With our very severe droughts, dams can be dry and  things that were unfortunately dumped there are exposed again –  including tyres that were once swings over the water.

However my poem is about the turn around weather that also happens in our country and the dam ‘overflows’ with laughter and joy. The poem was inspired by a dam, on a property that I was visiting at the time, called the Sanctuary in Queensland. A place of peace and  bell birds, blue lilies, magnificent stands of eucalypt , and a sacred bora ring of Bunyan Pines  and much, much more. When the rains  came it was magic as the poem portrays.


it was a long dry
the underbelly of the dam
in the far paddock
exposed tyres a rusted trap machinery
old wheels and discarded petrol drums

after the rains
sound from the dam calls
from beyond the scrub
i follow the once hard dusty track
now a squelch of mustard clay
and sticky wet paspalum knee deep

dank-scented saplings and surviving gums
cocoon new life
saffron-blue water lilies
crowd the iron-black water
needles of wind cross stitch the surface
falling seed pods, dip of willow
the scud of iridescent ducks
zip of stippled dragon wings
and dart-tilt-skim of arrowed swallows
overlay the pattern

at the far end
half-hidden in the reeds
lies a rotting mossy log
a diving board from my childhood days

crickets frogs birds in chorus
and gregarious squeals
from two busy masked lapwings
on the bank
create a bush symphony

here in my place of refuge
a coming home
the roots of an old gum
extend comfortable arms
i sit in their embrace
and watch
an egret stalks its prey

zen moments

Zen is a way of being and can be seen as  a state of mind.  I think for Blake it is seeing ‘the world in a grain of sand,  and a heaven in a wildflower’.  For Eliot it could be ‘at the still point of a  turning world.’   For Frost’s ‘Two Roads’   it is taking the one less travelled’  For Michael  he suggests it is the moment at the bottom of the driveway when he is out and  on  his morning walk.

My zen moment  this day was watching a single tawny leaf on its journey.  And all I could do was breathe out slowly . I felt a sense of everything and nothing.  It could be like my heart and gut just connected very satisfyingly. And so I wrote. . .





zen moment

a tawny leaf

the tree

lived its time
served its purpose

takes its leave


how gently
its fluttered spin
air-cushioned down

by the earth

Colleen Keating



Photo taken by Elizabeth Keating-Jones

soul’s winter


Another poem in the section called The Smell of Parsley .  You will see why after you read it a few times.

It amazes me how close is death to the birth of new life. ‘ We are reminded of this by nature over and over, how the sun bursts through after the darkest storm, how the new buds appear miraculously on the branch of a tree that some could think lifeless, and how the light overcomth the darkest of night each dawn. Nature shows us and we are reminded not to  loose hope in the dark, yet how often are we  ‘stunned in the impasse of unknowing.’ 

This poem tells of an incident of waiting    ‘stunned in the impasse of unknowing‘.  The waiting in the dark and cold  of nights.  Maybe it could be said the last line was not needed but I added it anyway.

winter tree



soul’s winter

waiting in winter
on the cusp of spring
for a baby to be born
feels as if the world
has taken a vow of silence
and time is paralysed

it amazes me how close is death
to the birth of new life

outside a straggly wet mop of a day
droops in
skeletal limbs of trees x-rayed against sky
shudder like brittle bones
breathing just a little

their cold black presence
chills my blood
stirs thoughts of death
i sense its shadow
shiver in its grip

my heart fumbles
like one lost in a dark night
stunned in the impasse of unknowing

i want to believe that this will change
and that I will soon
be dazzled

and i am


winter morning walk


The winter walk was sensually intense, the colours and sounds, and the potential of birthing buds ready to burst out in all glory.  Below the brambley Wisteria I did find myself on my knees and smiled to myself. It was early morning and I like to think the walk sounds as if it was in some very important place. You have to read to the end of the poem to find out where this special experience unfolded.

winter walk


winter morning walk

come with me
feel the shrill bell-tingle
of the morning on your face
leave your ears bare to listen

unfurl yourself
like the pocket magnolia bud
peeping from its birthing cocoon
its curiosity insatiable
knowing it is glorious

distinguish whips and chortle and chirps
notice the screech of the yellow crested cockatoo
high above in the blue gums

smile at the showy red camellia
its carpet of colour reflecting its flamboyance
take in that orange blossom scent

kneel before the snow bells
profuse like lilies of the field
below the wisteria’s bare brambles

rub hands
with the pepper tree foliage
let its aroma play in your mind

ah what joy
is this winter morning walk
around the block

winter walk 2









The first of 9 poems in the section of the Anthology   A Call to Listen. This section is called The Smell of Parsley and focuses on poems that call on our senses. Enjoy. This is my favourite section.

