Saturday, December 31, 2011

Penultimate. And man-on-a-rock

Mossel Bay, Western Cape: At the dusk of the penultimate day of the year, beneath the historical St Blaize lighthouse, I slated my thirst with a pint of draught.
It was as simple and as complicated as that.
Looking, again, for meaning in the ocean, I wondered about the Portuguese galleons that rounded this African coast over 500 years ago, searching here for fresh water, and planting their stone crosses on the coastline as they explored trade routes and underwrote paler sections of my nation's turbulent, angry, racial history. This mostly on the soft sand betwixt the crashing Indian Ocean waves and the hard, harsh and beautiful edge of the continent.
All this while a parallel, darker history was underwritten and bled into the land, but above the ocean, and thousands of kilometers inland.
I've just woken, before these words frothed and foamed through my brain, and down my neck, and along my arm, down through my thin fingers, and on to the screen.
Now that they free, and gone from me, I'm going back to sleep. If the truth be told, I'm burnt out and exhausted after a crazy, very hard-long-year.

Hole in the beach

I went to the beach yesterday to be alone, to stare into the ocean, to breathe in deep it's tangy-salt-air.
There I met a wonderfully crazy bunch of people, all communication students together at one time, now in the media world - tv, social media, blogging and even a magazine journalist.
Before I knew it I was in the deep end, literally, with sea sand everywhere, helping with the hole before the tide came in.
It was wonderful to relax and laugh with strangers, to be light and free and whimsical.
And the sea goes on...

Friday, December 30, 2011

First light

It's dawn, Graaf Reinet.
As the only petrol attendant, red dressed, hoses down and then sweeps the Total garage forecourt, I settle down in the driver's seat to sleep.
I cover my eyes with my soft, olive green sleep t-shirt which smells of me, in a good, cool-on-my-face way.

Lootsberg Pass (1787m above sea level)

The wind at the top of the Lootsberg Pass buffets the car.
I'm sitting at the look-out point; all I can see is a single pin prick, headlights, as an ant-car crawls upwards towards me; it's far away.
Beautiful Graaf Reinet is 60 or so km in front of me, ugly Middleburg lies 40 or so km behind me. Between me and one of my favourite Karoo towns, the magnificently restored and preserved Graaf Reinet, is the Plains of Camdeboo, one of the richest sources of dinosaur fossils on the planet.
Aeons ago this would have been a massive inland sea teeming with prehistoric plant and animal life.
Eve Palmer's 'The Plains of Camdeboo', a Karoo classic - about this region - which deeply influenced and impacted me, has been reprinted, and only last night did I finger a copy while prowling Sandton's bookshops.
But I've done 785km since leaving Jo'burg at 5pm, and it's now 3h31. I need some sleep, which I'll get in this car, 60km from here, while passing two gravel road turnoffs to Nieu Bethesda, and Helen Martin's Owl House.
A cold, choppy wind is blowing despite it being mid-summer. I know only too well how the temperatures can drop here in the winter.
Over there, and I bet you can't see it, is the peak of the Compassberg, he second highest peak.
Despite the cold and pitch black, I need to pee. And to then drive, so that I can sleep, in the car.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dark heart

It's about 100km still to Colesburg and I'm at a Checkpoint Charlie arbitrarily in the middle of nowhere.
It's a sickle moon above a flat, wonderfully bland landscape. All beneath a star studded sky.
I have a definite sense of traversing the very - dark - heart of my country.
Green light, and we go.

