Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Mulligrubs

Enlarge poem

I cultivate the mulligrubs in my
mulligrubbery, feed them night air,
forgotten desires and worms,
bathe them in leftover tears.

The mulligrubs disrupt my sleep
with their stomach cramps and
mawkish cries for water, for tea.
They invade my dreams,

with their dreams of choking
smoke and dragons, spotlights
searing their souls, rubbing
their sweaty paws along my back.

We’ve come to an agreement,
the mulligrubs and I, they can
visit me once a day (never
at night) and only one at a time.

They have to leave when I say.
(they don’t always listen)
We’ve promised, on both sides,
never to step on each other’s shadow.

Kerry Hammerton

Featured Poem:

Planting Olive Trees

Enlarge poem

When you plant an Olive Tree
don’t sing to it,
don’t sing songs of stars and moons
and distant galaxies, don’t lean
into its leafy ears and whisper
honey words, don’t even mouth
‘I love you’, don’t recite poems
of open valleys and journeys,
don’t talk.

When you plant an Olive Tree
plant it away from other trees
and then: don’t visit it,
don’t entwine your arms through
its branches, don’t place your
face against its patterned bark
or reach out your tongue and taste,
don’t rub your back against its trunk
don’t stroke it.

When you plant an Olive Tree
don’t water it or shower it
with drops of dew, don’t sprinkle
it with the watering can of your
love, don’t pray for rain,
don’t snake a hosepipe
over sheer mountains or
climb treacherous rock
to bring relief.

When you plant an Olive Tree
find the stoniest ground, don’t
prepare the planting with
fertilizer and soft soil, don’t mulch,
let its roots feel the harsh bite
of the earth, let it scrape
against jagged rocks, don’t dust
rose petals on fresh white linen
before you bed it down.
Let it lie in sharp gravel.

When you plant an Olive Tree
don’t cover it,
let it bend in the wind,
let its leaves crackle in the sun,
don’t build a boma of comfort,
don’t try and protect it with
your manly intentions,
let it struggle to find its own shade
let it shrivel.

Then it will bear fruit
for you.

I am not
an Olive Tree.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (2)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (3)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

Comments

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Biography

Kerry Hammerton has published poetry in various South African and UK literary journals. Some of her poems were included in the anthology Difficult to Explain (Finuala Dowling ed.) and Africa, My Africa (Patricia Schonstein ed.). These are the lies I told you, her debut poetry collection, was published by Modjaji Books in 2010.

Kerry Hammerton

Biography

Kerry Hammerton has published poetry in various South African and UK literary journals. Some of her poems were included in the anthology Difficult to Explain (Finuala Dowling ed.) and Africa, My Africa (Patricia Schonstein ed.). These are the lies I told you, her debut poetry collection, was published by Modjaji Books in 2010.

Mulligrubs

Enlarge poem

I cultivate the mulligrubs in my
mulligrubbery, feed them night air,
forgotten desires and worms,
bathe them in leftover tears.

The mulligrubs disrupt my sleep
with their stomach cramps and
mawkish cries for water, for tea.
They invade my dreams,

with their dreams of choking
smoke and dragons, spotlights
searing their souls, rubbing
their sweaty paws along my back.

We’ve come to an agreement,
the mulligrubs and I, they can
visit me once a day (never
at night) and only one at a time.

They have to leave when I say.
(they don’t always listen)
We’ve promised, on both sides,
never to step on each other’s shadow.

Featured Poem:

Planting Olive Trees

Enlarge poem

When you plant an Olive Tree
don’t sing to it,
don’t sing songs of stars and moons
and distant galaxies, don’t lean
into its leafy ears and whisper
honey words, don’t even mouth
‘I love you’, don’t recite poems
of open valleys and journeys,
don’t talk.

When you plant an Olive Tree
plant it away from other trees
and then: don’t visit it,
don’t entwine your arms through
its branches, don’t place your
face against its patterned bark
or reach out your tongue and taste,
don’t rub your back against its trunk
don’t stroke it.

When you plant an Olive Tree
don’t water it or shower it
with drops of dew, don’t sprinkle
it with the watering can of your
love, don’t pray for rain,
don’t snake a hosepipe
over sheer mountains or
climb treacherous rock
to bring relief.

When you plant an Olive Tree
find the stoniest ground, don’t
prepare the planting with
fertilizer and soft soil, don’t mulch,
let its roots feel the harsh bite
of the earth, let it scrape
against jagged rocks, don’t dust
rose petals on fresh white linen
before you bed it down.
Let it lie in sharp gravel.

When you plant an Olive Tree
don’t cover it,
let it bend in the wind,
let its leaves crackle in the sun,
don’t build a boma of comfort,
don’t try and protect it with
your manly intentions,
let it struggle to find its own shade
let it shrivel.

Then it will bear fruit
for you.

I am not
an Olive Tree.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (2)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (3)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

Mulligrubs

Enlarge poem

I cultivate the mulligrubs in my
mulligrubbery, feed them night air,
forgotten desires and worms,
bathe them in leftover tears.

The mulligrubs disrupt my sleep
with their stomach cramps and
mawkish cries for water, for tea.
They invade my dreams,

with their dreams of choking
smoke and dragons, spotlights
searing their souls, rubbing
their sweaty paws along my back.

We’ve come to an agreement,
the mulligrubs and I, they can
visit me once a day (never
at night) and only one at a time.

They have to leave when I say.
(they don’t always listen)
We’ve promised, on both sides,
never to step on each other’s shadow.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.