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.


by Elizabeth Trew

June – my small sister, born in her month of rain
and in her second year
her month of death.

My mother never spoke of June.
Pain and death, she’d say, does not exist.
No doctor crossed her path.

June became a sunny picture done in coloured chalks.
She sits in a daisy field smiling out with dimpled cheeks.
She holds a flower between the rains of June.

I know a little about her death,
how barbed wire had snagged her flesh
and gushed its poison through her blood

turning her too deeply green.
I’d overhear dark mutterings from aunts
how a doctor could have saved her life.

all the flowers in my mother’s garden
bowed their heads as rainfall filled the sky that day
and soaked her earth with blood

I never knew what her Bible said,
know nothing about her silent grief.
Enough that I was born replacing June.

The Way Things Are

by Lise Day

No, the potty train does not stop at this station.
Your Rosie doll’s hair will not grow back.
We cannot hand your sister in to the library
when the new baby arrives home in the car.
I am your mother and that is the way things are.

I say no because I say so and that is that.
White milk does not come from white cows,
nor chocolate milk from brown cows.
You cannot catch a moonbeam nor a falling star.
I am your mother and that is the way things are

Lmno is not one letter in the alphabet song.
However much you talk you will never run out of words.
Waves are not made by wallowing whales.
Sharks will not leap from sea to beach, it is too far.
I am your mother and that is the way things are

Even when you are ten you will not be as old as your sister.
Chick peas have nothing to do with chicks on the loo.
Wild coast tortoises cross the road for excitement.
Your spotty kitten will never grow to be a jaguar.
I am your mother and that is the way things are

The queen does not wear her crown all day.
Buzz saws are not bears snoring in the woods.
Spanish dancers who stamp and fling dresses
are not angry with the man on the guitar.
I am your mother and that is the way things are now.

There is no cloud it is just another computer.
Cookies and Rasberry pi and spam
Worms, zips and dongles are inside your ram.
You need a debugger to defrag you somehow,
I am your son and that’s the way things are now.


by Annette Snyckers

On summer afternoons
when flies were lazy
and the hours lame,
I was supposed to lie down,
rest in my room —
when my mother took a nap;
all I wanted was out.

In the passage
creaking floorboards
lay waiting
to snap at my heels,
but I held my breath,
stepped over them,
and only exhaled
when I reached
the dining room.

Out, out,
over the fence
into the veld —
crushed grass
and khaki bush,
turtle dove
and hoepoe,

budding my wings.

Suicide with Dogs

by Pamela Newham

How quiet you must have been as you locked
the bedroom door behind you.
How happy they must have been when you
walked into the kitchen.
Thought it was time for a walk
as you dragged their tatty blanket
and laid it on the backseat,
put in place the flexible hose,
climbed in with them.
Closed the door.

Did you need their trusting eyes
to get you through it?
Did you take them because you knew
he’d miss them more?


by Cornelia Rohde

Puffer fish are angst.
Spotted eagle rays are grace;
lion fish, serial killers in lace.
Nudibranches are finesse.
The sea slug is a wet baguette.

Cuttlefish are sorcery.
Sand dollars, faith;
Green turtles, song.
The conch is patience;
the octopus, sentience.

Sea urchins are all appetite.
Dolphins, a surge of delight.
Sea-horses, a whisper of bliss.
The Man o’ War is a Viking adrift.
The horseshoe crab, a clone of Darth Vader.

The great white shark is peerless vanity.
The whale is the keeper of collective sanity.