Ramblings of a sober Poet

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THE IDEA AND THE ACTION

Our Art cannot save or change this world. No poem, or painting, no piano concerto or song. No dance performance,or orchestral arrangement can stop any one of the current ongoing wars from spewing black clouds of smoke into the air. It cannot stop neo-colonialists from reintroducing 3rd world economies to I.M.F approved methods of taking over a country. No ballet or bead work can supply clean water and health care to a limbless refugee or curb social repression and police brutality. So hey, Superman,move your underwear back to under your pants, put away the cape, get out of that phone booth and start being an artist again. Stop burdening yourself with the colossal responsibility of trying to end the ills of today,because your art will not do it. I think we will have more success if we try to change a world, not the world
In fact here’s an idea If you are really so concerned with making a change;take clothes and blankets to a shelter. Give the blind guy at the traffic light all those coins that you are too proud to count and use at Woolworths. You know what? For today, give him the biggest note in your wallet. Take that pamphlet from the lady in the city. You might not need “penis enlargement”or “good luck with bad wife” but you are certainly helping someone earn their living honestly. Volunteer at your community centers. If there aren’t any in your neighborhood, start one. Use the dustbins. Vote. If you don’t believe in politicians, run for office yourself in your local council elections.. Put action to your lyrics and visuals. The physical deeds coupled with the ideas of change is what will ultimately change this world. Not any open mic or public space intervention(which in any case, scares off and confuses the people it is trying to engage with most of the time)

Philosopher Herbert Marcuse wrote; “Art cannot change the world, but it can contribute to changing the consciousness and drives of the men and women who could change the world”
What we create has a more subtle purpose. It is not the Tank Man out in Tiananmen square. It is that voice in his head telling him not to move. What we create evokes ideas ,offers sympathy,gives perspective and courage. It mocks and celebrates. It parody’s and documents. It helps us rethink ourselves and allows us to reconnect fragments of our universal selves. To plug into a shared consciousness and hopefully it looks and sounds beautiful.

The creation process and the practicing of art is a totally different cookie jar all together though. Practicing and participating in art can definitely change a persons world. Art workshops can introduce a young child with a fresh absorbent mind to a brand new world of colour,sound and movement. To a new way of looking at his or her environment. Practicing art can rehabilitate a broken soul and help one find a new place under the sun. When creating, we question ourselves and society. We question authority, our existence, God, the government relationships ,social mechanics our sexuality and many more melancholic and joyous moments that life dumps on us. And that final piece. That final poem,that final painting or piano concerto,that song,that dance performance or orchestral arrangement is the mirror that we hold up to the subject of our art. The artists answer,or question to the audience.. Something for the observer to take home and ponder over. The Idea.

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BLACK ROBE AND THE ELEPHANT

 Imagine dying later today. Crappy thought isn’t it? But just imagine. Kicking the proverbial bucket .Winning that 1st class ticket to the fossil farm. Booking in at R.I.P central to join a thousand Scrap heap of souls at Rotting scull cafe. Have you lived enough to accept death gracefully? Are you ready to let go. Me?I think I’ll stick around a bit longer and see how this life thing turns out. Thanks for the offer though.

Sigmund Freud said”When we attempt to imagine death, we perceive ourselves as spectators.“ Death Is something that happens to other people. Ever confident , “I will live long enough to see all my dreams become reality.”

With me it has always been somewhat different. In my late teens I was plagued with very visual mental flashes of my own death. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? I would be sitting in a taxi or a bus and my mind would ,in a matter of milliseconds, create this chain of events that leads to me checking out of the alive department. The fear of being branded demon possessed had me bottling up all those horrific metaphysical experiences. I walked around dreading that ever approaching moment when my mind would just loose control and introduce me to the inside of a pine box. It has since stopped but those experiences have instilled an obscure interest and fascination with death within me.

I have become driven by a morbid fear of ,not death only, but a death that was preceded by a fruitless life. I want to live forever. Or maybe it is my ego that wants to live forever but the reality is I don’t want to be forgotten. I want to live in the crystal clear memories of those who get to stay behind. So my plan and strategy became this. Create. Do things that matter. Things that deserve being remembered . If You’re a painter then paint , writers write and publish, musicians need to record, invest in other people and so on and so forth. Create pieces of you outside your physical self. So on the day your physical self calls it quits there are bits and pieces of you that will live on.

