In these poems there is the same openness and honesty he brings to his writing classes. Haarhoff's work, prose and verse, is always in his own very personal voice. And it is very much a male voice: that of husband, father, brother, son, and lover. The ease with which Haarhoff brings the reader to feel the distinct emotions of his biographical pieces is disarming. The rhythms of Haarhoff's verse are not just happy accidents, but crafted to appear so. From the Introduction to Tortoise Voices by Jack Lambert Windhoek 2001
Bronzed Shoe for Allan (1921-1968) your shoe stood on the mantle-piece above the fire place where your father lived with his second wife and us, your siblings. it rested alone, its left-foot friend, long lost. I often balanced it, cool in my palm. studied its leather tread glazed in a bronze age. hand stitched, double thread. the shoemaker's elves could have shaped it. tongue, eye, sole and instep sang in unison. the nails tacked a horseshoe heel for the luck of the road. your body trod to a kind of manhood. you wrote gentle letters each birthday, in pencil, from the Home, with poems copied letter by letter. for you never stepped to cursive script with run-on lines racing to the edge of the page. your mind had long gone wandering still shod in its childhood shoe.
Workshop Kampala they drew on sheets of newsprint how they ended on the streets. stick figures, fists, banana skins and cops hustling them along. the teenagers nodded off after their rambling nights. so, after chicken and rice, we built in a siesta. I found a teen under a tree beneath the African sun in open abandon using his story sketch as a sleeping mat.
Witch Wife (for Jack and Regina) hitched to a witch, he is. not the crooked-finger kind with a monkey wrench for lower jaw, who zooms, gripping her broom hanging onto a conical hat. not she who bubbles a brew on the hob and drapes a slinky cat for a fox fur, who dons habit and stocking dull as schoolgirl uniform, who frog-hops you with a finger twitch, who hangs three kitsch wands on a sweet wall, who cackles on her Sabbath raising hell at All Hallows. but he's wifed to one who floats rich at full moon, in subtle body like a nun's ghost, whose knitted ribs predict thunder crash and calm, whose limbic brain switches synapses to his solar plexus. who, thighs astride, powers a Yamaha with a side car familiar, who third-eyes you through her navel exercising sans stitch, whose breath is a garden with herbs sweet and bitter, who pitches her love in rhyming hexameter.