Monday, August 31, 2015

Mother city

(ode to cape town)

Place of slaves, storms, minstrels, frenzied wind
winter is a leprous sky, breaking up and breaking up
into craters swept by rain and slush

White-maned waves of luxury apartments
give way to grains of shacks
the mountain tumbles from its cloudy pelmet
sends wet and cold to villages & towns that fuel the city

Those from umlazi eldos soshanguve wentworth phoenix newbrighton
those who pilgrim seasonally
swear by sacred braai spots
but, these tough days, seasons and people are driven further apart

Off the fish hoek boats, red or blue-veined
the piles of fish arrive
to be slain and trimmed
a wind lurches and guts the tourist dream

In the morning, she lugs the roomservice of empties
the sheets are crumpled, branded
amid smudges and tracks of fitful lusts

A political activist, fresh from exile
clambers up the mountain, a flushed pilgrimage
and from a mountain telescope
he discerns a waterfront, its newness
cleared of local dialects, bergies & salomies

And: the jobless on the sidewalk, multiplying
with the bmws and glitzy stores
will there be enough cars to park storefronts to sleep in
enough small change

for chunks of bread and toasts of cheap wine?

Frank Meintjies

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tending to shoes

The old man wears a leather brown apron.
His eyebrows are long and whitened. The wooden bench
is frayed, its surface nibbled away
by mallet blows. He rolls the bent and
ailing shoes on the counter, cradles them away
to a place among the sagging, laden shelves. The
hordes of obsolete footwear, a familiar

wallpaper. He chalks large numbers
on the soles or inside. His customers
have come to learn patience
as he struggles to locate their goods.
Eventually, he does. To tell the truth,
his work is less and less precise
these days. As you examine your shoe

the nails seem big, the soles too thick.
But, as he points out (using a thick hairy finger),
only brute force will separate the new sole
from the upper. The paint-on-wood sign
(Boot and Shoe Repairs) withers and curls like old bark.
He doesn’t talk much, and soon
he is back leaning over the last,
bearing the side of his face to you.

Old man, bicycle and rod

An old man pushing his bicycle
wedges time and space
in the page margin between
rail tracks and fence.
The thin wire lines holding back
the marching of the trees,
property of the forestry department.
He transects the chevron shadows                                                                                    
Feet squish in puddles of stillness.
The fishing rod is silent and strapped up,
comfortable with its length
and the horizontal ride.

He sees no-one. The lined face whistles
as it catches the breeze,
revelling in the tingle.
The wet stain on the trouser bottom,
an imprint of the river and its dark quiet water.
A sparrow flutters and a red robin hops about. He stops,
slowly turning his head to look around. What are
his thoughts? He is in no hurry.                                                                       
The moment, alive in the thoughts, ripples out …