too

And her eyes wild burning

Manic sunset

And his eyes kind and sad

on the couch wanted to come

“It’s nice to have you back.”


She’s soaring and burning, beautiful, in trouble

never been stable, screaming child

The sky burned cold, the sea was dull with a thinning

strip of sunlight and building clouds.

It gets dark too early, sun’s drowned too early


Wednesday 15 March – Cloudy Prose

The morning was softly lit. The clouds lay low in a broken blanket, a contrasting white in the cracks. It was heavy, dim and cold. He glanced up through sunglasses, meekly asserting his gaze longer at the sun: a pinhole searing cold through the cloud cover. He rested them back on the road, broken grey with pothole rubble, swinging round the traffic circle, descending to the icy rich voice of Westside Gunn.

The black Whitey Bulger, I want my money now or I’m ‘a smoke ya.

He was in a lecture scribbling away, half-imagining holding his pen nib-side-up on the page and driving his eye into it. An ant had somehow found its way onto his page, crawling thoughtlessly from the bottom up. He didn’t kill bugs anymore, actually had become a bit of a benevolent deity in their existence, flicking them from drowning pools, accommodating them out through open windows, watching them with removed affection. But with the mechanic scribbles of his hand he had crushed the ant, and seeing it dead he brushed it off the page with a mild apology.

The coffee shop was once a jail and he sat writing and needing a shit inside one of the old cells, now converted chic with silver plastic linguine threads hanging on the back wall and a patterned rug on the floor. Out the small door was the tower, a tall cylindrical building painted a dying yellow. Grey and musty red smears ran from the small rectangular windows notched in two rows around the building, and from its aging cracks. Quite a beautiful building. There was a multi-directional cross black above its roof. Beyond the tower stood a magnificent tree. Its bark was like bone or antlers, tall and spreading into its leaves. Solemn, stony, its leaves only moved a little. It had grown peering into this grave place when it was still grave, and now it was a coffee shop, quite a good one; it imposed its gloomy presence lest we forget it.

Later: Clouds were large overhead but looked bigger over the small houses on the hill across. A landscape of blue-grey curves, separated from the little block orange roofs by a band of lighter, vaguer clouds in the distance.


A Pimp, Marooned


“Gah damn it bitch you better watch your fucking tone when you talk to me girl. Woooh! Girl you gon’ feel all five a’these knuckles against that cocksuckin’ face a’yours. You think you know what busted looks like? Do ya?”

“Five knuckles? Whatta you gon’ do Tony, hit me with your thumb?”

Tony raised his hand in a tiger paw, demonstrating his thumb’s prominence in his old pimp hand. He was nodding.

“Come ‘ere bitch, let me change ya life.”

She just looked at him. She and the other girls were standing on a raised, harshly lit platform. Tony stood on the street below in a musty crimson suit.

“I tell you what, listen, hey, look at me when I’m motherfucking talking to you!”

“Shut the fuck up Tony” Another girl called. “You’re scarin’ away the customers.”

“Clarissa that you? Bitch I will kick that fat ass of yours down these stairs. Y’know what your problem is? Diabetes? Yes. Asking for payment in fries? Yes. But what’s really gonna kill you, what I will give my assistance to by giving you a light shove with my foot, is gravity.”

“Yeah fuck you too.”

“Now Shirley, listen, you’re gonna go to the store, -”

“Am I?”

“Alright that’s one slap for interrupting.” He counted this with his thumb. “Go to the store, and get me something befitting of my status, something classy and refined, but big, I’m hungry. Depending on how appropriate your purchase is, I may spare you a few broken limbs.”

“Tony I would shit in my hand and throw it at you but I’m too much of a lady. You aint even worth shit no more. Hah!”

Tony had opened his mouth. He blinked his narrowed eyes, emphasising to all, including himself, that he could not believe what the fuck he had just heard. He adjusted his tie by its knot and started up the stairs.

“Tony…Tony you can’t come up here! Louis! Louis!”

The other girls all began screeching, clamouring for Louis.

As he reached the platform, the large figure of a man appeared from around the corner and stood in front of him. He dwarfed Tony. Tony was faced with the broad chest, the crisp white jacket of young Louis Farigno.

“Tony…” He purred. Tony looked up at a grin. “What are you doing?”

“Did you hear what that bitch Shirley said to me?” He rubbed his palm along his knuckles. “She disrespected me Louis, ME!”

“I know, I know. I heard the whole thing.” He consoled him with smooth gravel. “But I can’t have you harassing my girls.”

“They were my girls!” He pointed a finger at them. Then he turned to look out across the intersection, sunken red under the streetlights, the warehouses, Franky’s bar on the corner, the coke hustlers leaning in the shadows, those ugly squat palm trees on the island of dead grass, his sight almost reaching to the next block along. “This all used to be mine.”

