Allan Kolski Horwitz’s There Are Two Birds At My Window

 
 
 
Allan Kolski Horwitz grew up in Cape Town. Between 1974 and 1985 he lived in the Middle East, Europe and North America, returning to South Africa in 1986. Since then he has been based in Johannesburg and worked in the trade unions and allied organizations. He is a member of the Botsotso Jesters poetry performance group and Botsotso Publishing. There Are Two Birds At My Window is published by Dye Hard Press.
 
 
 

 
 
 
Under the Summer Blue Sky of Troyeville
 
 
Under the summer blue sky of Troyeville
Next to a marimba disguised as a bench
You spun out your threads
Hands arching in the air
Voice jumping from detail to detail
You described old women and old clothes
The grandmother you adore
Who had struggled for the people
Now enjoyed soap opera
Political flame doused as the wheelchair makes pliant
Then you spoke of your breakdown
In the corporate desert
The need to find a reason to work
 
Under the summer blue sky of Troyeville
You smoked cigarette after cigarette and drank beer
And your face moved and your voice moved
Sending messages of which I am not sure
Your arms and neck turning from side to side
And I imagined kissing your back
Wondering if once again I would
Fall in love
With a delicate woman
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
Crumbs at Kei Mouth
 
 
At the start of each day
the men and women of the township over the hill
rise from the pink and lavender matchbox houses
they have been allowed to inhabit
          and trudge to and from the sites
          that bring them bread:
     the caravan park   the holiday flats
          the hotels   the restaurants
 
brown with lumpy bodies
mouths missing teeth   feet missing shoes
   broad noses shining with sweat
these men and women of the township
trudge to and from the seaside resort
getting blacker and blacker against the white skins
     of the hotel owners     the restaurant owners
     the petrol station owner     the estate agent
     the librarian     the fishing tackle shop assistant
     the tourists     the travelers swallowing
                      the whole road with their mega-tires
 
each day they arrive at and depart
and each day they say to themselves
     “if only destiny can be rewritten”
 
each day looking for the crumbs
     sprinkled round the town at the mouth
     of the historical river
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
Census
 
 
They came to the shelter for battered women
enumerators in orange t-shirts
          they came to fill forms
                    to ask and record
 
and the battered women peered out
from behind their bruises     their blemishes
peered out with sour looks and grimaces
and touching their welts and their scars
     stumbled from their beds
          shuffled out of the tv room
crawled out from the cracks
 
the battered women in the shelter
came out to give answers
          confirm the bare facts
so proud to be reckoned alive
among those whose needs
need to be written down
          researched     made allowance for
 
standing in front of the enumerators
it was almost like being famous
this being counted as if you counted
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
Red Ants
 
 
The red ants come in the morning
they find the people asleep in their beds
the red ants hammer on the doors
 
the people refuse to open their doors
the red ants bore through
and enter the living rooms
 
the people protest
demand to know on whose authority
they come with their pincers
 
the red ants hold up an order
a court order
their order
 
the people examine the letterhead
pore over its contents
whisper in corners
 
the red ants grow restless
the order now stained with children’s tears
grandmothers’ snot
 
the red ants shout:
clear out
we must do our work
 
the people run to their bedrooms
lock the doors
peer through the keyholes
 
the red ants fume
acid builds up their heads
they grow redder
 
the people huddle in bathrooms
barricade toilets
block fire escapes
 
the red ants dissolve the doors
pile beds and fridges
onto the landings
 
the red ants swarm over their toys their pots
till their linen their books their tvs their socks
jam up the landings
 
the people are befuddled
try to comfort their kids
try to comfort themselves 
 
then the people cry out:
don’t you dare throw us into the street!
don’t you dare dump us in the cold!
 
but the red ants clear the building
snort the dust in the corners
scour webs from the cupboards
 
and while they work the red ants sing:
pay your rent! pay your lights!
pay everything and we will disappear into the walls
 
pay everything and we will leave you
poor ones drunk ones lazy ones
leave you to yourselves
 
and the people
the ones who want to pay but cannot
the ones who can pay but do not
 
the poor people of the slums
watch the red ants swagger
bits and pieces between their mandibles
 
too late to talk
too late to organize:
everything’s smashed
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
For G.
 
 
On the road   from the road
drug haze of the summit
hotel
used by those addicted to use
 
escape from yourself
break yr neck to break the face that stares
back and drags you back
 
once by a river you played me
your long pipe
               your hollow root
a plaintive enigmatic music
and when I walked away to return home
you stayed cross legged
by the river
          etching the vibration of the universe
 
you forgave us all
you always forgave
everyone
               but yourself
peaceless spirit
hung from a branch in a place of the dead
now gone
yet remembered
 
peaceless sweet spirit
 
 
 
 
from There Are Two Birds At My Window (Dye Hard Press, 2012).
 
There Are Two Birds At My Window will soon be available in bookstores countrywide at an estimated retail price of R130. If ordered directly from the publisher, price is R100. E-mail dyehardpress@iafrica.com.
 
Visit Dye Hard Press.
 
 
 
*
  
  

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