Poetry

School was meant to have instilled in us an appreciation of poetry. Unfortunately the system demanded a clinical analysis of beautiful poetry that destroyed all its beauty. Dissected upon the cold slab of the educational mortuary, stripped of all its delicate skin and rosy flesh, all that remained was the bloody sinews and gleaming bone of literary devices that held no practical meaning to this student.

And yet, somehow I always knew that there was something to poetry that was deeply attractive. Something to which I would return one day. And I did. Poetry is the language of God. After all, He wrote much of the Bible in poetry. Brutal and base must be the soul who stands unmoved before the subtle chords of the purest verse.

Some of my own creations:

 
Foto: My ouma se broer met sy familie naby Dullstroom.

Donkiekar Drywer

Glentana 2011-09-10

 

Donkiekar drywer jou windverwaaide siel

Langsaam en mankoliek draai die stof agter jou wiel

Jou gelaat is soos die aarde, met ‘n stomp klip uitgekrap

Jou hande dof en uitgedroog, soos die grond waarop jy trap

 

Oor die horison loop jou dubbel-spore, slinger-slenter dronk

Die vlaktes is jou vryheid, maar hartseer is jou tronk

Van die reën waarvoor jou landskap wag, het net trane van gekom

Gebroke hart en moedverloor vertel geknotte kneukels stom

 

Hoeveel myle is daar tussen jou en die plek waarna jy heengaan?

“Maak nie saak nie Baas, as ek so sing is ek amper nie eers eensaam

My liedjie is maar valserig, die woorde half-vergeet

Maar sluimer-sluimer dommel ek – ek’s daar nog voor jy weet”

 

Sy donkies steier stowwerig, vaal en motgevrete

Die ore hang maar mankoliek – dis vervelig om te lewe

Sy karretjie van planke op ‘n ou Ford onderstel

Hobbel lusteloos maar dit is wel ‘n dubbel-donkiekrag model

 

Lieplapper rondloper, leeglê-swendelaar

Jy’s ryk my Ta jy weet dit nie, maar dis ‘n feit voorwaar

My motor, huis en blink-pak klere, ‘n volstruis geteer in eie vere

Jy is ryk en ek is arm maar beide van ons lewe

 

Kom vat my hand, so slinger ons, verflenterd en verwaai

Met ‘n bottel in ‘n bruin kardoes, stuur ons die wêreld in sy maai

Son en wind en wilde diere, wie gee werklik om?

Nou loop ons spore ewe skeef vir my en jou ou jong

 

Photo: The Mosselbay/Geore railway line, above where I used to live.

 

Fantasy Train

Herman Labuschagne, Glentana 2011-11-16

  

Come on a magic journey with me

Ride with me before the day dies

I’m the train that can’t be seen

Let me take you to yonder skies

 

There’s no dream too hard to reach

There’s no hope that is too far

I can make what you imagine

Glow in heaven like a burning star

 

Hear me whistle – feel the warm wind

Spread your arms and let us fly

There’s no sense for you to wonder

How my tracks cross burning sky

 

I’m your chariot, you’re my thunder

Light the heavens, cleave the night

Steer me upward, split asunder

I’ll bear you swiftly with all my might

 

Photo: Prehistoric "fish kraals" at Stillbay on a full moon night.

 

Full Moon Upon the Waters

Glentana 2010-10-03

  

There is a full moon

Upon the waters

Where the waves weep on the sand

And my mind is with an old friend

Far from this land

 

And between us lies and ocean

With its waters dark and wide

Filled with differences and disagreements

Framed by pale moonlight

 

But it’s a festival moon

It’s the harvest moon

It is the best moon of the year

And as I gaze across the waters

I can’t help to wish that you were here

 

Moon, lovely moon

Full moon upon the waters

As you gaze across the oceans

Won’t you look out for you daughter?

 

 

In Kliprivier se Water

Glentana, 2011-11-28

 

“Wag nog ‘n bietjie ou maat

Bly nog ‘n bietjie hier

Kyk ons is almal vriende

Soos die skuim op jou bier”

 

“Laat my liewer gaan

Kyk hoe laag sit die maan

Lettie is eensaam

By die huis vanaand”

 

“Skink nog ‘n doppie kêrels

Netnou ly hy dors

So maak ware vriende

Ja, so maak vriende mos”

 

“Dankie broers maar rêrig

Dit word nou al laat

Die kinders wonder seker al

Wanneer kom ek aan”

 

“Ag nee ou vriend, so maak mens nie!

