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Robert Berold

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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Two Parents from The Door to the River

The Mother

I had a mother,
she was good to me.
She swam with me under the waves
and showed me where to anchor.
When the sea was calm
she calmly knotted her ropes,
and when the sea was rough
she dived with me below the waves.
She held me closely, warmly,
so that I rejoiced in everything.

I longed for her a long time,
and then, one evening, driving back,
I met her here, within me,
as a dream stays with the waker.
So now I find myself,
against my will,
so strangely, unacceptably, beautiful.

Mother one day I must ask you –
there is so much to know.
You’ve been such a good mother,
holding me so close,
letting me so completely


The Father

All I asked of you was understanding,
but I got much more, a flame of compassion
broad as a leaf, much more,
a transformation from an eagle
to a stone, into a pod of seed.
Finally, finally, into a man.
All I knew when I started were several keys,
the gravel of a spoken voice, that’s all.
Oh, something of poetry, maybe.
With you my intellect turned to water,
the structures fell, lopped branches
of stealth and satisfaction.
But now, through listening,
a dance of more than one dimension
comes running over the sand.
The sand is washed clean.
I am left with your weather beaten face,
your battered face of animals and caves.
When you died, the Great Mother constellation
absorbed you in the empty sky,
the flowers and the apple trees,
the sour fragrance of the veld.
In you, love and work were never divided.

[The Door to the River, Bataleur, 1984 can be bought for £19.75 (Used - Acceptable) or $15 (A bit marked and worn. Soundly bound.)]

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Two houses from Rain across a paper field

the house next door
for Denis

Down the road, to your house,
autumn of our childhood –
the leaves are turning brown.

You’re sitting on your back stoep.
Somewhere on the left
is the story of Genesis –

Adam and Eve in the garden,
God in the trees.
Music comes sidways out your door.

On your wall a photgraph –
a beautiful haunted Turkish face
torn from the National Geographic.

There’s a river of light in your garden.
The sky is clean and sad.
I take off my shoes.


the town’s new houses

The town’s new houses stray in empty bush,
the old house stands in ruins.
The wind has gathered all the doubts
and blown them, one big questions, through the hills.

Following the dusk with my binoculars
I picked up distant traffic on the national road,
the tiny townships where the farmers
close their labourers in.

Still not sure what happened,
How the earth’s internal organs moved.
Found myself before a farmhouse,
dark transparencies of egrets beat across a vlei

[Rain across a paper field was published by Gecko Poetry in 1999]

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Two poems from The Door to the River

Praise Poem

for pollen,
wet ferns,
sturdy insects,
for all tumbling
for cool shale,
for layers of sea,
for fire,
for renewal,
for helium,
for blue plumbago,
rock cuttings
and railways
balancing on rivers,
for ball bearings,
for the seabird’s clavicle,
for the benzene key
opening carbon’s
lock to life,
for stone mulches,
for the mind of earth:
inscriptions of rosy succulents,
lettering of spiral flowers,
for the oxbow turn
on the Fish River,
for hungry bacteria,
for silver dunes,
for sudden mist,
for gooseflesh.


Voice under wind

Voice under wind, I love you.
I have often heard you threading stars.
Grey light turns my house to ash,
I am alone.
There is nothing to run from.
The town is etched with cloudbanks
and cathedral fire.
The faithful, there are many,
join in song.
The masks burn off their faces.
The town will stand delivered to its blood.
And where will you be on that fateful day?
Racing through electric skies.
Oh children, children. Hiss of wind.


[The Door to the River (Bateleur, 1984) is now a bit marked and worn. Soundly bound.]

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The First Two Poems from All the Days

These are the first two poems in the collection, All the Days:

The water running

the water running in the gullies
the hoopoe bobbing, flying off abruptly

the sky full of leftover rain
nokwakwa weeding bent straight at the waist

the grass bright green after the fire
the hoopoe in the grass a nervous king

the bakkie loaded up for town
the pipes and ditches swollen with water

the tierhout burnt
the yellowwood burnt

the burnt veld
the water running



morning half-light, meeting
two foxes on the farm road,
crossing the railway line, turning
to the white moon,
looking far down to my house,
seeing the lights on.

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Two Poems from Two Books

Robert Berold - signingBernat Kruger


Next to sky-grey asphalt, between lichtenburg and Koster,
eighty-year-old eucalypts shoot into sunshine like green
Following the tree line, into sky – I noticed the Horse.
Its nearest front hoof soaring rocket like, five six times
higher than the eucalypts, the horse sped
galloping through the atmosphere, its head
touching satellites, its mane at altitude
rippling banners.
Its nearest hind hoof came crashing down
a kilometre beyond the tsunami eucalypt.
There was no sound, no disintegrating violence,
where the impact happened the massive crash made
nothing except a single luminescent shock wave
flashing outward, speeding
like a whisper through everything
it hit the four of us inside the car.
For a flicker
after the shockwave left us,
We shone like fireflies.

Bernat Kruger – Never


Love burnt both of us.
Now rain falls in this scorched place.
I lean into your gravity. I will not kill
my love for you. Even if it is
impossible. Even so.

In the fields the stubble is growing.
Rain brushes your face.
A thin moon hangs in the sky,
A piece of brittle cloud.
You walk along the path
Your movements unmistakeable.

Robert Berold – All the Days

Book Details

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Photos: Pretoria Launch of Two New Titles from Deep South

Robert BeroldBernat Kruger & Sunica Schreinerthe deep south national poetry tour july 2008

launching bernat kruger’s never and robert berold’s all the days.

alicedale station is dominated by a small dry mountain. right next to the station is an enormous steel structure. the train arrives at 3.30pm.

it travels all night. the blankets on my bed are thin, and the heater in the compartment isn’t working (or as bernat says in one of his poems in true south african idiom, it doesn’t want to work). when I wake up we are nowhere near joburg. running four hours late. I borrow the dining car waiter’s cellphone to inform michael in joburg.

the joburg launch is at the wits writing centre run by the ever-helpful pam nichols. it’s a place where writers can come to read and write. zweli the rasta poet is there, getting ready for the jozi spoken word festival. I remember his lines from years ago: I don’t feel gooood I don’t have fooood. this time he does. they have laid on lots of snacks and fruit juice. where are the people? not many. only about 15 people. but they listen.

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New Poetry Launch: Never by Bernat Kruger and All the Days by Robert Berold


Deep South Publishing invites you to the launch of two new books of poems: Never by Bernat Kruger and my new book, All the Days. The books will be launched in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

“Bernat Kruger has something which seems increasingly rare in South African poetry today – a truly distinctive voice… insatiable, frenetic, reaching across the South African landscape, from the malls of Germiston to farms in Standerton and the back valleys of Limpopo… Kruger is inspired by the fleeting effervescence of life, wanting to grab every moment, to hold every breath, to live every second.”

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