Look ,I have accepted(albeit reluctantly) the fact that The Black robed one would ultimately come to drag my soul off into the dark unknown afterlife. No matter how deep or philosophical one gets when it comes to this grave topic , the reality of our approaching end is ,uhm, not a nice thought to say the least. That must be the reason why it is not dominating wall to wall conversations on facebook or enjoying millions of retweets and trend status on twitter. We do not talk about the great check out. Unless it is that of someone else, like say Micheal , or Osama. But while we are alive , we do not discuss our own addition to the menu for maggots.

I do however think we should internalize that conversation and question ourselves about the end of this fleshy existence . Ask yourself: have I done enough to go willingly without a fight? Am I happy about the time I spent on the earth. Am I proud of what I have achieved. Is there anything I want to do before boarding that boat to cross the rivers Styx. We can use our approaching death as fuel for a life that needs to be filled with activity and new experiences.

So talk to yourself about it.. It is a topic too morbid and it is a sure way to kill the buzz at any party. So interrogate yourself

And while the music plays and we are dancing around, death sits on the back of the giant Skeletal elephant in the room, holding a bag full of hourglasses.

©Richard Quaz Roodt 2011

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WHEN

Will you write a poem for the earth?

Will it happen on the

day the last tree dies?

Or the preceding months

when dead birds were falling from the brown skies.

Or will it happen on the day the last of all the animals, locked in a high security zoo ,dies of old age and loneliness?

Will you write a poem for the earth then?

 Factory chimneys stand erect,

ejaculating black smoke up mother natures thighs,

while we stand by impressed by our new found productivity

just dump it in the nearest river and get on with it.

Fish float to the surface,a blues with oily scales

waltzing in the smog.

the skies cry,rancid toxic rain burns away city concrete

and the fleshy things that live in them.

Will you write a poem for the earth?

Will it happen soon

or will it happen

The day the last tree dies,

On the day you cant afford to Breathe?

When private companies raise the price on lab manufactured oxygen..

The day grass and butterflies, singing birds and fresh water rain have all become distant rusty memories.

Will you write a poem for the earth then?

A barren wasteland that gives birth to nothing,

That refuses to turn our rotting bodies back to dust.

A planet covered in a blanket of death, and a sickly festering stench

with no winds to blow it a way.

Will you write a poem for the earth then

When whales mourn ,

swimming through the blood of overfishing and rusty harpoons.

Blocking out the sun.

Seahorses with heavy tumors, and disfigured starfish are dragged to a seabed

littered with barrels of mans lack of responsibility and respect for mother earth .

Will you write a poem for the earth then?

©Richard Quaz Roodt 2011

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WHEN THE BACON TURNS ON US

Playwrite David Mamet said,” Policemen so cherish their status as keepers of the peace and protectors of the public that they have occasionally been known to beat to death those citizens or groups that questions that status”

Where does one start when it comes to the endless list of transgressions by those who are paid to serve and protect us. How do you defend the senseless shooting and killing of 15 old Alexander Thys in Reiger park by grown Metro policemen. Or the the killing of Jeanette Odendaal, right outside a Kempton Park police station. Or that Sunday night in march when metro cops opened fire on a family car seriously wounding the drivers wife. Ever heard the name Andries Tatane? Google him. Did you see the CCTV footage of the heavily armed cops kick-boxing , and slapping their way through a crowded cats Pyjamas. Welcome to South Africa buddy.                                                                         


Before I continue let me make this clear. Not all policeman and woman subscribe to this ruthless hegemonic mind state. Some are actually doing their jobs and are quite eager to make this a better place. In fact, after a recent trip to the dentist I asked a policeman for directions to a Pharmacy. To my surprise he offered to drive me there. He did and even wished me a speedy recovery. Wow!! This guy read the the whole South African Police Code of conduct document. Even the boring bit that says “act in a manner that is impartial, courteous, honest, respectful… .

I spend most of my daily life in the inner city. I have witnessed first hand how the heavy system of the law imposes itself on the helpless masses. I`ve seen the inside of a John Voster holding cell because some cop was having a bad day. I see Metro police and their never ending dance with hawkers and vendors,daily. Heavy handed policemen that beat you first ,then beat you again, and then ask questions later about how much you enjoyed the beating and if you have learned enough? But if you’ve ever received body blows and punches to the face, or if you’ve been thrown into the back of a van ,driven around for hours inhaling sickly piss stench and locked up for no reason. You are one of the lucky ones my friend. We all lived to see today. We could be on the “death by bacon” statistics graph right now.

