Perfect Poem Nominee: ‘Zulu Helios’ by Modise Sekgothe


The 4th annual Word N Sound Awards are almost here where we will salute an extraordinary league of writers those who have worked hard and stood out on the Word N Sound stage in 2015. We celebrate excellence in our craft with eight prestigious awards including Poet of the Year, Poetry League Champion, Best Newcomer, Word N Sound Honours, Best Showcase, Perfect Poem Award, Innovation Award.

Modise Sekgothe’s ‘Zulu Helios’ has been shortlisted for a 2015 Word N Sound Perfect Poem Award. Want him to win? Read his poem below and vote for him now (you can vote every hour).

Voting closes at 20:00 on Sun 31 Jan. You can vote once every hour. The 4th Word N Sound Awards will take place on Sat 6 Feb at the Market Theatre Lab in Newtown.


A river runs beside us
Disguised as a street
For the road is a frozen Nile
That spans a thousand streams
Where the ferry boat is a taxi
And the ferry-man is obscene
Where a scary storm is ensuing
And the roads have ravaged our dreams
Where we are swallowed up completely
In sets of fours at a fee.
To go further than those before us
To move forward as we flee
From the townships that are ship-wrecked
By the potholes we must eat.
We are hungry and are hunting
But the famished road is a sea
We are drowning and the harbour
Is an island called the CBD
We were seeking an asylum
In the silence of the streets.
The transporter is a tyrant
Who is vibrant as a beast.
He is tribal and despises us
While driving us to the pits

Where the city sings, not only in sirens
But also in a choir of the taxi horns
Honking in utter scorn
Hurling curses across the circus
Of hurried sailors and surfers
Frightened and shocked
By the tyranny in their song
There are hints at a civil war
Where they’ll massacre the passengers
There’s a terrorist in our streets
And he’s driving into the citadel
There are fourteen souls to sacrifice
For the sacrilege to succeed.
We are driven to our demise
While uncomfortable in our seats
Where we are raced with in a race
That is ransacking the city
Where every ride is a risk
With our lives held by the greedy
Who are reckless and relentless
In their pursuit to reach the north peak
They are raging and resent us
For professing to be free
It’s the fastest and the foulest that are ranked high
In the grand-prix of Noord and Bree
The Michael Schumacher’s of a macabre speed.
The passengers pray silently
For safe passage along this stampede
Every morning we bungee jump into these taxi’s
With the noose around our necks
While the driver holds our feet
Carelessly, with hands slippery
We hang on their every misery
But are dropped short at every stop
Where the cord breaks eventually

But even then we need
These masters of navigation
Driven by time, spinning inside,
The belly of the beast,
The monster called our streets
They maneuver through its streaks
And endeavor to succeed
They will see to it that you reach
And return you to your seeds
They have carried a crippled nation
Paralyzed at the feet
And subjected to its knees
They move us to the Parnassus
Of the mountains we must peak
And return to take us back home
When the day becomes too steep
They charge us next to nothing
For the fee is almost free
They know our struggles are hidden
In the bags and cases we keep.
They awake at the creep of dawn
To get us from A to B to the CBD
They communicate in hand signals
And encrypted language keys
They run a system that’s immaculate
And designed without any seam

They are warriors in peace-time
And their swords rust in the rubble.
They have conquered but have no place
In the kingdom that they fought for
A sunken soldier is in exile
For his kids to never struggle
Caught in a endless cycle
They can never stop
Entangled in the curse of Sisyphus
With the passengers as the huge rock
Breaking every bone on their backs
While they carry us to the mountain top
Only to have us drop
They return to the very bottom
To bolster another flock
Of burdens and boulders
Carried at almost no cost
Or gratitude
Over and over into eternity

This is the Zulu Sisyphus
Who rises everyday to carry the sun
Across the horizon of islands
That make up Johannesburg
And it’s many asylums
He brings dawn to dusk
And drives us from where we’re stuck
He’s a king born to task
With a throne made to motion
Across and around the kingdom
Leading every subject to their devotion.

by Modise Sekgothe

Read the rest of the poems nominated for the 2015 Word N Sound Perfect Poem Award:


One response to “Perfect Poem Nominee: ‘Zulu Helios’ by Modise Sekgothe

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