from Photostat Machine

Bibi Slippers

from “mix tape”

Porcupine-ology. Antler-ology. Car-ology. Bus-ology. Train-ology. Plane-ology.
Mama-ology. Papa-ology. You-ology. Me-ology. Love-ology. Kiss-ology. Stay-ology.
Please-ology. Let’s study class, let’s study class. Sit down. —Regina Spektor

1. Cling

i want to fold my hands round
a cactus or prickly pear
hold an anemone in my
mouth I want you to
i want you

i want to sleep in a thorn tree
with a porcupine
in my arms i want to learn
how to you how to you

i want to become a professor
in the science of pricks
i want you thorn apple
thorn pear slowly but surely
blunted sea urchin

thornback-ray pinewood
i want to 
i want you
dull and unsharp

maythorn lavaneedle
if that’s impossible
i will want to become soft
besponge myself

so i can cling
can cling to you
without danger
of a punctured

Exploration of the Nature of Obsession with Specific
Reference to the Polkadot-Artworks of Yayoi Kusama

spottybedotted is Yayoi Kusama
mad as a spatter and dottybesotted

her bedroom her clothing her table
her lot is wholly entirely polkabedotted

dotcopious dotplenty dotfull dotalot
and nevermore chock-full or fed-up of dot

the sun is a dot and so too the moon
dotmad her thoughts dotinclined her tune

at times polkabothered or polkapestered
now polkatormented then polkatested

renowned is Kusama’s dotwacky praxis
her fame is dotmatrix and spotlightenriched

though dotwork’s her calling she works herself sick
dotart’s all that blocks her polkapanic

polkamouflage in polkadotfocus
first polkafamous then polkatrocious

and from wavering-melody, singular, strange
a polkrazy dance on the edge of the grave

soothing and pointless without rhyme or reason
the polkapatrol stipples eternally in

her trips and her tantrums her unblotted
delight is always forever polkanotright

spottybedotted is Yayoi Kusama
mad as a spatter and dottybesotted

from “Second Life: Autobiography”


Does one begin at birth or
must you walk further back
for the origin of your story?

Backwards to Bloemfontein
and further into October into
the lavalamplike womb
then deeper in and farther back
to the cardboard box in front of my parents’
bed where Ben (the tame lamb) sleeps.

Backwards from the pulpit out the church-
door to their first exchange of words
backwards in two directions to respective
first breaths to two wombs
exponentially further backwards
into eternity?

Or does a person simply start
with a photostat
of a birth certificate?

emoji in the scriptorium

there is nothing holy about me, yet today
in my drunkenness i feel pure
monk: my bedroom a cloister, your silence
a bell that tolls on the hour.

it’s time for introspection and meditation
close study of our communication;
an emoji-dialogue more opaque
and ambiguous than the Book of Obadiah.

i decode our decorated WhatsApp-text
like a puzzle, analyse my: “racing horse
honey pot,” and your answer: “dolphin pine-
apple. dolphin. dolphin. dolphin. pineapple.”

the unenlightened will assume this is silly
these pictograms of reeds, balloons
and cream-coloured rams, but we rely
on this plurality to simultaneously

talk to and past each other. in emoji
we can say things without trapping ourselves
between the stone walls of sense.
these are things like “heart apple” that may

suggest that i feel something in the gyre
of our unexpected sinfall. or not. “sheep
lightning” might imply something about softness,
suddenness, intensity or eternity, but

otherwise perhaps it just refers to your supper
and the oncoming bad weather. “snowrabbit white-
rat thoughtcloud.” “pile of books. poodle worm”
“smile.” “wave.” i carefully write each one down

because the doomsayers predict a digital dark age
where our data will become impenetrable.
it’s for the next generation that i transcribe our
thought-exchange: “pufferfish.” “rabbitface. showerhead.”

