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New Contrast

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Four from New Contrast 141

New Contrast 141

the invisible poem

the invisible poem pre-exists
so that the reader reading thinks
‘but that’s what I was thinking all along’

the poem anonymous on the fridge door
like a tree that doesn’t know who planted it
and the reader’s voice saying ‘but that’s exactly’

– Robert Berold


We begin 2008 with more of the same differences: some new voices, some old friends. We have poetry, songs, short fiction and an essay. Two poets, Charl-Pierre Naudé and Gabeba Baderoon, present us with work translated by the other. With Part Four we have reached midpoint of Silke Heiss’ new verse novel, The Griffin Elegy, a tale set in the south peninsula.

Our covers this year are by Mimi van der Merwe whose work first appeared in Contrast in the sixties.

Ten of the poets in this issue have read their work at Off-the-Wall at A Touch of Madness, and others elsewhere in the country or abroad. Readings such as these have become more frequent if not more regular. I like to think that these ‘performance’ events spin off into widening the (poetry) reading and appreciation public. If you would like to know of events in your area, do email me. I may be able to help.

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Contributors to issue 141

Robert Berold, Keith Gottschalk, Graham Ellis, Kobus Moolman, Robert Balfour, Alan Galante, Jonty Driver, Kelwyn Sole, Charl-Pierre Naudé, Gabeba Baderoon, Barbara Fairhead, Jacques Coetzee, Martin Jacklin, Doug Downie, Jane Bruwer, Gus Ferguson, Consuelo Roland, Damian Garside, Karina Magdalena Szczurek, Michael Bardouleau, Andie Miller, Silke Heiss

Three further samples from the issue

Couldn’t help myself, another one for Bukowski

Someone who once said all he wanted to do
was to sit alone up in some room against the wall
with a bottle
watching a fly on the wall
is someone who was describing depression
that deep dark depression that only the lost can feel
only the hopeless can get so blue as to be frozen

that literature spoke of this and to that
and it spoke from the mind of a boxer
and the heart of a survivor
and the soul of an imp
and through all the grit it gave hope
to the forlorn and trapped
who are everywhere;
the stories of the losers are the stories of humanity, mostly
though most wouldn’t see it that way,


perhaps he was simply some buddha type
describing the bliss of absolutely nothing
nothing and nothing.

Doug Downie


Recollecting Durban I: Grey Street

The vendor’s fruit
cones the street
into spirals
of bananas
and plums.

A sticking heat
fingers hairs
on skin
in oily

And lights at
night hallow
orange huge ships
in vapour.

People pass on
psalms on palms
in mosqued

where roots or potions cluster
near cloth and spices
easy terms
with life.

– Robert Balfour


from After the deluge

After the deluge came the silence
the thick clumpish silence of family thoughts
like ancient yellowed polenta turned anti-clockwise,
the drip-drip silence of the Pongola river that burst its banks seeping in
the imaginary drone of the cavalcade of water-tight bakkies and trucks
So we sat glumly in the old opel station-wagon
up to our ankles in muddy water waiting for help to come and the
flood-waters to abate.

Later, much later, when we’d almost given up
Serendipity arrived in a white starched kitchen-boy uniform
balanced precariously on a bicycle that wobbled over gutted gravel
the only man for miles around on that flood-ravaged plain
stick legs, knees black as pitch, his studious concentration disturbed
by the sight of a white family stranded on the side of the road
in a grey steel machine defeated by the enormity of its task
nature’s vagaries sometimes too extreme even for those stout of heart.
old station wagon was a survivor of note.

He stood a little away from us, one foot on the soaked dirt road, leaning
on his bicycle, his eyes white and wide and rolling as if not sure of the
intentions of our source, but after some conversation through the half-
open window, frame of our devastation, he must have decided our source
to be benevolent and agreed to deliver a note to his bosses with a smile
that broke through the last lingering storm clouds with definitive force,
scattering them asunder and eradicating damp misery with a radiant
helpful light.

– Consuelo Roland