Saturday, February 14, 2009

poem: Derek In The Sky With Diamonds

location: Cape Town

Derek In The Sky With Diamonds

Derek the coloured bulldog
'I'm rough, me bru,'
he tells me.
A dozen stab scars
burnt toast crust
on his honey whole wheat skin.

He quit his job
making 250 Rand, full time, per week
(look it up do the math deal with it)
'My hands were so sore
I couldn't hold a cup of tea.'
'I told my boss I would work
for him the rest of my life.'
'650 Rand.'
Derek grew up panhandling and snatch and grabbing and sleeping on Long Street
and sometimes on his family farm
the times his family
decided to be family.

Did I mention that Derek's one of the
funniest people I know?

Shame kept him
from admitting to the house mother
he quit his job.
Shame forced him home to the streets for
two weeks when he was found out.

'Why do you look so skinny?'
I asked him when I got off the plane.
'He'll tell you later,' someone said.

The definition of manhood:
unannounced, unwanted, unloved
he shows up at work.
As he approaches his boss
the white man's head shaking No, no, no
Derek keeps pushing forward
extends his hand
(his stubby little hand)
says he's sorry
shakes the man's hand
apologizes again
'No, no, no, you're too late. Job's gone.'
and Derek walks away
smiling and proud,
tongue wagging
if you could see it through his teeth.

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