It is clear that excessive force is the point of departure for many a cop. Bheki encouraged them to “shoot to kill”. It seems they listened. Statistics by the Independent complaints directorate, show that between 2005 and 2009 the number of people shot and killed by police has more than doubled from 281 to 524.Between that same time period complaints of attempted murder has gone up by 50% and complaints of serious assault by 100%. What the hell is going on here?

When asked to explain the heavy handedness of his force General Cele justified it by saying this

“We are a violent society. We are in a society where a six-year-old child is raped by her uncle and stabbed seven times with a knife. We are in a society where a 70-year-old man is stabbed 72 times with a knife. Our police officials are recruited in this society and work in this community.”
Really? Thats your answer?
Yes Ok.You are Correct .But they are recruited from this society, trained and given the necessary skills to prevent these ills. Not to add to them. The South African Human rights Commission said this in 2008 in response to numerous violent raids by police on ,amongst others, a church and various night spots:

“We also want to state in no uncertain terms that the scourge of crime and violence that currently afflicts the country can never be forwarded as an excuse by members of the police to opt out of their human rights obligations that they are sworn to. So Try again Mr general.. This is like a scene from George Orwell’s animal farm. When the nine dogs are unleashed by the pigs to exercise control.

To a certain extent i can understand why Mr Cele is justifying these irresponsible actions. This is the same guy that allegedly pointed a gun at I.F.P supporters before his appointment as police Top dog. Once appointed he then entered into an unlawful rent agreement with his friend Roux Shabangu for new police headquarters. In an attempted cover up of the corruption ,the journalist that broke that story,Mzilikazi wa Afrika, was then unlawfully arrested and detained, old apartheid style. Protect and serve huh?I guess they’re just following the example Cele is setting.


English poet Samuel Johnson said” No government power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us safe under every form of government”


We are fools if we think it is someone else’s responsibility to fix this mess. It is up to us to address this. The media will only cover it until something more interesting demands the front pages and main headlines. We should let our discontent be known. Write to the S.A.H.R.C. Bombard the presidency with letters detailing your worry and concern about The general and his Cowboys. Name and shame those that abuse there authority. Artists, use your art to address this. Call every radio station and demand to hear Ben Sharpas Hegemony. Or skwatta camps early” Mr president” .Hell any song that touches on this topic. Take a active role.

Talking about it is not enough…who knows tomorrow Napoleons dogs just might come after you snowball.

©Richard Roodt 2011

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Comments
  1. Nomadicstars says:

    Sincere insight Man, Quaz. When is the enrollment for quazism?. kidding. Keep the torch lit, even after all the oil is been drained from the earth’s belly…

    Check out my illegal wall (PIX83)
    http://nomadicstars.wordpress.com/

  2. sechabalb says:

    I like the blog revamp, this i like. Been long since i came here….

  3. Boledi Tladi says:

    I wasn’t plagued by thoughts of death, but the thought of being forgotten makes my soul cringe.
    #Nicely written!

  4. brother you got a beautiful mind….no homo

  5. mansi ma says:

    the poem, man, it speaks so loud. thank-you.
    how can i share this with my students is what i’m thinking?

  6. health says:

    I’m impressed, I need to say. Actually hardly ever do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me let you know, you’ve gotten hit the nail on the head. Your thought is excellent; the difficulty is one thing that not sufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I’m very blissful that I stumbled throughout this in my seek for one thing relating to this.

  7. sproelie says:

    Great blog!!!! im awed! keep up the good work!

  8. Eric says:

    Poets aren’t here to change the world, just to help people imagine how it might be done.

  9. pagengwenya says:

    Love it all ….. I can’t wait to meet you on Sunday here in Durban sir! =)

  10. pagengwenya says:

    And i love how organised you are ….. in both your thoughts and the way you present yourself

  11. Mdingi Qhama says:

    I reply from the IDEA AND THE ACTION.
    .Actualy as a story teller,poet,singer.Raper and a narator i believe i can change the world that is the reason i followed the calling of being an Artist (PEACE SOLDIER) i thought we were on the same page lol

  12. Re Black Robe and The Elephant. A budhist centre I visited from time to time had a workshop on the Death and Dying. Scary stuff at first but it teaches one to focus on living a good life. Not only good as in ‘being a good person’ but a fulfilled one, a creative one, even if one’s a typist or bookkeeper.

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