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.


Battle of the Beasts

by Pam Newham

Warthog approaches.
Ahead he sees the beast.
Not a familiar predator.
It flaps. It glints.
Warthog stands his ground.
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.


by Michael Keeling

To maximize our mortal days
we need, we are told,
to exercise in many ways
so, if I may make so bold,
just turn the television on
to a frantic football match,
find an arduous marathon,
watch anglers land their catch.

Switch channels to the boxing,
bob and weave and fend,
seek an eight that you are coxing
coming round the Surrey bend.

You’re in the deep at Newlands,
the ball is hit sky high
the fielder’s bloody dropped it,
you can hear the bowler’s cry.

Let a home run from a Yankee
make you break out in a sweat
dab your forehead with your hankie
the game’s not over yet..

Let wrestlers, when they lose their cool,
put a smile upon your lips,
a length or two of the swimming pool
does wonders for your hips.

You can cycle up a mountain side
do all the time trials too
take up white-water rafting,
paddle your own canoe.

What really shows the adrenaline flows
is the diving from great heights,
just close your eyes and hold your nose,
it may give you sleepless nights.

Pool and snooker, games of darts
even the sport of Kings,
gymnasts bending body parts
and dangling from rings

There’s hockey to fall back on,
both on and off the ice,
you can even bet a stack on
a game of poker dice.

There are running tracks and field sports
(beware the flying hammer)
you can sail right out of many ports
on a really windy jammer.

Basket ball and tennis,
you can take part in them all,
pretend you’re men or women
chasing after every ball.

End off your day
with a corps de ballet,
entrechat to bed,
pas de deux with your loving spouse
and you’ll never end up dead!

Putting it into perspective

by Pam Newham

He wants to know why his parents have appeared
in a documentary on TV.
His mother says: “Because our family is a bit different
to other families.”
He looks puzzled. “But why are we different?”
“Well, why do you think,” she asks.
He pauses. “Oh, I know. It’s because we live on a mountain
and have a tortoise for a pet.”

And his two mothers, one white, one brown
look at each other and laugh.

Maynardville Mayhem

by Michael Keeling

Something called Community Chest
upset our evening perambulation.
You know, the quiet walk in the park
collecting thoughts and the odd empty beer can.
Not only us but dogs, lovers, vagrants, squirrels
and sundry birds were miffed.
The ordinance corps arrived
a good two weeks before proceedings
fencing everything off like a crime scene.
This included half our regular exercise lap.
A new route was planned of equal calorific value
which could have taken in the pub but that
wasn’t really the object of the exercise.
However common sense conquered sobriety.

Sitting at the bar with a double scotch,
(my lady with her usual brandy and water),
thoughts turned to the Bard.
It was, indeed, the Shakespeare Festival.
Maynardville Park was witnessing Othello doing his nut
while slaying his old girl with Iago’s hypno-suggestive hankie.
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their medicinable gum.
It was a double whammy, the Bard and the Chest together.

When revels ended and silent was the air
a lot more than a rack was left behind.
Clean-up time took another three days.
The tearing down of the wall
and restoration of the hallowed ground
precipitated a ceremonial lap of honour.
Birds, squirrels, dogs, lovers, vagrants and kids
reclaimed their territory.
But, when all’s said and done, why complain?
Homer was right,
The charity that is a trifle to us
can be precious to others.

The Disease to Please

by Pamela Newham

A psychobabble phrase
that slips off the tongue with ease.
Saying yes when it should be no.
Stay a while when you wish they’d go.
Saying of course I’ll be there
when you really don’t care.
So, from now on, I’m going to change.
Have to check my diary, I’ll say, and
no way, I’m far too busy today.
I’ll be brisk and business-like,
forthright and true…

But only if that’s all right with you.


by Michael Keeling

These days everything’s about diet.
Banting’s in town; eat anything you like
except carbs. Well, a little bit of pasta’s OK occasionally.

Me? I’m not a pasta man but I do need spuds.
Can go wild over roasted with the Sunday joint.
(That’s joint as in meat.)

Gave up sugar years ago, in the 70s, when the price rocketed.
Total protest ban in our house and not an added grain since.
Miracle of miracles food began to taste!

A little like giving up smokes I’m told but
there’s a habit I never started;
a) tasted awful, b) who’d trade a good movie for a drag?

Booze is another story. I have been known to get smashed.
Long ago now though. Dotage breeds caution.
A little wine, a little whisky, a glass of Pimm’s on a hot summer’s day…..

Another thing. All my working life I had two eggs for breakfast,
a glass of full-fat milk and definitely butter not margarine.
If it wasn’t for genetics I should make 100!

Message in a bottle

by Michael Keeling

I like the thought of the bottle
As it bobs through the ocean of hope,
Controlled by uncontrollable forces
With destiny pulling the rope.

Who knows of the message it carries
Or where it is meant to end;
And what of the person who finds it,
Have they too a message to send?

So I’m putting the cork in the bottle
And throwing it out to sea;
The message inside reads something like this:
Will you be home for tea?!

Summer School

by Lise Day

(after Frank O’ Hara)

It is 16.29 in Pretoria a Tuesday
three days after Summer School began
It is 1976 and the green Audi
broke down on a long straight road
so I got here in a tow truck
and I don’t know how I will get home

I am going to lectures and studying
Mtshali’s Sounds of a Cowhide Drum
he is a Black Poet in White South Africa
cows watched where my car broke down
also The Flea by sexy John Donne
the lecturer wrote ‘fuck’ on the board
he saw nuns in the class in wimples
and wanted to get that out of the way.

I am staying with my husband’s bosses’ mother-in-law
in a flat on the top floor.
I get home at four and she asks me to buy a loaf of bread.
I take the lift.
I sit in a corner, sniff tears into my scarf, eat the bread
read Death of a Salesman which is in my handbag
because the lift is stuck.
I hear voices ‘Iemand sit vas in die hysbak’.
‘It’s not iemand it’s me’, I shout
and I need to pee and it’s after four o’clock in Pretoria
when everything stops working.