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A Miscellany of Materials, a Daily Dose of Dung, a Barrage of Bullshit …

… you get the idea: guest blogs, short stories, poems, occasional writings, videos, random photos and whatever else of mine now inhabits the wilds of the ’net. Or stuff I can’t fit into the blog, but that I want to share.

In other words, detritus.

Venture forth into the junkyard at your own risk. I did warn you not to travel with me.


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Horses at Garub / Perde by Garub

There are several theories regarding the origins of the wild horses at Garub in southern Namibia. One of these theories is that they are descendants of horses that escaped or were abandoned the German Schutztuppe in 1915 as they retreated from the South African Army. They have adapted to desert conditions and are now considered part of the desert ecology. You can read more about these horses here. Regardless of their origins, they inspired this poem that is included in my latest collection, let us not think of them as barbarians:

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perde by garub

in die winterson van garub
omswerm die perde die kar, staan dan doodstil
om die sout te lek – ’n harmonie van tonge wat uitstrek
oor die stilte asof hierdie soutgeskenk ‘n appel
was, geskenk deur ‘n wonderhand.
die lustelose perde staan, die krete van hul keiser
lankal vergete; trotse duitse teuels
verruil vir die wilde trens van ‘n woestynwind.
kinders van lot, gooi hulle hul ruie maanhare
en draai rug teen die wind. en staan,
oë geklepper teen die strakgeel duine,
asof gewortel in hierdie vreemde sand.
watter armoedige graspluime het hulle gelok,
en voed nou hierdie honderd bespookte maanhare?
die pleine om garub het hulle sekerlik gebaar.
agtergelaat deur vlugtende ruiters, tog bly hulle steeds
en groei weer, verwortel in ‘n vreemde land.
‘n perd van die garub, word vertel,
kan die voetval van die dooies hoor
en die geklingel van ‘n bandolier
en eindelose prysliedere.
maar as ‘n gees oprys uit die mis
stop hulle dood waar visdiefies deur die wind
land-in gewaai bo die spoorlyn dartel.
en dan, te midde van die uitbundige gedans in die lug
runnik hierdie verlate diere windwaarts
en met doelbewuste eenheid
laat sak hulle hul koppe en luister
na die stemme wat die aarde opdiep:
“ehi rovaherero, ehi rovaherero”
sing die gebleikte gebeentes in die wind.
en met die aanhoor van hierdie treursang
reik die perde van die garub oor die stormsee
en laat hul klaagliedere uit die woestyn
die vergete skedels uit europa huis toe roep.
besoekers aan hierdie verlate drinkbakke
wat wagstaan op die plein van garub
sou baat om te luister na die hand
wat water pluk uit hierdie sand
en by garub ‘n verskansing bou
om hierdie soutbeelde wat jare gelede
die keiser ontvlug het en hul rûe op die see
gedraai het, se dors te les.
nou, saamgehurk in die winterson,
buk die perde hul koppe aarde toe,
en staan. dus in solidariteit
betoon vreemdeling en dier
verwantskap aan die land.

horses at garub

in the winter sun of garub,
horses crowd the car, then stand motionless
to lick the salt—a harmony of tongues reaching
through silence as if this saline gift were an apple
proffered by some majestic hand.
the listless horses stand, the cries of their kaiser
long departed; proud german martingales
exchanged for the wild snaffle of a desert wind.
children of lot, they toss their shaggy manes
and turn their backs to the wind. and stand,
eyes shuttered against the stark yellowed dunes,
as if rooted in this foreign sand.
what frugal stubble drew them here,
and now feeds these hundred haunted manes?
surely the plains of garub gave them birth.
abandoned by fleeing riders, yet they chose to remain
and grow again, rooted now in alien land.
a horse of the garub, i’ve been told,
can hear the footfall of the dead
and the jingle of a soldier’s bandolier
and the ceaseless songs of praise.
but when a ghost emerges from the mist,
they stop dead where terns blown in from the sea
flutter and dart above the railway tracks.
then amid that boisterous dancing in the skies
these abandoned beasts whinny to the wind
and with slow, deliberate unison
bend their heads to the ground
to hear the voices echoing from the deep:
“ehi rovaherero, ehi rovaherero”
the faded bones chant to the desert wind.
and at the sound of this ancestral lament
the horses of the garub reach across stormy seas
and let their desert threnodies whinny home
those dreadful bones in europe’s vaults.
visitors to these desolate troughs
standing sentinel in the plains of garub
should heed the deferent human hand
that drew water from beneath the sand
and built at garub walls of stone to slake
the salted-encrusted statues of stubble
who years ago outran the kaiser’s crop
and turned their backs on ocean spray.
now, huddled together in the wintry sun,
they bow their heads towards the earth,
and stand. thus in solidarity
alien man and beast pay homage,
show their kinship to this land.