Cranes and Kittens – JUNE 2016

Low-hanging mist covers the harbour. The port cranes rise above it like carrion birds, at once forlorn and foreboding. Winter has returned, swirling her extravagant robes of dark-hued clouds, luminescent mist and glittering rain. She’s a lady of motion; even her hushed moments brimming with the potential of the next sequence of steps in her dance.

Those cranes on their spindly legs hovering over the port remind me of the Marabou storks I saw a couple of years ago in a marshy patch on the shores of Lake Nakuru. The air was redolent with the smell of death and decay, seemingly amplified by the silence of the storks standing sentinel, occasionally pecking at almost (but not quite) unidentifiable carrion.

My opinion of them (the cranes, not the storks) is somewhat coloured by the fact that they stood watch over the scene where I nearly died. A couple of months ago, on the elevated highway that snakes between the city centre and the harbour, a young French lady called Fanny (I shit you not), recklessly swerved her rental car into my lane without indicating or looking. I responded instinctively, instantaneously, but on that section of elevated highway there is limited space. The force of her car slamming into mine was jarring; the horizon titled alarmingly as my car rocked to the furthest extremes of her suspension. For a brief moment the wheels on the left hand side left the tarmac. I kept my foot on the accelerator and with an iron grip kept the wheels pointing forward. When the wheels slammed down, the car rocked to the left. By now Fanny had awoken to the situation she caused, and belatedly swerved away. Alice (if you’re new to these writings, that’s the name of my current car) threatened to lose traction and spin sideways. If that were to happen with the curb mere centimetres away, she would roll… and probably roll right off the highway before plummeting four storeys down onto one of the car dealerships (more irony) that populate that section of the city. I counter-steered, geared down, checked my rear-view, switched on the hazard lights and eventually came to a section where I could pull over. It would’ve made for an amusing gravestone: “He was killed by Fanny.”

Many people don’t receive the benefit of a near-miss. So many leave us – all of them important in their own ways. Neither obscurity nor fame will keep the ferryman away. If you love music, the world is bereft of some remarkable individuals: Prince, Bowie and Lemmy among others.

Just a few weeks prior to my near-death experience I started dating Miss Dickenson, a relationship that has steadily blossomed into a treasure that exceed the limits of my language.

Which goes to show – yet again – that this universe can unleash startlingly sudden and unexpected life or death at any given moment.

I go surfing with Serote and Fleming a number of times in the ensuing months, never once feeling as concerned about the sharks I share the water with, as I do about the other drivers I share the road with.

Spring arrived early, as if to herald Ms Dickenson, and as quickly gave way to summer (him of the blue skies and warm days, who crowns the Frangipani trees in a profusion of white, yellow and pink). Courtesy of Serote, we go yachting several times – the first time accompanied all across the bay by playful dolphins.

Teumessia’s birthday entails dressing up like a rock star from any era. I do a 80s rocker impression; leather jacket, blue jeans and a bandanna on my head. Dickenson outshines everyone with a short-haired afro-wig, round-rimmed pink-tinted sunglasses and bell-bottoms. The party commences at Manila Bar with karaoke, and with a certain inevitability migrates somewhere around midnight to The Shack. Around 3am a guy is laying topless on one of the benches while three women take tequila body-shots off his chest…if that isn’t rock’n’roll I don’t know what is.

I return to the Transkei for 3 weeks – driving several thousand kilometres and reconnecting with a world far removed from modern city living. While I’m there, I learn how to save a newborn foal…but only after I fail to save her.

I welcome an adopted kitten into my home. There it is again – the yin and yang of existence: some come and some go.

Throughout it all there’s Dickenson, herself a cat in innumerable ways; graceful, independent, affectionate, passionate, fierce, intelligent and strong-willed. Like a cat she leaves unexpected gifts in her wake.

As for the kitten, her name is Blue, though my most-used endearment for her is “Satan”. I love her, but she’s an asshole. Yes, yes, you’ll say that all cats are assholes, but in a hall full of cats Blue would quickly be elected as the biggest asshole by her own kin. She’s a lovely creature notwithstanding; I’m self-diagnosing Stockholm Syndrome. This is what it must feel like to share a home with a velociraptor. Her bouts of intense affection are separated by periods of insane careening about the house. Any appendage that sticks out from under the blankets, or may almost be sticking out, will be mauled and gouged viciously – usually at 3am.

