Dutch poet Joop Bersee lived in Cape Town from 1989 to 1996. During this time, his poems were published in the literary journal New Contrast – as were mine. I got to know and love his poetry, but oddly enough I never met him.

After many years, we re-connected and I told him I would be delighted to share some of his poems on my blog. So here they are.


A snowflake on its way home,
lost between pine trees.
Wolf sniffs the frozen air.
The sky makes a dog white.

I am a black dot where flesh
hurts, my own shadow, thoughts
of the other, determined to drown
in a sleepy mouth. Nervous!

Beauty is a tree trunk,
its feet in the windows
of a howling wind,
the rain of terror blessed.

Away with myth and clouds,
veils and soft howls.
The valley counts eleven steel stars.
Loneliness cuts like a razor.

His Beard

His beard was hanging cold
in the rocked river of ice.
The stars turning like windmills
were blind, the whole house shivering,
raised between fingers and veins.

What was this blind man doing,
growing bright towards God’s breath?
Summer burst through a wall, carrying
the hairs of his beard one by one,
the method of bit by bit, the pale

thorns in his hair, each carrying a root,
a roof from house to house, from
loss to loss. But it was like the forest
of his youth, fresh leaves, curly ferns
arriving and dying like salmon in rivers.

I Don’t Know What Happened

I don’t know what happened, has
happened. It’s just that photo
of a young girl and flowers
strewn on the grass around it.
Trams running past her moment
of flowing away between
cracks in the road. She became
liquid, a few trees, lost the
child she was. It is now my
dead memory, always that
place, or was it the other
tree? Standing there rain has lost
its edge. First sign of fatigue.

Amsterdam, Weteringcircuit, 21.April.2012