Crass as a northern-suburbs Midas
he sets his walk to music
and swathes himself in double-breasted suits.
Exchange bells ring wildly with their tally
and register an element of loss.
But he’s diversified extensive holdings
and sold a mass of tardy stock.
His grandfather, a crude prospector
razed many bleak mine dumps
from which a Transvaal wind
had scalloped all it could.
He panned the excavated lode and found
less gold than one might need to fill a tooth.
Grandma darned his threadbare socks
though now his skin is softened
by many years of wealth
his manner modified to suit society
his honour traded on the futures market.
He also dives for diamonds, but does not stoop to wear
the large alluvials sorted by his boys.
As blasts of dynamite reverberate
in the sepulchred gloom of a refurbished boardroom
the mining magnate sighs with new-found grace.
Hackles bristling, raised for the race –
long since gelded, no longer fit for the chase
his power doesn’t come without grim pall.
Sun-bronzed arms once boasted bulging muscle
could raise a brandy glass and make it sing
to serenade a wife he loved with all his heart.
Now hooded eyes reveal her scorn much more
than lips could ever tell. She narrows them –
an image of his past appears
despite his careful art.
Comments about this poem (Johannesburg magnate by Julian De Wette )
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