Beloved Country

It seemed such a natural request

On a hot dry afternoon

In a once provincial capital

Trying hard now to grow worldly, cosmo

Aware, modern, hip, could I sip

On some iced tea, please.

Of course, and furnished with some ghastly

Syrupy concoctioned cocktail 

never shared the same world as tea

And even less ice in sight

Sent it back for the real thing

Which we don't know how to make.

My chance to be Jack, it's five easy pieces

A cup of ice, pot of tea, slice of lemon, spoon

Sweeten to taste, Serve and grow rich.

No need to hold anything between your knees.


Years, and the land awash now

In the bottled counterfeit

Still can't find refreshment

In the pure simple pleasure

Of iced tea in the shade on a hot day.

The photogenic wonders of the Cape

Bested, overawed the camera's hold

Found a port to off load, but lacked the 

Forgotten connection, found in the last

Shop of the day, will this serve, tried the fit, 

Found it and the price most fitting.

The consummation of the deal

Called into play the technocratic wonders

POS, supply control insist 

The thing Itself does not exist

Cannot then be sold

I'm looking at it, begging for the buy

We cannot sell what isn't here you must allow

The electronic truth to trump the eye

And leave now empty handed.

I lost my shirt in Cape Town

Gambling on the honesty of men unseen

Who promised to deliver that which had been

Forgotten in a taxi. Retrieved, 

everyone denied holding it

Passed it on, and nevermore seen again.

The taxi driver, hearing the story

Once a courier himself, solemnly advised

-----If you hope to wear it once again

Don’t send your clothes by courier, or 

mark it medical specimen, bodily fluids.

Halfway round the world

Slithering into the entombed earth

To discover humanity's cradle

With all the people searching

For novelty, insight in the land

Hidden, denied by correctness.

Groping in the dank caves and

Misty waves of forbidden pools

Edging toward the moment of truth

An image merges from the verges of 

Vision, another searcher, wearing

In the fashion of the day 

A shirt proclaiming home, 

In the cradle of civilization

Blinded by the booster of a cafe

Bridges, not a mile from the home I left

Back on the surface

Halfway round the world.

Home means something 

More than nowhere else to go

Some commitment transforms 

a place, makes it your own

You have to choose

To call it beloved.

Just a lusty, wild affair

With an exotic land

All the excitement of unexpected

Tingling thrill of indecision

To flirt or consummate-

Much obliged, I'm sure-

Inseminate with words 

Noncommittal, carry away 

only mementos, memories

people and their places;

Leave nothing but ideas

And respect in the parting,

Still waiting for the leopard.

About this: In 1995, I was invited to a conference in Cape Town, an event that began my twenty year involvement––a lusty, wild affair with a land that remains exotic and, on occasion, madly frustrating!

 © Philip Knight 2018