Kom net nog ‘n een

Dit is lekker koud vanaand

En netnou kom dit reën”

 

“Nou toe dan net ‘n kleintjie

So-so dis genoeg

Ek moet se dit is wrintiewaar

‘n seldsame winterjaar”

 

“Kom nou jy gaan my nie se

Jy gaan so vroeg loop

Net nog dan ‘n laaste een

Ek het jou dop reeds klaar gekoop”

 

Laatnag strompel huis-toe

Die donker-slank figuur

En voel-voel waar sy sleutels hang

Langs die motor kar se stuur

 

“Hoe krom loop die twee spore nou?”

Dink hy nog met ‘n sug

“Ek wanneer kom die Kliprivier

Se enkelspoortjie brug?”

 

“Nou waarvoor kom daai motor dan

Lynreg op my af?

Hy sien my mos of dink hy dalk

Hy is is lekker laf?”

 

Hy dog toe dit is veiliger

En draai maar liewers uit

En daarmee beland sy motorkar

In die Kliprivier se spruit

 

Op Maanhaarrand sit Lettie maar

Die ligte een-een-af

En kyk nog eers vir sy motor uit

Op die ou tweespoortjie pad

 

“Hy werk so laat, my stomme man

Ons is op hom so trots

Ek wens net dat hy meer kan

Tyd spandeer met ons…”

 

In Klipriver se water

Verflou twee ligte geel

‘n Vader wat sy kindertjies

Nooit ooit weer sal streel

 

Photo: 'n Glass ship that was a gift from a friend across the waters.

 

She Sails the Seas

Glentana 2010-06-18

 

I watched your ship

Sailing out across the bay

I watched your sails

As you vanished clear away

Where the ocean meets the sky

You left my wond’ring why

Two ships can be sailing

In two opposite ways?

 

She sails the seas

In a ship made of glass

As I watch and pray

That the Face Behind the Stars

Will keep a lighthouse always burning

For us to find our way

And to guide us home safely

To that glorious bay

 

So sail away

O’er the ocean so dark

But see how the waters

Reflect a million stars

And see how the moon above

– The fingernail of God

Is pointing us homeward

No matter how far we’re apart 

 

So ship of glass,

Called Nightstar go your way

Wherever you are

May the stars light up your way

And if our ships should meet again

I’ll salute you as a friend

And you’ll see me there standing

With my hand upon my breast

 

Then sail along,

Oh ship made of glass

Sail safely on your way

As you listen to my song

 

 

Photo: The old graveyard in Swellendam.

 

Silent Friends

2011-07-11, Glentana

 

Pour out your scales

Throw more fuel on the fire

Spill all your tears on the ground

Your laughter is hollow

And silent the sound

Of the dead who lie under the ground

 

There they rest easy

And there they rest long

Peaceful with never a care

Just resting in slumber

They pay no attention

To whether or not you are there

 

There sleeps a fallen young hero

There lies a mother with child

There rests a milkman,

A farmer, a general

Friends till the ending of time

 

Oh, oh how low

Nothing do they know

When the winds that blow over the ice caps of time

Blow out the candle’s small flame

 

Oh, oh how low

Long must we wait

Till the sunrise comes and warms up our eyes

And restores the sweet breath to your lives

 

Foto: Die brons ossewaens by Bloedrivier.

 

Bloedrivier, Skarlakenrooi

Glentana, 2011-12-16

 

Skarlakenrooi en droewig diep

Loop stil jou donker water

Waar bloed van duisend dapper helde

Rimpel oor die blou-groen aarde

 

Oral langs die groot rivier

Vervloei die Zoeloe ryk se droom

Die vrugwater van gebroke nasie

Afgeskep soos melk se room

 

Roerlings in die digte riete

Wit oë van gewonde kryger

Huiwer net en verwdyn vir ewig

Voor die roer van nog ‘n ruiter

 

En hoor jy dan die magtig’ dreuning

Wat uitstyg bo die krygsrumoer?

Is daar vir die kinders van die hemel

Na slagting dalk nog lewe oor?

