A path of people you know, well
as the dream started, quick
all of us the same direction
determined, but slow slow
I passed, the quick
it was as if, they’d never known
the steps, to any Rumba.
A great wall, there was
and one two, I climbed its ladder, cha cha cha
to a camels’ eye, set where the quick
fought to enter, one two
but without the steps, of a slow Cha-Cha
knew not, how to enter.
A studio, or study, it was dark inside
and I waited slow slow slow slow
stepping to the dream’s beat
down a flight of stairs, where
quick quick quick two people I knew
came up, from the inside, but heading out
self-chasing, as if Merengue, were a curse.
A great hall; pillared sky-scrapers
and a sense, of a ballroom universe
that I, but a tiny Latin dancer, am not privy to.
A great verdant garden, oh my!
filled with the free spirit song
of a hundred thousand
African ceremonial steps, to which I
though wanting, will never belong.
A white picket fence, stretching
in an eternal line dance of an awful still
and beyond, hills, filled, as far as
slow, slow, eyes could ever see
the intricate terrible quick, quick
of sleeping people, red flower on each chest
the lands, of the Single Swing.
A business and no-nonsense man
confident by his quick suit
asks my partner and I
if he may cut in? slight gesture
to the tall grey being behind him
stoic surveillance inside the white fence
but I, noticing slow my own suit, say
“I think not”.
A path, again, lined this time
with Jacarandas and nothing but
my partner and I, and a black man
wearing blue overalls and as humble
as sunlight, and slow slow
my partner steps, quick
through a little garden gate, I cannot
quick or slow, nor Mambo, follow!
I turn to the labourer, for all succour
and ask, “Is Jesus real?”
just as my alarm, wakes.
And looking back, I wonder
at this boy, of twenty-one, dreaming this
who saw, what all of us old, must learn
that every dance was meaning.
Warren is editor-in-chief for the not-for-profit literary publisher, Botsotso; rights and permissions agent, for the Alan Paton Will Trust; and a painter, who completed his MA (Language, Literature and Modernity) degree at the University of Cape Town. He’s been longlisted for the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award and was a finalist for the Kikwetu Flash Fiction Competition. He has, most recently, been published with New Coin Poetry Journal; Usawa Literary Review, and Olongo Africa. He is diagnosed bipolar disorder type 1.