Road trip: Kroonstad

I'm sitting cross-legged with the false cold in the quietest part of the Steers on the side of the highway, just outside Kroonstad in the Free State.
203km into my road trip from Joburg to, indirectly, Cape Town.
I don't want to be distracted: not by people and the electric-sexual-nomadness of these crazy places that are so like border posts.
Transience and faces-from-other-places-that-I-don't-know has an inherent eroticness for me that I can explain, later.
Fuel. Coffee. Eat. Think.
I've had to be disciplined to sit down and write. I have two million excuses not to, the too-cold air conditioning is one of them.
I bathed deeply in preparation for this road trip. I always do. The anticipation of who knows what. Like, for example, I know that I want to be in Mossel Bay tomorrow morning sometime. But it's 1000km away. I will have to sleep; deliciously I wonder where.
In the bath I looked at my feet. I shaved my legs; every week I do that (it's a habit from my 'cycling' days).
I have packed light; this is a writer and photographer's trip, and the destination is irrelevant even though I have one.
I have a bag containing some clothes, some toiletries, a book, a gardening magazine and the last, but fat, Mail & Guardian for 2011. And, for old time's sake, an empty, brand new spiral bound A4 notebook with a charcoal cover. It's for my morning pages.
I also left my pc behind, and have only my cell phone, my iPad and my lean bag of camera equipment. Oh ja, and my fast-beating heart.
Leaving behind a dark, wet and moody Joburg, the sunny, bright and friendly Free State embraced me: mealies, grain silos, flat earth, sunflowers.
Large Afrikaans men sunburnt in their shorts, socks, paunches, mustaches, bald pates, ugly sunglasses and Mercedes Benz's.
I feel at home here. I was spent two years of my youth in the army here: Tempe, Bloemfontein.
I've read Denys Reitz's 'Commando', and anticipate volume two of his gripping Anglo Boer War trilogy. His true story. It's above the fireplace in my bedroom at home.
I also had an intense personal relationship (yes, my word choice gives it away) rooted in Senekal, a Free State village-town off the beaten track.
I love the flatness and the light, it's an unusual bright-pure-light that smacks of the surreal.
I've also read Zakes Mda's novel based on the Apartheid racial-barrier-blurring events that, unbelievably, took place in Excelsior, which I visited and explored during its drought in 2004. Fascination.
But now I must pay my bill, empty my bladder and head towards historical, practical Colesburg, across the Cape border. Then, where to sleep?
400km to that decision, and a fork in the road. Literally.

Falling out of me

I've sat with a few new people these Christmas holidays. Our paths have crossed, but I adamantly don't believe in coincidence. As random as it all seems, it's minutely orchestrated, every hair-thin-vein-and-quiver-of-the-butterfly's-wing-and-beat.
The key themes of these coffee times has been loneliness and aloneness, and pain.
They have my heart: I see their pain / I feel their loneliness / nothing is straight forward.
Trust me, life is not easy, and even having said that, I'm going to underline it - life is very hard.
I have done it all:
I've been to the edge and back.
I lived like a king, and thought I was.
I played the palace fool, which I was.
I trod on hearts, while numbing my own.
I thought the world was mine to do as I please/d with, when in fact I lived in hell: proclaiming without knowing it - "I'm the king of hell, bow before me". And hell it was. Mine.
The cars, the houses, the cash, the credit, the debt, the planes, the toys, the CDs, the noise, the 'friends', the filth, the porn, everything the king could wish for. And more. But much less.
The king would have done anything in his power to have avoided staring into his abyss.
His own abyss, the pain. The pain of the emptiness, and the meaninglessness, and of the pain of it all.
But all that time I thought I was alone, up until I fell out of me (because the bottom was gone).


I unexpectedly sold a car today. One I have owned for over 9 years; that I have travelled the country hither and thither in, 222 000km to be exact; a battery of countless road trips to some of the remotest places in the country.
I have driven out my broken heart in it. I have driven away from broken hearts in it. I have cried in it. I've had sex in it, also made love in it; in a previous lifetime. Hardbody.
Tonight I had coffee at my favourite Seattle, the one at Mandela Square, Sandton.
I walked around and through the square, soaking in the randomness, taking photos of my mood's projections and savourings, peering between Nelson's legs.
Paging through books at the other Exclusive's, I advised and directed a woman to Steve Biko's 'I write what I like', which she bought.
I then had dinner with Steffen at Ocean Basket. With a glass of dry white, and afterwards, an ice cream and chocolate syrup.
The deal with the car is that I need to drive it to Cape Town. I sold the car late this afternoon. I might drive it the 1490 km to the fairest Cape tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas chili & "pretty little buttercup"

