January 25, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Maureen Barlin photo



Clinton V. du Plessis




The man


(tribute to Nelson Mandela)



It is the tall man, the tall man

in the green jersey:

everybody expected him to walk on water

but he rather met old tannies,

boeretannies, with lots of baggage from the past,

who had innocent names like Betsie

and uncomfortable surnames like Verwoerd,

had tea with them,

smiled jovially,

genuinely, with his eyes

and a heart full of memories

but empty of any hatred.


It is the tall man, the tall man

in the green jersey:

everybody expected him to feed all of the poor

on five loaves and two fishes,

but he rather

covered up the scars of the past

with his two hands,

hung up the boxing gloves,

opened the clenched fist

into a warm handshake,

greeted, without any grudges.


It is the tall man, the tall man

in the green jersey:

everybody expected him to turn water into wine,

but instead he carried this land

on his back,

like a father would

carry a child,

the man who was an island,

the man without a face

with the splinters of Sharpville,

the shattered letters of Ruth First,

the bitter, long years of yearning

for child, for wife,

locked away behind bars

every little detail carved deep into his soul,

yet all neatly tucked away under the surface.


It is the tall man, the tall man

in the green jersey, number six,

who wants to now pass this country unto us all,

carefully, like a rugby ball.


The tall man, who once was an island,

became a rock, a universal beacon,

the man became the best that humanity could be.










They welcomed him, with open arms,

their brother in the spirit and the word,

it  is good to have someone of his color here

they thought, and thanked God.

He wanted to come and watch them pray

the hands folded in the lap

eyes closed, heads raised upwards,

the elderly and the young.


Hear them pray for the sick, the unemployed

the powerless, the weak,

in the middle of the week,

hear them sing

grateful and with all their being,

like they always sing in those Hollywood film renditions

of life on the wrong side of this land,

he wanted to feel whether his spirit is still lingering here

because just like him, he has a dream.


He despises the texture of their hair,

hates the dark hue of their skins,

loathes the white in their eyes,

detests the prayers of their native tongues.


He wanted to be their worst nightmare;

his world is small, and uncomplicated

with easy words and phrases

he knows the grammar of hatred,

the eloquent figurative speech of superiority,

the rhetoric of the chosen race,

where everything  is neatly packaged

in black and white segments.

In between Biblical verse and prayer

he carefully selects the soon to be death:

one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine:

six women, three men.


He wanted to see how they pray for their daily bread:

with the open Bible on the lap,

and blood, slowly dripping from the cross.






Clinton V. du Plessis

Clinton V. du Plessis, resides in Cradock, South Africa. He is an accountant, a published poet and short story writer,

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