New poetry by Rustum Kozain: ‘Miró Miró’

The Johannesburg Review of Books presents previously unpublished poetry by Rustum Kozain.


Miró Miró

In flight sudden a something
                                          of wild hare
on a footpath look
a bird
                            in the head
                            a gull
                                          the clock tower
our time has come.

Rat in the morning the leaf-strewn gutter
              the dry drains
                            the sewerage runs
scurries, scrapes its belly
the dead
clouds shift no shape but meaning

a sudden flutter look look
a bird
                            steel eye
the cosmos green and
                                          inside orange
the field out in a dream
              of sheep
              adequate knives
smell of ink
at dawn
                            the squeal
              a stuck pig drawn
              split broke open night
                            bread and salt
                            making crumbs
                            black bird
in the head the mawkish eye.


The ladder you ask look
                            the ladder
in your heart a hungry landscape
grown from an ecstatic gene
              the madness of the age
              cross-hatched in ochre
one line from our origin
terrified against the curve of God

now void
                            death’s dominion
the termite eaten
              the sudden, maddened bird
red eye
              half moon in the dusk
              awkward bird
                                          where once
the heart beat sparks from dream

out of mud from brown
                            the peasant red farmer
hat washed from blue
              trodden under from
first become
                            factory worker
                            the glories
of someone else’s profit
                            of the future bright


Now the long declension of the sun
              harden the time hardens horizon
              on the shore waiting
wailing the people in frozen vein
                            stones of regret in the chest
starved on a beach
albatross by a pile of excrement
                            weighed down
                            worn down
on its bellyful of plastic
pearls of our invention
                                          hope undone
                            chattering over
paint spots left on the floor
outside the noise of industry
                            trucks cars
a highway laddering through
the million cameras no more the dream
of ordinary things
a cup of water in a pair of grateful hands
                            sudden bird
                                          clear-eyed child
it won’t return the love
                                          the land
the orange rotting on the tree
the long-forgotten blue of plenitude.


Previously unpublished, © Rustum Kozain, 2019


  • Rustum Kozain is The JRB Poetry Editor. He is the author of This Carting Life (2005) and Groundwork (2012), both of which won the Olive Schreiner Prize, as well as, respectively, the Ingrid Jonker Prize and the Herman Charles Bosman Award. His poetry has been published in translation in French, Indonesian, Italian and Spanish. Follow him on Twitter.
Header image: Gustavo Espíndola/Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *