Part I

Plain on a gravestone
Fate grimaces and grits it’s teeth
From beyond the grave
Your name reaches out
To haunt men of straw
with forgettable lyrics
And supplanted pretense

Stone-bearded statue
with bronzed fingers
Opaque tints of your past
Saliva on the edge of the trumpet’s mouthpiece
Violent parts of curfews
Erupting the red sun of your day
and with napalm
the nation is set alight

Dew-drops balanced on the head of an ant
The crushing weight of genius
The flaming moth
And now finally the agony of the years is gone

Houses on fire,
Flowers dead,
the graveyard quiet
Except the hooves of quiet horses

Part II

Glorious in the wind,
with your fingers you sing

The broken ivory key
the torn guitar string
The shredded skin of the drum
The windless neck of the saxophone
The bard with a hoarse voice
The star without a follower
Saliva-poison of the tongue
The quiet violence of the first note heard
Feet fleeting, floating
to imagined music in the womb

Long bony fingers
cling to the urine-stained sheets of the hospital
They mock this legendary guitar
Music past the edge of all knowing
Alone in that morass of hospital beds
They declare you a body
A hollow pile of flesh
That has no use for a name

With beer in your breath
Dead with a story pressed between your lips
A song on the roof of your mouth
Vultures are patient
Methodical in their descent
To rummage at your naked name
Silk as the language of sea creatures

Part III

A wingless bird lands
on an anthill at the feet of your grave
Ants to the open wound
oozing crater of the broken skull
On the mountain,
the lost jawbone of a warrior
And beyond the boundary of stars
those with false effort to remember you
clamour to be remembered by your lips

To a wingless bird
an anthill is a mountain.

by Phehello Mofokeng
11 October 2015, Midrand, Joburg

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