Wopko Jensma | Poems

by Wopko Jensma

i hear it loud
you, one and only umfundisi
you old scarecrow

let the wind blow
hear it come from afar
quietly, quietly

it’s okay with me –
my hut: thatch and mud
my splintered dream

broken glass i gather
umfundisi, you bear witness
my love for a rose alone

the rose that never was
– let it blow
let the wind blow loud

* umfundisi: preacher

Sometime Next Time
by Wopko Jensma

i plant my corn on the rocks
it does not grow
i plant my corn on fertile land
it does not grow
next time I plant
i’ll start beyond
i’ll start beyond the bread

My Hands
by Wopko Jensma

my hands are dead turned yellow

i stand alone

alone at the end of the road

my open hands

open at your door

my skull explodes

explodes with hands and all

my skull

with my hands inside

once my hands were birds singing

i know no heroes
by Wopko Jensma

when your soft flesh and bone fists
finally gone blue beating marble walls
why, yes those walls just vanished
oh yes, josé afonso, what now?
what now, as the soldiers still carry
carry on their shoulders in their bellies
guns that bought them no freedom
oh yes, josé afonso, what now?
what now, as the soldiers breed roses
roses in their bent gun barrels
the cage that kept the dove behind bars
those bars have shaken out my guts
yes josé, drive those brass tacks home

in these subterranean rooms
my entrails under paper weights
i keep singing this song
of one thousand unmade beds
of one thousand dust bins
of one thousand dark alleys
of one thousand chicken livers
(neatly tied in plastic packs)
as i turn stones on my life
grab scorpions sleight of hand
unwind untie the poison sting
let my past slip down my gullet

i wrote no lines since I saw you last
in fact I have nothing more to say
the sky is blue the leaves are green
i take what comes I give with caution
the yachts ride at anchor in the bay
next month and autumn cooler weather
i pay off my debt in instalments

gomringer variasies
by Wopko Jensma


sewe spoke op wiele het vandag hier
insgelyks aangekom
aangekom insgelyks
hier het sewe spoke vandag op wiele

het hier sewe spoke vandag op wiele
aangekom aangekom
insgelyks insgelyks
sewe spoke het vandag hier op wiele

Varkore erokrav var
Varkore rko erokrav okr
Varkore ore erokrav ero
Ore varkore ero erokrav
Rko varkore erokrav okr
Var varkore varkore rav

kniedie pi ndi eka
kniedi ep ind iek
knied ie pin die
knie di epi ndi
kni ed iep ind
kn ie die pin
k ni edi epi
kn ied iep
k nie die
kni edi
kn ied
k nie
e kak
ie kak
die kak
n die kak
in die kak
p in die kak
ep in die kak
iep in die kak
diep in die kak
ediep in die kak
iediep in die kak
niediep in die kak
kniediep in die kak

by Sydney Clouts

You look long about you
intent on the world
on a midsummer day;
the sea flames hard
it is rumpled like tin,
the sun is burning
dimension away.
If you cast a pebble down
it will clatter on the waves,
your eye can not go in.
And it cannot find a tree
standing generous and full
or a house or flower
with individual power;
and it must not look within,
hardness afflicts you,
flat is the world you’d find:
a row of wooden rooftops
that can easily topple
and bring the heart down
and bring down the mind.

klop en vir julle sal toegemaak word
by Wopko Jensma

beethoven was ‘n skisofoon
só maak die sielwetendes my verstaan
gauguin was ‘n skisofoon
só laat die tugkomitee my dit voel
baudelaire was ‘n skisofoon
èn, boonop is hy aan syphilis dood
francois villon was
paul van ostaijen was
marcel duchamp was
hendrik marsman was
tristan tzara was
òns benodig ‘n gemeenskap
wat werk nes ‘n byekorf
òf miernes (ibid: salomo 1: 1)
waar elkeen sy of haar plig
in hierdie saak ken of beken:
besoek jou kerk gereeld
moenie jou werk verander nie
koop jou televisiestel
luister nuus, lees koerant
koop ‘n bougenootskaphuis
dring aan op kux seep
betaal ‘n begrafnispolis af

eugène marais was ‘n skisofoon
èn, boonop verslaaf aan morfien ook
dumile is ‘n skisofoon
wolf kibel was ‘n skisofoon
can themba was
vincent swart was
nat nakasa was
cyprian sjilako was
kippie moeketsi is
raditladi was ‘n skisofoon
èn, op moussorgski se kaal berg dood
harold rubin is ‘n skisofoon
david botes is ‘n skisofoon
is ek nou om te wees? en om te glo?

nie alle diere is olifante nie
nie alle diere is donkies nie
nie alle diere is hyenas nie
nie alle diere is seekoeie nie
nie alle diere is renosters nie
nie alle diere is zebras nie
nie alle diere is bokke nie
nie alle diere is ape nie
nie alle diere is skape nie
party is ystervarke, krimpvarke

by Wopko Jensma

i was born 26 july 1939 in ventersdorp
i found myself in a situation

i was born 26 july 1939 in sophiatown
i found myself in a situation

i was born 26 july 1939 in district six
i found myself in a situation

i was born 26 july 1939 in welkom
i found myself in a situation

now, when my mind started to tick
i noticed other humans like me
shaped like me: ears eyes
hair legs arms etc . . . (I checked)
we all cast in the same shackles:
flesh mind feeling smell sight etc . . .

date today is 5 april 1975 i live
at 23 mountain drive derdepoort
phone number: 821-646, post box 26285
i still find myself in a situation

i possess a typewriter and paper
i possess tools to profess I am artist
i possess books, clothes to dress
my flesh; my fingerprint of identity
i do not possess this land, a car
much cash or other valuables

I brought three kids into this world
(as far as I know)
i prefer a private to a public life
(i feel allowed to say)
i suffer from schizophrenia
(they tell me)
i’ll die, i suppose, of lung cancer
(if i read the ads correctly)

i hope to live to the age of sixty
i hope to leave some evidence
that I inhabited this world
that I sensed my situation
that I created something
out of my situation
out of my life
that i lived
as human

i died 26 july 1999 on the costa do sol
i found myself in a situation

i died 26 july 1999 in the grasslands
i found myself in a situation

i died 26 july 1999 in the kgalagadi
i found myself in a situation

i died 26 july 1999 in an argument
i found myself in a situation


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