 

Verweg in die wester-hemel

Verrys die wolke toring-hoog

Die tweede ruiter met sy vlammend’ vaandel

Span vir laas sy yster boog

 

Oor die slagveld daal daar nou ‘n stilte

Sagkens soos gebreekte koors

Van die trotse regimente is daar nou net

Uitgedroogte beend’re oor

 

Waar Bloedrivier se water murmel

Daar loop die water nou weer helder

In die blou-groen gras is geen teken meer

Van uitgestorwe helde

 

Die waens het lankal reeds verrot

Die ruiters het soos mis verdwyn

En min is daar wat hul vandag

Herinner aan hul vaders’ pyn

 

Daardie dag se barendsnood

Was swaar en vol van diepe angs

En die kind wat daar gebore was

Het het jonk gesterwe in die nag

 

Bloedrivier, o Bloedrivier

Jou vrugwater loop nou helder

Net saans waai nog ‘n siddering

Oor die blou-groen van jou velde

 

Photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spitfire_VII_Langley_USA.jpg

 

Warplane

Glentana, 2010-2011-12-27

 

It was midnight when they sent for me

To inform me ‘bout my misery

That a German bomber dropped its load

On my house and I was now alone

 

So I got into my war-plane

And I wowed I would not return again

Then I flew into the rising sun

To repay the Germans what they had done

 

When they came out of the morning sky

I just knew I’d watch them fall and die

There were five and I was certain

That my deadly hands would break them

 

I met the first one, guns a blazing

I watched him peel apart, then fading

To take the second one was easy

Hit him when he couldn’t see me

 

Then the third one tried to turn and run

He was torn apart while I dove on

I banked hard and faced the fourth one

I was hit before I send him down

 

Then I watched to see the last one

Slowly turn to face me head-on

So I slowly watched him coming

Welcoming what he was bringing

 

From a distance I could see that he

Was a young man almost just like me

Thought I had him in my gun sights

Strange I felt that it wasn’t right

 

So I held fire for the last moment

Even knowing that I’d be broken

In the fire of his machine gun

I saluted and flew straight on

 

Oh I’m coming home today

Oh I’m coming home today

 

Photo: a fallen forest giant at Woodville near Hoekwil in the Western Cape.

 

Death of the Forest King

Glentana 2010-10-17

 

I watched with fascination

as the axe it was swung

into the forest-king’s side

cutting through his old hide

but there was no blood

and there was no sigh

just the blows of the woodsman

as the forest king died

 

And no-one had pity

yes and nobody cried

just the leaves that were falling

and the wood chips that flied

and the blows they made music

like the drum beat of a dirge

as the steel sliced through centuries

that numbered time on earth

 

When the forest king died

it went down with a cry

with a groan from its timbers

it bowed below the sky

where the forest king lied

blinding light it shone through

where mushrooms and ferns once

beside the forest king grew

 

But the green forest lawn

did slowly turn red

for below the king’s body

the woodsman lay dead

for he did not see

when the old one came down

that his foot was being held

by the forest’s green lawn

 

So they buried him there

in a box made of wood

from the ribs of the old king

on the place where he stood

and the forest lived on

and it slowly forgot

the name of the woodsman

as the timbers did rot

 

In the forest of dreams

where a mighty king stood

a new prince is growing

every century a foot

and one day it may be

that the hole in the sky

will be filled by a new king

where the woodsman now lies

 

Foto: 'n Rooi papawer uit die tuin van Ina Scholtz.

 

Die reënboog van Vlaandere

Glentana, 8 Junie 2008.

 

In Vlaandere lê 'n Boerseun in die nag

Wagtend op die branding van die dag

Hy voel sy lewe kwyn terwyl Europa om hom bloei

En wonder waarmee hy hom hier bemoei…

 

Daar vêr verby artillerie gedruis

Verwyder van waar die ligfakkels verreis

Sien hy in geestesoog weer in Transvaal 'n reënboog

En draai sy oë vir 'n oomblik weer omhoog:

 

“O land, my land, ek kom na jou miskien…”

“Hy yl,” se 'n strydbroer, “gee hom nog morfien…”

“…ek kom na jou miskien, sal ek jou velde weer kan sien—

Ek het my land in stryd getrou gedien…”

 