I've just walked to a Portuguese restaurant in Melville. I'm very grateful its open, nothing else is.
I'm starved...and I've ordered a large Black Label draught.
Despite being warned of the danger of walking, and alone, by a well meaning acquaintance, I was so marvelously alone in the streets...hardly even a car.
Freshly Ground - from 6 years ago in my memory - is playing loudly and a drunken, bloated-face man is singing along - Dooby Dooby Dooby. It's so marvelously Christmas for the drunken, and broken, like me.
A political conversation between two young black guys, one with out-the-box shiny spectacles, passionately and un-sporadically blasts me from the dimly lit corner (aaah they are in advertising I am able to easily eavesdrop) to my 'write'.
I have chosen to spend Christmas alone, not even with family. I am open, and free.
And despite all, I'm sitting in the light.

I need a life

There was a storm.
Cool breeze on my nakedness woke me with ice-cold.
Listening, now, again, to the wind through branches and leaves...and through the branches, twigs, leaves of my mind.
Then I remembered the yellow flowers I photographed this afternoon in the tired-sadness of my self-imposed self-exile-from-self.
I need to get a life.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Madeira breeze

Rumbling, rumble-thunder, sprinkler irrigation, doves in the weeping willow.
The 'quiet' before the/my storm.
Black eyes teeming with sugar cane, fishing nets, Atlantic storms/sunsets, and an ancient, battered-but-beautiful coastline.
Soft, dark and fascinating face hair, much softer than mine.
You look like my picture of Allen Ginsberg; but Allen is dead.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Open Letter to Naspers about the closure of The Boekehuis in Jozi

Dear fellow writers, publishers, readers and buyers of books, and Boekehuis fans and supporters
Naspers has informed Corina van der Spoel, the manager of the Boekehuis, that it plans to close the shop at the end of January, because it is not profitable. For the reasons outlined in the open letter to Koos Bekker below, we are very distressed about this, and we plan to publish an open letter to Mr Bekker in the Mail&Guardian next week. Would you consider signing it? If so, please respond to today, Monday 5 December. Please send this on to others whom you think might wish to sign the letter too.
Thank you!
Mark Gevisser
Maggie Davey
Michael Titlestad
Open Letter to Koos Bekker, CEO, Naspers 
Dear Mr Bekker
As writers, publishers, readers, and buyers of books, we are deeply distressed that Naspers is considering shutting down the Boekehuis in Auckland Park. While we understand Naspers' financial considerations, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of the unique space it has created for cultural and intellectual activity in Johannesburg. 
Firstly, the Boekehuis public readings and discussions have become among the most important gatherings in the Johannesburg literary calendar. As such, they have done much to promote not only literary talent and ideas, but the profile of both the bookshop itself and Naspers. There are no comparable forums in Johannesburg, and the loss of Boekehuis is a blow against the culture of reading and debate, which is so crucial to the well-being of our democracy, particularly given the steady erosion of book culture in South Africa.
Secondly, in the era of on-line commerce, the Boekehuis staff have set the bar for selecting publications of quality and worth for South African readers. Bookshops, where people of all ages who care about reading can gather and browse - and buy books too, of course -  are at the core of the kind of civil, deliberative culture that we believe South Africa so urgently needs. And when they are as beautiful and welcoming as the Boekehuis, all the more so. 
For these reasons, we would urge you to reconsider your decision.
BOEKEHUIS Bookshop* PO Box 563, Auckland Park, Johannesburg 2006 South Africa  Tel: 011 482 3609 *Voted in 2006 by the Independent Booksellers Federation one of 50 unique bookshops in the world

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Verbatim: exciting possibilities for new life and freedom

In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in "muchness" and "manyness," he will rest satisfied. Psychiatrist C. G. Jung once remarked, "Hurry is not of the Devil, it is the Devil."
If we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture - including our religious culture - we must be willing to get down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. In their writings, all of the masters of meditation strive to awaken us to the fact that the universe is much larger than we know, that there are vast unexplored inner regions that are just as real as the physical world we know so well. They tell us of exciting possibilities for new life and freedom. They call us to adventure, to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit. Though it may sound strange to modern ears, we should without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.

