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Please do not scoff when I spit at the fruit of freedom
because maybe, maybe my bong was the sound of a wail,
and my voice, the anger of distance.
-Way Back Home - Sandile Dikeni
As we were leaving the Kimberley Hotel,
that last night in Cape Town, Brother Ntone
held my hand – ‘Wait’, he said; he had a gift.
And re turning to the turntables
like a priest
with his Ethiopian scarf and his boots of brogues
and his ringed finger on the fader
he played: Fela. Anikulapo. Kuti/who carries death
in his pouch.
Because that is what we people
go thro ugh everyday. Like the poet Sandile
who lost his memory
and with it a homestead of revolutionist poetry.
Who f orgot
he was a poet
but remembered enough to recite his poem
at 4 am that morning, at the Kimberley Hotel.
Like the vendors in Green Market Square
who were willing to sell us their masks and gourds
for nothing. To barter them down was easy.
Their resistance was bleak. I turned to go
and they called me back - from 10 to 2.50.
Each dusk from my room on the thirteenth floor
I watch them push their wagons home
through old colonial alleyways
like poets returning to some corrugated jungle
after dancing all night, at the Kimberley Hotel.
How did we spend a week in Cape Town
and not see a woman carrying water
in a straw basket
from yard to stinking yard.
Must be Town ship jive and township rain,
slippery like mud upside that hillside village
where my own fathers’ kin and my blood runneth
among the lilies and the lizards there.
‘Wait’ he said. And returning
to the black cloth of his altar,
the DJ plays....
But this was not. This was not.
This was not the fifteen minute 12 inch mix.
This was not the DJ mix, the 7 inch single mix.
This was not the abridged, the edited, the faded
to fit on one side. No. This was the full thirty five minute
symphony of ‘Shuffering and Shmiling’
and we danced till dawn at the Kimberley Hotel
that last Cape Town morning.


from Migratory Poets, released May 6, 2015


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