To the Question Mark

Londiwe Gamedze, June 2010


Once I turned a corner without slowing down, without re-training my eyes on the new horizon, without taking a breath to understand the new way.

I crashed a blue car in the desert and the rolls and tumbles shook up the whole world inside me. In glistening sheens and matt dullness, the world outside began to fold and distort before me, and I prayed.

To the Question Mark


I rested in the shelter of the succulent shade

to the mountain above and the ocean I made

A plea to the earth to the Question Mark’s name

Yes I prayed and I prayed and I prayed and I said

What will become of this masquerade?

What will become of this empty charade?

this vision I made

this endless parade

this color to fade

this lonely arcade playing old video games

rehearsed till they’re fake

oh how can I shrug off or laugh off or cast off or brush off or shake off this death without wake


This panel of judges slowly riding by in the dark cavalcade

at every window a face

judging and watching and labeling and boxing

and seeing the toxin in the plans that I laid

in the time and the days and the takes i have paid

for my haste and I’ve paid for my irrational ways

Oh turn back this ever upcreeping of age

Let me begin again let me turn back that everturning page

that ever crashing wave

that ever twisting maze

that ever closing gate

that ever speeding train

in this cinder-cooking oven

in this tender-hating lovin in this never-ever enoughin

in this rough tough cream puffin

I bake

I sweat like a steak

like meat on a grate

will I explode in the face of funny cruel fate

up in flame conflagrate

will I burn till I flake

lie in an urn and wait

or take my turn to deflate?


In the smoke and the hustle and the roar and the bustle at the window of the reeling bar I sat and I thought

of everything that I’d been taught

every skill and every thrill

everyman’s name every game and

every pill to kill every hill

every excuse and every shame

what can be pointed to what can be known

what can be proven what can be shown

where the lines are a-drawn where beyond you’re alone

where your name calls your mind but your mind is your own

how seeds are sown

where slaves have moaned

where thoughts are grown

where women have flown

where winds have blown

where the twilight zone just gets postponed

and everything that is not stone

turns to ash and rag and bone


And I sat and I thought

of everything that I have bought

creams and dreams and books and looks

food and truth a mood a suit

shooting pool on afternoons

beer and beer and wine and beer

and pot and silver spoons

tattoos more booze select pick choose

you buy you lose you don’t you lose

got the capitalist blues

got the capitalist schmooze

won’t buy my love won’t buy my muse

won’t sell my faith but i’ll give it away

nay I say I won’t pay

not for any more bad news

not for any sacred pew

no no not for another youth

for another phoney truth

for another hoot to toot

to feel, a deal, a steal, a loot


And I sat and I thought of everything that I have caught

a dream a drift a butterfly

the moving spirit of the time

a cold a fire

a night’s desire

a bus a train a flying plane a flattened tyre

a smack redhanded one foot in the mire

the impetus for art inspired

the voices’ army never tired


and I sat and I thought

of everything that I have fought

a war a friend my love the end

the demons jostling inside my pen

the next shiny trend

the gaping void around the bend

this life a bar I have to tend

the hatred I can never mend


oh what to catch and what to fight

what to think and what to buy


with one night left a dreamless sleep

what will my mind forever keep?

My eyes may weep when my tongue won’t speak

when my body stops my soul’s upkeep

every moment every day and every week

and every year will shine for me

speed by my mind and disappear

the time of my seed to breathe in this eternal sphere

the growing up the growing down

of everything that can be found

in now forever here


I rested by the oceanside greyhard greycold

never young and never old

mysteries hold, they’re never told

hushed between each wave, each fold

no secrets in this world of gold

and silver coins and cruel loins

which speak in pride in greed so bold

in cigars so thickly rolled

in smoke from towers in pillars a-choking

in prices too high from the businessman quoting

from the small trickery to the grandest of hoaxing

in jokes making fun with fingers a-poking

the hundred thousand thoughts I thunk


it burns away, all is junk

all those strings that I have plunked

danced and loved and preached and funked

slammed and slammed and slammed and dunked

below the surface, dense and sunk

surrounded alone a drunken monk

a thousand treasures in a trunk


That’s covered in wind that brings in the sand

getting you to understand

that all is fake, all is canned

and the wind brings sand from over the land

it pours through the doors and

covers the floors and

every day in blows a little more and

sand becomes my eyes my hands

a sandcrumble girl and a sandmumble man

on highways so narrow and highways so long

the sand mumbled up and the sand crumbled down

and the wheels of their carriage swayed this way and round

the sand mumbled up and the sand crumbled down

and the carriage spun right up and the carriage swung right round

the sand mumbled up and the sand crumbled down

and the carriage it somersaulted over middle and round

the sand mumbled up and the sand crumbled down

and the rocks and the boulders crouched flat on the ground

and the screen it was shattered but it just held right on

and the shouting and the silence and the rolling dusty sound

the sand mumbled up and the sand crumbled down

the carriage in a tunnel in a mighty dusty cloud

that could spit them out anywhere

in any dimension found

in alternating pronouns

where different endings abound

where universes crowd

the desert’s shroud it did allow

for us to be around

the sand mumbled up and the sand crumbled down

but when the moon is full and round

my heart becomes a cursed hound

and the sand mumbles up and the sand crumbles down


And I rested in the comfort of rain on tin roof

By my wet Cape Town garden and By the neck of Old Kloof

By the peak of the Devil and the pipe in his hoof

Give me some proof that what I see is the truth

That what I touch an I smell and that I see is for real

That my body didn’t let go or move on or just cease

but that this is the world that was supposed to be

not a dream or a sleep or an endless fantasy

but that you and they and I and we

are all here and there’s nowhere else for us to be

this is it what it is is here to see

and to hear as though we’re all just one body


Oh Question Mark

of knowledge and power of people of nations

what is there but representation?

Of things made by hands of art of creation

And what of life and what of nature

My human craving to want to make sure

A rational mind that wants some closure


The Question Mark asks to lay down and look up at the constellations

will you wait for the moon and the morning to come

and will you look at the sun

and if you want to find truth

you can see that there’s some

if you start your search with the smallest atom

you can see that there’s some

and will you think of your night

and all you have done

and memories of old and young

you can see that there’s some

when you shift your gaze

to the rolling of days

to the stars and the sun

you can see that there’s some

and you can see that there’s some

and that is enough for all or for one

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