The above is taken, verbatim, from my battered 1984 copy of Richard Foster's 'Celebration of Discipline,' which I'm re-reading for the umpteenth time.

Morning. Ink. Blood

I'm sitting by the window with a fat black cat on my lap.
A dog, as always, is yelping in another street, and birds (assorted) are also tweeting, twittering. All against a background of deep Sunday morning silence...and sporadically the shriek of my neighbour's grinder. But because he's a good man, I can find it in me to forgive him.
It's heading towards year end, I carry an annual amount of heaviness, tiredness and black rings beneath my already dark eyes. I'm heavy and slow. But next week this time I expect to be done, to be on summer holidays, and to be resting. The anticipation is what drives me.
In the meantime though I need to oversee the birth of one final edition of the paper for 2011. In particular there are three stories weighing heavily on me as they percolate in my mind's storm eye.
I live this newspaper, we are intertwined, we are inseparable. Ink runs in my veins, blood is with which the words are printed on the paper.
I am growing intensely: as human being, as writer, as journalist, as photographer. Growing too, I pray, in humility, simplicity, kindness, love. My needs are less.
What more can a man ask for? Except, perhaps, to know God much better, more intimately?
This, more than anything, do I seek (no full stop)

Monday, November 28, 2011

High rise / tom cat

I wake with the persistent mewing of Karneels the stray tom cat whose on the prowl and wants to do a break-in and entry. He knows I'm here, but plays me.
I listen to the wind in the high-rise blue-gum trees as they whisper messages to me in the dark. And I pray for ears to truly hear with.
I pray to hear the ancient sounds, creakings and pain messages of the earth, so that I know what to convey to the world. Cop17 begins tomorrow in my country, Durban; as climate change seems, in my immediate eyes, to convulsively ratchet up.
I wake with the extreme anxiety of the news story I'm working on; the one that's taking me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to confront both my fears and my ghosts. I don't always have confidence to be the lone voice in the wild; what if I'm wrong.
But, tonight, I believe the message in the soaring twigs, leaves, limbs and branches is that I must trust my instincts and intuition.
So it's back to the chair at my desk, putting down the words, until my backside becomes bony and beads of blood form on my forehead.
Tonight I'm heavy with the too many stories I know of too many people, that I don't have enough time-life to write down.
High rise, they begin to flow from my nostrils, earholes and the back of my throat, also from the cracks in my skull. Like the gushing overflow drain in a massive, deep seated Victorian bath designed for an ancient time when water was not an issue.
It's 3h18 am and I'm typing in the dark.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dark heart

My heart is dark today, and has been for most of the week.
Sporadic, chaotic and uncentered describes me.
But I took a positive step, towards the light.
And now I'm lying on my bed having just, again, picked up my battered copy of Richard Foster's 'Celebration of Discipline'.
He writes: "Superficiality is the curse of our age...The greatest need today is...for deep people."
I'm going outside to harvest a bowl of apricots, it's the first time in five years that my dwarfed tree has borne fruit.
There is hope. Always.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Own life

In bed with a book and with my own life, responsible to no-one but me and God.
It's honest and raw and real.
Crickets, no frog-croak.
Jozi; between the three phallic symbols I grew up beneath: Brixton and Hillbrow, then Ponte. How else could I have turned out but me?
What I do know is that this city is, right now, the most happening city - in the most unhappening way - on the African continent.
Crickets, no frog-croak.
Bought two books today at Arts on Main:
One: Writing the City into Being, by Lindsay Bremner, and
Two: Portrait with Keys, Joburg and what-what, by Ivan Vladislavic.
It's blooming Jacaranda time, and the blossoms that go plop beneath the rubber tyres on black hard tar, are deep mauve-blue this year. Not the same every year.
Tonight I feel strangely light and free. It's because I have fire in my spirit, I am publicly standing up to a bully, and because I'm finding my voice. My own
And I thought just now, fondly of Rob. I wanted to phone him and ask him if I could come around for coffee. But I don't think he is free to receive me. Nor do I think he would have coffee. Nor is he free.
But I am.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


Jozi: Siting up in bed, this is way past my bedtime. I'm beyond exhausted, but, unusually, my head won't switch off, at all.
I'm in the upstairs room of one of my favourite places to stay, except that through the wide open summer-night window I can distinctly hear a one-frog band rasp-croaking way too loudly.
Waiting for the small piece of sleeping tablet to kick in, because I need a rested brain. And I need to hey back to centre. It's been a harrowing week.
I'm working on a story that I need to get as near to perfect. It's about a schoolyard bully, but a fully grown one. One that has threatened to break my legs. Both of them.
The story is to be my lead for the November issue. Although we're a few days late, I made the decision to take the pressure off myself - it's my paper after all - and to delay it further, while I get more meat into the story pot.
And because of the intimidation, to tell you the truth, I've taken a bit of a my aim is carry on telling the truth, even if my voice quavers.
And, in the background, I thoroughly enjoyed the three intense days of the Power Reporting African Investigative Journalist Conference.
As a direct result of it, I've some great collaborators backing me up.
And now to turn in.
Night night world.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

HOWLING at the moon

Some straightforward messages were driven home to me. This as I sat on the edge of my seat through the screening of Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein's 'Howl' last night in Hyde Park.
Authentic, is what I've realized I'm not; I still edit and stylize my public media persona, and even more condemning, do the same to my stream-of-consciousness-into-stream-of-words.
In the mewing of Ginsberg, "I don't want my daddy to read my words".
Allen Ginsberg has got balls. In fact, he must have the biggest balls I've ever come across.
It takes balls to be true to yourself, to be true to your words, to be true to your writer's voice.
'The Write Practice' blogger, Joe Bunting, asked Ted Dekker how long it takes for a writer to find their voice.
'"It takes four to five novels," he said. So if the average novel is about 80 000 words, then you have to write 320 000 to 400 000 words before you find your voice.
That's about 1000 blog posts.
Or 400 newspaper columns.
Or 80 short stories.'
I arrived at Hotel Lamunu in Johannesburg's Braamfontein yesterday afternoon. I'll be staying here until Thursday. Jozi's 'inner city' has been dramatically reenergized, resuscitated over the last decade and more. It's not the apartheid-artificial city I innocently got acquainted with in the eighties. This is a beyond incredible city that many miss out on because of outdated and repeatedly trundled out bad publicity.
Thanks for triggering me Allen, even 60 years after howling the world out of its McCarthyistic horror, suburban smugness and complacency.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sinking in

Just got home from Kaapsehoop; suddenly so glad to be here, I was going to drive the few hours to Johannesburg, but suddenly drained and too tired.
What a few days! We've been on deadline, not that we're off it.
An unusual month this has been. I wonder if extraordinary would be a better word?
I've made a big mug of sweet, strong tea and I'm sitting outside in the dark listening to frogs and crickets and watching a sickle moon set on the western horizon.
I'm not going to do a thing tonight, but early to bed, very early up, and then through to Jozi for about a week with a power reporting investigative journalism conference I'm attending.
I'm looking very forward to my accommodation in Braamfontein of all places. And after all of these years that have passed...

Thursday, October 27, 2011


It's 5h30 am and I'm sitting by my favourite window drinking tea.
I have spent hours here; it's the one beneath which I lay (because there was no furniture) on my back - in a daze of nervous recovery during the very first week that I had moved here from the corporate world almost 5 years ago; just watching the winter clouds in a cobalt sky make superstitious shapes that didn't predict my future.
I'm just back from walking through the garden, like every morning, breathing in deep, nay gulping in deep the rich mountain air.
Today it's laden, saturated with the energy, power and life of last night's first big (hail) storm.
And then my heart's delight, the yellow arum lilies (Zantedeschia pentlandi) that pop up, like daffodils in a
European spring, from the lawn, grasslands, woodlands in the region.
And the fat black cat on my lap.
I'm drawing strength and centeredness in silence and solitude, while knowing I'm never alone: 'Be still and know that I am God.'

