He stands slightly slanted down
like a cardboard shanty town
Analysing an abundance in which
he’ll never get a chance to drown
This is how our pretences sound
Some memories are like ephemera
and some shape you
Some sound like an
old ragged heart beating from a porcelain
chest where little micro holes provide a conduit
for sound to escape through.
Sometimes remembering is like aggressively walking on aspic
Im you’re classic case of a man who will find his final home
in a casket
or find an escape in a heart that has grown agrestic
Do you want to hear a horror story? I catch my morning taxi to work perpendicular to a tiny clinic that stays over flooded with what I assume are potential abortionists. Next door is a KFC who’s security metal pull down garage like gates keep it safe from the homeless who have decided to loiter and make an informal sleeping area in front of its doors. They have custom bedding and dirty linens posted and parked out there. I pass what seems to be a couple who just woke up and are now loafing around in bed. A rolled blunt hangs out of the mouth of the male. He has three cigarettes piled on his pillow. The female plucks and places a cigarette into her mouth. Both have strange (to me) facial expressions of satisfaction like they were a married couple sitting in front of a good breakfast.
Im standing in the middle of the North Johannesburg taxi rank and standing next to me in the line is a man of middle eastern heritage. He is bearded, wearing one of those cute (?) winter hats on his head, a dirty old jacket on his torso and camo pants on his legs. I cant help thinking that he looks like a refugee from an Iraqee military camp. I look around as always, finding wonder in the chaos, stench, pollution and sheer desolation of this place. Most of the commuters here are the working class citizens of Johannesburg South Africa but the hopelessness painted on their faces stands as contrasts to the the expressions of the homeless couple I gaped at this morning. A beggar begins his rounds at the head of the line, receiving more no’s than an old handkerchief. Our middle eastern friend is religious, you can tell by the sorrow on his face. He does not feel as much sorrow for the child as he does for the coins in his pocket. The beggar stops in front of him and produces his sale pitch for charity. Our friend pulls out some coins and retracts them like a mistake. What I see in the child’s face is a desperation like no other – it pulls at my heart strings – its the epitome of salivation – this pitiful creature was once human. Our friend hands him a a shiny 1 rand out of his collection, the beggar comes to me next. I contemplate it – I say no only because he received some money from our Osama. He tells me ‘God bless you’ but it comes out so impetuous that it sounds like a curse. I feel angry, disgusted (at myself more than anything), ashamed and guilty all at once. How can he bless me in the name of a God, I no longer believe in and one he doesn’t fully understand …..
You’re conflicted and I can see the sign of your addiction
No point in playing the role of victim
but I cant tell if you’re high or crying your eyes
This old machine leaks oil and its power supply is dead
They think you’re crazy but you’re not trying to escape the
re looping cassette tape playing the recriminations in your mind
– You’re worried about the voices outside your head
He spat it out at me. Johannesburg is like the mechanisation of beggary, a cast of creepers form various conveyor belts to feed change to the deep, dark rust of the city. Conveyor belts is the right metaphor cause here they are, conveying their need for your loose change. Here comes another one – its my favourite one because its the saddest one of the bunch. Once upon a time he looked exactly like his cohorts. They all look alike , sometimes you can wonder if this was the same one who asked you for change a second ago but there’s a clear distinction in this one. He’s a clear illustration of the cities degradation. Saddam hops from foot to foot whilst shaking his head in the universal gesture for no and trying to ignore him. He cant even look at him. This is understandable, I like him more for his display of guilt. The beggar stops in front of me, shaking his hand up and down like it was a mechanical action. He has a useless eye and a bloated jaw from an infection.I remember when both of his eyes worked. His jaw is too swollen for him to speak but you can tell that its not too swollen for glue or what other drugs he may be swallowing. Out of all of them, he has the best marketing gimmick but I still say no with a heavy heart. It feels like someone punched me in the gut as I see him carry out his routine to the rest of the crowd. Most of us are veterans in saying no. We say it with such a quick clean precision that the beggar has no other choice but to move on to the next potential customer with out even a single attempt in reinforcing their plea with greater persuasion. I wonder how they do it, they even give out angry no’s like these beggars were audacious in assuming that they would ever get a cent out of them. I wonder if the givers have a special heading in their budgets for the mendicant. Another one passes by but this one asks, receives a no and moves on with fervour – he doesn’t seem to need what he wants. Ahmadinejad has a grin on his face and he seems to be giggling at something. I follow he’s gaze to realize that its aimed at nothing in particular. The city can make you crazy my friend, there’s nothing else you can do but laugh at the irony sometimes. This is civilizations ass hole and if you don’t like fart jokes, you wont find it funny but this is what the city’s flatulence produces. I look at lost people trying to find which line to stand in and confused taxi marshals standing around. I see a man on crutches doing a crippled man’s jive as he walks trying to find where he fits into this mess. I turn to Muhammed next to me and realize that he was laughing at the lame man’s walk. He must love fart jokes. Our line finally moves…
You see there are things that cant be broken,
there are things that cant change
This has always been true,
even in societies very young age
Your pathos is that you’ve always been
so keen to express those echoes in your spirit
That’s why you speak to yourself now because there is
no chance of interference
They wanted to break you cause things as free as
you and I are too pure for this existence
Say good riddance to the past and this crashing system
This is not an apology, here is my open heart and this is your admittance
Im trying to say that you’re one of those things that should be admired from a distance….
Im in a rush. Im late for work again and Im trying to jog through this crowd. I have to admit to myself that Im slightly exhilarated from the air rushing through my chest. I pass KFC and something familiar splashes itself into my mind, caught from my peripheral vision. I’ve always wondered where they slept. I stop to stare and the desperation I felt a few seconds ago evaporates. I try to find any sign of life in him. A little chest movement maybe to indicate that he is still breathing. The eye that still worked is wide open while the useless one lies closed. His mouth was too swollen to close so that hangs open as well. What did you dream about last night? What was your last dream like? Who is going to mourn you? Death says no to no one. It hurts to know that you can only gain acceptance when your eyes are closed. Goodnight…
You know when things go so wrong that you cant control your hands from flying and holding your head. I saw things corrupted that I thought degradation’s touch could never poison. I have seen the indestructible broken like shattered adamantium..