My Zulu post

Hi everyone,

Longtime visitors to my blog will remember my good friend in South Africa, Silindile Ntuli. She began contributing poems in 2010 but eventually put her pen down as her health continued to worsen and the nearly constant companion of pain made rest difficult. I am delighted to say that lately Silindile has found new determination to write.

Silindile is a brave young woman, witty and loving. Her malady has not been fully diagnosed but somehow she finds the strength and emotional courage to deal with what life has dealt her.

Sometimes her poetry deals with dark subjects but her conversations are always upbeat even though she must spend much of her life in bed or sitting in a chair outside. Here’s an example of her poem posted here in October 2010 and which received the most votes (we used to vote each month on our favorite W.O.M. efforts).

This Change, Wishing It Away

I’ve seen the devil’s eyes,
Filled with hatred and hungry for torment.
I looked into those eyes; I was just a little girl.
Each touch, no each yank left a bruise on my skin,
Each drag made me scream out loud,
But my heart was suffering the most,
In a fog I could not understand.

A slap across my face followed by harsh words,
The smell of his body suffocated me,
That alone brought him to a smile.
I looked in the eyes of hatred,
Wondering what my crime was.
Till I found myself facing a knife,
I was not even five.
This sudden change was new to me,
But I knew it was evil at its best.

Send me down my angel,
Fling him down, throw him down.
I need help, because my soul is dying.
They told me about angels,
I need mine by my side.
Just a few minutes ago,
I was playing with my teddy.
Now my head is pinned to the dirty ground,
I am only a little girl.

Minutes later I’m sleeping on the ground,
Tightly holding my teddy.
My clothes are dirty from the dragging,
My body is in pain,
The kind I never knew existed.
My soul is filled with hatred,
And burning with anger.
Traumatized little girl,
Heart shattered into pieces.
I cry myself to sleep on the floor,
Clutching my brown bear.
– Silindile Ntuli

Silindile is a Zulu and a natural teacher. Her notes to me are often sprinkled with Zulu words and expressions (with clear explanations) and I’ve kept a list over the years. Today I’m going to give you some examples. Here goes.

Sawubona (hello) othandekayo (beloved) izmngani (friends) wami (my).

Often I think of you as isbhuti (brothers) wami (my) and izdadewethu (little sisters) wami (my).

Unjani (How are you)?

Inhlobo (summer) is passing so I hope you have not isikhathi esilahekile (lost time) when you could be writing an inkondlo (poem) or reading a good incwadi (book) or keeping up with the iphephandaba (newspaper).

Have you gone riding in the imoto (car), in an isikebha (boat), or on an ibhayisekili (bicycle)?

Kade ngakugcina (It’s been a long time) since some of you have commented. Ngihyakukhumbula! (I miss you!)

Ungakhathazeki (Don’t worry) izmngani (friends) wami (my). There is plenty of isikhathi (time) to share your izindaba (news).

Time for me to go. Salakahle (Goodbye) izmngani (friends) othandekayo (beloved). I am happy that my blog is blessed with woza woza (the power to bring you back).

As for you, Silindile, dadewethu (little sister) wami (my), thank you for all the lessons. Thank you for being so courageous. Thank you for being you.


A Garland of Flowers

Hi everyone,

I worked at Hallmark Cards from 1963-1973. Sometime during that period I saw a rather large book of collected stories for children that were written in the 1800s or maybe earlier. I think the title was A GARLAND OF FLOWERS or something close to that. There was likely a subtitle. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

The stories, at least ones that I remember, were cautionary and often grim. They featured tragic tales such as the boy who ignored his father’s admonition about playing with matches, caught himself on fire, and died in agony. Or the girl who played too near the well anyway, fell in, and drowned. Children must have been terrified by some of those things but many early stories were meant to teach kids to behave and mind their parents.

Last night I did a quick search for this book without luck so today I take up the hunt again. If anyone is familiar with it, I hope you’ll let me know. Thanks!


All is well at Goose Lake

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I wrote a new poem for the age 3-7 crowd, submitted it, and received notice of acceptance, so my muse was there when I needed her!

Last night our daughter Robin, son-in-law Tim, grandson Kris, grandson Tyler, and Tyler’s special friend Josie all came over for a pool party with brats, beans, and potato salad. It was a pleasant evening on Goose Lake.

Just before dusk a hummingbird moth flew up to sip nectar from a large cluster of Impatiens growing beside the pool. I took pictures from three fee away as the moth calmly darted from one blossom to another, its two-inch proboscis flicking into one throat after another as it quenched its thirst. IMAG1474


Hi everyone,

Yesterday went off as expected. Almost. My goal: compose one poem. I was writing it in response to an invitation to participate in an upcoming anthology. I didn’t reread the specs but from memory I knew that it was to be suitable for grades 3-7.

I waited for something to occur to me and sure enough something did. I worked on it for half an hour, didn’t like the way it was feeling, and discarded the idea. I chose a second idea, worked on it for half an hour, didn’t like the way it was feeling, and discarded the idea.

A third idea came along and I liked it. I started it as a ballad, rhyming abcb and using 4-3-4-3 beats per line. But I began lapsing into couplets and they felt better. I discarded the beginning and settled into writing a poem in couplets. I was shooting for six to eight lines and aleady knew my ending. But after six lines, the ending came too fast and needed more preparation.

Eventually the poem was complete at 18 lines divided into three 6-line stanzas. I called it done on the seventh draft. Just before sending it off to the requesting party, I decided to read the specs one more time. The poem was to be for ages 3-7, not grades 3-7. I’d spent the entire day writing for the wrong audience.

Yesterday’s effort now goes into my unpublished file to wait an opportunity to use it. Today? I think I’ll write a poem.

Ready for my muse


Hi everyone,

A beautiful Tuesday morning. I have no meetings. Today I’ll get my full twelve hours in. First on my agenda is to start on a new poem. At the moment I have no idea what it will be about, but something will come. It always does. I’ll sit with coffee, a pad, and a pencil and be ready when the idea arrives.

A friend in Springfield sent me this quote.
“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

I wish you all a good day too.