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.

Lament for the Stones

by Annette Snyckers   

 
No longer sure-footed
after my father’s death,
some days I was brought
to tears
for the smooth round rocks
lying motionless
in the riverbed.

Over millennia they kept still,
had their edges knocked off,
until scoured sleek,
they lie ovoid, oblong, squat
and suffer in stoic silence
the floods and droughts.

Perhaps they delight in the lizards,
the leguan,
the dragonflies,
the dainty steps
of the Klipspringer.

The Smell of Summer

by Annette Snyckers

Summer climbs steadily to the solstice,
flings its fragrance on the breeze.
Draped under the privet bush,
a lacy veil of small white flowers
wafts the smell of childhood,
shakes memories from that dusty cache –
images of tricycles and boy cousins,
of bubble bathing suits and bees,
of holidays and Christmas coming
and the majestic mulberry tree,
a feast of purple mouths and teeth
and suddenly, resurgent,
the sickening smell
of stinkbug
on a perfect berry.

Stopover

by Annette Snyckers

Like carton cut-outs, row upon row,
the mountains shift past the car window –
bruise-blue, grey-blue,
to the palest shade of sky –
we travel through a land bereft of rain
where poplars on farms
flutter gold and amber
and palm trees lean in the wind –
tall and tolerant, they wave
black shadows over solitary white houses.
The dirt road sails like a snake through dips
and over ridges of the foothills —
far ahead a car drags a streamer of dust
through the afternoon heat.

Four hours from the city
my mind leaves behind the clutter,
content to hum in thinking
of nothing much —
and how tonight I’ll sleep in a place
where stars splutter silver light
over a black velvet night
and where the church bell strikes —
every quarter hour
that remains of my life.

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.