The poem   listen   was inspired by a walk through the Tall Timbers Walk between Eastwood and West Ryde  with my labrador Millie.  She was a wonderful model  reminding me to slow down and look and listen and smell the wonders of nature along the way. It began with the crunch  of leaves under my feet and  the crack and rustle of the tiny skinks out sunning rustling away  from me  as I crunched through the fallen leaves  . The poem ends with an interesting, ambiguous yet cosmic line. Enjoy.



bowed trees sleep
tresses crunch at their feet
hound of wind moans
rhyme with rustle tones
come closer
snick on grass
wake of bird
seed on wing
leaf brush on air
crack and rustle of skink
in their leaf litter rush of hide-and-seek
frog-plonk in pond
snap of seed-pod
kerplop of fruit and berry
and in the underworld
rub of beetle and ant

the only other sound
easy drift
of vesper leaves
to a hush

this seasonal paradigm
whispers its arrival
no fuss
except it’s time






The Smell of Parsley

This is the fourth section of my Poetry Anthology.  This was the intended name of the book of poetry originally, before the decision was made for the more apt  title:

A Call to Listen.

The Smell of Parsley comes from a quote in the the play Under Milkwood by the poet Dylan Thomas. The blind Captain Cat dreams  of the  drowned sailors from the swamped S.S. Kidwelly and from the after-life the first sailor asks  him loudly and rather whimsically  ‘What’s  the smell of  parsley?  The message I got from this . . . take time to enjoy the senses here on earth for when we die we could miss them.  In Wilder’s play Our Town the  dead character Emily is asked what she misses about life the most , and she answers “I miss the smell of parsely”  Hence The Smell Of Parsely seemed an appropriate title for this section of the book which deals with  the senses including autumn and winter and jacarandas and moments in the garden. Enjoy the next  9 poems.

turning the tide

What do you do when it’s all done?”   Up at The Entrance he sits and watches . Up at The Entrance I sit, we sit,  and watch . It brings you alive , it keeps you  alive . Well what will you do when it is all done?



seat at beach




turning the tide
it’s a big sky the horizon
where the sea meets it
would be a lonely line
except for the old man who keeps it company

he knows the weathers personally
sits watches over the lake’s journey into the sea
keeps the tides on track
shepherds their turning    checks they’re on time

what do you do when it’s all done
leathery face  salty beard
his blood-shot eyes
smile contentedly

the wharf

A metaphor. This poem was written at a time of decision. Hmmm  you have to read the end of the poem  .  Can you think of a time when your toes curled, fumbled on the edge?  Did you dive in?


the wharf

is safe to stand on
or dive off

into the wet
feel my body
my whole face in

after the first stir
ripples of warmth
would spread like waves
bliss with the touch
and taste a new landscape

infinite possibilities of treasure
no feel for oysters sharp on rocks

the blue-green summers’ ocean
murmurs come play
my toes curl   fumble
on the grey weather-dried edge

southerly buster


Another one of my poems about the sea. I had walked from The Entrance around past the pool towards Toowoon Bay,  when I saw the southerly coming, always a relief from the heat of summer,  but when you  get caught out walking, you need a tree for protection.  And as you will discover in the following poem I was not alone looking for cover in the down pour.





southerly buster

on a pearly-silver day
a celestial backdrop
of slanted shafts of light
for a bearded god
to peer over
with smile or frown

I rambled
around reefy outcrops
perfect for crashing spindrift displays
with miniature ocean-worlds at my feet

but the weather turned

swirling charcoal wind
like cold grey dragon’s breath
scudded sand
whipped my legs making
my walk a huddled hurry
scurrying to beat the squall.

a banksia near the sand
saved the soaking that could have been
honey dew cones
as i crouched for shelter

my walk cut short
the sea shrouded
vista gone
i could’ve felt alone
but two birds joined me
masked lapwing plovers
their long-legs danced
delighting this turn around day