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Poetry

I Lift My Eyes Up

By Nashville Blaauw
Translated from Kaaps by Andre Trantraal

In Nashville Blauuw’s poem, the speaker decries the everyday tragedies that befall residents of council flats.

I lift my eyes up to the council
flats, where does my help
come from?
Where moving out is
mostly in a coffin
and youngsters are expert
in theft and multiplying hurt
knife against the throat
and enough guns on the street
but no food to eat
But while I toss
the coin and skip school
I’m the boss
because I was
destined for greatness
But Mum’s purse
was unable to enable
my habit

I lift my eyes up to the council
flats, where does my help
come from?
While flies buzz around the trash bin
while the sums do not add up
and the prospect of profits dim
is it true that my father
used the guitar-string
to ease his pain?
now I’m sitting here
and people say I’m a loser
I’m standing in line
waiting for soup
but the hitman watches and waits
and I wonder
if I’ll see the dusk

I lift my eyes up to the council
flats, where does my help come from?
Where, in the bowels of the shebeen,
you will see my innermost exposed
My mother serves the Lord
So that one day
She’ll wear a golden crown
But all I desire
is the copper that runs
inside old wires
like blood inside veins
and supplies my need
I’m just small fry
caught in a lie
So all I can try
is to not die

Ek Slaan My Oë Op Na Die Flatse” © Nashville Blaauw. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2021 by Andre Trantraal. All rights reserved.

English

In Nashville Blauuw’s poem, the speaker decries the everyday tragedies that befall residents of council flats.

I lift my eyes up to the council
flats, where does my help
come from?
Where moving out is
mostly in a coffin
and youngsters are expert
in theft and multiplying hurt
knife against the throat
and enough guns on the street
but no food to eat
But while I toss
the coin and skip school
I’m the boss
because I was
destined for greatness
But Mum’s purse
was unable to enable
my habit

I lift my eyes up to the council
flats, where does my help
come from?
While flies buzz around the trash bin
while the sums do not add up
and the prospect of profits dim
is it true that my father
used the guitar-string
to ease his pain?
now I’m sitting here
and people say I’m a loser
I’m standing in line
waiting for soup
but the hitman watches and waits
and I wonder
if I’ll see the dusk

I lift my eyes up to the council
flats, where does my help come from?
Where, in the bowels of the shebeen,
you will see my innermost exposed
My mother serves the Lord
So that one day
She’ll wear a golden crown
But all I desire
is the copper that runs
inside old wires
like blood inside veins
and supplies my need
I’m just small fry
caught in a lie
So all I can try
is to not die

Ek Slaan My Oë Op Na Die Flatse” © Nashville Blaauw. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2021 by Andre Trantraal. All rights reserved.

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