Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Absence/My death

Enlarge poem

ABSENCE

the rain falls on the garden that you planted
the garden where I search for you

your presence sinks into the earth
watering your absence which fans out

to those indigo fl owers
floating by the fence

and the black carnations
which filled your darkest moods

the trees shake themselves
leaving yellow ashes on the path

a woman can close her heart
and a man can search for her forever

absence – the unbroken green –
falls through the avocado tree

MY DEATH

I want to die in bed or sitting on a chair –
like an old car engine slipping out of gear.
Stop eating altogether like my dog Max when he died –
call enemies and friends to say goodbye.

Here’s my will signed and witnessed –
forget about a coffi n, use a plank
put me in the ground and plant a celtis tree
it’ll have my bones to thank.

I want above all else to be awake –
I want my fi re to burn completely into ash.
And if there’s anywhere to go I’ll be going there
you know I won’t be coming back.

Robert Berold

Featured Poem:

The music

Enlarge poem

Coleman Hawkins’ tone
was rounded silver.
Inside, sweat sparkled.
Hawkins had a voice
inside his tenor, liquid silver.
Mythic insects leapt inside his voice.
Hawkins recorded with Ellington
once only, 1962.
They did a number of tunes
including Mood Indigo, in one take.
That’s nothing, you might say
if you want nothing less than liberation,
but did you hear that tone ?
Like tarnished silver.
Ellington was confi dent enough,
having written the tune,
and his odd punctuations
on the piano seemed to say
yes, Hawk, yes,
there is nobody quite like you.
Hawkins, who could turn a phrase
to blue-green, or the shape of a knife,
played from the edge of a dark dream.
Ray Nance brought out his violin
as the dust on the studio window ledge
brightened in the sun
and played to ask Why? Why?
for the unemployed machinist
in the bar across the street.
Music has the power
to loosen obscure emotions
says Hexagram 16, along with several warnings,
and the trader in Diagonal Street
sells the same cheap watches,
only they are quartz and digital now
and really do keep time,
and from Rashid Vally’s record shop
the same twenty-year-old sounds
from the dead Duke and the dead Hawk
ionise the air and soothe the silent crowds.

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  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
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  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

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Biography

Robert Berold has published four collections of poetry and four books of non-fiction. As editor of New Coin from 1989 to 1999, he sought out and published much of the groundbreaking new poetry being written in that period, later editing a selection of these into the anthology It All Begins. He has edited over 40 books by South African poets, several of them published under his Deep South imprint. For most of his working life he has been a rural development worker and a freelance editor of technical books. Currently he coordinates the MA programme in creative writing at Rhodes University.

Robert Berold

Biography

Robert Berold has published four collections of poetry and four books of non-fiction. As editor of New Coin from 1989 to 1999, he sought out and published much of the groundbreaking new poetry being written in that period, later editing a selection of these into the anthology It All Begins. He has edited over 40 books by South African poets, several of them published under his Deep South imprint. For most of his working life he has been a rural development worker and a freelance editor of technical books. Currently he coordinates the MA programme in creative writing at Rhodes University.

Absence/My death

Enlarge poem

ABSENCE

the rain falls on the garden that you planted
the garden where I search for you

your presence sinks into the earth
watering your absence which fans out

to those indigo fl owers
floating by the fence

and the black carnations
which filled your darkest moods

the trees shake themselves
leaving yellow ashes on the path

a woman can close her heart
and a man can search for her forever

absence – the unbroken green –
falls through the avocado tree

MY DEATH

I want to die in bed or sitting on a chair –
like an old car engine slipping out of gear.
Stop eating altogether like my dog Max when he died –
call enemies and friends to say goodbye.

Here’s my will signed and witnessed –
forget about a coffi n, use a plank
put me in the ground and plant a celtis tree
it’ll have my bones to thank.

I want above all else to be awake –
I want my fi re to burn completely into ash.
And if there’s anywhere to go I’ll be going there
you know I won’t be coming back.

Featured Poem:

The music

Enlarge poem

Coleman Hawkins’ tone
was rounded silver.
Inside, sweat sparkled.
Hawkins had a voice
inside his tenor, liquid silver.
Mythic insects leapt inside his voice.
Hawkins recorded with Ellington
once only, 1962.
They did a number of tunes
including Mood Indigo, in one take.
That’s nothing, you might say
if you want nothing less than liberation,
but did you hear that tone ?
Like tarnished silver.
Ellington was confi dent enough,
having written the tune,
and his odd punctuations
on the piano seemed to say
yes, Hawk, yes,
there is nobody quite like you.
Hawkins, who could turn a phrase
to blue-green, or the shape of a knife,
played from the edge of a dark dream.
Ray Nance brought out his violin
as the dust on the studio window ledge
brightened in the sun
and played to ask Why? Why?
for the unemployed machinist
in the bar across the street.
Music has the power
to loosen obscure emotions
says Hexagram 16, along with several warnings,
and the trader in Diagonal Street
sells the same cheap watches,
only they are quartz and digital now
and really do keep time,
and from Rashid Vally’s record shop
the same twenty-year-old sounds
from the dead Duke and the dead Hawk
ionise the air and soothe the silent crowds.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

Absence/My death

Enlarge poem

ABSENCE

the rain falls on the garden that you planted
the garden where I search for you

your presence sinks into the earth
watering your absence which fans out

to those indigo fl owers
floating by the fence

and the black carnations
which filled your darkest moods

the trees shake themselves
leaving yellow ashes on the path

a woman can close her heart
and a man can search for her forever

absence – the unbroken green –
falls through the avocado tree

MY DEATH

I want to die in bed or sitting on a chair –
like an old car engine slipping out of gear.
Stop eating altogether like my dog Max when he died –
call enemies and friends to say goodbye.

Here’s my will signed and witnessed –
forget about a coffi n, use a plank
put me in the ground and plant a celtis tree
it’ll have my bones to thank.

I want above all else to be awake –
I want my fi re to burn completely into ash.
And if there’s anywhere to go I’ll be going there
you know I won’t be coming back.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.