Insect nights

Night comes quickly in Africa. There is no
messing about. The sun had dropped
behind the rocky outcrop, the sky
red and golden, a real show off.
The heat of the day burned
the twilight air, the heavy air lingering, waiting
to listen to the soundtrack of the night.

At this moment, when darkness came,
the insect choir awakened out of their slumber,
just as they had done since the ancestors had heard them,
like ancient clockwork, their voices warmed in harmony.

I had the best seat of all, the coolness of the verandah,
sat under the Bulawayo sky brimful of stars.
The heat was the baton, the unseen conductor,
as the sound soared and fell away. It was like
the whole world was on fire with the insect choir
singing their hearts out. The chorus chirped and burped,
they clicked and sang. It was exquisite how they colluded
with the glow worm night and bull frog croaks,
the wildness still in my ears after all these years.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

This is a re-worked piece.

The secret life of porches

I sit looking out, bees ever
chasing nectar in the red and yellow
fabulousness of the porch planted
with love and green fingers.

I count myself lucky, greeted daily
with colour, the summer light can’t help
but be cheered up from its half-heartedness,
struggling – like all of us.

Further afield, decisions taken.
A washing of hands like Pontius Pilate
can be seen from space.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

I sat down without an idea in my head but chose to write. I love it when I surprise myself. You, dear reader, may not agree.


When we arrive at the airport,
will you be waiting for us dressed
in the colours of the union, waving
flags purchased in London town.
You know the ones you trophied
during the good old days before
they were sullied.

We will emerge wrapped in sunglasses, not quite
Police ones, wide-eyed at any rate in the African sun
ready with our talking irons, the mother of all
catch ups sizzling on the charcoals.
We can get worked up

into a lather about the blond blusterer,
now officially bored with a pandemic
he did not sign up for, his laziness dripping
like fat, knowing we will change nothing.

We will feel a whole lot better though,
putting the world to rights over a very cold glass
of Backsberg chenin blanc
– although I think you prefer a good red –
and rump steaks on the braai.

We can sit and idle away the time, re-wilding childhoods
only we remember. No matter what we will head for Hoekwil,
tuck into a Victoria sponge (go big or we go home)
and Cakey will be satisfied.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

I wrote this in prose form a year ago. Longing for a reunion, I revisited it and reworked the piece so as to capture a mood that seems unchanged from a year ago.

Turning cartwheels

It does not matter for a moment.
To understand the words that swayed
the room, skipping ‘the light fandango’*
transported fifty years, a life so different.

A seventeen year old unawakened,
only stirred by the seven single
spinning, the poetry reaching right in
still, breathing this early morning in a
different century. Beyond the cartwheels
a new understanding.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

*From the song, ‘A whiter shade of pale’ by Procol Harum

Extract from ‘Inescapable’

I am writing a novel about a guy called Harry and his journey to some kind of awakening. I thought I would share this with you.

Today, a navigation. Not along a wide river under a canopy watching wildlife drinking at the water’s edge or hearing bird song – but life. While we can, be present. Somewhere Harry had read that stillness comes from the full stops and commas and the breathing spaces of silences. It is in the breathing now and not leaping into a future place that has not yet happened. It is in knowing that wisdom arrives in different forms: in a chance conversation, a line from a poet and in books, an epiphany.

Bending to another’s will is no longer what we need to do. It is the death of people-pleasing.

‘But life is much too short to waste it
Chasing ghosts and pleasing fools
We blink and then it’s gone’*

‘I get inside my body and feel my blood and bones and breathing. Being present is beautiful. Put aside anger and fear so that I don’t have to believe everything I think or feel,’ Harry was journaling. Someone had said: ‘we can start now even if we do not feel we are ready.’

Like everything though, Harry remembered, it was not a one-walk dog. With it, the knowledge of something that accompanied this. That ‘wisdom says I am nothing, compassion says I am everything.’^

* Gordon Caldwell, If only we could know the words inside our bones could change the world; Pray to God.

^ Nisargadatta Maharaj.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Wild life

The ancestors stand at the window, peering
from the long distance of time and space.
They were flora and fauna, wild life born on the savannah –
rock artists, most certainly story tellers.

They gave me life, eyes and ears.
Heart and mind, fight and flight.
The belly laugh, the timbre of my voice,
my height and length, my knees and my flesh.

Their headaches and heartaches, these
grandmothers and grandfathers dead now –
their power still living in my bloodstream,
in my breathing.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Adapted from a piece I wrote about three years ago. I am very taken with the idea of our origins and those who came before us.

Somewhere close

To the question, nothing but a feeling of this:
An unbelonging is a commencement, to
arrive, to remake. There was a journey,
a return. Surely?

Like proudly wear the badge, a citizen
of nowhere, always somewhere geopolitical.
Even here, a coming home. Everything has its place

gathered long ago in star dust, where breathing
eventually gave life to the forming of words,
a belonging with flattened vowels.

They may be curious – or not, no matter – of place,
a discovery not far, quite close: the grandmothers
emerge on the savannah, the children
play under the acacia trees.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Last day in June

The first light of the last day in June has begun
to fill the place, the trees still dark outlines,
bird song the soundtrack on the back of thoughts
stuck on a theme like a grand loop at a play fair.

I remember it is a turning towards and not away
that is best. Here I can drop into my body, that I am
not all brain, mind, thoughts.

I am feeling, I am taste, I am smell,
I am touch. I am hearing.

It’s a settling into a mystery my ancient grandmothers
understood as they stirred in the first light
of a morning sometime in June. It seems faraway.

Until I remember other births.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Little green apples

I had those a Trade Fair legs – not too dissimilar to museum legs. Don’t get me wrong. I do love a Uffizi tour or a Flanders Field. Traipsing around, endlessly looking at stuff at the age of 14 made little sense and you know what – I confess – I can’t remember any of it. Except one thing. The radio studio.

It was, I think, 1970 and the national radio station played lunchtime music after the news. It was being broadcast from the studio at the fair. A large window meant that we had a grand view of the presenter’s desk, the turntables and the microphone.

A look of wonder overcame the man at the mic as he announced Little Green Apples. He waxed lyrical about how much he loved that song. Why do I remember this and not the rest? I was simply obsessed with the idea of radio, so much so I wrote to the ‘Little Green Apples’ man who was in charge of the local station (and who fortuitously knew my dad) and asked him for a tour of the main studio, a few miles away. I got my wish.

Afterwards I wrote a letter and asked him if there were any vacancies. He told me to come back when I was 18. Four years later I never did. Circumstances changed. I had one go on Capital 604 in Durban but never pursued it. Now, retired, I have really gone for it and will, after some training, get that big chance to do something I have always wanted to do.

Served hot

The heat of the African sun
in the high noon. We were all of fourteen
camping at Maleme – we stooped to touch
the road’s fine sand. Like time, it slipped
through our hands. We imagined a beach
far away from the sea. A passerby gave

The mystery we bumped into, the not knowing
was a kind of awakening – we did not know it then.
The wild shout, baboons from high up
in the scrub of the rocks, a conversation
that only they knew. Ours not dissimilar,
wild and carefree. We had walked
the five miles for a coke, the disappointment.
The general dealer served them
hot like the sun.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Maleme Dam is situated in the Matobo Hills, south of Bulawayo.