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The Philosophy behind Flame Country: Poems by Abigail George

Flame Country

(For my mother and father)

Her picture
was in the paper again. The broken pottery of

her soul
staring back at her from the page. Writers are in

the business of basing
the reality of hope on their flirting with nature.

Poets are
the ones who are not in the kindness business.

Instead, they’re
the living expression of God’s understanding

and kindness.
For, in those quiet hours of desperation,

they’re practicing
their faith. Doing what comes naturally to all poets.

And, when they
come to the sea, (waves licking at their feet) they will

become like the tides, channelling
the current and the phases of the orbit of the moon.


(For my brother and my nephew)

This is the story of the angel

(and the wolf).
As soon as the
wolf appears in the heat of the day, so, does the angel in life.
It is the same as

saying that as the
moon withdraws
herself, the wolf being the moon, and the sun, (angels, their wings,
chariots of fire) will appear

in the sky. The angel
is a flower and the wolf is the sacred rain.
And, so, the angel and the wolf live side-by-side (like good and evil). While the angels are silent
(with their torch of love),

The wolf dances
with other wolves
in a world of criminal impulse. While the angel falls to earth, the wolf will
always dream of Paris.


(For my mother and Mikale)

(I must tell stories) she told herself.

I’m a storyteller and so that’s what I must do
     for the rest of my life.

Words and thoughts seemed to mock (her) all of

(I must tell ‘selfless, cold and composed’ stories)
     she told herself.

The depths of me aren’t meant to be
     sentimental at all.

I shall do this (she told herself). I shall leave behind impressions. Impressions of
     healing, of futility, of glory.

Impressions of anticipatory nostalgia.
     I shall follow songs. Love songs (she said).

And instead of dancing to them, I shall (she thought to herself)
     set the tigers free.

The ‘tigers that come at night’. I shall (she journaled),
     write about a year in the life of a tiger.

I shall also write about love.
     I shall write about Mikale (she thought to herself).

That his laugh is an instrument made out of gold.
     After all, I am a storyteller (she thought to herself).


(For my mother, Caroline, Magda and Mikale)

I swallow yesterday
and it turns into
cake in my mouth.

I have wounds and pain and emptiness.
You have wounds and pain and emptiness

And together we
swallow yesterday, and it turns into the sweetness of cake
In our mouths.


(For my paternal grandparents)

Perhaps this is how
          my grandparents met. Perhaps this, too,
was their love song.

So, I say your name.
          Mikale – but for the life of me you can’t
understand why I’m

reaching out to you like this. Why I
          find you interesting (and sensitive).
Your face and hands,

wise, interesting (and sensitive)
          inside your leather jacket. In your presence, I’m tongue-tied. Don’t
know what to say.

So, I talk about
          everything and nothing at the same time. I think about
the fact that I don’t swim anymore.

I think about the fact
          that you’re a man, who lives and builds and breathes and eats
with the desire of a man.


(For Mikale)

If you were mine to hold and cherish,
     I would want you to teach me about the world of love.

Ghost – I have an older
     woman’s body. Now, loosely
translated, this means,
     (smile lines, dark circles under the eyes, stretchmarks and wrinkles)
Ghost of the Cape.
     Mikale, you’re a ghost
that haunts the coast of the
     Eastern Cape. Everywhere you’ve been, you’ve left a trail of broken hearts.

You’re a painter or
     you have a painter’s soul.
You’ve had girls and booze
     and women coming and going throughout your life.

If you were mine to hold and cherish,
     I would want you to teach me about the world of love.

While I, on this
     voyage, on the other hand,
sculpt and inherit
     words out of nothing but blue air.

Ghost – I have an older
     woman’s body. Now, loosely
translated, this means,
     (smile lines, dark circles under the eyes, stretchmarks and wrinkles)

Through the rain
     I can see stars.
Through the rain.
     I can see the stars in your eyes, as clear to me as day.

If you were mine to hold and cherish,
     I would want you to teach me about the world of love.

Poems: 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 am a storyteller, I write for myself and have always been against the idea of ‘writing for an audience’, having an audience in mind as I write though it is the same people the stories are to be told to. Stories are interconnected as much as they are personal I agree, the point is to no let an external force influence your expression, your surrounding affects you but shouldn’t affect your response to it. ‘ set the tiger free, don’t dance ‘

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