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Missing a Thing of Beauty: Poems by Abigail George

Closed Spaces

This is life –
There are no children on the playground
Only empty bullets and gang warfare.


I am an African

I am an African
A jewel in the dust
Oceans apart from
The east and the west.

I am a nomad and a traveller
Of the world –
A writer, a poet
My soul never at rest.

We all have God-shaped space within
It is a heavenly place; like all the mountains
And the lakes, the blessings and the blessed,
The herdsman and his ox, rituals and the
Rites of passage of calling up the ancestors –
This is Africa, my Africa –
My refuge, my healing and my joy.


From memory in my childhood shoes

Erase the habitat
The missing threads
Piece by piece
Willing my memories
As distant as the sun
Out of time.

Erase reminiscences
In desperation
For a revolution
The imprint of the origin
Burned on my brain,
Of missing the war.

Erase cold and easy habits
The detailed text
Striking, stirring, uncompromising –
That gripped the house before
The raised voices
Of mother and father.

That sickening feeling
The smell is cold in my room
The challenge of escape is demanding and aloof,
Forgetting lies in survival
Under the blankets
The noise of the radio.


The Sudan

The Sudan is a hell I can no longer bear alone
Here humanity has no colour
It cannot deceive or lie only penetrate
The heart of a nation
It is only simply a demonstration
Of an invisible people
That will leave you weak
At the knees; like something beautiful,
Or dust clouds or the decay of rubbish in the streets.

The light, energy from the sun
Is all consuming and criminal today
What will finally give meaning
To the children’s lives?
The disabled steal hope,
Happiness and loveliness away.
Their feet are no longer on the ground
As are mine because of the pain
That did succeed in hanging me.


In the age of machines

Do you still have the will to fight?
Do not ordain war.
Although it shows the shape of life
It lacks knowledge of the future
That is why our hearts and our minds
Must remain pure.


Stillborn or Childhood or Missing a thing of beauty

When I was born coloured in African time
When the world was filled with wild and lonely souls
The soles of my feet pink, my eyes brown
The world was still, silent, hushed as I cried
And kicked my tiny feet up into the air;
All was not lost, inspired by my first love
Like an electric doll I cooed when pressed.
I dreamed she left and I screamed.

Behind these eyes full of sky are new
Melodies – listen. Are you listening?
I stick out like a blister – the surface like fire.
Darkness was trapped inside my mouth
Lost in the meantime in a world full of reaching
Like the elementary particles of nature
Behind these eyes, angel eyes, a strangling cry –
Darkness invisible – the air is clean.

The wrinkle on my forehead vanishes
My mother was more superior to me
I found pure fury dangerous – I was reduced
To flesh, bone, flushed skin, radiant glow
My birth was like a drowning – a twist of fate
Like poison, chocolate, morphine – bittersweet
Animals lick their young
But stripped of that substitute; of touch, we die.

In the beginning powered by a cold heart,
Cold air, cold hands smelt like revenge.
The light is shrinking magnificently
It is almost angelic – like a vampire
It has a will of its own.
As endings go this is the perfect circumstance:
The doctor is a black spot –
Stay but you are already fading away.


Kevin Carter

Standing still in a future for rent
The world is not normal
Guns blaze, shells fall
Through the air, famine and
And wars are like satellites.
Yet I have never felt more alive.

The child in the picture is skin and bone
The soul of this child is turned
Into something beautiful yet cold and disarming
Through the lens, a warning sign
Like an opened parachute
Prophetic of what is to come.

The negative is bathed in chemicals
The picture makes the world’s headlines
The world does not understand
A photographer’s suicide
It is like water in the ocean –
Welcome to the future.


The Untouchable or the orphan in Darfur

Everything is blue or black
As serious as a heart attack
The sky transcends this experience
The black otherworldliness
The world exists upside down
You are still gone.

You are fragile like a satellite
As serious as the impulse of flight
Your demeanour unlovable
Death, the dying are always untouchable
Faceless in this cold, unknown world
You are left within a black, shrouded mould.

Up to the perfect sky
Faraway; blue like a marble
My heart is cut out like a cancer
No longer haunting the radar
Like advances; my tongue is silenced
I am sickened – lonely against the light.

