rose-tinted bits

a collection of words, stories, and places


for Cape Town,
this crazy crazy city.



fumes from passing trucks
car tyres screeching
a woman and child build a sidewalk bed
gunshots from across the highway


birds chirrup within the foliage
there is the smell of fresh mint and sea salt in the air
coffee arrives strong
in this city the sun makes your skin glow


cigarette smoke on Long St
men leer in white shirts and sunglasses
grit rises from the ground
seeps through the drains and onto the streets


pastel blue and pastel pinks
houses as colourful as the people in this city
music floats across the waterfront
a baby giggles at passing buskers


no tears on the woman’s face
but she wants to go home. she wants to go home
her children have left, scattered across the world
she does not understand. she does not understand.


the smell of city air
the sound of a squirrel eating
the quiet of the morning
the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard





Quito Dreaming

This poem was inspired by a description of Quito, Ecuador – from a friend who inspires almost as much as his city.



Did you know there is a city
descended from the Incas
which sits in the sky
amongst the clouds and mountain ranges?

Its mornings are filled
with the sounds of birds and light
who have chosen this home
amongst the trees and waterfalls.

They have built roads leading to mountain tops
made homes which face the rising sun,
tunnelled through rock so you can see
the Amazon and the Pacific Ocean all at once.

And there is a princeling with a dream
to feed the world,
to share the knowledge of his varied lands
and build utopias like the one back home.


Atop the mountains, between the clouds
A place of God’s creations, man and beast
Between the hills and wild seas
there lies a city made of dreams.





I sit in the middle of the Namib desert
where mountains are made of sand
where the stars come to rest
and the sun sets fiery.

In this country, time runs to the sound of beating hearts
Coasts built from color-blind walls: pink, green, blue as the sky
Blood red shouts against a black black night
Yet even ghosts can be ‘not white enough’ to haunt its streets


Three weeks ago, I walk out of an office into a night void of stars,
with skyscraper lights and blinding billboards
the endless chant of human desires.
I have not seen the sun in as many days.


Three weeks later I will be driving along the Namib coast
where the sea and desert play clash of titans.
I watch clouds unravel into spider webs
and flamingoes dance in a blood pink pool.

We are chasing light atop a pickup truck
Cameras flickering against a night full of stars

I am trying to learn the art of capture
I am trying to capture the art of laughter


They say a dying man in the desert will see mirages
Bodies of water hallucinated from the mind’s imagination
I could swear the other day I drove through a desert
And there was a pool of water stretched out on the horizon.





1945 – Albert Einstein, a man of law, helps create the atomic bomb
100,000 Japanese houses implode, peace treaties explode.

Scientists predict that it will take generations
before anything will grow on the radiation infected soil of Hiroshima
But that Spring, there were new buds popping out from the Earth.


My mother was one of two women sitting an engineering degree
But they laughed her out of the libraries,
So she went home, and drew herself a compass on the floor of her room
Learnt to follow the vectors until they always point North

Built a library of lines and taught herself
to pick every lock in the house
Until it drove my grandfather mad
Until there was no door she could not unlock.


My mother calls me her little fighter
She says that when I was born, the nurses kept me in an incubator for 4 weeks.
Until one day, I opened my eyes and looked around the room with a stare that said
“When are you going to let me out?”

And yet for someone who was apparently ready for this world
I still don’t quite know what to do with myself
Every time I get on stage, my self-esteem can be measured out in teaspoons
Mixed into my poetry, and it still tastes funny in my mouth.


But I know that I see the impossible every day
Impossible is trying to make a connection in this world
to hold onto others while everything is blowing up around you
to know that when you’re speaking, people aren’t just listening – they hear you.

Today – when I meet you, here
I stop being a part of your future
And very quickly start becoming a part of your past.

But right now, in this moment
I get to be a part of your present
And you, you get to share in mine
And that is the greatest present of all.


So if you tell me that I can do the impossible
I will probably laugh at you.
Because I don’t know that much about the world, yet
And I don’t know that much about you either.

But I do know that sometimes if you make me laugh hard enough,
I forget which century I’m in.

This isn’t the first time I’m here
and these won’t be the last words I share.
But just in case, I’m trying my hardest to get it right
This time ’round.




on days when darkness
threatens to roll

when the waves feel too strong
to hold onto.

Poetry is what I reach for.


oranges and dusk

This has always been my favourite time of day.

When the light begins to soften
and the swallows warble their song,
dancing with the dusk.

You can smell the freshness of grass in the breeze,
and even though they say
oranges don’t bloom in winter.

This Winter, there is a sweetness in the air.



Spinning Stars

“I’ll go with you.”

I forget –

Did I stop and stare
or start with surprise?
Perhaps I looked at you with peculiarity
or perhaps, I dreamt this all up.

Did you say you would watch the stars with me?


I tuck a note in between the fold of your left elbow
under the moonlit night of yesteryear
It reads, “I like you, I think”.

Five words for five years
I have stopped wishing on stars.
Learning instead to draw into the empty spaces between,

tracing them back and forth
until the is night spinning, spinning
until the lights are blinking

and the vacant places are just waiting for me to call home.
Did you say you would watch the stars with me?


If I forgot to say, “yes, please, let’s go.”

Know that I meant, “Yes. Please.”
I meant, “No-one has ever said they will watch the stars with me.”
I meant, “Does this all mean anything to you?”

I meant, “No matter. Please never let the stars stop spinning.”


a spinning top spins, and spins, and spins
and I do not know if it will fall.


– jbyd

thicker skin

“this world will judge you no matter what you do – so live your life the way you want to”

so often I accept that it is not this time
which will be different
but the me who will be different,
this time.

and so often, every time, it still
continues to hurt
so much longer than the last time.
as if I do not know how to learn

to heal, to scab, to grow what they call
thicker skin.




On writing as therapy

as my words flow across the page,

as my keystrokes form Lego blocks

the screen

this, is how I am kind to myself.


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