And yet, amid all this life and growth, I have moments of such profound…awareness. I look about me and find that there are things I understand about humanity, which I wish I didn’t. One such moment arrives around midnight on a dance floor; alone, surrounded by strangers heaving to House music. The deejay is enveloped in smoke, from the side of the stage a gyrating laser beam tracks through the smoke over the heads of the revellers, pierces an upraised glass of beer, leaving it momentarily glowing like molten gold. And the thought arrives:

Don’t tell Mom. I feel like an alien. I don’t know how to human anymore.

At times like these it is a quiet realisation. At other times, like when news breaks of the latest atrocity of men (it’s almost always men), this realisation is like a punch in the gut. All this abuse, rape, violence and murder occur with such inexorable regularity. I see the reasons, the excuses, and the justifications; and with a sense of nausea I also see how the perpetrators (and those that abet them) embrace their excuses with a callous and unerring disregard for the suffering they inflict on others and themselves. I am an alien; I think I comprehend these men but I could never be like them.

Perhaps that is why my eyes turn so regularly to the night sky? For my birthday we go into the mountain wilderness far from the city, where our nights conclude by laying underneath the tapestry of the Milky Way. Meteors streak like tracer bullets across the sky. It feels like the stars are shooting just for us.

This installment’s addition to Ye Stupendous Compendium of Free* Potential Band Names is: Human Anymore.

Breathing and bruising – July and August 2015

All these nights, all these adventures…it’s all one night. A kaleidoscope of moments that merge and fracture and rearrange in new patterns.

Step up to the eye-piece. Yes, come closer. Closer still. Let me show you.

Early European sailors called this the Cape of Storms. Some spoke of the giant monster Adamastor who dwelt off our coast and would hurl violent seas at explorers. Peer into my kaleidoscope and you will see the winter nights heralded by long dusky sunsets; low clouds hang over the city and truncate the mountain. A moody scene dimly-lit. Each incoming storm looms over the peninsula like Adamastor made real. The skies are a mottled blend of indigo and charcoal, veined with lighter shades of grey. Towards the west, the hidden sun casts lurid shades of maroon, like the bleeding flesh of a ripe plum. The sky looks like a fresh bruise. A bruise that precedes the blow.

Let’s shake the kaleidoscope.

The windscreen wipers sweep right, flicking drops into the black. Ahead the rear lights of the other cars curve through the darkness like a string of glowing rubies. Disturbed is blaring from the speakers as I carve through the storm and the traffic.

Tilt the kaleidoscope.
The windscreen wipers sweep left to reveal a city in the midst of a power outage. The cars cut through dark concrete canyons. The clouds part and the stars triumphantly declare themselves over the darkened streets; as if singing: “Don’t switch on your lights just yet, for we would show you a thing!” And they do. Jupiter and Venus share a rare dance.

Shake.
A rare dance indeed. I’m in a club called Oblivion (let’s not even dwell on the unintended irony of the name). Around me the crowd is heaving like a tumultuous sea racked by currents of hormones, sweat and alcoholic abandon. Raidne seems a siren, with this sea of dancers crashing on the shores of the table she’s dancing on. She keeps rebuffing idiots that get on the table to grind against her. Eventually I join her to discourage the idiots. I ask (well, shout, to be heard over the music) if those are latin dancing steps she’s performing. Her eyes light up. She takes my hands and teaches me a few steps.

Rattle.
At The Shack, by the downstairs pool table. Hemingway is lining up a shot. Jefferson Starship belts out “We built this city on rock’n’roll!” Everyone is singing along. I twirl Alexa, the pool cue in my hand whirling perilously around. I turn to Arbus, grab her hands and for a few seconds she dances, head down so her hair obscures her face.

Roll.
There’s ink everywhere. Still bleeding words. Words. Worse. Who even writes poems any more? Angsty teenagers. And me. Who reads poetry any more? And this blog. More ink, just spilling over everything. There’s ink on my nights, my friends, my hands. Shall I quote the lady with the stained hands from the Scottish play? Or perhaps paraphrase her doomed husband: waded in a river of ink so far, that to return would be as arduous as to continue across? Internal haemorrhage of ink. With all the ink inside I expect to look at my myself and find black veins and bruises covering my skin, eyes wet with oil, ink instead of saliva. If kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray, then kissing a writer must be like tasting the ink of a thousand yet-to-be-told words and unborn stories.

Swirl.
The arch of a back, like the graceful curve of a ship’s hull cresting a wave. These storms, we ride these storms. Some even chase these storms.

