Joyous Awakening

by Michael Keeling

It’s six o’clock
in the morning
Egyptian Geese are in full throttle
It is early summer
sleep is a doze.

Across the globe
in Tasmania
it’s cold, a two-sweater day.
The cockatoos are shivering
waiting for the sun to shine.

Reaching for
the television controls
a scene unfolds
of a shattered
Australian cricket team.

Forget the earthquake
across the water.
Forget the missing Proteas.
Praise those who were there
determined to succeed.

Not just once
but twice
and maybe thrice.
Far away from home
against all odds.

There in Hobart
it’s still a two-sweater day
but there’s a glow
on South African faces
as the result sinks in.

Here the Egyptian Geese are full steam ahead.
Gone are the Tasmanian Devils.
Smiling faces proclaim
another extraordinary victory over Oz.
Let’s turn over and get some more sleep.

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 Saint 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.

Conversation

by Annette Snyckers

Next to the dusty road you stand,
your friendly eyes crinkled
in the midday sun –
you open your mouth;
words clatter out like pebbles
in a fast-flowing stream –
sibilants hiss and splatter,
consonants clap.
I ask the way
and your finger points far
beyond the hills.

I listen,
but I hear only your voice
and the wind in the grass,
I look across the veld
but my eyes cannot follow
the way of your tongue –
I am lost
because I do not
understand what you say –
I am lost
in a land we both love.

Versus

by Elizabeth Trew

How we split in two –
friend or foe against another

as opposing sides in a field –
two armies powered for war
two soccer teams at play

two wrestlers in a ring who circle and dance
like lovers too shy to touch, when the star
drives a fist hard into the belly of the other
spread-eagled and groaning on the floor

or two lovers – like Adam and Eve
playful and naked under their tree
before Eve takes a bite of her crimson apple
and paradise fades

or the sounds of a man and woman falling out of love
fully clothed, caught in a squall
of their courtroom drama,
torn apart.

The Elephant and the Moon

by Cornelia Rohde

Our house has an elephant in every room
made from brass, marble, clay or papier-mâché,
missing one tusk angrily hurled at the moon
who had spied Lord Ganesha fall off his rat
when he leapt to avoid a snake crossing his path.

It made the moon laugh in helpless mirth,
when, stuffed with devotees’ gifts, Ganesha’s
belly burst, strewing sweets all over the earth.
He tucked them all back, then killed the snake
and wrapped it around his massive girth.

The world went dark when the moon was struck
rousing a chorus of pleas from the gods,
until a compromise was reached
for her to wax and wane each month.
When her light is out, Lord Ganesha
gorges on whatever he wants.

Okavango

by Pamela Newham

Lilies like watery stars.
The silent glide of the makoro
down narrow canals
water-weed dank
past frogs,
the size of fingernails,
clinging to slim reeds.
Papyrus high on both sides.
The crack and crunch of hippos
on the river bank.
In a clearing a lion, so lazy,
he can barely lift his head.

Rage

by Pamela Newham

We have written a lot about road rage:
Passing on solid white lines
Zig-zagging across highways
Too slow in the fast lane
Jumping queues
Angry hooter blasts
The flash of the rigid middle digit
All leading to smashed windows, swearing and worse.

But we have not said enough about packaging rage.
Unbreakable items in layers of bubble wrap
Screeds of sticky tape
Staples stabbing flesh
Plastic ties refusing to let go
Child-friendly-adult-hating pill containers
All leading to ripped nails, swearing and worse.

The Summer She Died

by Cornelia Rohde

On soft summer afternoons with the press of work over,
we sat together on the flagstone terrace Father laid,
looked out over the old orchard and let the day slip quietly away.
Do you hear Mrs. Wren? she’d say.

A long, joyous, rush and jumble voice would bubble
in the stillness. I’d spot the rufous brown chest,
the same rich hue of my mother’s hair, bustling round the garden,
zipping through tangles and low branches,
forever bringing food to young mouths stretched
hungry in their wooden house hanging from an oak limb.

Feisty for her tiny size, her abrupt scurs and scolds
warned off any predator threatening her domain.
Yet she paused often to deliver cheerful trilling songs
with complex notes– for one so inconspicuous.

Let’s sit here a little while more and listen.
There won’t be many more days as mild as this.

My Grandmothers’ Hands

by Elizabeth Trew

Grandma Helen’s hands were soft and white
spotted brown from African sun,
hands made to crochet long coloured strips
she’d stitch together – striped covers for family beds.
Hands to carry her work-bag of wool
hands to smooth huge feathered hats
hands to shuffle visiting cards
hands that played an upright piano.
She’d sit at the foot of my bed slowly plying her wool
with her crochet hook and sing sharply
her favourite song to me:
Count your blessings!
Count them one-by-one.

Farmor Karen’s hands were strong and red
used to shovelling Nordic snow,
hands to tend rows of raspberry canes
hands to dig and plant
and harvest potatoes
hands to bake bread, light fires
feed the pig and hold a farmer’s crook
to drive sheep up to their summer pasture.
Hands that tied her headscarf tight.
On a visit to the family seter
I placed fresh flowers upon her grave
and ceremonially watered them.
Family say I am like her.

Remembering

by Michael Keeling

I wish I could remember
where we lay,
‘neath a veil of trees,
hair ruffled
by the breeze.

I wish I could remember
the vapour trail moving
arrow straight in the sky,
musing us
to days gone by.

I wish I could remember
distant bells,
the clamour of rooks,
and you buried under
a mountain of books.

I wish I could remember
walks on the beach,
talks in the park;
how we sat huddled
till long after dark.

I wish I could remember
music we played,
the lingering night
and falling asleep
in dawn’s shrouded light.

But the sorrows I’ve caused,
the expressions of pain
and the blood that I’ve let.
These are the things
I wish I could forget.