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White Man Crawling

John Eppel

Publication Year: 2008

White Man Crawling is a collection of short stories and poems by the award winning Bulawayo writer John Eppel. His stories are uncomfortably funny; his poems uncomfortably sad. His stories speak first to all of us, then to his own quirky nature; his poems speak first to himself and to those few who know him nearly, and then to all of us. For more than forty years John Eppel has been a unique double-voice in the annals of Zimbabwean literature: the satirist and the lyricist.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

Hillside Road in August

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pp. 1

Grass in Winter

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pp. 2

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The Stone Painter

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pp. 3-4

His name is Farlow, and he paints the stones, dressed and raw, and the bricks, full and half, in the grounds of the police headquarters at the Drill Hall. His uniform is a khaki shirt, khaki shorts, car tyre sandals, and a red, tasselled fez. Farlow is a Muslim of Malawian extract. He began work at the Drill Hall some time in the 1950s. ...

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Goat Song

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pp. 5-7

I was chatting with my friend, Clair, who is a researcher for an NGO based in Bulawayo. She is working on a project to improve goat production for subsistence farmers in the more arid regions of Matabeleland. Her research takes her to some very remote areas where hunger and disease have become endemic. ...

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Business is Business

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pp. 8-10

They operate at night, like their familiars, the rats and the cockroaches. They come in three colours: brown, black, and white; but there’s not it. They are unscrupulous opportunists who care for no one but themselves and, in sentimental moments, their children – possessions, after all. ...

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White Man Crawling

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pp. 11-13

It was to be a surprise – from those grateful commercial farmers, aka safari operators, who had managed to hold on to their most productive farms and so continue living in the lifestyle to which they had been accustomed since Independence: a lifestyle which did not exclude annual holidays in Alpine ski resorts, ...

Sonnet with One Unstated Line

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pp. 14

Hornbills in My Garden

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pp. 15

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pp. 16-20

The night before our departure we had dinner with the Afrikaans teacher, Miss Devine. She was a seasoned traveller; she had some good tips for us. ‘Take long johns with you,’ she said, ‘and never accept a drink that has already been poured from the bottle. You never know what they might have laced it with.’ ...

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pp. 21-23

When we found Roland Clarke dead in his armchair, one of the great mysteries of maNyoni’s life was solved. She had been Roland’s maid – I believe ‘domestic worker’ is the more politically correct term – for nearly forty years, first in Gwanda, then in Plumtree, now in Bulawayo. ...

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pp. 24-25

He was not exactly camp, not visually anyway; but he saturated himself with the sweet scent of roses, a scent that remained in the classroom even when he wasn’t there. I didn’t mind; in fact I rather enjoyed it; it seemed to have a calming effect on the more rowdy boys. His nickname was Rosewater. ...

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Home Sweet Home

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pp. 26-29

When Grant Terrier heard that his father, Foxie, and last remaining relative in Zimbabwe, had died at the Edith Duly Home for the elderly, he decided to revisit his past, and attend the funeral for which, since his grandfather had become destitute, he had to pay. ...

Twelve Sonnets on a Conventional Theme

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pp. 30


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pp. 30

Poolside Rilke

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pp. 31


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pp. 32


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pp. 33

Todunglücklich Sein

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pp. 34-44

Goodbye and Hello

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pp. 35


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pp. 36

Love’s Rhymes

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pp. 37

Chiaroscuro with One Unrhymed Line

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pp. 38

Poolside Braai

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pp. 39

She Turned Away

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pp. 40

Setting Free

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pp. 41

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An Act of Terror

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pp. 42-44

A baker’s dozen of the more committed ZANU-PF Women’s League were gathered on the stoep of a palatial farmhouse in the Mazoe Valley. The farm, once a highly productive citrus estate, was now used as a weekend retreat by five hundred pounder Amai Pretty Karigamombi-O’Dare. ...

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Five in One Blow

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pp. 45-47

It wasn’t the fact that Ravine Boyo-Davis was a downtrodden African American, or a woman, a lesbian at that, or a left-hander, which prompted her to kill, in historical order, an Italian, an Englishman, a Dane, and a Frenchman. It was her Welsh name, which connected her to the original inhabitants of the island now known as Great Britain. ...

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NGO Games

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pp. 48-50

NGOs, like all of us, need time to unwind. They work under great pressure, and often in great danger, so utterly committed are they to the suffering masses of this earth. Once or twice a year it is the custom of those NGOs based in Sub-Saharan Africa to get together at some secluded venue, a safari lodge, say, and debrief(s) each other. ...

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West of East

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pp. 51-52

There were two things in life for which Wank Dong had an overwhelming desire: money and sex, in that order. Since competition for those commodities was too strong for him in his homeland, he decided to light out for Africa where he would use sex to get money, and money to get sex ...

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Aunty Aunty

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pp. 53-55

Doctor Doctor Lisbet Schwartzenshaeger could not believe her good luck. Just when she thought she’d exhausted everything nasty to write about settler Zimbabweans, she had discovered, in a dusty corner of the Bulawayo archives, in quite the wrong place, tucked away behind a load of Flora Zambesiaca junk, the meticulously kept records of one William Fitzpackage, DC Gwanda District. ...

Let Us Now Praise

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pp. 56

Male Poet

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pp. 57

While Reading Page 15 of Her Biography

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pp. 58


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pp. 59

Sing Me a Song

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pp. 60

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pp. 61-65

Dillard was taking his daily constitutional, a three kilometre round trip, which began at his front gate and ended at his back gate. It was a time for him to reflect on the unfairness of life and to prepare his work for the day. Looming large, at the moment, was his production of Shakespeare's Othello, the rehearsals for which had not been going too well. ...

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Rite of Passage

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pp. 66-70

My best friend, Fred, who lives in New Zealand, provided me with enough foreign currency to buy a new starter motor for my 1978 Ford Escort, and a new pair of shoes (Grasshoppers) for my 1947 feet. I booked the car into a reputable garage in Louis Trichardt, and myself into a delightful guest house in the mountains, which gives special rates to beleaguered Zimbabweans. ...

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Sewerage Pipe

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pp. 71-73

Shorn Coleridge had decided to commit suicide, or sewerage pipe, as he jokingly called it. He was going to do something predictable like hanging or poison. A bullet in the mouth, pointing brainwards, required too much red tape, too much economic outlay. Jesus, guns were expensive. ...

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The Keys

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pp. 74-77

Mr and Mrs Box, an elderly couple who depended on the Western Union to see them through their twilight – ‘when the lights are low’ – year(s), were taking a walk, she hobbling, he tottering, round the block when they came upon a commotion at Number 43, one of the few properties in the neighbourhood that had not succumbed to durawalls. ...

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Quite Epiphanic, Really

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pp. 78-80

Licking walls and chewing coal were not the only cravings glorious Gloria developed when she became pregnant for the first time. She discovered the art of bonsai, which appealed to her elan vital. In the ornamental miniature tree she perceived not the flesh and bones, not the word, but the… well… a kind of pervasive transforming influence, like leaven. ...

These Stanzas Few

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pp. 82

Grey Louries

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pp. 83

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780797443457
Print-ISBN-13: 9780797433908

Page Count: 96
Publication Year: 2008