Saturday, 17 September 2011

Lesego Rampolokeng: The Bavino Sermons

Bavino is ghetto-talk for everyman. In these new poems, Rampolokeng looks through the destruction caused by those intoxicated with their own power, who put vanity before humanity. The hailstorm of rhyme echoes the random gunfire the insomniac poet hears every night in Soweto.

Nevertheless, in these uncomfortable sermons, not all is bleak: my love lives/I hope survives the hatred that is sacred.

Lines for Vincent

they pulled out his teeth
with a pair of pliers before he died
wrenched out his nails
'cos they wanted his manhood denied
they cut off his genitals
with a butcher-knife
while he bled they skinned him
& let the blood flow with the wind
i got the full blow of the message
in the red rage of a storm
whipping hard at the back of my neck of shame
& still the shack of memory rattles its bones

let's put it in perspective
no one i know saw vincent's corpse
& the condolences were dry cleaned
by a military-man who lived
for the struggle to be human
yes the man in command made a demand
for his pounds of blood & flesh
we buried an empty coffin to symbolise
they say a jackal carried away his skull
was found choked on the bullet lodged in the brain
legend would have it
they waved his head in the air
& the bones would have made a throne
for the president
they mutilated & sodomized his dead body

vincent was my cousin killed by bravery
& a nation's homicidal glory
i showed him my first pubic hairs
& in the season of my confusion
he pointed out the path & how to walk it
but took a knock on the shock of mortality's discovery
on his feet with fog for a blanket
crept thru smog of a cannon's fart blast
to die in komatipoort
site of a seal on the settlement of deathexcrement
justice took a hit in the killing fields

vincent on the hill of scarlet
with the chill wrapped around him
it was a whirlstorm within
tucked under a blanket of fear
as murder's recognition grew
& still the wind of torment blew

at night i drown in sweat
with the sight of a death-grin
with a gun aimed at my brains
& they call that figment
of a fevered imagination
& still
i see the made up faces on the news
tremble as i watch them tuck into luncheon
in limousine whip thru function after
& want to get their views
on why lives were compromised
but my questions are lobotomised

it's no use
stirring the grail of revolution
when all it can yield
is a landful of maggots in convulsions

the mother couldn't stop shaking her head
so they certified her mad
& locked her inside her solitude

the bomb bullet blade poison
or just silence
can ease the itching sore in my mind
as my tongue twitches
i know i might encounter the death
of speech
but it's said memory is a long road
made worse by the heavy load
of violence