Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Journal Entry

Enlarge poem

I read wildly; theory and rhetoric,

banal critiques disembowelled like carrion;

occasionally, lyrical shards, brittle

and precious like mountain water.

At other times I listen repeatedly

to Coltrane’s Naima;

note its eternal poignancy,

its rendering of compassion.

I consume coffee, obsessions and paper

without the means of replenishing

what has been depleted. My hairline recedes.

Love is difficult when ritual makes the body

an object of athletic performance.

Small appliances give up the ghost

short-circuited by a redundant fuse

or excessive use. Sleek pens run out of ink

halfway through a letter to a friend.

Dead revolutionaries, now more romantic

than provocative, adorn innocuous fashions.

During the middle of the night

I hear the refrigerator’s exertions;

the unreliably laboured cycles of generator,

while struggling with the grave tone

of prosaic lines made up simultaneously.

I give up on the night; on hope of deciphering

ciphers in the constellations. Redemption

may not be in meanings, only in the sensuous

possibilities of language.

Mark Espin

Featured Poem:

Rust in my shirt

Enlarge poem

The north-wester plagiarises the mountain’s wistfulness.
Pure meanings coagulate in the dusk light,
flail like the gale against my shirt.
Long, tiresome conversations, repeated confessions,
reveal nothing, merely an unpleasantness on the breath.
Despots and narcissists fall from grace,
scandals accumulate, like nicotine on the end of the finger.
Recollections of a light breeze on skin; broken
epiphanies, trip from branches, from wilted petals,
from smiles on unfamiliar faces on the street.
There are many things to be done,
everyday requires a task, washing of clothes,
making the bed, dusting bookshelves,
answering the door – a child wanting water,
a young mother needing money for baby’s milk,
or for addictive drugs. There’s no telling the difference.
Grief is interred in legislated silence.
The fissures are widening. I hang out washing
on a line fastened to the loquat tree.
Green finches, camouflaged by lush leaves,
serenade the splintered clouds.
Obese fruit flies raid the stamens of nascent buds.
My daily chores are abandoned.
Residues of soap powder stain my dark clothes.
In others, veins of rust run, a delta
stretching under the armpit of the fabric.
The city has dispensed with its graceless past.
There is though, no solace from the overbearing glare
of unnatural lights, and the adhering sweat of trade.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

Comments

Your email address will not be published.

Biography

Mark Espin was born in Cape Town in 1964. He is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of the Western Cape. His first volume of poems, Falling from Sleep, was published by Botsotso Publishing in 2007.

Mark Espin

Biography

Mark Espin was born in Cape Town in 1964. He is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of the Western Cape. His first volume of poems, Falling from Sleep, was published by Botsotso Publishing in 2007.

Journal Entry

Enlarge poem

I read wildly; theory and rhetoric,

banal critiques disembowelled like carrion;

occasionally, lyrical shards, brittle

and precious like mountain water.

At other times I listen repeatedly

to Coltrane’s Naima;

note its eternal poignancy,

its rendering of compassion.

I consume coffee, obsessions and paper

without the means of replenishing

what has been depleted. My hairline recedes.

Love is difficult when ritual makes the body

an object of athletic performance.

Small appliances give up the ghost

short-circuited by a redundant fuse

or excessive use. Sleek pens run out of ink

halfway through a letter to a friend.

Dead revolutionaries, now more romantic

than provocative, adorn innocuous fashions.

During the middle of the night

I hear the refrigerator’s exertions;

the unreliably laboured cycles of generator,

while struggling with the grave tone

of prosaic lines made up simultaneously.

I give up on the night; on hope of deciphering

ciphers in the constellations. Redemption

may not be in meanings, only in the sensuous

possibilities of language.

Featured Poem:

Rust in my shirt

Enlarge poem

The north-wester plagiarises the mountain’s wistfulness.
Pure meanings coagulate in the dusk light,
flail like the gale against my shirt.
Long, tiresome conversations, repeated confessions,
reveal nothing, merely an unpleasantness on the breath.
Despots and narcissists fall from grace,
scandals accumulate, like nicotine on the end of the finger.
Recollections of a light breeze on skin; broken
epiphanies, trip from branches, from wilted petals,
from smiles on unfamiliar faces on the street.
There are many things to be done,
everyday requires a task, washing of clothes,
making the bed, dusting bookshelves,
answering the door – a child wanting water,
a young mother needing money for baby’s milk,
or for addictive drugs. There’s no telling the difference.
Grief is interred in legislated silence.
The fissures are widening. I hang out washing
on a line fastened to the loquat tree.
Green finches, camouflaged by lush leaves,
serenade the splintered clouds.
Obese fruit flies raid the stamens of nascent buds.
My daily chores are abandoned.
Residues of soap powder stain my dark clothes.
In others, veins of rust run, a delta
stretching under the armpit of the fabric.
The city has dispensed with its graceless past.
There is though, no solace from the overbearing glare
of unnatural lights, and the adhering sweat of trade.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

Journal Entry

Enlarge poem

I read wildly; theory and rhetoric,

banal critiques disembowelled like carrion;

occasionally, lyrical shards, brittle

and precious like mountain water.

At other times I listen repeatedly

to Coltrane’s Naima;

note its eternal poignancy,

its rendering of compassion.

I consume coffee, obsessions and paper

without the means of replenishing

what has been depleted. My hairline recedes.

Love is difficult when ritual makes the body

an object of athletic performance.

Small appliances give up the ghost

short-circuited by a redundant fuse

or excessive use. Sleek pens run out of ink

halfway through a letter to a friend.

Dead revolutionaries, now more romantic

than provocative, adorn innocuous fashions.

During the middle of the night

I hear the refrigerator’s exertions;

the unreliably laboured cycles of generator,

while struggling with the grave tone

of prosaic lines made up simultaneously.

I give up on the night; on hope of deciphering

ciphers in the constellations. Redemption

may not be in meanings, only in the sensuous

possibilities of language.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.