“O hou my hand, dan vertel ek jou nog eens,

Hoe blom die velde na die lentereëns…”

“My vriend, jy sal die pyn minder voel as ek jou spuit

Hou vas, ons dra jou weldra hiervan uit…”

 

In Vlaandere sterf 'n Boerseun in die nag

Sy laaste asem neem die oggend sag

“Kyk,” merk 'n kameraad, “hy het 'n glimlag nagelaat”

“En waarlik, daar is rus op sy gelaat…”

 

In Vlaandere staan papawers diep en rooi

In Vlaandere lê die velde ryk en mooi

In Vlaandere hang 'n reënboog oor 'n eensame graf

En tel die jare stelselmatig af…

 

Foto: My ouma se hande - die tweede laaste keer wat ek haar gesien het.

 

Laat My Nooit Alleen

8 Maart 2009, Glentana 

Gedagtig aan die feit dat my ouma alleen moes sterwe sonder haar vriende of family teenwoordig. Tog het sy die geselskap gehad van haar kamermaat, Tannie Hartjie. Haar metgesel voor haar laaste reis.

 

Laat my nooit alleen

Sal jy my beween?

As wêreldwysheid kwyn

En elke vriend verdwyn?

 

Laat jou stem tog hoor

Voor ek rigting verloor

Raak my nog eens aan

Troos daarmee my traan

 

Ja, nog voor ek groet

Gee my nog wat moed

Kyk, die lig word vaal

Sien, die skadu’s daal

 

Ek moet groet vir laas

Waarom tog die haas?

Jare is so snel

Op die uurglas afgetel

 

Foto: My glas wyn, laat een aand in die donker.

 

‘n Rusplek vir die winter

 

Die winter vind ‘n rusplek

In die poel van my gemoed

Die kaggelvuur se vlamme

In my wyn, so rooi soos bloed

 

En iewers in die duister

In die winde wat daar huil

Hoor ek jou saggies fluister

Het ek jou vir dít verruil?

 

En die storm wat daar buite loei

Weerklink in my gemoed

En die spyt bruis deur my are

Soos morfien gespuit in bloed

 

En dit dood my sinne stadig

Dit verdraai my heel verstand

Dit benewel en bedwelm

Tot ek dink ek is bestand

 

Maar iewers in die duister

In die winde wat daar huil

In die geroep van ‘n naguil

Uit my hart se diepe kuil

 

Is dit asof ek jou stem hoor

Of jou naam my lippe roer

Of jou beeld hom skelm en saggies

In my verstand verskuil

 

En wonder ek of jy nog 

Van my bestaan kan weet

Of dalk soos ek ook eenmaal

Van my kon vergeet

 

Ja mens weet nooit wat jy het nie

Tot jy dit dan eens verloor

Dis eers later dat mens wonder

Wat het jy daarvan oor?

 

En die spyt wat steeds te laat kom

Is die mens se ruwe lot

Om te faal en om te sukkel

Ons gedrag so heel verspot

 

  

Photo: An image from the treches after the battles of the Tugela Heights in 1899.

 

Now that the Battle is Over

Glentana, 20 July 2009

 

Now that the battle is over

Now that the damage is done

Now that we’re both bent and broken

Now that we see what we’ve done

Now that we pause and we look behind

To our amazement we find

After all has been said and done

            That nobody won!

 

That nobody won!

That nobody won…

After all that has been said and done

that nobody won…

 

 

Foto: Jan van Reebeeck. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jan_van_Riebeeck.jpg

 

Van Riebeeck van die Suiderland

2 April 2006, Johannesburg

 

Eer die Suid-Oos wind weer kom kennis maak trek Tafelberg weer wit

En die langhaar-man by die venster staan met ‘n frons-gesig en bid

En die seemeeu draai oor die suiderson en dartel deur die lug

Maar hy steur hom nie aan die kommandeur se moedverlate sug.

 

“O Maria, O Maria! Hierdie land is vir my te wild;

En saans kan ek nie slaap nie want die donker is te stil…”

 

Waar die volle maan mosaïek uitslaan deur Javanese-vensterraam

Sit die langhaar-man met jenewer kan en ‘n olielamp wat brand

Hy skryf ‘n brief aan sy lieflingsvrou met ‘n hand wat saggies beef

En die woorde rol om ‘n inkklad-kol en roep klankloos na haar uit:

 

“O Maria, O Maria! Hierdie brief sal jy nooit lees.

