Recuerdos de l’Alhambra

by Michael Keeling

Outside the burning sun
withered the scalp
and tortured the exposed.
Here in the coolness of time
we stood still
listening
to the bubbling rills.

Arched spray
fell from fountains.
Sculptured lions
held the font
in supplication
to water:
symbol of riches.

Echoes of Los Moros
reflected the truth
in the painted azulejos.
Arabic script
traced the Quran.

It was the stuff
of meditation,
the admission of sins;
the holding of hands
and believing
in constant love.

On the road back
we broke our journey,
and heard
a thousand nightingales.

Battle of the Beasts

by Pam Newham

Warthog approaches.
Stops.
Ahead he sees the beast.
Not a familiar predator.
It flaps. It glints.
Warthog stands his ground.
Snorts.
Head down butts
and the beast makes
a clanging sound.
Warthog charges
and the beast attacks.
Warthog flees.
Well, this is a beast of sorts,
I think, as I stoop,
recover the fallen
clothes horse and ponder
Warthog’s Don Quixote moment.

Earth to Sky

by Elizabeth Trew

Earth in her glory scatters blue light
in her changing sky
Earth that gives sky her waters
whose tidal flows heap with her moon
made luminous by night
Earth that joins sky
each day on a ruffled horizon
Earth that stretches each force
of her turning
knows every song, rhythm
each breath, voice of wind
Earth that kicks yellow sand into sky

Sky that touches Earth’s lakes, rivers, oceans
lifting gift waters
knows each watery form and colour –
spectrum haloes, arcs, rainbows
sun-dogs that follow the sun
sky that swirls over grasslands and mountains
bends into lush valleys
with winds that whirl, whistle and keen
over village and city
sky that brings dew to each desert
builds clouds of dark monuments
beats down its rain and rinses Earth clean

Earth in her poverty locked in her dungeon
bleeds battle-scarred
Earth looted besieged
Earth raped forsaken
rainforests taken
land and lakes garbage islands
Earth struggling to breathe
and renew ashy nests

Earth: home

Keys

by Lise Day

I met a man in Paris
a domineering man
who ordered champagne and caviar
to start without consulting me.
Our talk was guarded until
over flambé duck he confided
his hobby: collecting ornate keys
“For keeping in or keeping out?” I asked.
He shrugged his eloquent shoulders
and took me to the Windmill Club
where frothy dancers kicked their can-can legs
buttocks and bosoms flaunted.
I wondered, as we said goodnight
and he walked away hunched
along the rain-wet road,
what sort of man collects
the keys of chastity belts?

Welwitschia

by Lise Day

Ancient wrack of desert ark
sucking from sea-fog that crawls
across hot Namibian sands.
Geckos, skinks, side-winders
shelter beneath her threads of leaves
shredded by a hundred years
of whipping winds.
Barred shadows harbour
brown fire bugs, wasps
that every century
may shuttle pollen
from her swollen cones
to her mate sprawling
a hundred yards away.
Growing slowly, slowly
self-sufficient, enduring
mirabilis.

Grandpa

by Elaine Edwards

When Grandpa came, at break, to school,
smirking children shouted in the playground.
“Lainy,” they said. “Lainy,
your grandfather is here with your SANDWICHES.”

I’d run to Grandpa, so dignified, well-dressed,
in suit and tie, silver head of hair gleaming,
his walking stick a statement, not necessity,
and snatch the packet from his hand, and run away,
his call of “Lainy, Lainy” ringing in my ears.

I see him still, a tall, fit, proud old man,
retired bank manager,
who’d once had clients queuing at his door,
standing alone in the playground.

If I could stop, rewind my life for just one day,
this is what I’d do:
“Grandpa,” I’d say, “thank you for the sandwiches.”
I’d take his hand, show him my classroom,
my friends, my teacher, who’d all be charmed
by his courtesy and grace.
And in the evening, I’d play with his silver-backed hairbrushes,
and listen to his memory
of riding his horse across the Free State plains,
while fending off outlaws
trying to steal the cash
that he was carrying
from Bloemfontein to Clocolan.

Elephants at my Door

by Pam Newham

They’ve been here again while we were away
leaving plenty of evidence behind.
The young umbrella thorn, no taller than I,
has been leaned on and its spindly trunk split open,
white like bare bone in a shattered leg.
The tip of a tusk has carved elegant shapes
onto the bark of the bush willow tree.
A great foot has stepped forward or back
and pulverised the bird bath.
Neat rounds of dung lie camouflaged
among the rocks; broken branches
carelessly tossed to the ground.

Such destructive beasts these and yet,
as I run my hand over the bark where
their trunks have been, I want to believe
they chose to come here.
And although I know that’s not so
and although they are long gone,
I want to believe I can still smell their scent
as they move on their majestic way.

Myself

by Angela Prew

The thatch on top is white as snow,
has been for many years,
though long ago it was black and curled.
The face below looks like a fruit
from the apple tree, wrinkled
and somewhat bashed about.
Peering out, through spectacles,
blue eyes, no longer large, survey
the scene. Teeth twinkle white
but, alas, are no longer mine,
Once, long ago, my height drew eyes
as I walked, long-legged, along the street;
now, four inches shorter, sore of feet
I creep, unwatched, from shop to shop.
Yet would I return to those long past years?
No, that girl had so much living to do.
I’m happy as I am.

Shakespeare by Moonlight

   by Michael Keeling

It’s a midsummer’s night.
A chill breeze demands a blanket,
cushioned seats a bonus.
In a corner, stage right,
contemplates the Bard
like Patience on a Monument.

Overhead, stars
above a backdrop of trees.
It’s make-believe
in a theatre of dreams:
our world a world of players,
our dreams the dreams of fantasy

where exotic isle of eccentricity
confuses gender and love
fooling the flattered to don
yellow stockings with crossed garters,
where music be the food of love
and we have excess of it…..