City Wailers

A Poem

By Mthabisi Sithole

When the skyline is all restless thunder, lightning on highpoint
through its mechanical rhythms
through the Hillbrow sirens
through the city’s soundbites, the tantrums
by the moonlight or candle
on village-yard coattails; dance
-dust shaking regal, boots as tavern-
With side-of-the-road suburbia
-stereo cackling ‘til dawn-
Shuffling to husky drumlines past noon

Sweat of rude-awakenings,
to bitter scenes, 9-5; dance
howling day-dreams
Again, not far from the night
through silver-linings and draughts
in blurs, splats, slurs… dance
a slippery speech kind on mind and palming your rubble
golden licks and splendid slides into the night

strange tastes and tongues
to vibrant new songs, potent tots barking memoirs
allusions lost in translation
stargazing, rough-riding the revolution that never comes
so dance past the night and try,
dance beyond the machinery of our big-city sky