Shake.
“Be my Babylon”, she said. And his heart bloomed like a roman candle lit.
No, that didn’t happen, nobody said that, but the thought comes to me full-formed at 04h00 as I switch off the light after a long night… and it feels real.
“You should write that into a story”, I tell myself and drift off.

Rattle.
There’s glass strewn across my car seat. Thieves come, like thieves do, in the night. And as thieves often do, gain almost nothing, but cause considerable damage.
The radio is intact – the music remains.
I replace the window before the next rains.

Roll.
Stoker is in the passenger seat of his girlfriend’s car. He registers movement in his peripheral vision. He turns his head, as if in slow motion. A car’s grill looms. Breathless moment. Can you feel the blow coming? Anticipate the crushing crunching impact of metal on metal? Let us flinch and -this once- grant ourselves the luxury of looking away. Nobody is badly hurt, that’s all that matters.

Swirl.
Teumessia -wearing a beanie with two tassels that makes her look like Minnie Mouse- smiles her quirky smile and kisses her wife. The smoke hangs thickly across the room. Rain taps softly at the windows. Later she tries valiantly but unsuccessfully to twerk, to everyone’s delight. The dancers in the group proceed to give demonstrations. Things get decidedly rowdy.

Shake.
We are at The Annex, where the music and the crowd are all plastic-rainbows-and-silver-linings, and we are the dark threatening cloud. The jocks and teenage girls don’t know what to make of us. Stoker drags on his cigarette, with an expression that’s distinctly Italian. I half-expect him to shrug with palms turned upward and say: “What can you do?” The club’s attempt at decoration for the evening consists of randomly strewn glitter, glow-in-the-dark bangles, sparklers, balloons and unused sanitary pads (I kid you not). Indeed, what can you do? Fitzgerald nearly starts a brawl over a balloon.

Swirl.
Same night, but now we’re at Alexander Bar, with its low lighting and Victorian splendour. I coax a decorative typewriter into a semblance of life and the 1am-novelist-collective is born, as we take turns to type on the back of a menu.

Tilt.
Same night, but now we’re at the Kimberley Hotel, sitting at a table on the pavement. There’s a pretty gas-burner by our table, that produces a tall flame within a glass enclosure. It looks like the fucking eye of Sauron, but it produces no heat. A homeless man wearing military fatigues (authentic, as far as I can tell) appears and asks in heavily accented English if he can warm himself by our fire. He holds his hands up to the cold flame and says he’s been sleeping on the mountain, but the weather had driven him down into the city tonight to seek better shelter. After a minute he leaves again. A car parks near our table and the driver emerges, looking around as if waiting for someone. After a minute he wanders over to a wine barrel that forms part of Kimberley Hotel’s pavement furniture. He has wayward hair, an unkempt beard, and a stomach bulging over too-tight pants. Leaning his forearms on the wine barrel he proceeds to poke away at a smartphone. Up to this point he could be a minor character in a Woody Allen movie. But then he begins to grind his crotch against the wine barrel. Now it feels more like a Pythonesque skit; obscene and yet comical, because he seems unaware of his own actions, or our intense scrutiny a few steps away.

Shake.
Back at Alexander Bar, Tantomile picks away at the typewriter: “how you doing? Sexy thamg. Thanks for a great da y”

Rattle.
Upstairs at The Shack. At the pool table I whitewash one of Teumessia’s friends. She’s immediately informed of the pool hall law and gamely starts undressing. Despite her willingness and the enthusiastic encouragement of the others, I convince her to stay clothed. Getting kicked out would spoil the evening. My tonsils are on fire and the cloud of second-hand smoke isn’t helping. But I stay and become engrossed in a long conversation about favourite books and authors with Lucy. Though we don’t speak of honey or church, Iain M Banks and Asimov feature prominently.

Swirl.
Same table, same couches, but a different night and different friends. Hemingway is sucked into a succession of pool games with and against a group of mildly annoying strangers. Arbus drags on a cigarette and jokes about the very odd characters she would be willing to spend one wild night with. Around 01h00 her laughter runs dry mid-sentence and a look of profound sadness flashes across her face. She recomposes swiftly, makes her excuses, and disappears. We all know these moments; the ones that manage to creep up on us and leap unexpected. A stray phrase, a look, a whiff of not-forgotten fragrance… or -perhaps most disturbingly- that wondrous sense of deja vu that precedes the crisp gleaming edge of a memory that cuts like a scalpel. Oh, yes, don’t I know those well. Inkwell. An ink swell. An ocean of ink that swells and breaks across the shores where my life intersects with those of others.

