by Cornelia Rohde

My footprints follow me
along the gleaming margin
of the water’s edge,
where stick-legged Sanderlings,
grey-backed, snowy-bosomed,
play tireless tag with the sea.
When I walk close, these small birds
spook ahead to flirt with ocean’s rhythm.
I watch their sprightly spirits
chase the wake of waves
sucked back to bare wet sand.
Staccato bills gobble crabs and worms
stirred in dragging grains.

I’m baffled how they know
just when to turn and run
before incoming scroll of water
buoys them off their feet;
and how, tuned to avian signal,
they rise as one, wheel
across blue depths and vanish,
leaving cross-stitches of their tracks
in patterns on the shoreline,
where the abiding tide sweeps away
their marks and mine,
joining us to the sea without a trace.


Dance: cento

by Elizabeth Trew

Barefoot – without a stitch she walks
as walking is a dance
dancing long streams, & whirls, of the air’s dancing
with fish-scale & fox-print
graven on the hand

The figures ripple and the colours quicken
turning – the circle –
east by west or west by east;
the numbers have entered their feet.

dancing the smalltown dance
two women find the square-root of a sheet
arms wide: together: again: two forward steps: hands meet;
the numbers have entered their feet.

Where have I gone, Beloved?
Into the waltz, Dancer.
Such waltzing was not easy;
the numbers have entered their feet.

Cento – collage poem, from Richard Duerden, John Burnside, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Judith Wright, Theodore Roethke.


by Annette Snyckers

My fingers are lost
in the fur of my dog,
it’s warm against my skin,
it tickles my nose,
I breathe her in.

The silver-grey silk
of my cat catches the sun,
catches my breath –
she tolerates my kiss,
I breathe her in – captive.

I have kept another
soft animal in the dark –
on the days I crumple,
I take out the fur coat
from the cupboard –

I push my face into it,
I breathe her in – my mother.

Poetry Festival, McGregor 2018

by Lise Day

The gardens of Temenos

The waterway of poetry is not the easy way
that flows straight from here to there
channeled and confined by rules,
it chooses the obstructed path
where pebbles round or rough, impede the flow
the way that makes the water speak
a high treble as the voice of a child
the deep rumble of stones grating
the sound of jazz with descants and top notes
the soothing melody of an old song
that voice that makes the body sing.

The poets’ library

A place of words, the ancients line the walls
the young poet reads from her phone
poems set in Wimpy Bars and coffee shops
new words rising to mingle with the old.
She sits by the fire’s dying embers
her Afro a red-tipped halo
where Hugh sits too in slumber
an old poet at the end of his fire.

Poets in the Caritas lounge

Outside poems are flying around
literally as the west wind picks up
poems floating in bowls of water
flipping them to dance free,
words flutter down to make
new poems in the fallen leaves.
The world is full of sound here
peacocks scream, window panes rattle
till the words and the wind
can no longer be separated
but fly up and away, lost in the gale
their work done, kites wanton in the sky.
Run fast, jump high, to tether
the words you want, reel them in
plunge them into your deepest pocket
safe from the grasping billows.

The day they brought your baby sister home

by Pamela Newham

We knew she would be three months old.
We knew she would not look like us.
We knew her birth mother had to let her go.
We knew she would arrive on a Tuesday.

But we did not know how we would feel.

And then they brought her home and we each
took turns to hold her as she studied our faces
with thoughtful eyes and we gazed back at her.

It was then we knew that she had us
curled around her baby finger.

Where I went wrong

by Pamela Newham

I think it was when I saw
that picture of you
in guerilla gear
smiling at someone unknown
in the jungles of Myanmar
an AK47 resting across your arms
that I knew where I’d gone wrong.
I should never have said,
You can do anything you want.
There’s no place you cannot go.
I should have handed you
needle and thread instead.
I should have said,
Stay at home, darling girl.
Let me teach you how to sew.


by Cornelia Rohde

Marlene, Marlene,
of a lonely railway baron,
riding tall on a white stallion,
his tack buffed, his face tan,
an imposing man of passion.

His lonely wife
a withered invalid,
her brittle bones leached
by the white island sun.
When his cook’s honeyed hips sashay,
his loins ache, but not for long.

fair-faced love-child
of a rich railway baron,
birthed in his grand house,
allowed to sit his saddle with him.
Beware, beware the envy
of my other bastards.

Marlene, Marlene,
love-child of a railway baron.

They’ll rip your young flesh
when I die,
feed you poison,
kill you for your fortune.
You won’t last long
in the scheming hills
of Port-au-Prince.
You must flee at night
with our chaplain.

Marlene, Marlene,
lonely heiress
of a railway baron,
her childhood spent
in foster homes in Ireland,
restless at the Sorbonne,
yearning for her island,
hears her dying mother’s song
float across the ocean.

Marlene, Marlene,
love-child of a railway baron.

Her father’s will states she wed
before she can return.
Married in cold blood, without love,
she flies across the blue-black sea
to search for her lost legacy,
takes on chance lovers,
breaks three husbands,
births seven children of seven colors.

born again,
speaks in tongues
to query heaven.

Marlene, Marlene,
ever lonely love-child
of a railway baron.

The Moth

by Annette Snyckers

On Aunt Miem’s kitchen wall
there was a moth – not a moth
that just sat there, the way moths
sometimes sit and drowse
under the warm glow of a lamp –
also not a fluttering moth
that bumbles forth into the flame
that will scorch its wings –
just a small drab moth
painted with care,
trapped forever
on an ordinary wall
above the kitchen table.
It looked content there
with my aunt and two cousins,
and never
fell in their soup.

I was seven
and mad about that moth,
but the unknown painter
I loved secretly.

In my handwoven house

by Elizabeth Trew

tough stems, hot from a field of Ganges jute
has threads held tight on the widest loom

grandmother’s runner spun from rags
patterns her Nordic blues and reds

kelims – saffron and peach inside black
diamonds were woven by Irani daughters

a jade carpet made by a child in Egypt
has birds and trees and flowering plants

and through the open door I blink
bands so bright of Ashanti cloth

colours shapes gathered picked
weavers’ hands, farmers’ feet.

Upon the Bridges of London

by Lise Day

Breath-air blooms the frosty night on Westminster Bridge
a child pirouettes her way from Covent Garden to the station
the shimmer of Christmas lights is on the dark water.

On a soft spring morning the great arches of London Bridge
frame the pollarded trees outside Tate Britain
sticky buds fluttering tiny flags of emerald green.

High summer we bounce across the Millenium Bridge
heads full of Tate Modern art towards St Peter’s dome
pearlescent in the long level rays of sun.

The great bascule arms of Tower Bridge lift high in a pale sky,
the red buses pause, allowing the passage
of a full-rigged yacht on her way to sea.

Now the outgoing tide will drag away the blood of terror.
In the morning the river will rise afresh, wash the city clean
as all that mighty heart is beating still.