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NaPoWriMo – Poems, Pictures & Prose by Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

NaPoWrimo 2014 Catch-up

I’ve been away for a few days, out in the tempered bush of a game reserve in the Eastern Cape, taking pictures of animals at cautious distance and ignoring my emails. I also attended the ceremony where I graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Rhodes University. It was the culmination of a two-year part-time programme where I made the enduring acquaintance of a group of accomplished writers who will all soon be landmarks on the SA literary scene. As for myself, I am nursing the bereavement that comes from being delivered from the womb of thesis supervision. Despite the officially embossed paperwork, I am still grappling with my place as a writer, but more on that in another post.

While I saw and smelt much poetry out in the green, gold and blue of bushveld and seascape, I wrote none of it down. And this is why I have nine poems to write before I clear up my NaPoWriMo backlog.

Here are five of them as a start.


 The Poet’s Dilemma
Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

I never know where to break a line
or when or if in fact it should be
broken at all to create a pause a breath for the reader
a kind of rest for the eyes or if this is being read aloud
a space to sip at water without flushing the rhythm
so carefully composed.
When a poem comes its through an open tap puddling till all I can do is float in it.
This breaking of lines sounds savage sometimes the cracking of eggs the splintering of timber
bone china in pieces on the floor.


The Old Lion
Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

I watch the old lion watching the herd.
The zebras smell him,
they’ve turned their heads to look.
There’ll be no clanging of the food chain today
and he shuffles off through the veld.
I’ve seen him before in a supermarket aisle,
staring for fifteen minutes at tins of baked beans,
the trolley empty, longing for his wife
who did the grocery shopping.


Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

Yes, giraffes are elegant, obviously.
It’s that neck, and their legs, all slim lines and graceful
silhouettes photographed against saturated skies.
But have you watched an elephant walk? Have you really
considered their grand compacting of the ground beneath them?
Their balletic paces, unplodding gentle treads
hinged on judiciously oiled knees,
they barely seem to emboss the grass.
We always think big things unwieldy,
giants must be clumsy, skinny is everything.


During a Reading
Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

The pause is most pressing
when a poet loses their place.
The poem hangs over the room
its bladder fully pinched
the listeners shifting in seats
holding in the expectancy
clenching their attention
for when the poet finds himself on the page
any moment now.


Pick-up Lines
Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

Hey beautiful,
I want to build a life
on that bone structure.
Have your zygomatic arches
hold up the roof to a home,
the walls papered with lyrics
from our song.
Your hair could weave
a winter warm.
Curtains fall
when you close your eyes
dark enough to dream unfettered
and the room fills up
with all of you.