Jozi dusty, Jozi blue By William Bowles

9 August 2001

Written toward the end of my life in South Africa, ‘Jozi Dusty, Jozy blue’, saw a return to my writing poetry again. In fact writing poems was the first ‘serious’ writing I did, spurred on by a friend, also a poet who dared me to write a poem in the manner of a Which Consumer Report on men’s underpants. I’m not at all sure what makes us write poetry or even where the words come from. I just know that when they all ‘fit’ together, the poem is finished.

Ridges and valleys
Africa breaks through
The cracks in the city
Hillsides and rooftops
Copters tear the air above
Below them, we stew

Jozi dusty, Jozi blue

Taxis, trucks and cars
Slide on Kitchener’s leg
Straddling Africa’s carcass
Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique
Drift by under a winter sun
And scarabs scuttle on a hillside

Jozi dusty, Jozi blue

Rend and tear the air
Junk discarded
disappears reappears
fills the cracks
In the city
Above it, we stew

Jozi dusty, Jozi blue
Jozi dusty, Jozi blue

Johannesburg, Thursday, August 9, 2001

See also, ‘Portrait of Jozi’


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