Monday, August 9, 2021

Patina upon patina: J-town

Scrawled on the city 
and a profuse patina 
on my brain, in my bones 
so many tales
how they came
the old and current earthquakes from the mines
the unsolved bank robbery at Randburg
a story still at large
the cranes and the builders
the anti-builders who crushed dreams – Sofiatown, Doories, Fietas
how the city lost Wopko in the cracks
the unmellow yellow of cop-van raids 
in the wee hours
looking for black bodies, looking to manage their limbs
how so many who came      leave in droves, at year-end
boxed in on trains, the trommels on bakkies, the buses sagging
a small prison tree – apricot, I believe
where women prisoners sat, ointmenting the sting
and the larger prison; while shadows pool
in the eye’s hollow
the spraycan worked on the walls
of an old theatre (Kilroy and lord knows which other ghosts were here)
mould getting the upper hand
in the grotty side of town
so many voices, all speaking at once
if you let them

Ah, the sweat-stained dreams
imagining the future

Sometimes you can hear
the strains of a mouth organ, saxophone, Kippie's flute 
or just the plaintive whistle of a train 

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