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African Writing Archives


Kobus Moolman

Kobus Moolman

Moolman, (b.1964), teaches creative writing at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. He once edited the literary journal, Fidelities. He has published four collections of poetry: Time like Stone (2001 Ingrid Jonker Prize), Feet of the Sky, 5 Poetry, with four other South African poets, and Separating the Seas (2007). In 2003 Moolman was a finalist in the BBC African Performance radio drama competition — collected in Blind Voices (2007 Botsotso Publishers).

His play, Full Circle [Dye Hard Press, 2007] won the Jury Prize at the 2004 PANSA Festival of New Writing. The play had a five-week run at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg and in 2006 was produced at the Oval House Theatre, London as part of the Southern African season. He recently won joint first prize in the 2007 PANSA Festival for his new play, Stone Angel.



Ballad of a Soft Man

Soft man slumped

into a corner of the sky;

opaque sky, distracted by sand

and stone scraping against sun –

the broken shell of a wind

see-sawing across a glass eye.

Soft man slumped

into a corner of the sky,

leaking stray birds

and stuffing.



Bush Fire

Burned sky, black

with smoke stinging

the thin shadows of air.

– A wind that weighs

as much as everything

no longer visible.

A dog on three legs

all along the long edge

of a dark lake barking.

– Out of the black bush

a man walks, carrying

two rusted children’s bicycles.





On the Outskirts

sun’s light surrenders

old stone in a field

light worn ragged where

lip of earth turns up

stump of bone, blackened wood

blade that belongs to rusted iron

and the wind returns

red sand to the scar

stale fumes of a slaughterhouse

twisted wire fence that lets

all the outskirts in.




A rusted drum steams on a winter morning

outside a highveld hospital.

It is early.

The corridors are cold and crowded

already with figures in blue gowns clutching

plastic bags and folded forms, small

yellow packets with tablets and prescriptions.

None of the patients look at each other.

No-one talks to each other.

There is little to say anyway

to undo the inevitable, or do except

stand and shiver, leaning together, waiting

for hope to make up its mind.




“Solitude” Retreat

the light is thin and green

beneath the shadow of the sky.

the wind and all its leaves

are slow and water-logged.

a rooster carries the dawn

far across the sun, behind the hill.

in the heart of my hand

a hole opens like blue eyes.




The Mountain

At night the mountain

is a sky, cold and blank.

The mountain is the memory

of a face departed,

washed out from the loud

drum of day, day’s hard

blade of blue. At night

the mountain is a silence

hunkered between

absence and feeling;

the swelling sound a voice

makes through the mist

of longing, the mist of

remembering. The mountain

is a sky, a memory, a silence,

a voice climbing out from

the black air.


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