POEMS by Kerry Hammerton

We Walked Anyway

That morning. The mist. The mountains
and sea invisible. The streets
flooded with overnight rain. We walked
anyway. Lobelias and campanulas
showing off purple-blue. Ferns
bright green with new growth.
The hurry-rush of water over rocks
drowning anything we could have said.
I followed the familiar curve of your calf and knee.
Swartbas and Tree Fuchsias thin
and upright in the forest.
Buckled branches forming
a tree-cave at the end of a long uphill.
A peaty soaked-earth smell.
Red clay and slippery fallen leaf
mulch clinging to our boots.
The way down quieter
but we still had nothing to say.
You shook my hand in the parking lot.
Drove away. Left me in the coffee shop
ordering breakfast, trying to work out
how I could do this without you.


Journey of Tongues

The way my grandmother stressed
my mother’s name: Marie – mu-reee –
her lyrical Welsh voice fattening
vowels so even her sternest command
sounded like an invitation to tea.

Her voice indifferent to the years
spent within England’s borders.
And here at the bottom of Africa
my brother and I tailored
our voices at home to say words

like pin and water the English way.
At school slouching back into
the flat nasal whine of our friends.
Learnt to say fok not fuck and swear
words my parents didn’t understand.

I tease my niece now
get her to say pin, water, home
to pass the Englishness test.
But it is I who will always sound foreign
even to my own ears

POEM: Moving into another life


Internet down
Computer crash
Not enough cash
Cellphone screen smashed
No calls
Alone but never lonely,
stationed walls surround me.
Everything out of tune
Still no confirmation
of my lodging
quick airtime fix,
Phone call overdose.
Finally a home finds me
No food,
No beer,
No fridge
Just a breeze
Not yet settled
in settler city
No music, no dreams
Silence knows how to love
Long distances
Crutches on my legs
I’m Johnny the walker.
No funds
No bread
No smile
No all-access card
Student life is hard

POEM: Industry International, Lower Illovo


Through the sugar cane
Past the rehab facility
Next to the distillery
Scene of last night’s revelry
Is an unused factory typical
South Coast scenery

Old machine parts lie quilted
In a post-industrial deconstruction
Drives, motors, pumps
Each in their ordered place

We’re looking for a flow meter, Endress and Hauser
(We have charged liquids to measure.)
I’m told it resembles something you’d expect to see on Deepsea Challenger

Dad is on the mezzanine when I spot it
I peer down to decipher its type
German cognates
Time stagnates
Afrikaans pop permeates
stop, wag, bly nog ‘n bietjie
in the unit next to this one they’re rebuilding motorbikes.

And it’s strange that I’m here on Wednesday afternoon
silently, respectfully peering at dismembered machinery
Imagining what this could have been
Amid the disused pumps, motors and drives, powerless, hoping