Post Xmas blues - it's been grey cold and raining all day - all the build-up to Xmas, buying presents (last-minute in my case).  Then a friend came round to help wrap the endless presents  (6 kids 7 adults). ... and I also spent Xmas Eve making mince pies and a nut-roast and then it was Xmas Day ... I like practical presents - so that's what I got - plus a beautiful pair of pajama bottoms - lovely colours - too nice to wear to bed and my fav chocs - Booja booja - the best.

I came across this poem in January 2020 when I went to Cape Town for a month.  I lived there in the 70s and wrote a book about how myself, my husband and baby had lived there under full-on apartheid - called A Hippopotamus at the Table (pub'd by Tambourine Press 2015).

While in Cape Town, that Jan 2020, I went to visit the widow of an old friend and very good poet - Peter Kantey.  We sat out in the garden, talked poetry of course and I read Elisha and their daughter Dominique a few of my poems, at their request.  They brought out some poems by Peter and friends.  This one - Rain - I immediately fell in love with - I photographed it to type it up one day .... 

But  .... a few weeks after my return .... we were in lockdown and the rest is history, and I forgot all about it .... until the other day, it randomly popped up on my phone.  So I finally typed it up and here it is - the topic is rather appropriate for today.  And after it, I include one of my favourite poems from Peter - which may be the title of a collection soon to be published by Tambourine Press, posthumously sadly.  I know he would have been delighted, dear Peter.  

Finally there's a short poem I wrote, still on the rain theme - Raindrops on my Tongue


by Michael Cope

That day it rained Poetry.

At first, it started with a few words falling;

there fell love, here sunset,

a lark or two, a patriotic sentiment …

It fell faster; the Iliad and the Odyssey came down

in a sudden squall of dark archaic drops,

the words of Shakespeare fell, the words of Dante

and Wordsworth, of Rimbaud and of Donne;

harder and harder they pelted, soaking into the soil

or forming puddles, here perhaps a little sonnet

trickling off the eaves

spatters of Limericks, a dirge on the slate path.


It seemed to be slackening

so I opened the front door, put my hand out to feel,

caught a verse from the Diamond Sutra

and a Latin couplet in my hand

wiped them on my trouser leg and came back in

to the hot chocolate and the rain-watching.


Li Po ran mournfully on the window pane.

A couple of protest poems shook themselves off the carnations

and joined a sonnet grieving for death.

We could see it would soon be over and in a few days

we would be able to pick huge mushrooms

nurtured by D.H. Lawrence

and the farmers would be glad of the downpour.

So we put on our raincoats and our Wellingtons

and went out to trudge among the puddles and

the leaves damp with words

and we were puzzled as to the meaning of this shower…

But when we came back for supper

we carefully wiped the poems from our boots.


We stayed indoors and watched the words come out of the sky

bouncing off the oak leaves and forming quatrains

that washed the bird-shit from the car roof.

Small words on the windows

wrote nursery rhymes or ballads

that trickled and ran, reforming themselves

in the wonders of Spencer and Yeats's finest memories.

In the gutter leaves, words and mud rolled

towards the storm-drain.

but from the window, through the gathering and changing verses

we could not discern their content.


We knew however, that somewhere

Mayakovski and Rilke

were darkening the soil

and that cummings would help the seedlings in the yard

that Elliot would grow fine roses;

but feared that Shakespeare and Goethe

would cause the dams to break,

spilling the dangerous flood,

ripping at land and trees in all directions.


Through a break in the cloud

the sun illuminated a canto by Pound

near the foot of a young palm tree

and sparkled over the Mahabharata

as it seeped through the lawn.

We sipped hot chocolate and watched a truck go by, splashing Kipling and some obscure triolets against the hedge,

leaving them to run muddy onto the pavement.

Gus Ferguson wrote in an email:  ‘If a book is done, I suggest you include the Mike Cope poem ‘Rain’, as it really makes me think of Pete [Kantey]’ 

When I first heard Michael read this poem in the small garden adjacent to the South African National Gallery, along with his father, novelist Jack Cope, Menan Du Plessis, and Peter Clarke – it too, made me think of inspiring discussions about Life, the Universe and Poetry, upstairs in Peter’s study, with rain thundering down on the roof and whooshing out of the gutters.  I remember too, memorable discussions at al fresco luncheons and wine-soaked dinners – meals surrounded by ebullient, talkative artists, writers, painters and musicians, who never ceased with their constant flow of words, jokes, stories, anecdotes and quotes from remarkable women and men in the giddy world of arts and culture. 

Here's Peter Kantey's poem  All Blue which he wrote and sent to me, back in London in the 80s...

        All Blue

I die of Rain Forest;

Tiger, I die of sleep;

I die of flowing, clear river;

Grizzly; spawning salmon;

I die of teaming grassland;

Antelope, Great Karoo;

I die of clear, crystal fjords

Timber wolf; whale meet again;

          I die of love; accountability;

Responsibility; vision.

.... and finally I was walking down the street with a little girl called Neveah (Heaven backwards) one day and she was dancing in front of me with her tongue out - here's the poem I wrote for her -

Raindrops on my Tongue

 Dropping pear drops from the sky

I close my eyes and

skip skip skip

down the wet pavement.


Rasberry, strawberry or banana?

Today I’ll pick the caramel toffee fudge

and feel the big wet drops of icy grey

counting one two three. …


Dark sky, grey clouds and I’m wearing

pink shoes, dancing shoes, blue coat,

rainbows kaleidoscope over my head


I put out my tongue and jump skip jump

catching flavours and colours

sherbet lemons fizzing. . 

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