Track 09: All the loves

Album: Walk Fast, Whistle

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all the loves
of the season are here, behold

we have to eat our daily mielies
holding them by our hands
spinning the cob under the tips
of our index fingers
like the world
the watermelon slice of world
the fine dust of the carpenter
settling on the shallow sea
of his sweaty skin
his tender wetsuit
of refined wood
lost forest, a lonely pine


that’s summer
in the microwave
the re-heated paella
in which the mussels explode
and litter the roof
like assorted pets
of skin and hide

all the loves
of the season are here
and they hold hands
and sit in a park
as children
and levitate
as leaves

some of what will come
will be violent and winter
will slow down
the highveld will smell of
electricity and coal
spikes and cold water spit
dead dog on the highway
pigeons cordite muffin wrappers
petrol piss skin

all the loves
of the season are here
and when spring comes
and the sailboats are hung
in the sky
from them will be shook
fresh beers and party hats
wedding vows and choruses
splits of laughter
and palms slapping
on a swimming pool
and then

all the loves
of the season shall hum
and gather their smiles and then
hold you up and say:

we are all the loves

the most sensible thing to do
with all the loves is to
write them out a hundred
thousand times on the inside
of paper-thin sharp
bird skulls and walnut shells
the walls of the ruins of
farmhouses around which
lie scattered shards of pottery
and plates, prickly pears and
dried out pigeon wings
and recite all the names
of all the loves
silently in your sleep
in a sleeping bag under the stars
in a cave where the last coals
dance like the black spots
of a genet or a civet
or a black-footed cat
across your docked hip
and back and neck
and lips mouthing
the last loves
imperceptibly moving leaves
just breathing, just twirling the batons
of their stems from the branch
on their tree
in its place
around which the last loves
gather in a kind of wild
race a formula one
with no track and no start
no finish and no rules
no winner and no last
just a chair on a porch
empty but warm:

all the loves swim
and leave their clothes on the beach
hoist their children to their shoulders
as they walk back to their cars
and call their dogs

all the loves sit
around a table without words
moulding their food with
their tongues into
small enough

the loves under the tree
on the summer lawn
look up
to where the crested barbet’s
swallowed alarm clock
shatters the canopy
and the bark into a gazillion
dots and bytes

all the little loves are
on the wall of the kraal
and their small feet
dangle from their
reverse antelope knees
as they watch
a deft hand digging deep
into a cow to slide
a gasping calf wrapped
in plastic slimo-cellophane
into the sun of life

the weary loves stop
at the top of the hill
and look back to where
more are still pushing
their wheelbarrows full
of water and children
bags of maize flour
sugar and tea and soap
and all around the rutted
dirt ribbons of road
of goats and groves
of banana and fields
of cassava and cashew
nut trees and coconuts
they pause to wipe
the sweat from another hour

and all the loves
gathered around the hole
in the ground have had
already now
the cool of the church
steamed from their suits
and their dresses and hats
as they return
a hymn to the sky


all the loves slowly
set fire to their insides/ ideas
the bar is a palace
the walls are lined
with the heads and horns
of antelope shot
at daybreak nearby

all the loves twirl
with the pale-winged starlings
around the shepherd’s tree
at the mouth of the kloof
where a traitor was shot
a century ago

all the loves lift stones
and disarm scorpions
with a quick pinch
and eat them

all the loves are going
to town on friday
to buy a new shoe
to take a pocket
of potatoes
to a grandmother
wearing glasses
made in 1962

all the loves are waiting
to catch the bus back
with broken suitcases
and bulging bags
the bus back
to where the backs of friends
are pulled up at the stove
stirring a pot of nothing
to eat with no-one
at nowhere

all the loves thrill
all the loves can tear us apart
all the loves ride on
all the loves rock and roll
all the loves can live as one

all the loves