Hell is a beautiful memory

Harlots, Harpies and Hobos

Angel  talks to the stars

Angel  watches the flowerbed/graveyard of heaven
and imagines Mbali in the smothering breeze.
Her eyes twinkle with pain
as she  tries to bury a face in the outer darkness
behind the blue neon glow of the Holiday Inn.
Her body is scarred as her lips ripen
to a suicidal dream.
Her newborn was all alcohol
and no blood.
For how long will the braids still hide
the itching loss of skin,
the imprints on her body
of the narrow stairways to night clubs.
She was  baptized in tequila
and salt on the thumb.
Betrayal is the principle of life.
She  embraces a friend,
the skeleton of the night,
and smiles as the day breaks on her nipples
and she coughs and coughs and coughs
as a ship comes into its harbor.

Poem for Charity

From the halo of the moon
you came, born from the moon beams
on the dark waves, the dark sea
embracing your floating dreams,
the night kissing you on your finger tips
to the slight sighs of you lips.
How will I clasp to this body shipwrecked
on the loneliness of my bed

Conversational Haiku

He died in my arms, you know,
and he died for another ou.

To Hendrik

Dressed in a bright tie, sunglasses and gray hair coming down to the shoulders
and a sun-burnt face with the deep-set eyes of a holy man,
you are the healer of this hobo city,
it’s devils tempt you
with their daily multiple voices.

Which current will take you to the underworld?

They said “no!” to life and “yes!” to garbage,
and what is wrong with that,


Even the cockroaches feed on their sores,
like rats on the corpse of Saint Francis,
and what about the nymphs,
who just cannot have enough
of their earthly father
and satan with a
rose clamped between her teeth,
inviting you to consort with Angels?
You’ve tramped through institutions
and group therapies
You have stood on skyscrapers
with the master of the full moon,
tempting you with the inevitable:
that which no hero is brave enough to face.

You have walked in the dream of history,
its ghosts flapping in the wind,
dressed in a suit and a tie.

Stations flash by
an empty train.

You have an appointment
with laughter itself

There is Jesus Christ

There is Jesus Christ,
grown gray,
leaning heavily on a walking stick
and his Rip van Winkle hair
reaches down to his shoulders, and
his beard coming like sleeping years
down onto his chest.
He was woken from his hibernation
and blinded by the evil sun
in jeans and sandals.
It is Easter,
and the sidewalks called.
His feet are sore wandering from the stars,
getting used to the armor of passing cars,
driven by desires and destinies.
Just give him some spirits
to warm the heart.
Did he work the cargo ships
or woke up from the Ark.

Letter to Luisa

Here the toys of the children,
Here your clothes.
It leaves me with the emptiness.
It leaves me with memories to make love to
as I imagine you in the back of a taxi,
as I imagine how pale death returned to your
dark  glittering eyes,
as I imagine you open a purse
with a smile that controls the world
and I imagine you dream in the smell of my sweat
in the breeze that blow through your penthouse,
and I am the breath of that breeze.
It is the body of my loneliness.
I am the smell of Maputo,
the mice that come from the sewers
sniffing at what was.
I dance with the moon.
I dream in the blue neon glow of the Holiday Inn.
In the streets I hear the voices of familiar prostitutes
laughing with the pain of money that cuts
and smelling of whiskey and smoke and sperm and
I am left with life.
I am left with the ghosts and the cockroaches coming
from the cracks and the books,
their tentacles dancing to the music,
feeling the rhythm of my thoughts.
Empty my body from that whisky glass.
I’m the melting ice.
The striptease dancer folds her legs
around the heads of her audience
being born again in her perfumed cunt.
Here the teddy bear and the soccer ball,
Here the soft mini dress smelling of time.