Ek wil nie met jou deel nie my bekommernis en vrees!”

 

In die fort word dit stil want dis half-voor-een en die langhaar-man lê op sy arms heen.

Maar die lamp bly brand want die nag is lank toe haar hand oor sy slapende skouer streel.

 

“O Maria, O Maria!” Lees sy in sy eie hand;

“Ek kan jou nie vertel nie wat in my hart so brand!

My verlange is na Amsterdam maar my hart is in hierdie grond—

My hande reik na grou-Nederland maar my siel reik na Afrika- son!”

 

In die grou-lumier van die môre-uur word hy wakker weens die kou

Met ‘n blou kombers wat sy laasnag weer om sy skouers het gevou

En hy staar na haar wyl die oggend-straal haar marmer-beeld oorspoel

Tevrede in die wete dat sy nou weet hoe hy voel.

 

Maar Maria, O Maria weet want sy ken haar man se hart;

In Afrika se diepsee lê ‘n kontinent vol smart.

En eendag as die suiderwind hul huis toe weer moet waai,

Dan weet sy, dat sy hart weer, soos die seemeeu suid sal draai.

 

En die langhaar-man met sy lieflingsvrou rus nou lank reeds in Nederland.

Maar in die Kompanjiestuin staan sy beeld nog steeds met ‘n wandelstaf in sy hand.

En hy gee nie om vir die duiwe wat op sy pluim-geveerde hoed,

Kom rus nie want hul wis nie hoeveel vrede dra sy gemoed.

 

En sy oë staar nou vreedsaam uit want sy hart is hier gerus,

Soos die winde in die berge wat ou Tafelberg kom sus.

 

 

 

Fotos: Die konsentrasiekamp in Irene links, en die konsentrasiekamp begrafplaas in Balmoral regs.

 

Winternagte, Winterkou

 

O, winternagte

o koue winterreën

 

Stille winternagte

sug die windjie om ons heen

 

Hoëveldse winde

waai die kille vlaktes oor

Niemand wat die kindjie

se sagte doodsgeroggel hoor

 

Stil en bleek gesiggie

waarop die kers se skadu’s dans

Buite die doodsengel

wat gereed staan vir sy kans

 

O winternagte

o sagte gras-gedou

 

Stille winternagte

Spierwit ryp dit om my nou

 

Ver oor die deining

word ‘n sagte sug gehoor

Hoeveel van sy helde

kan ‘n volk nog só verloor?

 

Onderkant die weegskaal

vloei ‘n dapper held se bloed

Vader het sy kindjie

nog nooit eers kon ontmoet

 

O winternagte

wat weemoedig deur hul skeur

 

Stille winternagte

tentdoek kan die dood nie keer

 

Anderkant die oosterkim

vul ‘n dreuning heel die lug

Donder perdepote

die kommando is op vlug

 

En onder in die laagte

lê die grafte in ‘n ry

Die harte van ‘n nasie

vir ‘n pot vol goud verruil

 

O winternagte

o hoe sag val die kapok

 

Stille winternagte

ver-af beier ‘n kerkklok

 

O winternagte

oor hul grafte spoel die maan

 

Stille winternagte

hoe lank sal hul kan bly staan?

 

O winternagte

daar is rytjies vol vars grond

 

Stille winternagte

algar netjies afgerond

 

 

Die Laaste Prisonier

13 November 2000

 

Dis lank na middernag

Maar ek staan nog hier en wag

Met doodswit vuiste vol van koue staal

Duisend mense in my stad

Maar daar’s nou slegs ene wat

Besef hoe kosbaar tyd nog soms kan wees

 

Deur die vensters van my sel

Kan ek nog die sterre tel

Maar die ruim begin al stadig reeds verbleek

Dis my laaste lewensuur

Want die son is byna hier

Om die oosterkim met sy strale te glasuur

 

En ek staan nou hier en dink

Wyl die stad nog vreedsaam blink

Waar is die jare almal heen?

Dat ‘n onbesonne daad

En ‘n hart gevul met haat

n Menselewe so maklik kan ontneem?

