you’ve touched me just once

it’s turned out as difficult as it possibly could
but I am ready to speak to you now
get through to you maybe this time
I’m positive – although even now
yes more than three decades later
when I started to write about this
had to watch for the flow of my breathing
but just the same – I’m ready to talk to you now

when I saw you for the very first time
I remember so well – it was awe at first strike
you were like a vision – I was breathless
& gasping in wonder – was lost in pure admiration
had never been hit so hard in my soul
by sheer beauty – even tried to write poems to you
but my language was then – & still is today
just too poor for any such poetic endeavours
can still not articulate – my live storm of feelings
for you then – without sounding corny
but I guess I’ll have to try anyway
get ready & start talking to you

back then I was assuming for so long –
you were tight with someone – & I had no access
& there was nothing I could do about this
was not going to mess it all up – or pull any fights
I had to keep still – keep watching from afar
& you – were dealing the same way with me
we exchanged a few compliments – every once in a while
and that was – alas! – about it
I kept hoping just the same – that you might
turn out to be the one – on some day to come
of course I was then – & still am today – a dreamer
a terrible oddball – an outright fool
some true-blue & diehard old school romantic

we were both students – I’d sketch landscapes
& objects & people – & oh yes – women
I was striving – & getting ahead & a hand
at making my art – breathe with some life – & in
my own way – all this toil was just – meant to be
my very special worship to you
& then your own paintings there – yes let’s be true
they were shining – so bold – & so free
& to me seemed – to radiate the very colours of love
the essence of what it – was all about
but I – I was too shy to start talking to you
I still thought you were going steady – & so I
had to wait patiently – hope for a change
to finally declare myself to you – on some day

but then some day – I’ll never forget
I couldn’t believe it – this really seemed to happen
you came on by yourself – oh such a surprise
it was like a sunrise – your smiles so charming
you gave me your warmest support – & showed me
affection – more openly than ever before
yes now – for the very first time in these aeons
you seemed to have genuine interest in me
now this was a style – so completely different
from your former – so distant & cool reserve
not for a second – did it occur to me – that all this
could be just casual – or even staged? – you
came on very close – & held me by my arm
you gave me the thrills – & goose-pimples even
I felt like being branded for lifetime
you really didn’t sense what I was going through?

of course then – mind you – I was easy game
had been starving for love all my life
been dumped by my father – given up by my mother
a mere baby just even I’d been then
handed down through these families –
homes – institutions – adopted – as a single child
grown up with parents – respectable – well-meaning
righteous – but so straight & so cold
and here I was now in – this dismal rain city
on my own & freezing – so vulnerable & lost
oh yep – must have been easy prey then
all desperate & hungry – for somebody’s love

so when it was good bye – you gave me the eye
I was sure that – with you I’d struck gold
I was dancin’ – flyin’ high – in delirious excitement –
could’ve hugged everyone for sheer joy
my heart all on fire – my spirit – my very soul
every fibre rejoicing – I was singing out loud
was out on cloud seven – or was it eleven?
& butterflies & rainbows – all over our skies
I was madly in love more deeply than ever
couldn’t wait to see you again – fool that I was!
well – little did I know at this moment – just what
would be in store there for me

when I saw you next time round – ‘bout a day
or two later – oh no! – there you were
snug up to – this good bloke so stout & boring
& kissing him passionately – & barely did
you have – any eye left for me – were showing me
this cool reserve again
I wanted to die right there – are there words for this?
instant crucifixion? – burning stake?
or drowning in molten lead? – is any of these
an appropriate term – to convey what I felt?

I admit I just couldn’t bear this – oh my!
confided in someone I thought I could trust
to go ask you to spare me – a minute in private
but you – you merely let me know then
you’d just fallen in love – & it was to do
nothing with me – so no need to talk to me there
I was left with these questions – to torture my mind
why had you come on to me like that
in the first place? – & why did you have to
avoid seeing me now? – oh well …
I didn’t know then that it was
to get even still worse than this:

your crowd there – so lovely – so nice
as soon as they got it – were giggling along
were gloating in malice – they were teasing me
& cheering & having their fun
such a show must first be conceived yet
it must be imagined – just how to be run!
so you’d get your rock n’ roll hard core
& they – they’d just mangle this prey ad libidum
would bust this dumb foreign
young country boy’s nuts – for good measure
were they ever entertained by this affair
did they ever get their fair share of pleasure
must have bathed – in blood-green moonlight too
down at some muggy lagoon near the sea
as they were mocking me & messing so deep
in my soul – I heard laughter as from hyenas
from the midst of this gleeful mob – but you
there was no chance to even just talk to you
what wrong but had I done to you then
to make me deserve such mean bitching?

