Yeoville

Who are these brave souls
on foot in Yeoville?
Who are these misfit honkies?
I guess I must be one of them.

Coming here late in the day
in time to catch the last hurrah
of the Bohemian dream
in smoky jazz bars.

How the Southern stars shone down on us
as we smoked joints on the roof of Rumours
with the adventuresses
we were hoping to bed.

Nothing left of it now.
Hillbrow spilled over and swamped the Bohemian dream
Nigerians, Angolans, Mozambicans.
Property prices collapsed, business all boarded up, stabbings, crack cocaine.
The dream upped sticks to Melville.

But we’re just fine
at 74 Webb Street.

James died
his folks didn’t know what to do with the house
and we still have a place to stay.

Six years after Africa came back and we’re right in it.
The electricity has not been paid.
We hide from the wee man who comes around
and have jiggled the wires like most of Soweto.

Next door is a taxi company who look out for us,
we have two alsations
and a Zulu maid who is a sangoma.
Who dares to fuck with us? They’d be turned into goats.
The locals look at us as if we’re touched, or blessed.

I look for familiar faces in vain
As I walk down to Shoprite.
Occasionally there will be some half-hinged person
Walking like someone who missed an important announcement
on foot in Yeoville.
Passing like ghosts through the street bustle
of cheap watches and live chickens .

But things are mellowing out a little.
Families have been moving in
in search of their own African dream.
One families place gone to ruin
is anothers place in the sun.

Children greet their fathers and mothers
coming home after a days work.
Old men and whores
greet me as they sit on their stoep.

But our time here is also at an end
James’s folks have finally sold the house
and on the next trip
I will also be staying in Melville.

The late afternoon sun
Still streams golden
through the trees of Yeoville.

Poems