A Photograph

A photograph brings my eyes to tears
The hotel’s flag  flaps in the wind on a breezy
A ship  broods on a misty ocean
and your eyes and lips are smiling confidently
“I don’t care” was one of your motto’s
as the night envelops you like a glittering evening dress
and the trees of Maputo throw their shadows
over hawkers and trinkets
and you have posed for eternity emerging
from time

Poem for Ricky Gass

He is reading his Bible to his budgies.
Hell is so beautiful.
You can hear the cockroaches chew the silence of the night
and voices whirls
around a piano and a shopping center melts
and the beast of the orphanage with his rod and his shame
and people in handcuffs being kicked to bloody pulp
and he is being saluted in no bloody Truth Commission in heaven
or hell and tears and grinning and the country-and-western costume –
for Elvis returned a pensioner,
no longer a traffic cop fleeing fists and umbrellas
and the SPCA
and God answered a prayer after the last ten rand is gone.
It was only once, no twice, no maybe I don’t know how many times, it happened…
I was pissing in my pants when her grieving fists came down on me
for no reason.
Tell it like it is.
God have mercy.
In a night club in Beira,
jis, there things happened, I can tell you,
that god wouldn’t want to know,
but hell is a beautiful memory.
Hell is beautiful.
Just give me another performance
and we’ll get them moving.
One cannot sit still, no I cannot go to waste.
Another fight again last night,
blood all over the place
and the cockroaches chewing budgie seed
and old framed diplomas, certificates of a police hero and pictures of Elvis
and photographs of someone no longer,
hell is a beautiful memory.


He was ripping himself apart,
slithers of his deep inside,
so human fucking human.
If only he could rid himself
of this whore and slave
that cannot say no,
and of these haunting eyes
and bony knuckles and paunch
and sandals and bald
and dreams that do not age,
so human, fucking human,
in wrinkled constitution
and with the loneliness
of a born outlaw.
He is against every political idea,
so human, fucking human.
If only he could drift away
by closing the eyes
in a lukewarm sea of
thoughts as there are no more
this or that.
He is ripping
So human, fucking human.


The saliva dries in my throat,
Clouds gather
And I don’t want to think my love

Poem for Zaza

The whole night I hear  the ventilation
and the sea
and drunks came onto a scene
and I feel a pain deep in my stomach
as I am losing an illusion, a dream
so many words, bits of what was said
and what was not said turn in my head
How badly do you want me?
Not as badly as I want you.
You are dressed to kill.
Will the hunt start all over again:
the trap a beer and a bit of shit talking?
Money cannot buy you.
It is 5:11 now
Where are you my love?
In whose arms?
Why am I alone?
Where is my carcass to caress?
How can this city breathe life into me?
How can the sea inhale me:
drifting weed breaking in waves.
The sailors can have the sinews of your toes?
Who is tracing  the lick of my tongue on your body,
in which dream are they playing this ritual,
with what confidence and what doubt?
My love is turning
into a question mark,
an old hunchback man.
Are you coming to see a patient
who is ill of love?

Poem for Thandeka, Princess

Overweight and overwrought,
Graying and bald and impotent,
This man looks for space in the lattice
Between your petite thighs.
Your face he could eat,
But you need cigarettes and condoms.
An apparition slits across the road
To the all-night café.

A Shepherd of the City

A Shepherd of the city
Calls the stars
Beyond skyscrapers.
He talks with his flute
To the dreams
Of those behind curtains


From model to scavenger
Who never talked

Elevators open and close

Elevators open and close
And people step into mirrors.
The eyelid of globe opens
And I penetrate the sun.

In the evenings

In the evenings
The concrete nests light up
With their human shadows
And fucking is crucifixion.

In die see se skuim

In die see se skuim
Ploeg die skip die onbekende in
En dit is duister, dit is sonsverduistering,
Want ek lewe in die ruimte van die dood.
Palmbome en wandelende mense,
Duister assosiasies…
‘n Huis in die donker ruimte,
Die huis waar ek gebore is
In ‘n tyd wat nie bereik kan word nie.
Innerlik begrawe, begrawe in my,
Begrawe in ‘n see wat alles bedek
En ek wil raak en gee wat ek skuld
Maar mense stroom sonder herkenning verby.