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I’m undeniably a morning person.
Even so, I love it at night, when my fingers swan – in perfect peace - across the keyboard.
This plays out in a pool of warm light directly under my yarmulke-like coal black lampshade that’s not far from, nor many centimetres above my skull.
Although I’m in the light, but against the dark, cool background of the house and garden (energy saving), I’m neither trapped nor held prisoner here.
I love that I’m alone, but beneath a mountain.
I love that I’m at peace, but with gut-stirring coffee.
I love that I can clearly hear the crickets and frogs (and the cats having sex – they’re certainly not making love), but that it’s extremely unlikely the phone will ring, or ping.
‘You are loved (Don’t give up)’ is  my message for today, especially after yesterday. It came in a serendipitous message on a postcard from God.
Have you ever received one of those?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pushing snowballs up the mountain against the heat of summer

I’m double bent against the awful wind. And against the day. And against the work I need to do. As well as against my thesis. It feels as though there is no progress whatsoever, that the colour is bleached from today, and from my life. And that I’m living on the awful outskirts of my Apple’s imaginary Instragram lens.
That is twilight zone.
But we are human beings and from life experience we know that this, too, shall pass. That tomorrow will be a better day.

“[...] the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!' What did they call such young people in Goethe's Germany?”
― Jack KerouacOn the Road   


I want to reach out across the Internet to you, because I don’t know any other way.
I want to take your hand in mind, and for things to be different.
I saw the pain in your eyes, and I know you see the pain in mine.
My heart, and its intentions are pure.
How do I reach, out, across your abyss?
I’m so busy retching into mine.

Double bent

In stark contrast to yesterday morning I began my day outside on the lawn. After harvesting a handful of fresh strawberries straight from the garden, I filled a plunger with the finest pungently arabican coffee, and got on with my morning pages and week 1 of The Artist's Way.
It was a magnificent dawn. But the day has got much hotter and very gusty, almost unbearably so, and again I've pulled down the blinds and shut the curtains to the unusual heat.
I'm bent double over my laptop and my research project on the bed.
My mind is bent double too, most unhappy with the acrobatics its being asked to perform. It's low I'm confidence today.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


So, today, I'm at that point Robin* wrote of.
I had another crazy early hours of Sunday morning a-cross-country-bolting homewards from the city.
Now, mid-afternoon and my sleep caught up, lying naked-for-the-unusual-heat pressing down on the house, I'm there.
There where he said.
All the blinds, and curtains, are shut against the heat, so as to cool the airflow through my home.
I'm alone. Completely. In my weekend craziness I've done everything I can to severe ties, many in fact. And good ones too, some of very best; and some of the worst. But severed they are, for better or for worse.
This is a good sign: Pressfield in The War of Art writes that Resistance is its most awfully powerful when the prize is the greatest, and attainable. I suppose it's the equivalent of the darkest hour being just before dawn.
Judging by the (unusual) wind howling from the west and over the edge of the escarpment, a storm must be coming.
"The only way to lift your life to the next to assume real leadership over your life."
"The moment you look in the mirror and say to yourself, from the deepest place within you, 'For my life to change, I must change' - that's the moment you'll grow up and walk through a doorway that will lead you to your best life."*
So I have picked up my tattered, battered The Artist's Way after exactly a decade, and commit myself again, from today, to it's process.
I also commit to no alcohol for the 12-week period. As much as I enjoy it, it takes me nowhere that's good. And beneath it's benign dictatorship I relinquish all responsibility, exactly as the structure of this sentence underscores.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow's* words scratch my ear drums and chalk squeakingly across the flip-chart of my mind:
"We fear our highest possibilities.... We are generally afraid to become that which we can glimpse in our most perfect moments, under the most perfect conditions, under times of great courage. We enjoy and even thrill in the possibilities we see in ourselves in such peak moments and yet we simultaneously shiver with weakness, awe, and fear before these very same possibilities."
Steffen, yesterday, with big green eyes liquidly welling over, had the courage - over carrot cake and a short-te-mocha at Seattle - to hold up the mirror.
I didn't like what I saw.
Thank you.
I pray for wisdom and understanding. Also for courage and inner strength.
And for much, much less, even none, pride and arrogance.
And for a simple, streamlined - but good - life.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Top man

