Mon Pays

Mon pays est une perle discrète
Telle des traces dans le sable
Mon pays est une perle discrète
Telle des murmures des vagues
Sous un bruissement vespéral
Oùs’ usent mes yeux  insomniaques
Mon pays est un palimpseste
Pour traquer la mémoire.

My Country

My country is a humble pearl
Like footprints in the sand
My country is a humble pearl
Like the murmuring of waves
In the rustling of eventide
My country is a palimpsest
Where I strain my sleepless eyes
To hunt down memories.

Ousmane Moussa Diagana – Ousmane Moussa Diagana – Mauritania.
Translated from French by Catherine du Toit.

Movement 1 Piaf

the sparrows of Paris
live but an instant long
off the crumbs
of the many people
on the summery terraces

padam padaam padam
short are their lives and grey
padam padaam padam
little their worth in black
padam padaam padam

they lightly bounce
from chairs to tables to
sidewalks among feet
of all the many people
on the summery terraces

padam padaam padam
Long was her life and her suffering
padam padaam padam
high her value in black
padam padaam padam

the sparrow of Paris
was so similar & so different
from the sparrows of Paris 

Carina van der Walt, 2017
(translation: Diek Grobler)

Movement 3 Amon L’isa

lonely in a cell of glass
you stare dully at them who
collectively know who they are
and impose themselves on you

– desire and revulsion
in equal measure
man and woman –

initially you were self-consciously
caressed to life
from the timid painter’s hand
of Leonardo da Vinci

later blatantly distinguished
by Marcel Duchamp
with pencil moustache and goatee


now you are being possessed
peeked at through camera holes
the star of a peep show
an orgy of scrutiny


Carina van der Walt
(translation – Diek Grobler)

Movement 5 Nagwaak (Vigil)

In the evening a black butterfly keeping watch over the Place de la République
At first with her wings folded together like hands in prayer
As people are flooding the square like caterpillars for new times.

& gnawing at the old days she partly unfolds her wings, and raises the call
As pupas sit enfolded in blankets she unfolds her wings

When two yellow eyes flash on opposite sides of the square
– fluttering of hands
United for same sex love, united against xenophobia
Rustling of voices in purple flashes
United against unemployment, against cross, kipah khimar
A conductor with a neon baton draws 4 beats in a white pattern   

On her black butterfly wings the new world symphony sounds
The meter of civilisation accelerates : yes no yes no yes no yesss
debout!     arise!     staan op staan op!

On the Place de la République the butterfly is swelling with every sunset
Shivers become convulsions cocoons crack full of flounder
Delicate young people develop wings are dust between the fingers of time

(inspired by nuit debout, March – April 2016)
Carina van der Walt, 24 September 2016. Added to 14 March 2017.