Roll.
The second spontaneous meeting of the 1am-novelist-collective happens -not incongruously- at 20h00. It involves a set of rejected passport photos of -shall we say- ‘dubious’ provenance. Several dozen strangers and one minor celebrity, whose photos we distribute among ourselves like playing cards. We go around the table several rounds, each laying down a photo, inventing a name and personality and linking them to the previous characters in an elaborate and outrageous story. So outrageous that it could never be published without inciting untold hatred and vitriol. We stop before the story is concluded because Stoker insists that our brains might implode and tentacles grow from our eyes. And thus the inter-dimensional, straight/gay/trans-gendered, multi-racial, pan-religious pantomime involving two sets of triplets, a little person, a mute rapper, a twitchy bodyguard with severe OCD and mild paranoia (and a loaded gun), a minor outbreak of herpes, a Vatican assassin, and a host of characters with names so offensive I cannot mention them here, will remain forever untold.

Shake.
Sontag seen over the rim of a milkshake glass at Roxy’s; we talk politics, economics and social justice.

Shake.
“It’s going to sound like I’m crying.”
It does.

Shake.
It’s 01h15 at The Shack. Lucy grabs my forearm and looks deep into my eyes:
“Don’t go.”
I go.

Shake.
Alexa at 04h24 giving the bartender lip because they’re closing shop and kicking us out.

Shake.
The room is thick with herbal smoke, like the interior of Snoop Dog’s limo. How very capetonian.

Shake.
Waiting at a traffic light. Hemingway arrives from the other direction. The light turns red for him and green for me. I never said it was a race. Clearly it is. He gears down, floors the accelerator, and hurls his car around the corner. I can hear the anguished wailing of his tyres through the closed windows and over the pounding bass of a John Hopkins track called ‘Collider’… Hemingway thankfully manages not to collide with anything.

Shake.
Alexa at 20h00, over a plate of lasagne, sitting in the dark -safe for the pool of light cast by an LED lantern- courtesy of another power outage. We talk about astrophysics and addiction, before setting off at 23h00 in search of dessert. Chocolate, mint, caramel decadence.

Rattle.
Arriving home at 04h00.

Roll.
Arriving home at 05h00.

Shake.
Arriving home at 10h30.

Stop.

Descartes may be right about thinking and existing, but let me add a clause: To breathe is to bruise.

This installment’s addition to Ye Stupendous Compendium of Free* Potential Band Names is: Be My Babylon.

Return to the city – July 2015

In July winter wraps its clammy claws around Cape Town. On some nights the fog gathers in luminescent cones beneath the streetlamps, as if attracted by the light and the promise of warmth. Storms blow through from Antarctica and most nights the city seems to bow its head to contemplate its reflected lights in a million pools of standing water.

We are gifted with a pleasantly mild and windless night to celebrate Fleming’s birthday.

I’m freshly returned from my 3-week sojourn in deep rural Transkei (a land far far away).

I arrive at Roxy’s Cafe before everyone but meet a stranger outside, who confirms that she’s also attending the celebrations. Tantomile and I introduce ourselves and get to talking about the Alice in Wonderland novels. I tell her about the strange fascination that the author had for a young girl called Alice.

When Fleming and the others arrive we migrate upstairs. However, soon some of us move outside again because some of the smokers want fresh air while they smoke (The World Health Organisation haven’t issued warnings about the damage that tobacco does to your sense of irony. Yet.).

We sing happy birthday to Fleming. Gradually the rest of the party join us in the square outside. The bare trees stand sentinel while our banter resound between the silent buildings.

Tantomile is tipsy and affectionate. She’s also utterly unconcerned about asking absolute strangers personal questions – which makes for much entertainment. She leaves a bow-wave of the awks in her wake.

I wander upstairs and queue for the only toilet – it is a location worthy of a little wait. A large re-purposed bathroom (complete with shower and bath) – from when the building had been a home – now decorated with old Hollywood posters and an assortment of cannabilised naked mannequins, including one that has had her hand replaced with a toy gun.

When the door opens, it’s Tantomile who looks me over. I’m leaning against the balustrade and casually return the scrutiny. She pulls me into the bathroom: “I need to show you something.” Oh boy.

She turns and points at the wall. One scribe had scrawled: “Fuck you.” At a wonky angle another scribe had written: “Fuck me.” I don’t know which is the more poignant statement, since it would entirely depend on who responded to whom. Insult-or-anger versus lament-or-request. And between these two cliched examples of modern wit, Tantomile had drawn her spirit animal… like a playful statement artfully bracketed by two desperate-sad quotation marks.

