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Sketches: Poems by Abigail George

(For my paternal grandmother)

The disappearance of vanity cannot be erased
It serves to improve the quality of this lie
The radio is nothing but a vapour, a blur of nothingness.
Like phases of the moon, it tells the time like a dial.

Let this be the start to an end
You remain beautiful like glass –
Rare yet proactive like proof of life –
Your edges are clean and terrifying.

I am no longer immune to it
Tenderness is lacking in your voice
The end of desiring to be kind
Love has like a match burned out.

Once again I am solitary and free
You are worshipped and tragic
to the very end; my heart is crushed
Forgive me, for we were all young once.

Today’s events have left a trace
Like a foul stain; my head and tongue
Was on fire and in the end desire won peace
A whirlwind of madness and beyond was ignited.

Inside I am petrified – reckless
And shivering, reeling; I am not impressed
at the thought of the sacrifice which spills
over into the air from memory.

An all-pervading sense of loss and sadness
is like a crackling invasion; trembling.
It strikes a furious clean glow; pioneering
in other words inspiring disorder.

I am beautifully grown now; I will miss you: haunting,
lonely, focused, always near; I am no longer afraid
Of this life vanishing in front of my eyes –
I am still standing but you’re not here.



Like the tide sweeping in from the shore
Your memory is as transparent as glass
Now you see a reflection that was once
A common reminder, now you don’t.


Hiroshima star people

Hiroshima features like (a thin scar) star
On the radar of a popular television show (a documentary)
In a burst, a mushroom cloud, a forest of white flowers – smoke.

When that terrible
Scar is gone – far flung, sealed,
The art is not to fail to misunderstand those war zones.


The winter guest at the Salvation Army

The profile of an African girl child dancing
Her pose bewilders and confuses me
Is she happy? Is she sad?
What if she was within reach?


Into the winter light

We are starving – dying in poverty
We the marginalised, disadvantaged, disenfranchised
And the uneducated, stricken and crippled
Is it wise to leave the poor to themselves
In unmarked graves forgotten?
Why is the measure of love always loss?
Inconsolable sadness, pain, sorrow, suffering.


The ex

I no longer exist in your world, flawed, reckless – but
all should not be regarded as lost – locked outside of a box.
Your elocution issues friction, friction, friction like folio.
At first, I found you enchanting, haunting, your fever inspiring.
Now I find you too distressing like a splinter, chips of ice
Like glass, like perfume in a vial, the prowess of chemicals.
Always fussing, always demonstrating the preparation of home
Still, still, still, we all have our reasons to stay.
This longing for you can never be completely wished away.

Now I can place your struggle, your sense of self, of history
The right side up effortlessly although they strike phases of tumultuous
Balances but balances nonetheless; you are careful of turning
points, watchful of harm, apprehensive of darting wisdom like
a snake or reeling eel, a jar of specimen spiked with formaldehyde;
it reminds me that there is wisdom and humility in silence.
Waterfalls do not hold any sway or fascination over me
Winter tales, the magnificent tug-of-war between dirt and purity
Only you have that power over me.


The young poet

The young poet often stands alone –
Unsuccessful at his first attempts for
Greatness, he is unique, doubtful, restless,
Stubborn and miserable when he fails – for him
Every single word has an unspeakable relevance.
On the brink of a lingering edginess,
He has a fluttering insecurity like
Butterflies in the pit of your stomach and
When he is at his worst, it is never fleeting,
Never considerate of his sensitivity, his
Demeanour, his rage, the blur
Of his world through his tears as he
Scribbles on the page.



There are so many rooms in this house
To lose oneself in, that captures poetry,
There are no ghosts in my imagination –
Of what came before, secrecy and flight,
Only the magnificent ether; only beauty.
I try to conjure up only that not hate or spite.

People want to be near success but that
Is not the prerogative of the insomniac?
Stirring, mysterious, angelic mystic, private
Revealing ingénue, mindful or suspect of
Missing the war zones, white teeth,
Like smoke, their power evaporates.
Always skating along the periphery, losing
One’s memory over daily trivial issues
What does my everyday life offer me?
A life to live, dreamy sensuality, privilege,
Waste, decay, upheaval, a mind, a voice to
Express my innermost feelings and thoughts,

A vague otherworldliness, an air of grace in
A struggle against the unconventional, defeat,
A unique freedom of expression, a fleeting
Edginess, a lingering insecurity, a compelling
Visceral identity, a temporary, intense, wild
Non-descriptive parallel world of privacy.


Speak to me

In moments like these: harmless but giving way
To a conservative harmony, nightly in my room
In quiet reflection, a reverent silence stirring
In the evening, a stillness harvesting survival
A purity of thought, a lifetime of taking lives
In the heat of the night, a heart-shaped bullet
Takes flight, it takes cognisance of what tragically

Came before, I am forgetful of our differences,
In the fire that sustains that life unrivalled
The mock fascination of the phases of life,
Mindful of chaos and closure, the spheres
That governs those spaces, the faint expression
Of territorial hunger and poverty around my mouth
Like the glimpse of the watery underbelly

Of the surface of a lake; a trembling, pale-faced
Crescent overhead – I seem otherworldly
Lacking substance, a vital staying power,
Shifting with the passage of time, with the dial.
I lay awake wishing you were here, but you’re not,
Imagining you’re speaking to me, recognition is there now –
You’re dead to me but not to another woman.


I am not in love

All my life
I have never been in love
Until this very moment
In love with sunlight
On my fingertips,
Art hung on walls in galleries,
The spoken word and your
Your infinite kindness.
Here time knows no beginning or end.
It stands still.
Is that what Einstein meant by the
Theory of relativity?
Or is it when we debate and define
The edge of reason, madness, desire and


This is for the writer in you…
(…the poet undisclosed, the songbird undiscovered, the man who dies and the land that remains)

Gibson Kente.
Who is Gibson Kente?
A writer.
Where is Gibson Kente?
Gibson Kente is dead.
Where are the dead?
They go to the ends
Of the earth and back again.
From hell to eternity.


– All poems (c) 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.


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