Wednesday, August 5, 2015

On a canal, by Sinclair Beiles

The canal water
Black my mood
In this houseboat.
Through the bleary porthole
A cobbled street.
Sodden leaves turning black.
Shut-in people with bent heads -
A lid rattles on a pot of boiling stew.
Sodden socks hang on a string
Across my brain.

(from Ashes of Experience, Wurm Publishers, Pretoria, 1969)   

Sunday, August 2, 2015

An invitation, by Sinclair Beiles

When your voice
Sounds of dark avenues
And parks
Breathing with mysterious hoodlums
When the last rattling tram
Has frozen
And hangs in icicles from the eaves
When your heart no longer stands
On a street corner
With feverish eyes
Stamping its boots
When the traffic lights have stopped
And you are through with calculating
Forgetting your train journeys
And timetables
Come to me
With your switchblade knife.
We'll climb the spire of the town hall
And carve our names on the moon!

(from Ashes of Experience, Wurm Publishers, Pretoria, 1969) 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Exiles, by Sinclair Beiles

in the flower market
at night
beside the church
with its glowing ornaments
beneath the windowsill
on which she leans
staring at the twinkling city
when the dustbins are rattled
by marauding cats
when the shoes of the last lover
beat like drums
and suddenly a chorus of drunken singers
lights up the street
the exiles gather silently
to examine their wounds
and to plan for their departure...

(from Ashes of Experience, Wurm Publishers, Pretoria, 1969)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sinclair Beiles, le poète excentrique du Beat Hotel, by Bruno Sourdin

Né en 1930, le poète sud-africain Sinclair Beiles a vécu à Paris dans les années 50. Il travailla pour Olympia Press, la maison d’édition de Maurice Girodias, qui publiait en anglais des livres sulfureux et subversifs, à la fois des récits érotiques (dirty books) et des oeuvres interdites aux Etats-Unis (parmi lesquelles Sexus d’Henry Miller, Lolita de Nabokov et Naked Lunch de William Burroughs). Sinclair lui-même a édité un roman érotique, Houses of Joy, sous le pseudonyme de Wu Wu Ming....Read more

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The French Village, by Sinclair Beiles

Everything blue
Blue nuns
With hats like paper boats.
A boys' choir with open mouths
Like young birds wanting to be fed.
There's an old policeman
On a bicycle
And a girl shaking a rug
From a window
With a wisp of hair like a tendril
Hanging in front of her ear.
And there's also a woman wearing black stockings.

(from Ashes of Experience, Wurm Publishers, Pretoria, 1969)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

This exile, by Sinclair Beiles

This exile.
In unfamiliar streets
Canaries sing
And women smile from their doorways
At the stranger
Who carries his heart
In his hand.
He walks about the marketplace
As if risen from the dead
An ancestor
Come to see his people
Trading old coins
Stamped with his likeness.

(from Ashes of Experience, Wurm Publishers, Pretoria, 1969)

Ari, by Sinclair Beiles

Ari lives with her mother
Spends Sundays with her lover
Under the pine trees on Lycabettus hill
While the church bells ring for mass in the valley.
Ari wears an engagement ring although she is not engaged
And dreams of meeting an American
Who will take her to New York
And so she sits at tourist cafés during the lunch hour
Wondering whether she can still have children
After that abortion in Piraeus.

(from Ashes of Experience, Wurm Publishers, Pretoria, 1969)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Czechoslovakia, by Sinclair Beiles

the tide runs out
and gangsters strut along the beach
while fighter jets roar overhead
in towns where tyranny clicks its heels
free men are exiled to the rainy squares
- screams like cattle waiting to be slaughtered -
rifle fire drowns out retreating music
and on the promenades where lovers used to meet
soldiers with savage eyes mount the machine guns.
men whose dreams were smashed by blaring radios
stare from cafes with frightened eyes
and flags flap like vicious whips
as dark curtained limousines
speed through the murdered streets.

(from Ashes of Experience, Wurm Publishers, Pretoria, 1969)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Street corners, by Sinclair Beiles

Many things happen on street corners.
Lovers part with a kiss
Salesmen smooth down their hair
And straighten their ties
Cloth manufacturers stare
At the hair on the napes
Of schoolteachers' necks
Blind musicians play accordions
Little boys hand out yellow leaflets
Shop assistants straighten their green skirts
And old dogs on leashes relax and take a piss.
Oh my heart!

(from Ashes of Experience, Wurm Publishers, Pretoria, 1969)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A song, by Sinclair Beiles

My dress fell.
It fell about my feet
Like a pool in the rocks.
Come close to me.
Lick my skin
And you will taste the sea.

(from Ashes of  Experience, Wurm Publishers, Pretoria, 1969)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sinclair Beiles on mental illness and being an outcast

In 1975 Sinclair Beiles gave an interview to Michael Butterworth, shortly after he had completed a lengthy in-patient treatment for mental disturbance at Bowden House.

The conversation allowed Beiles to speak about his illness and treatment:

“Conditions inside an asylum [being] ideal for a poet, because of the lack of personal responsibility living in the clinic. Somebody would arrive with a tray for my breakfast…and take it away again. Somebody would come and make my bed. I felt I was in a very congenial environment. The people were responsive to poetry – sometimes out of boredom, sometimes out of their own madness.”

Asked, “How do you cope outside, then?” Beiles responds:

“Well, I cope with difficulty. All sorts of things like washing, and all the chores of living like cooking and buying a chop and things like that, I find alien to me. But this time out, I’m trying to spend my time out altogether, and not go back.”

Do you mind me asking how your personal ‘madness’ started?

“It’s a chemical thing.”

Beiles considers being outcast in ‘The Conspiracy,’ and for him the boundaries become hazy under examination:

A conspiracy against us
Everything is a conspiracy
The grocer who wants to be cured of his
The frailty of our bodies
The sun
The light
Getting out of bed in the mornings
Our sex which cannot be satisfied
Which overwhelms us in the underground
And in libraries
A conspiracy of doctors
Who invite us to eat with mute children
Of Austrian mountains
Of getting lost
Of vigorous climbers
Who hug and kiss us
Of the society for the Prevention of
Of making love on Turkish trains
O[f] parents who insist on dressing us up
In the clothes of their absent sons
Of typewriters with their metallic clatter
Of lost letters
Of Summer armpits.
We want nothing
Nothing of this life
We do not want children
We do not want our mothers-in-law
To buy us houses in London
We do not want to live on the rent in
Make 8mm films
Pose in the nude
Attend cocktail parties in our honor.
This conspiracy is never ending
Spiro and I will die of it

But at least we will die together.

First published here