Another patron appears and we relinquish the toilet. Fleming comes up the stairs and we wait for the bathroom to open to show him Tantomile’s wall art. Meanwhile I am issued with her eyeliner pencil to add my own artwork. After several more friends and strangers have used the facilities I do a quick portrait sketch of Tantomile’s face on the wall. I get the nose wrong, but I nail the eyes and lips…with the addition of the artful fringe obscuring one eye, the likeness is as complete as I can manage in a few minutes.

Back at our table, Tantomile keeps trying to make me do a self-affirmation statement, which I keep dodging by telling her she’s easily distracted, and then distracting her with a random question (like where the feathers woven into her hair come from). Every few minutes I remind her of the self-affirmation, which she promptly tries to enforce and which I promptly respond to with another distracting conversation.

Hemingway arrived with someone I haven’t met before; she seems quite at ease among strangers, despite the party getting rowdier by the second. I am genuinely surprised when she announces that she’s in her final year…of high school. By the look of surprise on his face, I assume this is news to Hemingway as well. Either way, it’s a gift to be that comfortable in your own skin before the age of 20.

Stoker and Fitzgerald are subdued. They arrive early on and despite occasional flickers of their usual easygoing humour, there’s an air of contemplation about them. Despite the hype, band life is not just sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. To be honest, like soldiers, musicians spend long stretches between their moments of ‘glory’ dealing with an assortment of personal, interpersonal, logistical and financial hurdles. There are times when the sheer mountain of these issues will rise before a musician and make him/her feel like Sisyphus – doomed for eternity to roll a giant rock uphill until fatigue sends him and the rock crashing down the slope to repeat the journey. Over and over. Fans will listen to an album – as Exhibit One I present to you: St. Anger – and bemoan the product, with no inkling of the challenges behind the scenes. I try to commiserate with Stoker; he’s stoic about the issues, but I also know that underneath his decisive personality, he’s keenly empathetic to the emotional state of his band-mates. Fitzgerald appears – for lack of a better phrase: bummed out. I try to cheer him up with references to our escapades from a few nights before (when he went around bursting balloons – even one that was possessively held by a stereotypical jock – while we found ourselves temporarily in a nightclub whose stage we thought might work for the band).

There are a dozen of us spread across two tables in the square. Roxy’s has emptied out. We serenade Fleming with a second, far more enthusiastic rendition of “Happy Birthday”. With people constantly changing seats and topics, I find myself participating in three conversations at any given time.

There’s an explosion of hilarity from the other table. Sontag is laughing, colour high in her cheeks, and there’s a certain sincerity – I’m tempted to call it: clarity – to that laugh, because it seems shot through with the veins of the grief underneath…Kintsugi of the heart.

Behold, catharsis at work. We laugh, because we need to. For our own sakes, but even more so for each other’s sake. As much as I can, I try to contribute to the humour. It has been a difficult year for many. Each month seems to drag everyone further beyond their own preconceived limits. To say that the shit has hit the fan would be an optimistic interpretation. More like waking up and discovering your room is now surrounded by a massive sewerage plant in which some intrepid pilot had mired an airliner…with the throttle full open; after a while you just wish for the turbines to run out of jet fuel and stop flinging shit over everything.

Hemingway and an ex are at the same social function for the first time since they broke things off a year ago. Her current boyfriend isn’t present, but one of his exes is. Tantomile is newly single, but used to – at some point – have a thing with Fleming (which they loudly confirm with a reciprocal affirmation of each other’s skills in the bedroom; a moment hilariously and ironically awkward for everyone present except the two of them). Hemingway’s date and his ex have a long one-on-one discussion and disappear off to the bathroom. Godiva has a smoldering intensity about her – I suspect when she lets slip the leash of self-restraint the results are volcanic.

As she steers Hemingway’s date away from the table with an arm around her shoulder, he gives their retreating backs one bewildered glance and then holds his head in his hands. “Don’t worry,” I shout, “I’m sure it can’t get any more awkward!” A few minutes later Stoker reminds Fleming – as he does at every social gathering – that Fleming was originally introduced to him as “that guy that hit on your girlfriend”. Fleming looks appropriately poo-faced, as is customary. After some debate Hemingway announces that I am the only one at the gathering who has not been involved with at least one other person present. I suggest that this is an exalted state of grace which I should perhaps maintain.

I have a fascinating discussion with Godiva about her many travels to the Middle East.

