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Tropical Scars: Page 3 of 19

Body: 
cover image

We Continue

"WE ARE"
we said
        fingertips touching
          and
              "we SHALL BE"

We stood
      proud
        fencing-up
           channels of sound
                   "we ARE"
               we used to bellow, strutting,
                        and, "we SHALL BE'

then unexpected
          tearing the fences
                          cracking through
                            cracking-in
                              arrived a time of grief
                              and of asassinations
rusty-coloured Fiats
                         stalked the gate
                      and there were messages and signs
                              that we OUGHT not
                             and that we WERE not to be.

but then
       unannounced
                          tearing
                              came nights of pain:
                                       torn-lung
                                                morphine nights
                                       orange nights
                                                 torn-bellow nights
                                                  bare-lamp asglow nights
                                                  nights of shreds
                                           as the impis* were marching
                                                       in KwaMashu

    and then
             came spasms
                  and the memory of harbour lights -to the left
                           Marine Parade -to the right
                                as that breathless orange night
                                   was downpressing
                                       down-downpressing
                                            to palpitation
                                    from Addington's* rhythm and blues
                                                 and surgical scissors
                                           and look:
                 my junkie friend
                               complained once more of a dud dosage
                                 nurse: "nurse, nurse,..Please",
                                 clawing his clock
                                 scratching at the passage of hours
          as the impis marched out of KwaMashu
                        with Bambatha's* head on a stake
and of course,
          through those orange hours
                   of half-delirium
                 I was found
    crafting lovelorn jingles like-
           "yes there you are
                  searching for love you are you are
                  searching for love you are"
            and I sculpted
                   little devils drumming toyland hoofs
                       and I dreamt of them
                          ejaculating birdshot
as the impis marched through Imbali

and of course there was a maze of pain:
                morphine, doloxin-nights
                   a writhing snake
                      with card-shatp and sailors
                   as Dube highschool was raining stone
and there amongst the gangsters ploughing
      Point road* alleys
and alcoholics-their liver in a newspaper
                     under their arm-
driven by cranes to yellow oblivion
as the yellow-combis roam hunting
for calves to cull...
stitched mouths and livers squawking
bellowing laments for some lost wife:
"and where are you now, where are you now
  cause of my tears"
and I crackling:
"searching for love you are you are
   searching for love you are"
as the miner in the room is looking for his lost abdomen
  under the beds
      lamenting his hate for lahnee sports like cricket
   and the tatooed fitter and turner in the ward
bending over the basin in search of his lung
apparently spat out by mistake
as the streets of Kwamakhuta and Makabeni* are also orange
asglow
and the merchant marine gentleman
is tied to his chair, amnesiac and connected
to a world of emphyzema pumps
and there they are:
the lovers: she, with leukemia dying
he, 18, injecting mercury up the veins to join her
as we go spinning and bubbling
in this laboratory of pain
as this red bull of Mahlabatini*
the martial eagle, blood on his claws
the eagle-
     who received the son of Ndaba's* blessing
         the eagle who received Luthuli's mantle
      and who soiled it in blood
     the commander of vultures
roamed by

and I shouted
      from this glass-tube
          that we are trying to be
          and that most certainly we shall be
            ever-present
                  observing this cataclysm of tears

we have been
       silenced as tellers of tales
       for only brief times
            but again we are starting to crackle

"we ARE"
   and "we SHALL BE heard"
        we say,
            and we add
"we were bequeathed
                          to loudhailer lives
                                      and so we are condemned to crackle for-
ward
                                                                        on and on and on"

we do

     through these nitroglycerin nights
             we do through these orange nights
                       convinced of the red ochre of dawn
we do
     continue
   we do.

Description: 
Destined to be an important contribution to progressive writing in S.A. - Frank Meintjies