“pear.” when this software has become outdated
and our phones artefacts and our voice notes
unhearable, there'll be someone who can read these notes
and attempt to interpret them.

what will remain of us is “sixty slices of pizza.”
“cicada. shiba inu.” “irritable panda face.”
“bicep.” “suggestive eggplant.”

15 instagram poems


i want another life, one that’s more
like Instagram: full-colour, four-squared
framed, filtered. comfortably-boring
and ergonomic but addicting.
i want a lo-fi life without before or after,
just longing for the peace of this preserved present
together with you. how long can you hold
your pose?


i’m the type of woman that only
keeps one hand on the handlebars
when i two-wheel
in pursuit of a moment, the other hand
clings to my phone, ready
steady still aware of what
i've always-already missed while
my mind pedals after your calves,
the afterthoughts of my hair in the slipstream


you two whose real
names i don’t know that so blithely
laugh in each other’s lenses and holiday
in Spain and always bike
around, i follow you everywhere and feed
myself your photos. although it is winter
here and dark, my mornings are
full of mangoes.


eye-contact is the worst
if you arrive first, know
no one and feel trapped between
strangers. don’t flee,
help is here: improvise by
trying this lifehack: look busy with
your eyes directed at your screen,
fiddle with your cellphone’s settings,
take a photo of your feet


the best feed on Instagram is
@HotDudesWithKittens and yes,
it’s good-looking guys and kittens—
it’s everything a person desires in life
in the palm of your hand,
minus the admin of an emotional
bond or stinky cat sand. such a pity
that data is so bloody expensive


Toaster is a tech-entrepreneur’s pet,
a labradoodle after whom the filter is named.
more than 5000 people follow Toaster on Twitter,
he usually tweets “w00f.” sometimes i wonder
what’s wrong with the world, sometimes i
toast my photos and run tail-wagging
and slavering after the pack


seeing was believing in 1928 when Buddy the guide dog
arrived in Nashville, the first guide dog in America.
Buddy leads the visionary Frank Morris around
and frees him, especially from the lazy fellow
who previously acted as his eyes and so quickly
became bored with secondhand sight


double murderer Gary Gilmore’s corneas
were transplanted to two recipients after his execution.
will they still see after nearly forty years? does an
unfamiliar image ever flash past, a plate
full of steak and potatoes, untouched, burned into
DNA, this polaroid-shot of a last meal


i enjoy the moment of un-
certainty when i look at a photo
on Instagram and don’t know if
it’s Ruby Rose or Bieber
that’s posing.
i like their
man to woman to man to moon to an-
drogynous likeness: a genderless
doubledose James-Dean-Jolie-ness


even a gifted spy and tracker
like me cannot make out where you were
today. you deliberately framed the place so
that it is impossible to recognise. i remain locked
out and stand alone, stare uncomprehending
at the word above the door that serves as a
single clue: BOYS


on a nice day for tree climbing
you visit a forest but
instead of clambering you pluck your iPhone out,
leave a sound-track with the shutter
to the place where a stump
stops you short. what if
there was no one there to take a photo
of the tree that fell?


i went to the forest because i wanted to
live with deliberation like Thoreau,
on the lookout for things that can be seen,
and especially photographed. i came back
because the cellphone signal was up to shit and
there was no wi-fi and i started
dying of FOMO


do you know the sea, mister, or just
the tame blocks of colour that
stand in for it here? do you know
the cold or just the photos of
water in deepest blues that
stream over the screen? do you know
the darkness and his friend
death? or just these snaps
of a cemetery wall?


don’t sleep, look! three pale flocks
flicker past the window in morning light. behind
the curtain they dove together: a chopped-
off wing that still takes flight,
escaping chain gang of music notes.
don’t think, snap! thus you photograph
the synchronised splintering of a flight of birds,
the last flutter
of a collective noun


i refuse to struggle with words
when i can make poetry on Instagram
with a swipe, a tap, and a vintage filter.
my photo of Juan’s foot in a Converse
high top is one soleful poem,
bitch. to suffer for your art is old hat.

translated from the Afrikaans by Alice Inggs