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Rosemund Handler

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category


Snake on Smitswinkel hike


A snake came to my hiking path
On a hot hot day
And I cowering from the sun
He unspooled
Lay brown-silk-scaled
Across scalding stones for a moment
Then threaded up a fire-dead bush
Hooded slightly
So honoured by him
That the sun cooled
For black-eyed seconds
We gazed
The world was his
And he took it

» read article

Four Recent Poems

Black Bird

When you said that word – it was the way you said it –
rage soared, spread its wings
covered me
a black bird with orange eyes
stabbing at muscle and bone
pecking at my veins
until they exploded in bloody flames
that ripped through the sky
and devoured indiscriminately.

Then fizzled.

Leaving the husk of what was between us
feathers stirring listlessly
waiting for an updraft
for that word to be unsaid
it was the way you did it
tossing it over your shoulder
like an afterthought
like a sack of garbage.
Goodbye. Goodbye.



A figure dwarfed by an ancient landscape
physical and psychic wounds reflected in the face of another
the shock of your body turning on you

the collision with mortality
carved in lines on your chest

a slow painful healing
a desperate urge to be as before
while becoming during and after breast cancer

a man awakened to suffering
to the grace and gift of each day.

a sense you are no more than a grain of sand
and a will to survive

your life in ten shots



He is resting
against the morning
heavy hide
cradled by blonde grass
he is enthroned
to the end of time

eyes will behold him
enshrine him
in memory and illusion
his outline fading as the light
grows harsher
and the morning trembles
to afternoon

his slow eye sidles
until a horn-shaped moon
tattoes it with dollar signs
his half-sleep no anaesthetic
for the famished vigil
the grasses already
leaking and foetid

the violent dawn
drenches the sky
in scarlet obscenity
they have eaten
their own faces


Courtship of eagles

there are times
when I begin to speak
that my tongue is a moat
hemmed in on all sides
by teeth and eyes
by towers
of words as cumbersome
and unforgiving
as unspoken truths

there are times
when words flow wild and free
skim through walls
sweep aside boulders
ride the sky
as eloquent and soaring
as a courtship of eagles

» read article

Meditation through a Sea of Reeds

Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe, Rabbi M. M. Schneerson

Accept the world at its face value and it won’t let you move forward.
Every impulse must be bridled, every step carefully balanced
—and even then, for every step forward, you fall back two.
You are enslaved within an Egypt of your own making.

Here is your route of escape:

Meditate deeply upon the inner soul of the world;
struggle to see the vision described by our teachers.
Part the murky waters of a coarse, material world;
enter the reality that lies beneath it;
let that be your path from bondage.

Grasp that inner vision and it will flow outward
through the heart to the conscious self,
down to the heel that steps upon the earth,
until all these, as well, become mind.

Your eyes are now open,
your heart is awake,
your hands themselves know what to grab and what to avoid,
as your feet know where to walk.

In the struggle for deeper vision,
life becomes effortless.

You are free.

» read article



There’s a rumour

that Zuma’s tumour

is Malema



My country a beast in a trap

biting off its own foot


The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil

than from those who actually commit it. Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

» read article

Clifton Beach

Clifton Beach

suntan cream and diesel
a sweet-sour chemistry
of bananas and drains

boulders boiling and smoking
steam rising from
skin and sandstone

a history of skin
a mythology of flesh
in every grain of sand

each a storehouse
of heart’s blood
metres deep

thick with
ageless lust
the murmurous tides of

countless generations
of burnished youth
yearning for itself

» read article

Dentist: For Deon

A lover’s eyes
were never so intent
gazing into my mouth
as into a jewel-studded
hideaway fed by
spring water
surely only a thing
of great value

could inspire such devotion?
yet as he drills for gold
he discovers only stony ground
from which he must sculpt
a monument worthy
of a more gracious
setting than the cratered cavern

» read article

this black beast!

Black South-Easter

do gooder
freakish child
of a toxic mother
your scouring breath
flirting up skirts
battering crotches

molesting strangers
who shriek and
cling to poles
veer across roads
with you hot for them
whipping and butting
at thighs breasts balls
blinding with your lust

» read article

dog eat dog eat —-

Dog eat dog eat —-

Sir, your dog
my voice behind him
is neutral but firm
man turns
I point to
the steaming pile

man grimaces
not my dog
sir I saw him do it
not my dog
you would recognise his shit
would you

» read article

Not free to go

Your exhausted organs
wheeze nothing but betrayal
at the door a cheerful voice
doesn’t cheer
props shards of bone
that dent the pillows
poke through flaps of skin
like used envelopes that won’t stick
there is no listening
in the courthouse of the brain
though you plead for release from
the prosecutorial flicker
that jams you in impasse

» read article