 

*

Want ek’s die laaste prisoner

In my laaste lewensuur

By dagbreek moet my lewe eindig hier

 

En ek staan nou hier en wag

Vir die stewels van die wag

Wat netnou kom om by buite toe te lei

 

Teen die wit muur sal hy my stel

En ‘n offisier sal tel

Terwyl die son se eerste strale val

 

Tegelyk kom daar ‘n knal

En ‘n siel wat grond-toe val

Die wrede hart reeds sewe maal deurboor

 

Ja ek’s die laaste prisonier

In my laaste lewensuur

By dagbreek moet my lewe eindig hier

 

En ek weet dis feitlik oor

En ek weet ek het verloor

Teen die wit muur word my skuld finaal betaal

 

 

Die Wêreld is ‘n Koue Vriend

20 Julie 2009, Glentana

 

Vêr oor die glans van die oseaan

Waar die wind die toekoms inwaai

En verder nog waar die wolke brand

Waar die son sy rus ingaan

En verder as dit waar die volle maan

Sy pad deur die Melkweg los kom slaan

 

Dis daar miskien, of ek weet ook nie

Waar ek my troos sal vind

Vir ‘n gebroke hart, ‘n ingeduikte siel

En verstand wat arm is aan hoop

 

Maar die wêreld is ‘n koue vriend

Hy vra nie vrae nie

Hy sluit sy oë en stap dan voort

En so neem die lewe maar sy loop…

 

Waai wind, waai deur my

Waai deur my by die horison verby

 

 

 

Martha Angeline

1901-1901

Glentana., 2011-09-30

(Martha Angelina Kolbe was die dogtertjie van George Augustus Kolbe en Martha Sophia Klopper. Sy het gesterwe tydens die Tweede Anglo-Boereoorlog in 1901 voor sy ‘n volle jaar oud was. Sy is vernoem na haar voormoeder, Martha Angelina Van Breda, wat volgens familie legende vernoem was na ‘n skip.)

 

Ek stap weer deur die ou kerkhof

Aan’t vleikant van ou Wakkerstroom

Verpoos dan by ‘n kleine grafsteen

Aan dig-begroeide soom

 

Uitgebytel in die sandklip

Staan haar naam nog steeds in blom

Martha Angeline Kolbe

Tussen lang gras in die son

 

Sy’s gebore in die oorlog

Sy’t gesterwe voor die vrede

‘n Steen is al wat oor is

Op die kruispad van haar lewe

 

Ek het jou nooit geken nie

Maar ek het van jou geweet

Want die liefde wat vir jou was

Bly in vertelling nog steeds leef

 

Angelina jy’t gesterwe

In ons volk se donker uur

Onder dwinglandy en swaarkry

Porselein se dun glasuur

 

Volgens oorlewering en legende

Is jy vernoem na ‘n ou skip

Maar jou vaartuig is gesonke

En jou draadjie afgeknip

 

Angelina jou bloed en myne

Spruit uit een lewensfontein

Dit vloei steeds oor God’s akker

En deurwater nog Sy tuin

 

Slaap geduldig liewe niggietjie

Want waar jy is, is tyd kort

En eendag voor jou naam verweer het

Sal ons twee verenig word

 

Al is daar helaas niemand oor nie

Wat jou verlies nog steeds beween

Onthou ek jou en lees jou naam

“Martha Angeline Kolbe, negentien-nul-een”

 

Photo: Glentana shipwreck.

 

Rusted Wrecks On Golden Beaches

Glentana 2011-11-16

 

Your rusted bones and ochered timbers

Upon a golden beach lie cast away

You ran aground at the bleed of dawn

When your anchor’s hold broke off that day

 

There they robbed you of your pride and honour

Stripped your instruments and spoiled your grace

Then sent it on to the foundry’s oven

Before discarding you to cruel fate

 

Ancient vessels, wasted carcasses

Upon the dirty rim of ocean’s tide

There they rot and there are eaten

By rust that gnaws through toughened hide

 

Each year just a little deeper

Every decade several rivets break

Until one day there’ll be nothing over

Of your one inch Sheffield boiler plate

 

Skeleton ribs with sharp-tipped fingers

Fend like drowning hands against the spray

But with every blow of mighty rollers

More and more flakes fall away

 