He felt Louis’s heavy hand on his shoulder.

“Watch the suit.” He mumbled.

Louis kept his hand there and walked him further around the platform, away from the girls.

“What’s the matter Tony, you need some money? Huh?  You’ve been wearing this for too long, it’s starting to stink. I gotta dispose of things that stink on my turf, you know that.” He spoke softly, pleading to his sensibilities. “If you come around here causing a stink, I’m gonna have to dispose of you.”

Louis pulled Tony around to face him. Tony looked slack and hollow under the light.

“I respect you like a father.” He tugged Tony’s lapels straight. “Get a new suit.”

Tony descended into the street and walked off in darkness. He heard one of the girls, probably Clarissa call out:

“Yeah fuck off Tony.” The statement was punctuated with a loud crack, then a tumble.

“That’s gravity bitch!” He exclaimed, his smile fading bitterly, his footsteps sinking away down the maroon sidewalk.

Gah damn, he was hungry!



The End



Been reading some Bukowski


She hadn’t replied but I left Friar’s anyway. The air in there was sweet and sweaty, and there were hardly enough black girls. I lurked outside, leaning on some knee-high patio and watched the sprawl of students outside the bar. Feeling self-conscious, a person who reminded me of a friend I held in high regard sitting drunk across the road, I moved on, towards the girl who had been occupying my mind the last week. She wouldn’t be there. I walked in her direction knowing she wouldn’t be there, knowing I would be sitting on the stoop of some dark house across from The Rat and Parrot with its wailing pop anthems.




The half-Asian guy

The urinals

The guy who looked the bassist

The drummer with an injured wrist

All in the men’s bathroom

For over 30 minutes

Unaware of Instagram

The hot chick who used to front for them

My knitted jersey that seemed to bother them

And my knowledge of sum 41 and blink 182

Which soothed them into a state of friendliness

All in the Rat bathroom.





Black Dog in the Garden


Stare at a spot and the trees merge,

Blurred impressionism,

Different green lights,

Moving differently,

Moving together.


The black dog was having a good time on the grass.

Rolling this way and that,

Moaning, snorting, pawing at the ground, stretching in pleasure

Then he moved to the metal gate and sat, watching.

His eyesight was poor.

The violent thing rarely left the confines of the garden,

With its tittering boundary of bright trees,

And concrete walls.


Clouds of War


Dense nuclear plumes

towered in the dry, hot sky.

Stark expressions: the power of war.


Later by the window, a cracking

The first shell,

then the slew of ammunition

Battering the roof, glancing off glass,

dousing the parched white walls; ceramic sheen

reflecting vaguely the sky.


And green trees dripped

And the white carcass of a spider suckled in vain

At a drop that was stuck the other side of the pane,

And harder it rained,

And darker it became.


The Old Man Swimming in the Sky


Living with a vista for a living room, one develops an affinity for one’s environment. Glass made up roughly three quarters of room’s walls. A panorama of mountains, clouds and sea were beyond them. At 5:17pm, on a Saturday, the sun glared off the wind-muddled water: blinding colourless ultrasound. To its left and right blue could begin to be seen, first as shadows mingling with the light-water, then becoming its own blue, speckled with fine white horses. The lighted water had that lake-like quality, wind swells moving without a frame of reference, static in a camera flash.

To my left was Camps Bay. One has to squint when looking around while writing. I do so because of my poor eyesight, of course, but glancing to the left through a squint seemed writerly. Through the poor eyesight and the panel of glass grimy with pool water residue, I saw Camps Bay and couldn’t think of much to say about it. Cape Town’s own little Miami Beach. People so desperate to make the place work that they put up with the wind. A brief squint at the beach and I could see the black dots of people and the broad tufts of white sea spray that blew back across the turquoise segment of sea visible behind the neighbour’s roof.

More squinting and wincing and sips of a G&T.

Over the sea, just one cloud hangs there, or now two, as the larger one’s fingers parts with the smaller one, asking to be examined. Well firstly, they’re clearly a pair as every time I look up from the page they seem to either be exchanging secret touches or wandering watchfully apart. The smaller one brought to mind a dove, the larger a snail. A strange pair sailing out, infinitely out, in the landless sky. While I wrote this they were shattered and transformed by the forces that be.

I don’t know where they came from. The same mass of clouds hasn’t been able to get past the mountain range. The mass always appears to move, in an ominous fashion, but seems stuck, constipated, clinging to the peaks, reluctant of the seaward journey. Only the brave fly before the writer, brave and bright and confident, stamping a shadow in that sea glare. But my God! The cloud had become a swimmer. An old man swimming against the wind. Grey skeletal shadows, his one arm pulled back completing a stroke, his other burnt off in the sun. Black skull, white hair, white eye. His resolve had broken. He feared the blue infinite, the inevitable transfiguration and disintegration. He swam weakly for that band of sticky clouds above the mountains. Within the first sentences of seeing him he was no more.


