October 3, 2015

Three Poems By Don Beukes: "The Storm", "The Sentinal", "Childhood Days"

I was born, raised and educated in Cape Town, South Africa in the last two decades of Apartheid and also have British and EU citizenship. Now a retired teacher of English, I am following my passion to write poetry and hoping to share my literal mentality with our global village, hoping to make global citizens check their moral compass now and then in an ever changing world. As a person of mixed race heritage, I want to share my experiences whilst growing up, living  and working in a totalitarian racist regime.

The Storm

A faint rumbling signals it,

Airflow spreads over infiltrating weeds,

Wildlife stirs,

Murmuring chaos anew,

Light fades as darkness craves,

Subtle resistance prevails

as oncoming mayhem sails

towards order and peace,

Promising no relentless release,

It tucks at your intake of air

as it sucks out life all around,

Your senses explode

as everything goes into overload,

A growl turns into a scowl

of electric light blinking bright,

Imploding clouds deliver a ghastly sight,

Air spits as nature vomits foul,

The storm

Our norm

Life relentless

Catapulting our senses…


Anchored for centuries unknown

oh majestic Table Mountain,

You still watch over Cape Town,

Mother city over 400 years,

Witness to her violent birth,

Ever rising towards the heavens,

Only God harbors the truth

our struggle,

Surrounded by flora and fauna

a feast for any eye

amidst shards of piercing rock

raging icy waters

on blinding, silver sandy beaches,

Small groups of beach dwellers huddle

in your protective shadow

peacefully existing,

Indigenous language, culture

ensuring survival,

Wildlife competing

mercilessly deleting,

Disturbing murmurs rising,

You stare in awe

down below

wondering if harmony and love still aglow

or does hate and jealousy pierce your table cloth?

Centuries old sounds echo to your summit,

Cacophonies of voices confuse and amuse,

Lives changing emotions simmering,

Instinct erupting resulting in violent vomit,

Strangers infiltrate

creating fear and curiosity,

Their sails shredded

furthering foreign animosity,

Your beauty noted future plans made,

Greed their driving force,

Your shadow to fade.

The year 1647

the boat smashing on a foreign heaven,

Christened ‘Niewe Haarlem’ Holland’s pride,

It shakes against rock and unseen peril

ominously spilling onto your foreshore,

A dozen fleet of relief joins your grief,

The year 1652 Van Riebeeck sent to govern

greets local inhabitants,

Exchanges bring relief,

Their curiosity accepting,

Their bodies a fiery oven

your defenses down

your sight welcoming,

You marvel at their skills,

Blissfully unaware

of Armageddon to come,

The future disturbing,

Ideas clashing

Tempers gnashing

Negotiations unfair

initial plots of land bargained in 1671

Khoi clans clashing rebels shunned,

Culture poisoned

the deed cleverly done,

Dividing a father, mother, daughter and son,

Tribal heart lost creating cultural loss,

European domination overpowering

morale lowering,

Your essence diluted

young Khoi girls polluted,

Politics in motion

traditions no longer suited,

Khoi translators employed

healing the void

including Herrij, Doman and Kratoa

She, taken in by Jan as a child

her linguistic skills greatly valued,

Whispers cause discontent and doubt

between invaders and indigenous folk,

Eva’s legacy tainted,

emotions heightened,

You shudder through the chaos

manic moans,

French Hugenots arrive

causing further strife,

Your playground invaded

traditions faded,

They struggle to establish

Dutch courage too strong

forcing them to speak another mother tongue,

Their language suppressed

identity compressed,

Winelands offer a sweet escape,


Creating new identity

your shadow casting over them,

Countless Khoi destroyed by colonists

Your stones shiver

witnessing a cultural bloody river

others banished north halted by the San,

Possessions snatched

their fate sealed,

Slaves imported from afar,

India, Mozambique and Madagascar,

The Far East concluding the colonial feast,

Child of colour

born from a mixed mother,

You remain steadfast yet alert,

Depending on fair and humane hearts,

Sentinel for centuries even millennia,

Still a God- given

Centurion defender…

Childhood Days

Armoured in red flares
the seventies are filled with sounds anew,
Sunday rituals include church and sticky doughnuts,
Outside an angry wind blows sound abound,
Radio blasts out “Ring, Ring”
Who’s that mom? Abba their name son!”
My first taste of a foreign hit!
My second tongue
a fan so young,
The table laid in perfect culinary shade,
Table Mountain mocking
clouds frolicking,
Worlds apart from here on the Cape Flats,
Dreams begin
taking hold,
Train squealing cuts through divided lines,
Mountain in sight
how beautiful
such majestic might,
Why are we riding in third class?” I ask
sister dear
dousing innocent fear,
Head shaking
no clear understanding,
Others looking at me weirdly,
I feel ashamed in the city,
My Cape
their city
such a pity!
The ‘bergies’ wreak
vomiting grief,
They beg with callous hands outstretched,
Who’s that?” Innocently inquiring intrigued
My hand tightly squeezed
pulled with ease,
Restaurant’s packed,
feeling alienated
where's our people?
Utensils provided
thrown rather trying to fight it,
Shouting, “what do you want?”
feeling shunned,
How rude!” I exhale,
Sister dear quelling my fear,
Others are looking at me weirdly
murmuring amongst them
eyes piercing
blonde heads popping up and down,
I smile at them
greeted by disdain,
Allowed into their wonderland world
must make the journey home again,
My mind racing,
Thoughts aimlessly pacing,
Still confused,
Sister dear attempting to amuse,
The train groans on split lines,
It eerily turns away, away
The mountain now a blue haunting hue
momentarily bathed in red
hazy orange too,
Safely entombed back home,
Murky memories remain,
What’s wrong with me?
Questions unanswered
tongue twisted,
Musical interference
temporary hindrance,
The sounds captivating
Ring, Ring”
Mamma it’s Abba!
Yes my child come help me,”
Leave that rowdy radio!
Outside the anxious wind
blows sand around,
Table Mountain mummified
in a choking churning shroud,
My future unsure
ignorant of a racial war,
Cocooned in love,
Protected from above,
Outside the wind
blows sand abound.

"Childhood Days" first appeared in Dissident Voice
~Don Beukes

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