There Is No Time

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there is no time
time is man’s skin
it cracks and crackles and shrinks
in life’s passing-by
in the fire of being
telling the hours
then letting them be
in the ever reverberating
moment of silence

in the smoking dance
of the evening star and the midnight sun
in the curl of the leaf
in the dove’s swiftly
graceful and fluttered
gesture of dying

there is no time
time is the shooting
comet of recall
strewing heaven with the sparks
of stories no one will ever hear again

time’s my love for you
the lizard movements
in your body that come and go
to fill the hollows
with the fire of telling
those many faces of departure

there is no time
just the pulse of the heart
as pain under eye-shells

just the emptied tell-skin
of this poem
splotched and measured
by cancer words of forgetting
like lizard shit


– Breyten Breytenbach


Today I Went Down

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today I went down on your body
while windows were thick white eyes
and hearkened the clogged cavities
in the small darkroom of your chest,
hedging an eternity over the aching voice
from your gorgeous throat,
agony and exaltation flow in one divide
if I may make so bold,
your thighs are a loveword your hair
night’s glittering lining of secret disport:
I aimed for the innermost moon
and rent, moved by the syntax and the slow
of sadness and of joy, so
I love you, love you so

when the blinding comes,
the discomposure of silence,
it must be high up the hills
where hundreds of poor
stamp their feet in the dust, and drums
and woman voices like this ululating skyline
gag the final ecstasy


– Breyten Breytenbach


Rebel Song

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give me a pen
so I may sing
that life is not in vain

give me a season
an autumn a spring
to see sky with open eyes
when the peach tree vomits its white plenitude
a tyranny will be brought to earth

let mothers lament;
may breasts become dry
and wombs shrivel
when the scaffold finally weans its own

give me that love
which won’t rot between fingers,
give me a love like this love I must give you,
my dove

grant me a heart
that will pulsate its throb
more strongly than the white thrashing
heart of a terrified dove in the dark
knock louder than bitter bullets

give me a heart
small fountain of blood
to spout blossoms of bliss
for blood is never for naught

I need to die before I’m dead
when my heart is still fertile and red
before I eat the darkened soil of doubt

give me two lips
and bright ink for tongue
to write the earth
one vast love letter
swollen with the milk of mercy

sweeter day by day
spilling all bitterness
burning as summer
burns sweeter

then let it be summer
without blindfolds or ravens
allow the gallows to give the peach tree
its red fruit of satisfaction

and grant me a love song
of doves of atonement
so I may sing my life was not in vain

for as I die
to wide eyes
under sky
my red song will not lie
my red song will never die


– Breyten Breytenbach


Rooibos Tea

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Having grown up in South Africa, I was fortunate to have been exposed to Rooibos (Red Bush) tea from an early age. Drinking hot, cold, with milk or without has always been part of my lifestyle. And I was delighted to find it easily available here in the UK, both in shops and online.

Rooibos is grown in the Western Cape area of South Africa, in a small coastal region. It is part of a general family of plants in the region known as fynbos. People have tried to grow Rooibos elsewhere in the world, but none have been particularly successful. The unique weather conditions and soil types make reproducing the real thing in other places very difficult indeed.

It can be served in a variety of ways. Many will drink it in exactly the same way as they drink other teas – with or without milk and sugar is a personal taste. One of the most common ways to drink Rooibos is to brew it hot and strong, and then simply drop a slice of lemon into your cup. In the summer, some of us like to brew it up, let it cool and then keep a big jug of it in the fridge. Makes a very refreshing cold drink – and it’s good for you!

There are numerous benefits of Rooibos (I’ll stick to the Afrikaans name, if you don’t mind!). Obviously, for those of us who have the taste, we simply enjoy it! It’s part of our culture!

Rooibos can be enjoyed in any weather, and is delightfully refreshing. But there are also numerous, genuine benefits, some of which I will attempt to describe…

Caffeine free: for those who don’t do caffeine, this is an excellent option. As there is no caffeine in the tea in the first place, it does not have to be adapted in any way to remove caffeine, keeping it natural. Of course this makes it drinkable by those who can’t have caffeine, such as pregnant women. It is also perfectly safe for young children – many parents do not like their little ones having caffeine if at all possible. Some parents even put mild Rooibos into the baby’s bottle to help colic, as Rooibos has been proven to be good for various stomach ailments.

Helps you sleep: the lack of caffeine in Rooibos leads to the next benefit. Many people, myself included, will often have a cup of Rooibos before we go to bed. As it has no caffeine, it is a more sensible option than coffee – caffeine has been proven to keep us awake. Additionally, Rooibos has a soothing effect, helping us relax and improving the chances of a nice, restful sleep.

Antioxidants: one of the best known benefits of Rooibos is that it contains antioxidants. These are particularly good at fighting free radicals, which are cells that damage healthy cells. The high level of antioxidants in Rooibos can help keep away various illnesses, not least of which is heart disease. Some studies have shown that the chances of contracting certain cancers are reduced by drinking Rooibos regularly.

Circulation: evidence suggests that Rooibos can have a positive effect in fighting heart disease. It can help reduce high blood pressure, and has even been shown to help with diabetes. The same can be said for liver disease – Rooibos can be recommended for both prevention and as part of the therapy. Studies have even shown that Rooibos can be good at helping prevent respiratory problems, and in the treating of these.

High mineral content: Rooibos contains high levels of certain minerals that are important for our bodies. These include magnesium, calcium, manganese, iron and zinc.

Good for your skin: recent studies have shown that a recently brewed Rooibos teabag, when applied to the area, can reduce inflammation and help cut down on the effects of acne. Make sure you let the teabag cool first, though, before you put it on your face!

All in all, Rooibos is good for, and is enjoyable to drink. Of course, it is not a magic cure all – like most herbal teas, Rooibos is recommended for prevention, rather than cure. Watch what you eat, and do enough suitable exercise. But I can certainly recommend Rooibos as part of a healthy lifestyle.