Two Poems by Dennis M. Lane

Walk In Their Shoes

I stopped at the lights again and he was there

Wanting help but not being “in my face”

I give him something, just a few coins going spare

He took it with purest simplicity and grace

His sign said

Still has his humour, still has a smile

I couldn’t walk in his shoes if my money was gone

Yet he limps along mile after mile

Outside MacDonald’s she sits on her crate

Dark glasses, bandages, a broken cup

How did she get there? What was her fate?

How much bitterness did she have to sup?

She still sings her songs as the world passes by

She still has the children at home without food

I couldn’t walk in her shoes, I could hardly try

Yet she carries on, she’s never subdued

People today say “South Africa’s free”

“Democracy’s come and the future is bright”

‘Heroes’ turned bureaucrats dived in with glee

Corruption was wrong then, but now it’s their right

They stand on their stages and raise a clenched fist

Trading past glory for fortune and gain

They once walked in old shoes, were on the ‘Banned List’

But now they’ve forgotten how the poor feel such pain

It’s time for a new way, a new struggle awaits

We have to forget the politics of greed

Again we should rise up and storm those high gates

Create a country that helps those in need

You may think I’m crazy, a blast from the past

Put your trust in the market and worship “Free Trade”

But just walk in their shoes, you’ll soon be aghast

To see poverty kill you as bills wait to be paid

Such high hopes …

But oh how we’ve strayed

(Note: In South Africa a “robot” is a traffic light!)

Turn of the Season

The streets billow with dust and debris.

Trees, almost bare in the late winter chill,

point accusing fingers to the sky,

while a mangy dog scratches around the shell of a car,

smelling for intruders.

From a cafe on the corner leaks the tinny echo of good times;

Brenda Fassie – Weekend Special.

Time on my hands, I stroll over to escape the high veld cold.

Inside it is warm, redolent of old oil and fresh bread.

I sit at a metal table,

the plastic cloth bright and cheerful in the gloom.

My coffee comes,

a pot of hot water

accompanied by a bowl of faded brown granules.

I’m not in Sandton now …

Time passes slowly off the beaten track;

experience soaks into the pores rather than sparking instantly on retina.

I sip my cup of almost coffee and just breathe.

Savuka sing of a cruel, crazy, beautiful world

– to the gentle percussion of drops on steel.

I stand, pull up my collar,

and go outside to watch the dust wash away.

Dennis M Lane was born in the monochrome days of the early sixties, deep in the industrial heartland of England. Coming of age during the Thatcher Years, the conflict that he experienced during the Steel Strike and the Teacher’s Strike played a great part in his political development. He has lived in seven countries across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, each country making its own impact upon him. He has finally settled in South Africa where he has now lived for eight years. His first poetry collection “8 Million Stories” was published in November 2010.Outside of his own writing, Dennis is a regular contributor to , he paints, presents a monthly review of old SF movies on the StarShipSofa podcast.


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