Wrecks and old men, weathered faces

Rust streaked souls and haunted eyes

They melt away with slow decay

And struggle against each bleeding day

 

But the ocean always wins the battle

Time never fails to claim the prize

And of ships and men there soon will be no

Traces left of forgotten lives

 

Photo: Blind old beggar., Jusepe de Ribera., c. 1632., WikiPaintings., http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/jusepe-de-ribera/blind-old-beggar

 

Come on Rich Guy 

I saw him sitting crookedly
On a pavement by the street
With an old donation hat that was
Lying somewhere near his feet
And huddled there beside him
He had a little boy
To create a little more sympathy
From the people walking by

He was blowing a recorder
Which he learned to play at school
When he lost his job it was the only thing
He thought that he could do
And as I passed him silently
I looked deep within his eyes
They were sadder than the ocean
They were bluer than the sky 

They said “come on, come on, rich guy
Drop a penny in my hat
Come on, come on, rich guy
You might be curious to know that
I once was almost just like you
I used to be a man of means
But all I’m good for nowadays
Is to play recorder in the streets”

I dropped my penny slowly
As it sank towards the floor
I watched it falling silently
Like a flameless shooting star
Then I saw it strike the planet
And I watched it split in two
In the blue sky on the other side
I knew I was a poor man too 

He said “come on, come on, rich guy
Drop a penny in my hat
Come on, come, rich guy
Don’t you even know that
It’s the meek that shall inherit
The keys to eternity’s door?
So come on, come on, rich guy
Drop a penny to the floor”

Photo: Billiard players (The drinker)., Honore Daumier., WikiPaintings., http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/honore-daumier/billiard-players-the-drinker

 

The Bottle of Despair 

You didn’t think I’d see your ugly face

But there’s that old smell in the air

You drank another bottle

From the cellar of despair

 

And in the half-light I can see you now

Where you sit with your hands within your hair

And now and then you steal a glance at me

To make sure I am still there

 

I know I shouldn’t waste my time on you

But then I figure ‘what the heck?’

I hardly have much else to do

And besides, you are my only friend

 

I guess there’s something such as loyalty

Between a man like me and you

And without all your morbid jokes

I sometimes don’t know what I’d do

 

Old friend you know me well

You’ve seen my ups and downs

Me with my inverted smile

And my gaze upon the ground

 

Yes I’m sure I’m not the easiest

Of men to be around

But if I had to choose my friends again

You’d beat ‘em all hands down

 

Fair weather friends I’ve had enough

They tend to come, then fly away

But you with your old weathered face

You somehow always stay

 

I’m sorry that I never did

Give you the credit that was due

But at least you were the only one

Who did not drag me down with you

 

Now as I sit here in my quiet room

I do not need to hear you talk

And when you’ve had enough of me

You do not greet me when you walk

 

But it least it felt like conversation to me

Even though we did not speak

And I smile when I know you’ll be back

In a day or in a week

 

When you’re away I smell you still

Your dirty liquor in the cold stale air

And when I look across the room

There waits your empty rocking chair

 

Yeah nothing is easy these days

Then again, it’s never been

And if I do not lose again

I guess that I will win

 

Photo: Glentana beach.

 

The Ocean and the Water

 

Quietly the ocean whispers

Silently the heavens stare

Violently the swell does heave now

Lifting tufts of your dark hair

 

"See me now," the wind is growling

"Did you think I'm always calm?

I'll rouse you to violent thunder

When you dance to twilight in my arm"

 

“Yes!” the waters roar with brazen boldness

“Yes, I'll dance the day with you

And when our passion's long blown over

My soul and I’ll belong to you”

 

“Dance oh daylight, win me over

Dance through every darkened night

You, the storm, the wind and water

You’re my inner-most delight”

 

“Whisper softly, shout with passion

Scream your feelings out to me

You’re the hunger and the longing

You’re the ocean life in me”

 

Photo: Chateau Wood Ypres 1917., Wikipedia., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chateau_Wood_Ypres_1917.jpg

 

The War That Would End All Other Wars

 

We were young and we were strong and we were brave

So many of us just could not wait

To be sailing away to the killing fields of France

Where thousands of us would find early graves

 

There was precious little rest or consolation

When my best friend was killed by a mine

And when we shipped his body home in a little wooden box

It was the year of 1939

 