Ek sit hier in ‘n tuin

Ek sit hier in ‘n tuin
Met ‘n blaar van ‘n populier
Wat in die wind op die sementblad kom bewe.
In die tuin die kleure van bruin
En groen en teen die muur
Skaduwees van hier.

Skaduwees van ‘n hand en ‘n pen
En ‘n kop wat koel sit
In ‘n hoed en die hand met ‘n pen
Wat regaf druk en dan weer net sit.
Die son op die hoed en die bril
En die verte is stil stil.

‘n Hond blaf vir die wind
En ‘n voël se diep gil waarsku
En ander praat oor die heining
En die motors gaan heen en dryf
Tot in die niks, die nat blare
In die sand word vingers van ‘n dinkende kind.

Hulle hou hom aan

Hulle hou hom aan
Soos ‘n diertjie
Met ‘n lam arm
In die agterkamer.

Daar ween hy
Oor ‘n verloopte lewe,
God het die oumensvel
Oor sy gesig getrek.

Begrawe hom

Begrawe hom,
Die amper-dood digter
Met arm verlam
En snorkende.

Die see
Stoot skulpies en klippies
Oor elke herinnering
En die aarde
Word die see.


Die nimfe drentelende onder sambreeltjies
Het, toe klappers verander in donderweer,
Gaan wegkruip in wolkekrabbers
Want God het besluit om Nuwe Jaar
Op sy eentjie te vier.
‘n Skouspel van weerlig maak die stad sy disko
En reën verdoof straatligte in slierte.
Die sirene en kuddes karre
Versuip in die strate.
Mense paar in woonstelruite
Want die einde is daar
Geskryf deur die verblindende weerlig
Teen die hemelboek.

Ek lê op ‘n bed in Rosepark

Ek lê op ‘n bed in Rosepark-
Hospitaal. Ek lê en wag.
Ek wag vir die nag in Rosepark-
Hospitaal. Ek is hier
Afgelewer, ingestoot in hierdie saal
En ek makeer niks …’n bietjie bloeddruk.
Nie die einde van die wêreld nie
En ek kan ook nie aan die slaap raak nie
En die tante by die ou man hier langsaan
Kla ook oor die niks
En die verpleegster pak mes en vurk uit
hier voor my bed
En op die dowwe radio word rugby uitgesaai
En ‘n verpleegster met ‘n lêer
Kom in en gaan weer uit.
Die ou man kug die snot in sy keel
En ‘n kind hardloop in die gang.

Die eindigheid van idees

Die eindigheid van idees
is die eindigheid van die heelal.
Die begin van alles is beweging.
Hoe is beweging moontlik sonder alles?

Hoe ons die toekoms onthou?
Die verlede lê voor. Ons kan dit sien.

They say the world will tip

They say the world will tip
Till we are where England is
And the English live in the trees
With the chimpanzees.

Then the world will swirl
And we into heavens will twirl,
Neither alive nor dead,
Conversing with the eternal nothingness
Caught in weightlessness.

And then the world will stop
And fish on the beaches
Like grasshopers will start to hop.

A ballerina
went to town
upside down
a face pulled
like a clown

the naughty sausage
was a cook
he ate a book
caught from a river
on a hook

I hear the whole night the ventilation

eyes of flies
eggs have no legs

fred cried his eyes red:
he did not want to go to bed
his legs turned to lead.

a tortoise could not scratch his back
he could not find a crack
so he died giggling
from all the wriggling

where are the post
for the host?
he went into a mood
to brood.
out came an egg
with only one leg

rather said
the barber
i have no hair
and the chest
of a bear

The husband
is in the dustbin
the broom got rid of the groom

The tv was a wreck
after a worm came on deck
and chomped at every speck

the word was a flirt
who came to party
without a shirt