In Johannesburg, a new sound emerges
The heartbeat of South Africa
The daughter of fine strings and pressed keys
She is the instrument of success
Modeled after Mandela
Patterned from the cries of Makeba
Her daughter’s daughter.
The chords she learns to play,
The piano she found under the stairs,
The portrait she hangs above it,
The paintbrush she rinses
With my tears. Her hair tickles
Her frail shoulders. Overworked.
The reward looms, she prays.
Predators loom, she knows.
But my lover plays for keeps.
He sings your praises like the national anthem
Indeed, I work him to the bone
You are cut from the same cloth
Healing in real time; what didn’t kill you
Made you stronger. Enemies roll in their beds
Truth lies beyond their grave; sleep evades
The boogie people. My lover plays for keeps
He eats dust for breakfast. Cobwebs at suppertime
He has seen mountains fall, ashes turn to nightmares
We do not sleep, but we rest just the same.
Your melodies ring true, you mend our broken pieces
How long can you keep us alive? A song cannot die,
Your poetry lives in the streets. Colour us blue-black,
White, red, and brown. The paint will dry.
Honey heals, our families grow
My lover plays for keeps











Photo by Miguel Dominguez on Unsplash