Black as night, as winter trees
Your memory is as cool as the summer rain
You are not here, you are missing – incomplete
The recovery like hunger lingers under my skin
Like rage, a mystic I am dangerous and cursed.
I surrender – I will never love again.

I have lost you – you are still a child in time
Untouched by youth, a culture panic-stricken
Love is when I loved you; the smell, the colour of your skin
Shadows are like traffic, distracting, winning
You cast no shadow; the air is dosed with the licking flames of doubt
You are the phoenix who found the final exit out.



You watched them fall
Their limbs torn apart
Children stumbled
Shattered and bleeding

Now do you still believe in war?


The newspaper vendor

It won’t even make a discernible hole in the pit
Of his grumbling stomach – my home-made lasagna,
An apple stewing in its own juices, bread thick and rich
With greasy, creamy garlic butter – suburban comfort food.
What good have I done towards feeding the needy although
It is fine and noble? What issue or cause am I trying to address?
He doesn’t even know it is me who should be thanking him.
What respite does he have from this day or the rest of the week?
I have never feared these shadows – relief from hunger, shelter,
Education, tenderness, kindness, the complications of trauma, rescue,
The origins of decency – here beauty has always paled in comparison
To a black, unyielding sadness that is disenchanted
With the naming of the sum of parts.
Nonetheless a gift given with a pure heart has made me realise
That we are still a dying state, stewing in hunger,
Entitlement and daily starvation –
Africa, where art thou?
Once I surrender I am caught again in your poise.


Diary of an insomniac in Africa

Gazing unashamedly
Is the prerogative
Of an insomniac

The visuals on the television
Deep and glistening
In spinning technicolour

The poet is numb
She cannot feel a thing
Between the BBC and CNN

Through tired eyes
The universe
Is a blurry, dreamy

Disguise of the end of violence.


Portrait of a young girl drowning in poverty

An authentic sadness is here, notes on a scandal
Which lends itself to honesty and relevancy – it peels away layers
Of insecurity, like opium, an alluring wonderland
One is left forgetting this poor child.

From light to dark, from every urban decay to every asphalt jungle
Who can penetrate this river of pained hunger?
The smell that remains of the impoverished and marginalised
Here come the startling beginnings of truth.

A tidal wave of truth and lies exists where all pure love is gone
Vacant grown ups, beggars, orphans and vagrants stare us in the face –
Their lives are not sophisticated like the pedantic words of intellectuals
We rely on the knowledge of spies; we are seduced by the artistry of video streaming.

Between war zones, battlefields and bloodlines
The sky has turned black, who has lost control – the rich or the poor
Where is love in this war, who has a voice, a home, a shelter?
There is no turning back from this sea of poverty.

This road that we all walk upon is a famished road
Once upon a time this road was neon lit, hit on by a rush of fingerprints
Now it is marked dangerous warning us to tread carefully
Between the distances caught between the rich and the poor.


– (c) By Abigail George

Abigail George
Abigail George
South African Abigail George is a blogger, essayist, short story writer, screenwriter, novelist, and poet. She briefly studied film in Johannesburg. She has two film projects in development and is the recipient of two grants from the National Arts Council, one from the Centre for the Book and another from ECPACC. Her publishers are Tendai Rinos Mwanaka (Zimbabwe, Mwanaka Media and Publishing or Mmap), Xavier Hennekinne (Australia/New Zealand, Gazebo Books), and Thanos Kalamidas (Finland, Ovi). Her literary representative is Morten Rand. She is a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net nominated, and European Union Poetry Prize longlisted poet. Her poem “The Accident” was Identity Theory's Editor's Choice for Spring. Ink Sweat and Tears chose her poem “When light poured into me at the swimming pool” as a September Pick of the Month, and she recently made the shortlist of the Writing Ukraine Prize 2023. She is a poet/writer who believes in the transformative, restorative and healing powers of words. Her latest book is Letter To Petya Dubarova (Australia/New Zealand, Gazebo Books). Young Galaxies (a poetry book) was released in 2023 from Mmap and a memoir When Bad Mothers Happen is forthcoming. “Clarissa, Hector and Septimus Redefined” was recently published by Novelty Fiction in Kindle format.


  1. I had a good read! I enjoy the meaning behind your lines. They are quite evocative, but sometimes your choice of words douses your natural lyricism. Just watch the use of big words that may be too consomantal or cacophonous for the euphony in your poems. You are good!

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