walk fast, whistle

cock your ears and listen

hold your line

hold your own

wind the window down

tap the beat on the wheel

look up, greet

touch a hand and feel

float a thought

to the rafters

smile at strangers

do not diet

don’t be quiet

eat tomato sauce

do not hold back a tear

drink beer

do not drink and drive

talk less about yourself

talk less

mess up, apologize

eat pie

humble pie

open your eyes

look inside your friends

and ask them how they are

take a trip round the darkest bends

together, tracking the trail

of the wandering star

to as far as the road goes

the ship would sail

the story slows

hits a sandbank

and the phosphorescence

in the water glows

and grows a blanket of silence

in which you can be wrapped


sometimes be quiet for an hour

sit in the veld and observe

if not ants, birds

if not birds, bats

if not bats, buck

pick up pretty stones

and twisted roots

seed pods and mice skulls

carry them home

arrange them on the sill

trace their outlines

against the days of life

lemonade, cold

tea, slowly

coffee, with a rusk

write with a pen on paper

purchase pencils

postcards to distant friends

travel alone

travel far

travel to the point

where you swivel on your heel

and remember where you come from

who you are

why you came

phone your parents

phone your siblings

phone your school friends

phone your sick friends

phone your friends with children

sometimes, switch off your phone for a week

do not check email

do not use a computer

sleep for twelve hours

three days in a row

until your dreams return

read a thick book

a 1000-page book

a book with difficult words in it

a book with an open ending

Roberto Bolaño’s book

walk around the house

in your underpants

or naked

without drawing the curtains

do push-ups, run

when the wind blows strongly

lean into it

and open your arms like an albatross

burp, fart, shit

pee outside

and especially, next to highways

wipe your bum

with something other than toilet paper

buy the newspaper

even if you don’t read it

support the idea of a poem

write poems, bad or good,

hidden or shown

purchase binoculars, study birds

investigate trees

consider different types of grass

stop by a road-cutting

and look at the layers of rock

picnic, own a thermos

wrap sandwiches in foil

eat peanut butter from the jar

drop it like it’s hot

drink coca cola

when it’s hot

drool on your pillow




cut the shit

dislike money

donate money

spend money

earn money

look after money

but dislike money

do something you like

if it’s an office job

remember who’s the boss

and who’s in charge

and that you’re the latter

swim in the sea

or in a river

or a farm dam

hold your breath for a long time

open your eyes underwater

float on your back

close your eyes

listen to the sound in your ears

the slow, dark, deathly croak

of your brittle body’s

cooked and cracked

organs and bones

slowly paddle back

to where you can stand

look at the person

waiting there

walk over

kiss her


To see Toast Coetzer performing this poem live – Go here

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