Poem March 28, 2020

Maxine Beneba Clarke
generation zoom

in the third week of the pandemic


               schools started closing

workers were sent home


and they started to call the youngsters:

              generation zoom


named, of course, for that chat-app

all of them seemed to use


logging in for facetime

completing maths lessons online, dancing

tiktok feeds on loop, clicking in

to instanews, and everyone was asking:


              what on earth will become

              of whatsapp’s children?

Poem March 14, 2020

Paul Kelly
Riddle Poem Two from the Kelly-Hoard

Some lines from Omar Sakr’s poem last Saturday have the flavour of a riddle poem:


Fellow flotsam, what makes a person a
person? The animals are asking.


Friends, what makes a citizen a
citizen? The people are barking.


I keep going back to this poem, circling it. Perhaps many poems have something of the riddle about them. Intimations that are hidden at first but emerge after the reader does some work.


I only have one answer in mind for this month’s poem but perhaps there are more. Good luck.

Poem March 21, 2020

Ellen van Neerven
social isolation is an act of love

we scroll the news

trying to figure out what’s to come

looking at measures placed on other countries


school closures

city lockdowns

individual freedoms we give up


where will we be a day from now

a week, a month

six months from now?

Poem March 7, 2020

Omar Sakr
[Y]our people [Y]our problems

I have never had a country

willing to claim me as its own.


Sit with me as I sit with that.

Hold my hand. Our knees can touch


across the loneliness, which, at least

and at last, wants nothing of us.

Poem February 29, 2020

Maxine Beneba Clarke
something sure

              sit down here now baby,

              stop that fidgeting


listen big,

and understand


mama’s gotta school you

                 ’bout something sure

’fore you grow into a man

Poem February 22, 2020

Ellen van Neerven
every small protest counts

ACCOMPANY your children
ADMINISTER biryani to those
braving the cold and rain
ADVOCATE for freedom
“Aazadi!” the children cry
APPLY music to the streets
ASSUME those who are here know the words
a song is not a song unless it’s sung by many

Poem February 15, 2020

Paul Kelly
Riddle Poem One from the Kelly-Hoard

Riddles and riddle poems have been around a long, long time in human history. One of the most famous riddles, referred to in Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles in the 5th century BCE, is posed by the Sphinx to Oedipus as he’s on his way to Thebes.

Poem February 8, 2020

Omar Sakr
American Dirt

The once-white lady dipped her hands

into a faceless mass at the border

she said, I’m the one to give you a face


as if she wasn’t the one who stole it

in the first place, someone must humanise

the mass, the migrant caravan, the babies


as if people can ever be less than people,

where did that idea come from I wonder

but never mind that for now, let us return

Poem February 1, 2020

Maxine Beneba Clarke

the night before school starts,

                  our swimmer-tans fading,


we cheat, with gozleme,

from the woolworths fridge:


fry it golden, and crispy

on the heavy skillet


with slices of lemon,

       to acid through guilt

Poem January 25, 2020

Ellen van Neerven
Paper ships, many fires

I know what you’re thinking

           how can we save the world?

                when we have barely

                      just survived it

when we have been disposed of

     raped and murdered

           erased and orphaned

                 and lost 90 per cent or more of our kin

Poem December 21, 2019

Maxine Beneba Clarke
When the decade broke

             the stroke of midnight,

december thirty-first, nineteen ninety-nine,

    was going to end the world


at the hospital,

     they brought generators in


even the food service staff

were kept till late evening


none of us would get to


at the most expensive fireworks on earth,

        lighting up a new century:

Poem December 14, 2019

Maxine Beneba Clarke

the prime minister has

killed the department of the arts

                and is rolling arts in with rail and roads


all of us have encountered

  enough art

                     to know


         the devastation,

in this symbolism alone



                     as if nothing beautiful

      ever reached into his chest

and, beyond all logic,

                                        moved him:


        an exquisite string of words never

turned his world upside down,

                           or back upright again

Poem December 7, 2019

Maxine Beneba Clarke

my grandma, she loved diana:

                    the people’s princess, after all


she’d say

                          that was no accident;

                  how convenient for the royals


squinting knowingly into the distance

in her eerie seer’s way

                  the princess more adored than royalty

                              and her brown sweetheart,

                                                              out of the way



history tells us

         british royalty are accountable

                                     to none