The rain patters on my empty stomach searching for the 6; I allow the storm darkness of the late afternoon to gnaw and fritter away / like city rats at a once fresh and pre-packed steak thrown out of a restaurant's back door / at my peace and contentment.
It's unusually Sunday-black, not -blue.
Thunder gargles faintly in the distance, almost too soft for me to believe it's real. But that's Mozambique's direction, so I know it is. The ferocious storms come from East. So does my Jerusalem light.
I'm questioning my choices, of these last three weeks.
Storm. Now I'm in the eye, but for the real time one; I'm watching two years of relationship photos on my mind's eye screen.
Rain patters on the roof, that's seen countless ructions. And survived.
When some/thing/one was so good that newbies pale into insignificance, why does it end.
Above the local grill I hold you up against the light and see the holes, but the journey is compelled. (You don't know that, I do. I swallow hard; from this cup must I drink?)
Change the subject.
The overwhelming message for my writer this week has been to wake the f*ck up and smell the roses, it's time to be true to your voice; so says mr Bunting, the artist's way, dear Robin, and instinct's gut.
I suppose authenticity had been my theme these 3 weeks. The courage to be who I am, no matter how much it stinks.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The cat sat on the mat

bipolar ambition:
I'm struggling to complete the pages.
I root out even more pride and arrogance; forgive me please. I want NONE left.
Then suddenly I'm centered:
dappled morning sunshine
slow motion
across silent moss
on a rock
at the bottom of a garden.
that's as minute
and meaningful
as I wish
my life could
small b.

Secret garden

Dalecross. Morning pages at the bottom of the garden. Another garden. Another space of peace, restoration, bird song, and a cape robin's wings beating--in--slow--motion in the undergrowth.
It was a tough week.
4am Saturday morning was a turning point; I cannot befriend both Him and the world. I know where my peace, productivity and sanity lies.
I know that my choice was again the correct one; in the early hours of this morning I dreamt of the snake in my life, and how I killed it. With both hands.
It's a magnificent Sunday morning. Coffee anyone? (Just one condition. Get me at the bottom of my secret garden...)

Friday, October 07, 2011

Give yourself up to the moment

I just found a new secondhand bookshop, a bit pricey but a good selection of, among others, South African fiction.
I'm at 44 Stanley street in Jozi; as the unseasonal, chilly weather finally starts to lift, people around me, at the courtyard cafes, appear to be wholeheartedly embracing both summer and weekend.
I've wolfed down a sandwich and a cappuccino while my iTunes does it's own iThing with the selection of iFriday pm tunes, all thus far appropriate.
Bare legs, bare arms, in the shade of a beautifully barked tree.
"give yourself up to the moment / the time is now / lets make this moment last" tunes iTunes in stereo (such an old fashioned word).
But in all innocence.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Short mocha, no cream

In the last few days I've been into places I last frequented a long time ago. I find myself surprised at how decayed they are, how out of date they seem.
I've also walked into perfumes trailing behind people; they are scents I last smelt many many years ago. I trip over them, headlong into the jumble of time- and place-memories interwoven in them. Seemingly arbitrary. It's a bit like taking an unexpected slide through a time warp, bang into the past. They also emphasize the passage of time.
I wonder at what point it is that I become the one that others measure the amount of decay by? Just curious.
Does one know that one has become the living dead?
Progress. What is that? Soul wisdom I believe.
Seattle Cresta, nostalgically having a mocha.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Boekehuis, Melville

