Last request: a camera
Aimed at the man with the gun.
He lifts the rifle,
I click the shutter,
The photograph on the screen
To my father.
The bullet collides somewhere near
I stagger home –
To be not dead.
Now the task is
They were unruffled,
The artist and his mistress, when I arrived in a battered kombi
To save the wife.
But she had already disappeared.
Only pink water in a bucket and a bloodstain
That smelled of detergent and would not wash out
On the floor near the fridge.
It is happening to me now.
As I try to hide behind the rose bushes,
He says: “Did you really think you could escape?”
Angling for water
The fish leapt
Under the bridge
Into my arms
A soft egg wounded
I knew it would die
Tick bite fever
My knight in shining armour
Turned out to be a tick
With no eyes
Who crawled out of the veld and drank my blood until I became so sick
He had to turn to another source of life
What they don’t tell you in fairy tales
Is that there is nothing
Behind the polished armour –
Inside the shiny smooth body of the tick you will find only
Your own blood.
I never thought
You could defeat me,
I always thought
My will stronger.
But you are a white man,
with white hair
And so you and your henchmen
Turned me into something
A parody of myself –
I am not on the side
of your tribe.
And the past is not forgotten.
Cast out –
I stand with the miners of Geduld
who cough up
Pieces of lung in shacks
And with the Cubans
who fought against you
At Cuito Cuanavale.
This wound inside
Most days sits quiet, seeping
As imperceptibly as a body breathing –
But oh how the merest thought or
kiss can tear open the thin membrane,
disgorging bits and then
I am on on the edge, almost falling
into that void –
the solar plexus.
Northern Hemisphere Haiku I
Under grey English
Skies in June, I miss the smell
Southern Hemisphere Haiku I
Over these dark waves,
Lion’s Head and mute Apostles,
Wheels the Southern Cross.
A Disappearing World
The forest is being razed
Turned into powdered dust
From a chasm of hewn vegetation
They drag a panda bear
And her cub
Bound for some zoo, or worse
I rush to the mother,
And reunite them
Then carrying both creatures I run
Though the forest, now busy with men
What shall I feed these skepsels
When I take them into hiding?
Suddenly in my arms they grow
Smaller and smaller
As if I have been carrying two insects –
they have fallen
I search the dusty ground but see nothing
If I had my cellphone here I could call for help.
Bloom in darkness.
I was 19 going on 20
when they put me into the hospital for settlers
I cannot remember why, though it must have been
for something shameful
I remember the white ward
with two ancient white ladies, fellow settlers
one was dying
the other had lost her faculties
or at least some of her reason in the sense that
reason is focused on present coordinates
she kept rattling the end of her bed
like a cage and calling for “Florence”
and her little dog called Tover
Tover, Tover, where is my little dog
sometimes she swam into the present
and focused on her gasping companion
calling for the nurses to feed her grapes
as grapes are very digestible
sometimes I put my hands to my eyes
and feel the bones of my skull
it’s coming for all of us
the bones rattling their cage
wanting to get out –
there was just the hole
and the fence.
The lights encircling Lions
Head are rows of jewels,
my soul into a place
dark and weightless.
I need something to take
away the edges
But when i take it –
that takes away the edges
(after scrolling past all the emojis
until i find the red heart) –
it’s no good
for my gut
and the gut is the centre
of being –
So maybe I need
and that slice
into another world
Maybe I need
Lamentations (and other melodies)
On Arthurs Road a security guard sings
In a strange tongue
It sounds like fresh water pouring into the sea
Though I know it’s a lament
Underneath a window Romeo calls
For Gaby, who jangles keys and shouts that she’s comin
A cop checks his cellphone in a parked patrol car
The light of the screen quietly illuminating his face
I climb the North West slope of Signal Hill
In the twilight
It’s not very profound
I don’t know when it happened
But my heart has dipped heavily into my stomach
And my hands are empty
Leonor (after Camões)
The day there were needles
in my body,
I took a bath, immersed to the
waist, like a shipwrecked Portuguese noblewoman,
in front of a group of young men.
To one of them I tried to explain
about the needles:
but no words came, only gestures,
and besides, he was laughing.
Some of the needles were still having threads in them.
She is the one who died in the woods.
I was kneeling beside her as she expired
from that awful gunshot wound, and she looked into
and I held her close.
Somebody else was there,
but it was not you.
On the other side of the curve
Endtimes doggerel published in herri3, 2020: https://herri.org.za/3/lucy-valerie-graham/