The History of Violence: Poems by Abigail George

A Giant Mistake

Rush, rush, rush
You are not lost
I am small
Misplaced for my size
Your memory
Is like a giant colossus.

I turn inside
For some time
Numb to the blurred
Landscape of that day
The assassin
The bullets in the gun.

Hush! No more secrets
The world is different
In every generation
It is one step closer
To a simple life
The broken parts connected
Hands clean.

You’re all I could be
Personalities switched
This is no time to be small
That day was like dynamite
In my memory
Slow in drifting skies.



And the rains came again
Monday mourning
Moth brown petals scribbling randomly
On sidewalks, down alleyways and streets.
Held ransom in gutters and drains
Like a fleet of dirty paper ships.


The History of Violence

Fragile, haunting like smoke
From Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen
Like the rank bucket of the ghost
Of an inebriated man
Street children who do not have
A lifetime of therapy.

Asking for forgiveness
From a history of violence
Is silenced when they reach
A point of no return
When they no longer
Give hate a chance.

Paper ships guide us to dreams
To be curious about links
In the cosmic chain of things
Strange incidents that betray us
Reinforced throughout history
Cement things to come as destiny.


Masai Dreamer

Down came the thin rain
When his feet settled squarely in the dust
Of the alien nation of the sun
Raised with fire and born with the heart of a lion.

Hush, hush, hush –
He projects his body toward the sky
He is suspended mid-air
Untouched by time and colonial spies.

His head snaps back
His jaw sinks to his chin
Like an illuminated diagnosis
His demeanor reminds me of the emancipated.


Driftwood or ‘House On Fire’

She walked a long way today
Her dress was unsuitable – her shoes old
Like driftwood; she is a ghost –
Years of hard living has frustrated her
The air was hot like fire – a perfect release
That makes her eyes water –
Delirium is set loose.
The sun may rise but she is uninvited.

She wishes for the end of violence
She is not immune to the stuff
Her crimes have been like war games;
Dark, spirited and unsuccessful.
Her passion is lost; she banishes replicas
She has hit a new low – outside she has spent
Too much time in the shadows.
She is dying inside.

This is the end of her world – like a house on fire
Savage and hurtful; in her pure state of being
She is wilder than the wind;
Sighs in African fields of dreams,
Like the survival of the prettiest.
There is pain behind her smile – love
Is the only real happiness she has owned,
The only escape she has ever known.


Haiku: The asphalt jungle

The tears of the young
Fall – the old shake their heads; a
shot rings out in the night.


Haiku for Moses Molelekwa

Genes and spirit
Remind me of the sea – words
That mean detachment.


The Accident

There has been a death
A drowning in a river
A crowd has gathered to pay their respects
Emergency services are doing an effortless, bold drawing
Of printing a memory and identity
On the child’s body.
Circling, signalling and issuing warnings
that this is what will happen to you in life
this is what will happen to you
If you cease to pay attention.
Your forehead will cease
To bulge in concentration
There will no longer be
A glimmer of a smile regarded
As shyness or wariness
Towards the kindness of strangers
Your soul will be invisible
Your body: a sum of parts.
My heart takes flight.

The rubbish heaped at the water’s edge –
Elegant waste nonetheless there is a
Purity about the shape of the child’s head
Dirt under the fingernails is proof of evidence
Leaves and grass scribble randomly on the surface
Dust settles in the remainder of shadows, nooks and crannies –
a shower giving rise to a flutter of a thousand things
They could not find your shoes, little one
The young mother was cradled
By the arms of other young mothers and
Other residents of the community
In love, who is king and who is the slave?
How many times in a day
Does this role reversal take place?
In life – I have discovered
The only solution for a broken heart is
To fall in love again and that it is only through
A news bulletin that our own empathy becomes visible.


– By Abigail George

About the author

Abigail George

Abigail George’s fiction was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film at Newtown Film and Television School in Johannesburg. She is the recipient of grants from the National Arts Council, Johannesburg, Centre for the Book in Cape Town, and ECPACC (Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council) in East London. She has been widely published from Australia, to Finland to Nigeria, and New Delhi, India to Istanbul, Turkey and Wales.
Her blog African Renaissance can be found online in Modern Diplomacy under Topics.
She contributed for a year to a symposium on Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine. She is a poet, fiction writer, feminist thinker, essayist, and a blogger at Goodreads.

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