As I close my eyes I can see it again

We were young men out on a sortie

When a bomb wiped out our entire platoon

Except me in the winter of 1940

 

Some of us just stopped caring about dying

We saw death as an exit from hell

And sometimes we never even bothered to look

When a comrade right next to us fell

 

Oh how could I ever begin to explain

How the mud and the cold and the rain

Made a melancholy winter that depressed everyone

Before the spring came in 1941

 

It was a war that nobody asked for

It was a war in which no one was right

We just did what we were told while we hoped and believed

That the old men who sent us had been right

 

By the time there were so very many bodies

And we just did not know what to do

We just dumped them in the trenches and then we covered them up

In the summer of 1942

 

In this time death was our constant companion

And fear clung like rust to our soul

And there were times that I wanted to burrow

In the earth like a frightened little mole

 

There was a time when we used to dream of medals

We’d be the heroes who would set the world free

But now all of those dreams lay shattered in ruins

Long before we survived 1943

 

In that year this young boy became and old man

And the next year the old man, he died

Well maybe not his body, but his soul did

When he stopped caring who is wrong and who is right

 

It was the conflict that had to end all other wars

But by the time of 1944

It was clear that there would be others like this

And that things would go on as before

 

When it seemed that the war would last forever

That we’d fight until none was left alive

We were told that the old men had finally had enough

That we’d go home before the of ‘45

 

So at night I sometimes relive in my dreams

The bullets, the blood and the bombs

It is then that I hope that I will be dead

By the time that the next big one comes

 

  

Photo: Battle of Sinop., Ivan Alvazovsky., 1853., WikiPaintings., http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/ivan-aivazovsky/battle-of-sinop-1853

 

Burning Ships Upon the Water

Glentana 2010-06-17

 

What do you say when it’s all over?

What do you say when it’s all done?

What do you feel when there’s no reason?

For all that has been said and done?

 

Burning ships upon the water

Burning images upon my mind

Burning bodies upon the Ganges

Burning watches in the stream of time

 

So what’s your answer to my question?

What do you have to say to me?

How do I describe the feeling?

When I’m floating on fire and free?

 

Burning bridges across rivers

Burning ships upon a burning shore

Burning memories, all those memories

Cannot keep them anymore

 

 

Foto: Jack Millet as 'n Baba., Wikipaintings., http://www.the-athenaeum.org/people/detail.php?ID=368 

 

Die Simfonie Van Stilte

 

Slaap maar soet my liefling

Saggies waai die wind

Hoor hom saggies fluister

Rus nou soet my kind

En weet ‘n stille rustigheid

Daal oor die aarde neer

Maanlig klee in vreedsaamheid

Die velde van die Heer

 

Juwele van die ewigheid

Skitter in die ruim

En sal Hy om oor jou te waak

Ooit Sy plig versuim?

Nog langer as die rooi planeet

Vurig oor ons brand

Sal Hy steeds vir jou beskut

Veilig in Sy hand

 

O winternag geduldig

Sal ons op die môre wag

Verseker in die wete

Van ‘n nuwe dag

 

Luister nou my liefling

Hoe die stemme van die nag

In die simfonie van stilte

Vertel van die brekende dag...

 

Photo: Wikipedia.org: Poe Toaster

 

Men sometimes say that I’m a poet

Poem by Herman Labuschagne

Glentana, 3 May 2013

 

Men sometimes say that I’m a poet

A weaver of words in structured form

And even though they seldom know it

I’m the well that holds the storm

 

If I had to make a rhyme for you

You’d clench your breast and sigh

My pen writes dreams and thoughts of you

In clouds across a frozen sky

 

Shall I craft a verse of wonder?

Scrawled by my own trembling hand?

Feel the storm and watch the thunder

Etch your dreams in desert sand?

 

Nothing should be said without

A word that rings or rhymes

Poetry is the last redoubt

Of every hope that ever shines

 

If my poems should make you smile

That would make me glad

But know that sometimes for a little while

They’ll also leave your spirit sad

 

I am but a lowly poet

A stringer of some paltry ditties

The rower of a dream-rigged boat

On a moon-filled pond with golden lilies

 

All the worlds laments the passing

Of kings and knights and noble braves

But few are there that would lay a rosie

Upon a simple poet’s forgotten grave