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.


The Poet Gardener

by Lise Day

It’s spring time in the garden
so much to be done, words
are blooming, phrases unfurling.
First I rake the little ands, buts, ors,
that have fallen in the night.
Then I plant some new words
filemot, succus, petrichor.
Sow tiny seeds of up, to and be,
Forage for misplaced apostrophes.
I fiercely prune the adjectives
awesome, breathtaking, miraculous,
weed the beds of azure, bliss and hue,
cut back the blossoms of ethereal,
trim the quiescent underfoot.
I graft me and up to pick
to cultivate a pick-me-up,
splice free and sugar to grow
the ever popular sugar-free.
In the hothouse exotic buds
Of hygge, kummerspeck, tartle
are bursting into bloom.
Finally I mulch a layer
of accord, commit and utter.
I anticipate a copious harvest
of ripe and ready words
which I will gather in and store
to sustain me in the winter.

(After Temenos September 2016)

Colours of Water

by Lise Day

Glacial green snow-melt of a Northern sea
pushing into the ice-carved fjord
Black velvet at midnight the warm Thai ocean
spangled fluorescence of fallen stars
Bronze-brown the ooze between my toes
the Vaal river of childhood adventure
Chalky lime water collected and still
the Silent pool in Surrey hills
Lake Malawi spread-eagled under African sky
crystal fragments tiny fish darting
Sapphire seas wash Greek island shore
sunlight and shadows submerged in the deep
Coppery bloom of rain washed silt
unfurls from the river mouth newly open
Cut-glass green the Plitvisk Lakes of Croatia
tree trunks bleached to fossil fingers
Dark the mystery of a Scottish loch
salmon leap ladders flicks of light
Silver bright the Boulders pool
Penguins dressed in their best black and white
Brak water gift of the mountain mist
precious amber flow of my garden stream
Shiny shimmering breaking reflecting
water, celebrate the spectrum, flow.

The Danger of a Single Story

by Lise Day

Africa is not one huge dusty country
of rolling grasslands and herds of beasts,
populated by tall, thin, starving people
or sad babies with swollen bellies.

African’s cuisine of choice is not
monkey-brain, stuffed-snake-skin.
Every meal not hunted by packs of dogs
or naked tribesman with bow and arrow.

Africa’s health system does not comprise
only throwing of bones by witchdoctors.
It is not just a country rife with Aids and Ebola
genital mutilation and botched circumcisions.

Africa is not to be pitied, or dominated.
It is not merely a land of conflict and corruption.
We have pride and confidence and are not
longing to be saved by a kind white foreigner.

Stocking Filler

by Lise Day

When I was a child I read
of this exotic fruit the
tangerine. Golden, fabulous orb,
trapping the sunshine of distant
Eastern lands. In post-war
Europe even an orange was
precious. Peeled and presented
with reverence. But tangerines
existed only in fables. Story-book
children found them deep in
toes of Christmas stockings.

Now I am grown-up, and despite
the attempts to recapture
that old glamour through names
like mandarin and clementine
the tangerine is a mundane fruit,
stripped of all exotica, missile
at the rugby, sold in sacks,
transmuted to a common naartjie.

The Heart of the Matter

by Lise Day

Today I cooked an artichoke
which is really a bitter thing
needing garlic for sweetness,
oil for softness, lemon for zing.

I eat it in the evening hush
after a day of swirling wind
from each petal
scrape the good
discard the tip of gall.
I think it’s like my life –
outer leaves leathery
resilient as my youth,
the inner segments
mushy middle-age.
Then, suddenly the choke,
a hairy knob of awfulness
I incise it carefully
discard it chop chop.

Now relish the succulent
sweet heart of maturity,
and the best part
of an artichoke is,
all that comes after
tastes even better.


by Lise Day

For my sister and brother-in-law whose
house was burnt to the ground in the Knysna fires.

It was the coral cups of a thousand clivias
that smouldered in the woodland garden.
The only flame that flitted between the trees
the quick flash of loerie’s scarlet wing.
Rows of shining bottles glinted gold
holding pungent fynbos honey
collected by bees in hills, purple-clad,
encircling the mirror lagoon.
Inside the gentle flicker of candle light
flower shades, white curtains
Danish simplicity of taste.
Medals marking children’s triumphs
ribboned in proud display;
Recipe books with pages splattered
memories of delicious meals;
Gleaming hard pear and yellowwood
a corner chewed by errant dog;
The green dress worn to a family wedding;
Mementoes from world-wide travel;
Treasures, no longer useful
but too hard to give away;
Paintings collected, overlooked
in every-day but remembered now;
Grandmother’s stinkwood dresser;
The bubbles suspended in Lille’s glasses;
The familiar taken-for-granted stuff
that marks your passage through your past.


But loved ones, family, dogs are safe.
The sum of life is not measured
by the totting up of our possessions.

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.