July 7, 2016

A poem in three parts by Don Beukes: "Existential Consequential"

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. https://about.me/donbeukes 

CAPE FLATS, SOUTH AFRICA


Existential Consequential
Part One
Baptised child of colour by a system saturated
with colonial masked fodder, my existence
manipulated although lovingly orchestrated
to avoid a mother heinously hated
my future mapped out by adult decree – to
avoid an emotionally cancerous feuding family
compartmentalising my liberty, moulding my
future life story -
Initial public outings seemingly innocent and
always made to feel normal, although confidence
hiding
hesitant whilst in the distance Table Mountain
rises to the heavens – a towering centurion
defender of a mother city tender, casting its
protective shadow over a divided urban sprawl
a city who has lost her motherly marrow -
My maiden train adventure a curious revelation
sister dearest offering no coherent explanations -
for the colour separation; us kept in third class
from the coloured railway line northern suburbs
and a blonde boy my age on a soft leather seat
over in first class – I look at him through the glass
an early questioning of unknown burning racial scars
concealed by child-like excitement; arriving in the
city of enlightenment with
the famous South-Easter cleansing out urban filth
rushing gnashing at potential future liberating revolt -
My first restaurant experience a confusing affair
greeted with persistent glowing glaring fiery stoic
stare – barking what we want to eat
in this city eatery elite
how rude !
I exclaimed to my sister Ruth – hush
for now, I'll buy you a mango ice cream cone later
maybe a steak masala gatsby or even a bunny chow
let us leave now -
The grand parade bathed in glorious sunshine and
blue mountain shade with no reason to be afraid -
Adderley Street burning hot underneath my small feet
orchestrated by thumping symphonic rainbow feet -
Me, blissfully unaware of many a burning racial
arsenic stare – Was it because of my tight fair curly
hair? I waved at some random blonde kid flashing an innocent
colgate smile – then frown as the mother pulls her away
and my sister gently whispered, maybe another day
sad to say there would never be that promised day
as in our mother city we could not stay all day
each shaded skin had to make their daily getaway
so after only one day I would never again
spontaneously and excitedly greet a blonde girl
or boy with an innocent boisterous 'hey' -
'All aboard forget the racial chord and hurry back to
your infested neighbourhood – to your own sort this
is our urban resort!'
Why do we have to get our own train? I asked my
sister yet again – just to numb my new childhood
pain the racial strain nothing gained as
our train swerved away, away – Table Mountain
now a hazy charcoal grey as the regular preacher
challenged each and everyone in our carriage
even though he was shunned yet not ashamed -
to strengthen our disintegrating crumbling
courage to one day no matter how far
build our own proud united utopia…

Part Two

My primary education was an awkward
coming of age frustration – my confidence
dented, as we were daily haunted by
violent events on telly cleverly muted
by parental order to prevent me from
witnessing horrific necklace murders
feuling daily school ground rumours
of impending armageddon battles
spoiling our fragile caccooned existence
amidst surrounding gang violence the
earphoned silence protecting us from
a foretold anarchic abyss – how to
escape this?
Inspired by my loved ones and dealing
with early teenage frustration I soldiered
on and did my utmost best to at least get an
average education – although forced into a
gutter education causing no knowledgeable
sensation, as our roots and heritage were
cleverly and disturbingly erased – phase by
phase until we had no identifiable proud cultured
face
just another mixed race…


Part Three
The year 1985
secondary education has arrived
amidst a renewed student revolution
although my world was protected from such
disorder and childhood confusion offering me no
viable future solution – my faith also a guilty stumbling block
controlling my actions and neighbours reporting back on any unacceptable decisions
until that early playground morning lazily standing about
my first sight of an impending unprovoked combat – the
Casspir silently approaching, blocking the front entrance
and if we had any common sense we would realise what
it was all about, alas it was too late to shout – as the soldier
emerged heavily camouflaged his weapon ready to burst
plop – was that an actual shot? The initial shock no way!
Run away quick hide don't go astray – we heard Miss shout
what was it all about? Bang – a teargas cannister hitting
the staircase bannister a sudden rush of facial needles
as we try to figure out this nuclear evil
blinded by this alien substance no matter what innocence
our young lives disrupted, invaded, darkened whilst chaos
reigns on the sports field as each of us instinctively get in a
life-saving rush
the scene eerily obscene never before seen in our dome
covered lives severed education annoying frustration
surrounded at the back entrance our escape route
rendered no solution in this doomsday confusion -
heavy breathing laboured lungs shocked stunned
as our classmates push another girl underneath the fence
her skirt ripped – her face an unrecognisable apparition
why us all this burning foreign gas
will it ever pass?
And so the 80's grinded to a temporary
revolutionary halt
my eyes finally opened to the world we were
living in, the curse of our shaded skin
the continued love of our kin
grounding us, strengthening us
liberating us as we soldiered on
as best we could
our future battle
existential
our path dependent on a regime
that caused a severed nation to inevitably
positively influence a legacy
consequential...

 ~Don Beukes







6 comments:

  1. I want to Thank Janine, David and the rest of the awesome editorial team at IVJ for promoting my word weaving. This is one of my most important reflections of a childhood on the knife edge of Apartheid whilst being protected by my loved ones from the true nature of the society I grew up in. Merci Beaucoup...Baie dankie

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  2. Don, the poems are honest and bare! Courageous work!

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    Replies
    1. I don't know why Sheika but I never thanked you! #ashamed

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  3. we should never neglect to write our own history if we leave our history to be written by others , by others, I mean those in power, those that ruled over us, those that benefited from the system, it would mean the distortion of our history, a perspective from the jaundiced eyes, and mind, of those that never felt our deep suffering and the physical, and physiological nightmares we endured- Danny Naicker

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    1. Humble apologies for never getting back to you Danny! True words indeed and I know there are so many untold stories out there!Thanks for your support!

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