Three Poems by Nathan Trantraal











Translated from the Afrikaans by Alice Inggs.
This is part of our special feature, Beyond Eurafrica: Encounters in a Globalized World.



When slavery ended
in America a slave got
40 acres anna mule
to start his life with
Christopher Robin got
100 acres with
a bear
a tiger
a owl
a piglet
a kangaroo
a rabbit
a heffalump
anna mule
just to play with
And then you don’t understand
why we hate you

Silly old boer


Fiction and estrangement

After apartheid it was
said, if we want to show
that we relly are Christians
we must fogive
An we, because we relly
wanned to be Christians
we fogave
They told us
Jesus issa Peacemaker
and if you love Jesus
you will lay down your weapons
And we, because we loved Jesus
we laid down our rocks
Evryone went home
Them to their howses besida sea
us to our shacks
beside liddle pools of stagnant warter
where the BS in absolution
us all



Cash for Gold

Something’s in the water
And if I gotta brown-nose for some gold
I’d rather be a bum than a motherfuckin’ baller
– “King Kunta”, Kendrick Lamar

I wunner if I’ma only
prize-winning poet
that must strip
copper wire
fo food money
I am possibly the only one
that can’t get or afford a lift
and walks to Lavis, walks
homeward, from Cape Town
International Airport
aftera literary festival in Potch is over
I ama one that stays in Amsterdam
and if I come home
must go pawn the gold chains
that my wife got from Annemarie
as presents

My name lies inna mouths of
Cash for Gold’s people
annit lies onna coffee tables
of rich people in Oranjezicht
My name is inna newspaper
and onna receipts of Cash Crusaders

I get respect and awards
that means a lot fo enough people
and then onna Wednesday
that means nothing
I stand inna frontroom and weigh
a award in my hand
and ask my ma: “What does Mammie think,
is this bronze or copper?”
Iffits copper it’s a coupla days’ food
iffits bronze it means nothing to me



Nathan Trantraal is a poet and journalist. He won the 2015 Ingrid Jonker prize for his debut poetry collection, Chokers en Survivors.

Alice Inggs is Asymptote’s South Africa editor-at-large. She has an M.A. in media theory and practice from the University of Cape Town. Alice works as an editor and writer and has contributed to a number of literary, arts, and pop culture publications, including Ons Klyntji, Economic Observer, The Arkansas International, VICE, and Rolling Stone.


Published on March 1, 2018.


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