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Poems by Peter Horn

Good Morning South Africa

We are certain
nothing has happened before February:
this now
is inexplicable
frozen meat in the deep-freeze of history.

Somewhere there must have been a past
but we don’t seem able to remember it
except penny whistles and guitars
and happy smiling faces
there was a black nanny
in the park
although the sign said WHITES ONLY
but who had put that up

There were fragments of reality
flashed onto the TV screens
but the camera denied them:
scenes from a play on another planet, perhaps
their foreigness was in the words
or Novo Sibirsk
there never was a Gulag

Let us be reconciled
from now on for ever
but what are these strange bulges
on the surface of the earth
just outside our townships

Do they remind you of what
maybe one should pour cement
to seal off any possible contamination
this is Chernobyl or Auschwitz
but I may be mistaken:
there could be more harmless causes
for the pocked face of the landscape

Digging up corpses
never did anyone any good
and this is not the jungle of Malagassy

So far we have not been able
to ascertain what crimes we are supposed
to have committed
if any: there are only vague rumours.


Statement to the Press

that’s it then
you don’t want to listen
and I have no more desire
to convince you of anything

If you insist that the sky is red
and that the earth is about to explode
or that Jesus is coming tomorrow
I will not contradict you:
because what use are contradictions
in a single paragraph
hidden away among the society photos
and the astrology column

No more courting,
I have outgrown this mode
of speaking
no more screams for help
and no more pleas for understanding

Instead a silence
as impenetrable as a rock
lasting longer than any poems
on fragile paper
in any book
collecting dust
in an unused library