Flawed Tears

Flawed TearsMen lost their souls in serenades,

Glanced as we,

Who believed in eternity,

Travel the route to infinity.

We discarded thorny trees,

Watched chosen doves grace the heavens.

We pealed sweat up our sleeves,

Slumbered heavily on snares;

We believed more in heaven’s padlocks,

Than keys we possessed for our households.

The onus of truth lied behind closed doors,

They remained unshaken,

Reminded us of prayers we recited every night.

When hell visited,

Shared birth with the innocent;

We had to be baptised again.

We succumbed to the word,

Tagged verses on every chest,

Gained access to their faith;

We stayed on the highest mountains,

Gathered galaxies into prayer,

We brought hell before the temple,

Knelt as one for salvation,

We embarked on the journey of Christ,

We were Christ-like.

When hell broke loose,

Voices in my head sounded louder in their echoes than in the wind,

My onset certainty wasn’t in the mumbling,



But the flaws in the literacy to understand;

We parted ways,

Death flooded out,

Vineyards ripened,

Our mothers wept not,

Foes laughed not,

Men sang not,

Serenity smitten,

Reverends fixed on their collars,

We engaged to the clouds.


Ashes to ashes,

Dust to dust,

Heaven unlocked,

Padlocks cast to hell;

Our tears were flawed,

For we not all in heaven.

– Ts Mashile (2015)

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ABOUT: Raphael d’Abdon

Dr Raphael d’Abdon is a writer, scholar, editor and translator. He holds an MA in Arts from the University of Uppsala (Sweden) and a PhD in Linguistics and Literary Studies from the University of Udine (Italy), and is currently a lecturer at the English Studies Department of UNISA. He has read his poetry in Italy, Nigeria, and the United States, where he chaired a session on ‘spoken word and literature’ at the 2011 Chinua Achebe Colloquium, a conference that hosted poets such as Jayne Cortez, Sonia Sanchez, Yusef Komunyakaa and Prof. Achebe himself. In South Africa he has performed at various festivals and poetry events which include, amongst others: the “Jozi Book Fair”, “Jozi House of Poetry”, the “Word N Sound Poetry and Live Music Series”, and

In South Africa he has performed at various festivals and poetry events which include, amongst others: the “Jozi Book Fair”, “Jozi House of Poetry”, the “Word N Sound Poetry and Live Music Series”, and “The Orbit” jazz club (Johannesburg); the “Night of the Poets” at The State Theatre, the Pretoria Biennale and the “67 Poems for freedom” at the Freedom Park (Pretoria); the Polokwane Literary Festival; the 2013 international festival “Poetry Africa” (Durban). He is the winner of the 2010 “Anna Panicali” literary prize (Italy), and has published poems in several volumes and journals which include: Splinters of a Mirage Dawn. An Anthology of Migrant Poetry from South Africa; Unbreaking the Rainbow. Voices of Protest from New South Africa; 100 Thousand Poets for Change; Sagarana; Le Simplegadi; Semicerchio; The Palestine Chronicle; LitNet; New Coin; Guillotine. He published one collection of poems, Sunnyside Nightwalk (Geko, Johannesburg, 2013), and is currently finalizing his second collection which will be available at the end of 2015. He also translated into Italian and edited I nostri semi – Peo tsa rona, an anthology of South African spoken word poetry (Mangrovie, Naples, 2007) and Marikana. A Moment in Time (Geko, Johannesburg, 2013). With Natalia Molebatsi and Myesha Jenkins, he has co-edited the first anthology of South African erotic poetry, which will be published next year by Cassava Republic Press.

The poem “old sweet dolly” was written on the 18th of April 2014, the 100th birthday of Ms Dolly Saville, the oldest barmaid in the world. He found an article that was talking about a big party to be officiated in her honour at the Red Lion Hotel in Wendover (UK), the pub where she was working (see video here). After researching her amazing story, he wrote the poem as a tribute to her.

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