I'm grabbing some time out in one of my favourite Jozi book shops. Walking around I pick up a copy of Spaces and Places Johannesburg (Gerald Garner) which I've coveted for a while now, but can't afford. In it he describes Boekehuis:
Situated next to the offices of Media 24, this bookshop has a wonderful collection of South African books and it regularly hots book launches and talks by authors. So famous is the Boekehuis that it was voted one of the 50 most unique bookshops in the world by the International Booksellers Federation. It occupies an old house with Oregon timber floors and pressed-steel ceilings and best if all, includes a coffee shop here you can browse through the books you intend to buy, or start reading the ones you have already bought!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Thoreau and the Art of Life

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) thought through our potential as human beings to live complete lives - lives that encompass joy, adventure, reflection, natural beauty, meaningful work, and relaxation. He thought and wrote about nature, about love and friendship, art and creativity, spirituality, aging and death, simplicity, wisdom. He tried to live his conclusions. He was deeply devoted to the craft of writing. From these roots emerged a powerful an contradictory body if work that continues to inspire and confuse us. [... from the inside cover of Roderick MacIver's book]

Artist's way

Ten years ago I began working through the intensely personal twelve week ‘course’ contained in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Earlier this year I picked up a mint copy of her follow-up to this course in discovering and recovering your creative self, The Vein of Gold. But I’ve not been able to get further than the introduction. I believe I need to go back to The Artist’s Way.
Today I have picked up my wonderfully tattered and scribbled all over edition, and am about to recommit to a new process of discovery. It’s time, I feel.
Julia: ‘I learned to turn my creativity over to the only god I could believe in, the god of creativity, the life force Dylan Thomas called “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower.” I learned to get out of the way and let that creative force work through me. I learned to just show up at the page and write down what I heard.’
I have a decade’s worth of hardbound exercise books containing thousands of pages of my ‘morning pages’ lying around the house.

Tear stained windows

It's essentially the first rains of the summer; I missed the downpours, lightning and thunder in my Waterval Boven on Thursday and Friday, but last night while eating out in Melville all hell broke loose.
Nothing nicer, cosier while sharing a good meal, wine, and company.
On this marvelously slow-paced Sunday morning I'm lying in my pajamas on a long couch beneath tear stained windows. The rain is rattling against them, gusts of wind sometime drives the downpour harder against the glass, causing me to pull in closer towards myself.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

He's dead

Allen Ginsberg has just died, and his biography I've been reading intermittently for the last year, is dead too.
My eyes are glassed over with see-through mercury, and I don't know what next.
The last light through the me-and-a-bit high window into this unblinded first floor bathroom (the one with the large, beautifully faded Persian) is lifeless ad gray, against the lifeless now-olive green of the weeping willow. I'm not alone in my tears.
I will get out of the bath and mechanically dress, then walk to Melville to be anonymous amongst people I'll never know. That's where I wrote Two Pink Stripes maybe 5 years ago. In the street window of a restaurant and bar now closed. While drinking European draught and eating a meaty beef burger and fine, good fries. Often.
But I wish I was by the sea; I dedicate this photo (thanks Greg) that self-tweeted me, to Allen. He's dead, but we've just met.
Thank you.
And I choose a simpler, vastly more streamlined life. Without the s/trappings.
Living, but writing down the bones.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Like a well known ancient Greek I'm staring into my own reflection in a pond. And yes, although I've grown to love, and accept myself, its been a decades-long process. And a healthy one at that.
It's dusk, and from the ridge where this wonderfully enveloping house commands a view to the north and east, I can see the cityscape, close-by. Especially the angry pimple-red head of the Ponte building.
I've spent two hours reading in a naturally lit upstairs bathroom (the one with the large, wonderfully faded Persian rug) that casts a gentle eye over the garden below.
And now for an hour-long full body massage.
It's been a truly pressured day, despite my pj bottoms and tussled hair, he same for week, month and year. Foundation work, I call it.
Looking forward, but shy. I hope she respects my silence.
It's a welcome gift from someone close to me, whom I deeply care for.
Thank you.