A Wander to the Silver Trees

A creative writing piece that expands on my poem, ‘Silver Trees’.


The wind droned. Grey distilled light fell from the clouds upon everything. The sea seemed barren. He stood at the foot of the mountain. The slope was full of silver trees that shook and battled in the wind, glittering. Beyond the crowd of trees were sheer granite faces rising to the peak.

Leaving the footpath, he clambered vertically upwards, gripping shrubs and digging the toes of his boots in the soft, moist soil.  Dead sharp branches from a dead silver tree blocked his path so he zigzagged around it, keeping the mountain-side edges of his boots firm in the ground and leaning a little into the slope. Dew rested on the fynbos and his boots, the lower part of his jeans and his hands were already quite wet.

He had been waiting for a day like this to climb the mountain. A day when the coast was grey, the granite and the silver trees shone and the wind droned. It was hostile, the way the trees fought in the wind, loudly and ceaselessly, yet at the same time it was beautiful. A kind of harshness natural to them and foreign to him. A splendid battle. He wanted to experience it more closely.

The sharp fynbos had lashed the dark brown varnish from his boots revealing the tan leather beneath. He looked up and saw that the sea of green and silver was much closer. A little to his right a tree with pale pink leaves caught his attention. It was a dying silver tree. There was something ominous about it. Its colouring reminded him of bones not yet clean and dry, of a carcass before the vultures descend. After climbing higher he looked back at it. It shivered and bristled, not yet dead.

Upon reaching the treeline he ventured further in and lay down on his back. The sound was deafening. It was as if he was drowning, laying on the seabed, somewhat removed from the tumult of the surface. The branches crashed and swept. He noticed their springiness, how they bounced against the wind. The leaves flickered brightly amongst the sky, dazzling him. He closed his eyes, breathed, and felt himself be tossed in the swell; of sound, of movement, of nature’s violence, and felt safe. Sublime.

After a while he sat up and peered out at the sea, dull and barren, and could make out its distant roar. Dark storm clouds on the horizon broke the sky’s uniform grey. Small cars moved along a road beneath a set of mountain peaks. He’d begun to have enough of all this noise. His journey back down was difficult and cumbersome.


Silver Trees Poem: Silver Trees


Silver Trees


Silver leaved trees struggled

In the sea wind which stripped the coastline of sun-kissed colour

and blew across the sky masses of clouds.

Only metallic things shone under this grey light,

Granite boulders, copper flowers, those silver leaves

Flickering on fighting branches; the constant drone

Of the sea wind,

And the cavernous roar of swell.


Pieces of the Forest

Artwork by Jemma Clamp

Her breaths shook in rapid grasps. Trees approached and blurred past her. She jinked one side to the other, hopping over obstacles that littered the forest floor. She threw herself downhill. Air was dragged desperately into her lungs. She was afraid. She was running for her life.

Trees and branches rushed towards her. She suddenly sprang off her right foot and darted to the left. Through the sounds of her breathing, her heartbeat, and the claustrophobic rustles of the forest another set of footsteps could be heard, purposive, giving chase. FUCK! Her eyes flitted across the procession of trees in search of a possible path to take. The forest had grown denser, the branches reached out in hooks. She forced herself through a thicket and felt a hot sweet sensation as something sharp clawed itself down the length of her back. She yelped and gritted her teeth.  Run! Fucking run! She felt blood wetting the back of her leg.

“Look at the mess you’ve gotten yourself into.” a voice cooed through the forest. Her head whipped around in shock before returning forward in time to narrowly avoid a tree. “Come back, you’re so much better off with me.”

“GO AWAY!” she screamed, purging her lungs of air before sucking in the next breath.

She was now using her arms, swiping away braches, pushing her way forward, forgetting self-preservation, driven by the strongest sense of fear that blinded all thoughts except that she had to run.

She felt the presence behind her, its fingers barely touched the nape of her neck. She clenched her eyes shut and ducked forward. Nauseating shivers crept across her body. She grabbed at the ground and flung dirt backwards. Premature screams resided in every exhale. She couldn’t escape this nightmare. Tears streamed backwards from the corners of her eyes into her hair.

She opened her bleary eyes and they immediately trained themselves on a spot of light barely visible through the black web of branches. Her body immediately sharpened in its movements. She lunged and leapt, snapping branches under her steps as she thrust forward.

“NO! YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME!” The voice shrieked.

