Raphael D’Abdon, at night we still remember you

I had organised a Poetry session for the WeThinkCode_ Literary Arts Club with Raphael D’Abdon and ZAPP (South African Poetry Project) last Friday. On the morning of the event I fell and hurt my back and was forced to give it a skip.

On Monday morning Amu handed me a signed copy of Salt Water, just as it had when Moses handed me a copy of When the Moon Goes to Rest, my poor heart skipped a beat.


Gladwin, my trusty brunch mate and bodyguard  was not around and I found my famished self having to walk to Ma Bertha’s all on my own. I go to brunch with Gladwin every day so I don’t feel awkward, but also to divert male attention away from my vulnerable self. I tend to do this a lot, it tends to get me into trouble.

The walk to the cafe  was as expected, long and and uncomfortable. I had worn a comfy little dress because I felt terrible when I got up, and the outfit to smile on my face’s behind. Men at every turn made comments that I didn’t like. I’m probably exaggerating, but I’m allowed. I was  writing a vent piece in my mind all the while.

do not read this book for longer than thirty minutes without consulting a shrink or an exorcist. if read aloud it will combine with the nitrogen in the earth’s atmosphere and, like gases in a comet’s tail, produce enough nitro oxide (or “laughing gas”) to cause contagious hairy, paroxysm or delight, and in the end, widespread madness, and freedom.

I sat awkwardly in the familiar cafe and chuckled myself into a frenzy. This had to be the best introduction I’ve come across, especially because I’ve never been sure about how to go about anthologies. Were it not for the intro, I may have not gone through the entire book, tiny as it is.

at night we still remember you was the first poem I read. The title reminded me of a familier feeling. For Brenda Cassie, it read in brackets.

Brenda was at every wedding I attended as a child, at every party, everywhere people were having a good time Brenda was an honored guest. It was inevitable. I’m an 80’s child, I danced to midodo do do dola dothi… in my leiri with my dad urging me on in his magical turner. And when MaBrrr died I felt, like many others, aggrieved. Brenda Fassie was, after all, ours.

I wanna be loved. I just wanna be loved.

There is always a sense of captivity felt by this who are said to belong to the public. I, as a healer, belong to those who need me most. It was the same for Brenda as a performer. And as a public figure you are expected to answer and bend over to people expectations, which is something Brenda was firm about. She was not your weekend special, as best coined by Bongani Madondo (I vowed to read this book before he visits our bookclub – which may be this week).



The poem hung on my mind for a couple of days. I thought of Bongani how she loved him. I think of her parents, who gave her music. Of how she ran away from home to follow her dreams and always believed she would be a star. I thought of her humility, how she kissed everyone, and said please and thank you. I thought of how Mandela and Winnie adored her.

But most of all, I thought of how ask she ever wanted to be loved. And just how much of a curse that can be.

I’m so good and so loving that men don’t believe it.

It feels like you keep pouring your soul into a bottomless pit. Like no matter what you do, or how you do it, it just is never good enough. You expect nothing, you want nothing but to be loved. And on quiet nights you wonder if that’s so much to ask.

You go to bed with a heavy heart and wake with a smile, all because you don’t know how to be anyone else but yourself, and are not willing to try.

your music and it’s pleasures are a story

We remember what we want. Take what we need. Never replenishing the well that feeds us. To remember it when it runs dry.

I met a guy that day at the café. He was taken by my chuckles, I guess. “What are you reading,” started a conversation that saw me walking out of the warm eatery with him, landing us at Griffin’s place. I had to show him Griff’s place, the reader he is. And there, on the counter, were more copies of Salt Water.

Quirky as they are, I adore the little pieces in Salt Water. Raphael has written about the simplest to the most uncomfortable emotion in the truth that he has lived, that is important.


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