at first I just choked – was all out of breath
I desperately gasped for fresh air
but when I got away – I puked in the gutter
the whole world was reeling & breaking apart
& then I fell sick – with fever for days – I’d wake
in cold sweat – from nightmares so vicious
as if in a daze I’d then wander about – out under
the rains through this city – all broken & beat
I dragged myself over these bridges
were too low to jump – too frail to be hanged from
I howled through back alleys – way too numb to cry
still too paralysed was I – to realize yet
the true scale – of this carnage to my heart
my wounds all a-bleeding – my screaming pain
but when it came on – & I could start feeling again
all my outrage – all my wrath
were just cut short – were rendered impotent
so disenfranchised of any power was I

thank god did I not listen – to those alluring
base voices – that criss-cross kept hissing
as from some mean tinnitus – through my
poor aching head – kept calling for vicious revenge
‘cos had I been true to my race & my honour
my pride & my passion – my blood a-boiling
I might have bashed in – & with a good
switchblade – just slashed them all up to pieces

returning to class – I was called a bad loser
had to cope with some more of that game
had a relapse back to cigarettes – was drinking
too much – was sentenced to depression again
maybe after all – your pick had been right – so you
had a real man – & I was just a poor sissy
who couldn’t even draw – or let alone paint
the beauty of woman anymore – yes
for some time to come – in this field I’d remain
artistically stifled – disabled – capped – cos’
whenever I tried – these bloodthirsty vampire ghouls
would emerge from the picture
on which I was working – would claw me
round my throat – & just grin me in the face
but then – I did graduate from these my
studies anyway – had to part from this wonderful city
would be wounded & homesick for ages to come
& had still not been able to talk to you
in private – you were married by then
to again someone different – no chance there for
a heart-to-heart exchange

so this would become – one of the most
persistent – of these various demons to haunt me
would have me serve time – for which they’d
designed – this expertly cruel dungeon so fine
equipped with these manacles for my soul
so clever – that meant seasons of distrust as to love
paved the way for some ugly destructive patterns
that were to recur – time & again – of
temptation – desire – high hopes mixed with fear
& then cool snubbing – betrayal – despair
was gnawing so badly on my self-esteem
tried to have me rot away there – to my very end
would I ever recover from this disaster with you?

since then I have passed through – the worst
kinds of sickness & perversions
fell victim to medical malpractice – such painful
ordeals – they’d go on through months
I fell for the meanest hard substance abuse
could easily have lost my spirit – my very soul
but I didn’t give up – kept pursuing my life & my art
& tried to find my way back to love
although at times – I was just plain desolate
at times my last hopes were all gone
even death was so close more than once – I’d miss
it just by a fraction – a mere irony of fate
but I didn’t give up – underwent the tough labour of
then finally – wrestling all of this off
was slowly recovering – a survivor – have since
then been living – a rich & colourful life

could never believe – say let alone accept
that you’d been plainly vain
some playgirl so urbane – who’d enjoyed there
just toying with me – who
was out for cheap thrills – & brash kicks & adventures
while I had – been ready for a grand style romance
& for – a really deep down soul mate too
been hoping to rock steady with you – what
incredible arrogance – stinging blindness of mine
had to get to the blues – the very hard
way boy – it was me who’d been plainly vain!

or hadn’t it at all – then been that way? – maybe
you hadn’t really done this deliberately?
never meant there – to bait me – to hook me
then dump me & ditch me
& shop me to the mob – maybe you had not been
come on now – wake up! – the one who
had thrown me to the mocking of that merciless pack?
had we both maybe just
been in with – the wrong bunch indeed?

I’m ready to talk to you now – I’m reconciled
& at ease – not least because – I still have
some heart left myself – yes now that
I’ve made it – even all the way home
through these decades of havoc & glory &
hey you – yes it’s true – that we’ve been
left with some ugly scars too
but you see – I’ve made my way home
through these blazing deserts
I’ve pushed through – these blizzards
right up in my face – I am a survivor
I’ve touched my home base &
I’ve still found – some heart left in me
that they hadn’t been able to rip apart
& tear to shreds then

it has been quite difficult for me – but now
I am – in no way bitter about life
didn’t need to cringe around – keep brooding
forever – did never really need to hate you
or rail against any ill fate – I’ve just wished
to get wise – & make up & repose
yes I’ve found my peace of mind – as to you
in this tale – although it’s not been just so easy
but anyone’s art from the heart – yes mine too
well isn’t it really lost on us all
so long as we can’t even speak to each other?
I’m ready to talk to you now
yes now that – we’re somehow in touch again
but while I’ve been here held on stand-by
I’ve been working on these few lines instead
oh fool that I still am!
a manifesto of some hopeless dreamer
of a true-blue & diehard old school romantic


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