Roxy’s closes and we transfer the party to The Shack which is relatively busy; our arrival raises the noise levels significantly. We immediately bump into an assortment of friends and familiar faces. Some join our tables, including Maya and Alexa. Maya is introduced as an active member of the BDSM community, and smiles sweetly as if she’d been introduced as the partner in an accounting firm. Alexa I only get to be introduced to later because Hemingway calls me over to the other side of the courtyard to greet someone else. She and her girlfriend are perhaps the ultimate Shack regulars. She has a sweet personality combined with a lean model’s frame that is usually encased in a vest, tight frayed jeans and boots with heels…she’s the subject of much attention and confusion among straight guys. Her girlfriend is attractive, but with a hard edge. Like a sword blade. Despite her almost-Mediterranean attractive looks and confident bearing, she actively attracts no embraces. Whenever she feels that a particular man has shown too much interest in her girlfriend she materialises and puts on a show of territorial possessive behavior that is a marvel to behold. It’s entertaining to watch confused straight guys wither before her jealous displays of affection.

Back at our table Alexa and I are introduced and we launch into a discussion of poverty in Antananarivo and Madagascan wildlife, before segueing into the history of hand-pollination of vanilla on Reunion. We move on to photos of glowworms in New Zealand caves, and then an encounter with fireflies on the slopes of Lion’s Head in Cape Town.

I wander off for a little while to welcome Teumessia and her girlfriend back in town. They had been out of town for longer than I had. We shoot pool. I whitewash Teumessia and explain that the traditional penalty for a whitewash is to run naked around the table twice. When she starts taking off clothes I stop her. Fortunately, Hemingway isn’t around to witness my willful abandonment of hallowed pool hall law.

I rejoin my friends in the courtyard. Maya regales us with tales of BDSM; apparently foot fetishists love women with small feet. Don’t ask why.

The nearest bar turns up the music; it’s The Offspring circa 1994. Everyone bops their heads. Maya says she loves The Offspring because “it’s the only thing my brother and I have in common except my mother’s vagina.” The straight-faced matter-of-fact delivery has everyone belly-laughing.

Jagermeister shots alternate with tequila shots like an artillery barrage aimed at the liver. The sun isn’t far from rising on a Tuesday that will herald exquisitely epic hangovers for some people.

Somehow we’ve sidestepped the usual tipping point into the surreal that is a regular feature of our outings. Perhaps a small kindness from the universe; or perhaps we are the surreal feature in everyone else’s night. In retrospect, I realise that we swept into The Shack like a hurricane of bafflement and mine was the view from the eye of the storm.

At 4h15 the bouncers announce that they’re closing for the night. We wander into the street and I take a portrait of one of us; it’s part of my ongoing series of urban portraits at night. I’m calling the project Night Owls. I get exactly two shots before Fleming and Tantomile commence photobombing. Tantomile – endowed with a strange sort of grace by her inebriation – performs a series of grand jetés. 

I deliver Tantomile and Fleming at his door, before dropping Godiva off. It’s 5am when I walk into my apartment. I love traveling, but it’s good to be back, to embrace my friends and my city.

This installment’s addition to Ye Stupendous Compendium of Free* Potential Band Names is: Small Feet… I imagine their first single will be “No small feat.”

The Pit and the Fragile Things.

There is a pit between
I-care-about-you
and
I-care-about-being-right

into which all the fragile things fall.

When lovers and friends,
families and communities,
gather there,
everyone screams
if-only-I-could-make-you-see,
– ah, but the pit takes its toll –
all anyone hears is
if-only-I-could-make-you.

I have been no pacifist;
no innocent, I.
After all the battles only this certainty:
Wars make corpses or poets of men.
So I would sing you a song
about the fragile things easily lost,
such as goodwill and kindness,
I would sing you a song
about the merciless things,
such as blind Justice
and blinkered Injustice
with their gruesome blades,
neither of whom care
who they cut or where.

Ages come and go;
the world may revolve
but it does not resolve.
History is an awful stone wheel
rolling down a mountain
and we are delicate creatures
that alight on its surface,
to be thrust into the light
or plunged to a pulverising end,
yet engage in the folly
of claiming victory
– and the greater folly of laying blame –
for forces we barely grasp
and could not control.

I just want to hold you
because I don’t care.

Between
I-don’t-care-about-who-is-right
and
I-don’t-care-about-who-is-wrong
is space for
I-see-your-pain
and
I-don’t-have-all-the-fucking-answers
even
I-am-sorry
… but I see your pain, let me comfort you.