(24 January 1961 / South Africa)

Wearing A Quiff [rev.]

Wearing a quiff - quite by chance, hairspray
and wet hair combined Forming a cowlick at
the sides - with allergy-red cheeks I look like
a third-rate performer in a sleazy vaudeville
company - resembling a clown when I smile
with a face puffy from eating chocolate and
eating slabs with divine caramel fillings, so
good it makes me fly - though I crash down
with a loud noise & my colleagues lose their
hard-worn poise and rush to see my demise
as I sit in misery - not actually, of course -

It is a scene in my Civil Service Opera which
has already deteriorated to a vaudeville also
my scenes are macabre, phantasmagorical:
civil servants in masks chasing each other
citing statutes with lugubrious faces, getting
ready to slaughter each other with axes, then
turning en masse running outside to terrorise
ordinary citizens, demand extortionate fees
for the privilege to breathe, a street of people
running and screaming, save us from these
Civil Servants foaming at the mouth while

Blubbering about Regulations, Decrees and
Laws, demanding that we greet each other
in Fanagalo or Esperanto, ipso facto - any-
thing but your mother tongue, Arabic will be
fine and Chinese will do, Chinese too - as
long as nobody understands you - then the
demented Civil Servants fall down, the spell
that held them in thrall broken while the evil
Dr No bursts into devilish laughter - I don't
know what happened to this poem, let me
continue translating and return to it later,

Maybe the quiff's affecting my senses…

[14 October 2014]

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