Mixed Cocktail

by Annette Snyckers

When you are in one of my poems,
don’t be dismayed
nor delighted.
Sit back, exhale –
I’ve had to make you
thinner, fatter,
lovelier, uglier,
kinder, nastier —
as was required
to make you fit.

Chances are
no one will spot
how I shook you up
to suit my taste.

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The Pianist of Yarmouk

by Cornelia Rohde

His hope is his piano.
He covers it with cardboard,
levers it onto a cart,
sets out in April
on his birthday, for luck.

Pitiless fires of ISIS
devour it at the checkpoint.
Doesn’t he know
musical instruments are Haram,
forbidden?

With his music in his fingers,
he walks among snakes to Turkey;
thanks Allah he chose not to bring his family.
Strong men fall. He tries to help a few.
He is one who makes it through.

But the hands of the pianist
who dared lie still.
His voice fills with the salt
of the sea he fears.

The moon keens over Yarmouk,
without songs of solace, only tears.

*Yarmouk is the Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus.

 

Becoming

by Elizabeth Trew

cannot lie still.
Winter swings round to rebirth its spring.
Light from the sun, pale as lemon flesh at dawn
is copper at noon, pewter at dusk.
Seed buried in volcanic ash can grow into a flower.
The daughter of a river-god
flies swifter than the wind into the woods
and turns into a tree.
A girl in a white nightdress can become a snow-queen,
a swan, or a snake.
An idea becomes a word
that permits all possible worlds.

Kristina

by Elizabeth Trew

My aunt spoke loud in her Nordic lilt –
louder when she was on the phone,
louder and slower when
she spoke to me.

She was dark stockings and boots
that strode down the hill
and knelt among sheep.
She was mended fishing nets.

We’d sit out in summer under the trees
with a jug of home-made juice.
Inside her house she’d look long
through glass at the waterfall
across the fjord.
Today he is big and strong, she’d say, or
Today he flows softer than before.

She was the steady gaze and the force
of falling water,
a keeper of nets and sheep
and new-laid eggs.
She was mid-summer bonfires along the fjord
and the stamp of boots that carried wood
for the indoor fire.
She was hearty soups and stews came
from her steamy kitchen.
She’d call me to lay the table.
Come eat! Eat and be strong, she’d say.

Darshan

by Cornelia Rohde

Sound the hanging bell
in warm temple air redolent
with burnt oil, incense, sweat.
Slip your shoes off. Enter.

Offer strings of roses, jasmine
wound with gold and silver thread,
small vessels of rice, dal,
chopped sugar cane, curds.

Polished brass ornaments catch
gleams from myriad tiny flames.
Priests chant mantras, wave
trays of glowing diyas.

One sprinkles water before
the unmoving eyes
of the god he has fed, dressed,
soothed, pleased, beguiled.

He dips his thumb in red
sandalwood paste. His single
stroke between my eyebrows
draws my mind to grace.

 

Water

by Angela Prew

Forty years of marriage
to a naval man
meant forty years of living
near the sea.
Our children learnt as babies
to swim like fish, to surf and dive
to treat those waters with respect
and know their force.

After school, we left the Cape
to spend four years in Bloemfontein;
four dry years without a drop of rain.
Water trickled out of taps, two inches in a bath.
We learnt not to waste, but our fruit trees died,
the fishpond dried;
when, finally, it rained, we ran outside
to find the skies cried mud.

Now, after many years living
on a sea-girt land, we have a drought;
no rain falls from the sky, the fields are dry,
our councilors, much younger than I,
wring their hands and cry,
What should we do…?

Homeland

by Michael Keeling

It’s the road to nowhere
in a landscape of light
where shade is the brim of your hat

It’s a turbulent sea
of greenish-blue
on spray-breaking rocks

It’s the white sand
of an endless shore
under cloudless skies

It’s the shimmering mirage
of expectation
and the joy of arrival

It’s the mountain pass,
the winding track
and the exhilaration of being

It’s the trees, the shrubs,
the audacious flowers
on a multicoloured carpet

It’s the undulating
cheetah’s back
in pursuit of buck

It is, above all, the space,
the emptiness enclosed
in distant purple mountains