People of stone

©2007 Rethabile Masilo
Look West to the men of stone, the women too
in their polished demeanour in some corner of the world,
born to live and die alone. So what else is new?
I’m not here to lay hands on foreheads, I gain
nix by mumbling to the gods, the promise of my visit
is not to allay anyone’s wretched pain.
I’m leaving the frontlines now to deliver
mirth to a kingdom in the sky, mix the colour of life
on earth as it is in heaven, like never.
Black isn’t death isn’t gloom is my people. Green’s
not the dollar but the flora of my youth. Red? Not Marxism:
red is blood the mother gives, then grieves.


©2007 Rethabile Masilo
Nothing but these
scarves will cover
a shilling’s worth
of flesh, the rest being
lies packaged in a grief.

Nothing satisfies, not
the halves of ardour
on silver tray, just these
scarves hung on necks
of girls on violent days.

Djellabas on street
terraces suck narghiles,
drag meaning from
below; but nothing
will ever prepare you 
for this.

No one will tell you
when your time is up.
The dark-house gods
have come for the kill,
at last, and not even
a good scarf  will shield
you any more.

Madam in the bedroom

©2007 Rethabile Masilo
I live in Midville where the sun’s unhappy,
where one answer to what we seek as a folk
is cross-burning; and though madam’s alone today,
the ranch quiet, I’m not taking no chances.
Without a squeak I slink from the sill and go
past the tree branch, which has seen men hanged
for less than a peek into a lady’s sleep room
[that tree should have long become a monument],
and on to the back stables by the sty.
A steed stamps as I approach, prances,
brooding perhaps over my manhood,
what the purpose of it is, the why to all of this,
and, can I explain this pain I hold.
I grab the curry comb to groom, to straighten my
thoughts in that stall once and for all, for I do seek
things in life, like justice, and I seek the knowledge
of why the earth is round, the sky blue, the pygmy small;
though above all it is God I seek [in the end it always is],
a rendezvous with God so we can speak of niggers
and stuff. And won’t God be aghast?
Life here overseas is no oasis, man,
where are the stars, in these concrete deserts
so friendless and vast? But now at last I’ve got
my rendezvous, and I’ll see about completing
the ellipsis all the way through.
[click to view introduction]