Waiting for a Roll

 

“Ey man, the line’s this side.”

I wasn’t having it. “Look, I’ve been waiting here for 30 minutes already. I’m after you. It’s fine”

“You must queue this side though.”

“No I’m not going anywhere, I’m standing here.” I said, not quite slurring.

He looked at me from over his shoulder. I looked at him frankly, then looked back at the simmering skottel of onions and boerewors, watching the lady turn them: pink, raw, boiling in their juices. The onions smelled good. The guy was still staring at me.

“What’s up?”

“You gotta queue over there dude.”

“Yeah I’m not moving. I’m behind you in this line, get your shit and you can leave and I’ll get my fucking roll.” I gestured to the skottel, drunk and expressive.

He glanced over at his friend. “What did you just say?”

“What?”

“Don’t say ‘fucking’ again dude.”

“What?” Smiling, “Fucking, what’s the problem? Hey? Fucking.”

Now he’d turned to face me. I took my hands from my pockets and held them loose and ready.

“What’s the matter? You wanna swing at me? Come lets go across the road if you wanna fucking swing.” His friend was laughing but they weren’t going to try anything. He turned back to the skottel.

And so did I. Still feeling merry and wanting to be on good terms, I started talking to him again.

“Hey. Listen. We could actually be friends.” He was weirded out by the proposal.

The friend chirped in, laughing, “Yeah ____ you guys could be friends.”

“Think about this” I continued earnestly, “Think about this. You were born, and raised, and had your life.” I illustrated the timeline with my hand. “As was I, my own life, nice guy, and now we’re here at this moment. We could be friends. I don’t want any beef. I’ve just been waiting here a long time, that’s it.”

 

 

Later, still waiting for this lady to finish stewing the sausages:

“What’s your name?” He held out his hand.

“Shaun.” Taking it. “And yours?”

“Loyiso.”

“Loyiso? Nice to meet you.”

 

 

Rollin Rollin

Advertisements

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.

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.

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