Dear Comrades

Dear Comrades

You who once were children, students,
young athletes become the heroes
of we the people warmly teeming
in the joyful new republic of our dreams,
a fulsome, healthy common weal;
you who once yourself were dreaming heroes
in your speechifying or in striking poses
defiant and heroic like Olympic gods
with raised fists over balustrades,
from balconies and stages
overlooking us,
and at the sides of graves
in vigil overlooking our fallen comrades
believing their blood makes fruitful
the earth of what would be that new republic.

A NEW republic!
How daring you were then,
almost almost the gods
we were keening for, that we’d make.
How daring then to have just that:
a dream. Just a dream.
Yet how you dreamed. In your dream
you were become a god who could defy the force of death.

And we would harbour you, we
the people in our council houses,
our shacks in winter damp –
was where we harboured you.

There we shared our consolations
with wood smoke from the coal stove
or the smell of paraffin.
There we cut the meat
into smaller, meagre pieces
made more to share with you;
added half a cup more meal
so you too could eat, then sleep,
then dream that dream which we too dreamed,
that dream in which we came upright
fully human, warm and dry.

That dream that was so fierce.
Did you then believe that dream?
Or back then dreamt already
of a house of proper, bourgeois dream
somewhere overlooking the sea
from where you would no longer
have to worry about still overlooking us;
dreamt already then
of how you’d sell our foolish dream,
or rip it
into the gilded tatters
of your newfound love for dear commodities –
a new, expensive car,
whiskies and cigars,
the fine cloth of another land –
the contraband you trade in off our once useful dream.

We are now become your fools,
our heroes’ fools.
Jeered at
for having believed in dream,
for having not known
that our better future
was forever always lost,
then already would have had the bitter dregs
and our heroes, you, always then already bound
in any case to end up
loosening forever the belt around your widening girth.

We admit, declare,
declare that we were fools to dream beyond our brokenness,
and that now breaks us more.
We must admit
we’re broken,

but broken from your dream.

Comrade, you must know
that dream we dreamed is dead,
that dream in which you once were almost god
is no longer yours. You can muster
only soporifics
like a wizened walrus lolling in the sun
or like your children too, fattening
like grubs on the food chain of this fetid ecology,
the corpse of our dream-dead republic.
You must know
you are no more a thing of us,
of our creation,
no more the welcome guest
when once again we build a dream.

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7 Responses to Dear Comrades

  1. [...] (read further…) Cats: South Africa Tags: Rustum Kozain, South Africa Quick URL [...]

  2. tls23 says:

    You must know that we can dream
    without you.

  3. Love the poem! How do we now re-public the republic?

  4. poobendran naidoo says:

    Yes a dream defferred but not for long
    The dream of the people and the comrades is etched in our freedoms song
    Some may have gone astray
    But our fallen hereos and the people for the justice cause will forever stay
    We dream again to the same awkening for love and truth and caring
    Beware the dreamers deferring our Godliness both Comrades and people
    For the godly strenght sleeps not within us as fools
    Too many hereos continue the enduring divinity to
    Unite us for freedom and justice both comrade and “fool ”

    President Zuma for 2nd term!

  5. Hello, Rustum. I’ve stumbled upon your blog. Maybe you recall me from our days in Bowling Green? In any case, it’s very nice to hear your voice again in these poems. Hoping all is well — Richard Carr

  6. RK says:

    Good lord almighty, Richard!

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