She burst into the light. Falling to the ground she scrambled blindly, creating distance from the dark forest edge. She stopped. Her head was lowered, she looked at nothing. Her breaths began to steady, the warmer air relaxed her lungs. She was tired. She looked up. Soft beams of light shone through the treetops, cradling the dust that floated in the air. The air was painted in brushstrokes of varying shades of gold. The ground was soft and warm.

She heard rustling behind her and turned to face it. The figure of a girl stood at the edge of the forest. Her arm was held behind the trunk of a tree as if using it for comfort. She seemed unwilling to part from it, caught in a moment of hesitation. Her face was not unlike her own, yet it fluctuated, breaking into fragments, a mosaic that billowed in an internal wind, fluxing and reforming. At first an angry scowl seethed amongst the rippling shards, however gradually a sense of sadness and longing began to appear.

“Please don’t leave me…” Her eyes fluttered on the verge of tears.

A sense of peace seemed to extend the distance between them. She gave the girl a final look of understanding before she turned away and strode amongst the light.


Life is Like a Bowl of Milky Granola


I was guilty of gluttony yesterday. This was proved beyond reasonable doubt when after seconds of supper and the remainder of the tub ice cream, I had made myself a second bowl of milky granola, this time with a crumbled sugar cone. My stomach practically burst with each mouthful. The usual glowing inner-hug I felt after eating was replaced with images of the grey boerewors from earlier looking even greyer as it writhed in the milky mire of my stomach. It was curling and writhing viciously, seemingly intent on rupturing out of my chest as if it was a young Xenomorph. Of course there wasn’t a long, unchewed piece of boerie in my stomach, I didn’t shove the sausage down my oesophagus while using lubricative, melted ice cream to ease the process. I may as well have, I felt disgusted. Not only that, but the crumbled sugar cone went completely soggy and offered nothing in the way of texture or flavour to the dish. I was disappointed. Finding a sitting position that didn’t threaten the dormancy of the alien lifeform was also difficult and so after completing some work I made myself a soothing mug of peppermint tea. Since I was unwell, the tea was medicinal and was therefore administered joylessly.

Yesterday’s overexposure to milky granola prompted a wonderful thought. Food is like life. The more you eat, the less there is on the plate. I will use the bowl of milky, vanilla seed granola (usually made with dates, coconut flakes, a drizzle of honey, and dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg) that prompted this insight to further explain the analogy. As we begin our lives we are faced with the full bowl with only its milky surface actually visible, save a few specks of spices or sesame seeds. The world is unknown, our lives are for the most part sheltered from anything hard or substantial. It is also pure in that sense and the first spoons are delightful, simple, and easy. Vanilla honeyed milk with only the softest resistance of floating sesame seeds testing our milk teeth. Ah, but we grow more inquisitive and brazen. Our spoons delve deeper and we begin to encounter the granola. The granola is harder and more substantial. It requires chewing, an action that like hard work is often its own reward. We become enthralled. The crunches pop with moments of delectable sweetness as unctuous chunks of dates are scooped up in the process. Aahh, the joys of life. It all begins to mix extraordinarily well, the flavours, the textures, all the while wonderfully accompanied by that never-ending pool of milk.

Or, it was never-ending, but as you pause to take a leisurely sip of your grandma’s homemade kombucha tea you have a moment of reflection. You are already half-way, maybe more, maybe less, and a feeling of dread attempts to set in. Here the mind will dictate how the rest of bowl will go. Every spoon from here on out not only depletes the milky granola, but does so at an increasing rate.  You could have never have known but the bowl is conical, the longest years of your life have already happened. You could attempt to bury this thought, let it become a dull but ever-present force that will destabilise that inner peace you had felt.  You could begin to eat it faster, ignoring your body’s pleas to slow down, you don’t care, or you say you don’t as with tears in your eyes you shove mound after mound into your mouth. You barely chew and swallowing becomes painful. Take a breath, there’s still so much left, you made yourself a big bowl after all. Take a spoonful, savour it, that spoon had two date chunks in it, would you have known otherwise?

We are getting close to finishing our bowl of milky granola. We are beginning to feel content and quite full. There are more dates at the bottom. Our smaller, more conscientious spoonfuls do little to slow the milks progress down the sides of the bowl. We have enjoyed it and feel restful. We make peace with the pangs of helplessness and greed for another bowl. We scrape the sides dotted with memories of times before. Our spoon has done all it can, there is no more granola left, just a shallow but richly flavoured puddle of milk at the bottom. Finally with a smile on our face, we grab the bowl with both hands, raise it to our mouth and take our last sip. A dribble of milk runs down the side of our chin and we recline with our eyes closed back into the chair.

I open my eyes and look at my phone. Ah, it’s already 11:00am, a couple more hours and I’ll have some lunch.