Desert Patterns by Colleen Keating

When we listen, this land sings to us, holds us, nurtures us. This land is the common ground that we share. This small blue planet is the common world of our existence. Desert Patterns is a collection of poetry that touches the membrane between two worlds with the breath of wildness and our inland journeys. In its striking imagery, we have a revelation of the significance of the land and of the burden of our Australian history.
‘Colleen’s poetic journey invokes the deep spirituality of our landscape. She immerses us in “a multitude of gorgeous images” as we stand in Tunnel Creek remembering Jandamarra, marvel with Monet at Kakadu’s “blazing-blue lilies” and dream with cicadas: “is it a place the gods keep/to seduce the lost like me?” Every step of the way, Desert Patterns will entrance you.’ – Pip Griffin
‘Colleen Keating in her distinctive Australian voice combines sensitivity to place with clear, powerful free verse. Her images are both striking and profound. Again as in her previous collections, her poetry is underpinned by a gentle spirituality from a woman’s perspective. – John Egan
‘Take time to enter the world of this poetic landscape. Colleen Keating invites us to listen – with all our senses.’ – Margaret Hede
Following on the publication of her award-winning poetry collection Fire on Water in 2017, Colleen Keating, a Sydney poet, has continued to search for a sense of place in country – a land that is timeless and always changing. Much country has been handed back to its traditional owners, while mining companies and pastoralists continue to maintain their position. Aboriginal art has flourished and more people are searching for a place to call home. Colleen has also had published by Ginninderra Press  A Call to Listen and a highly acclaimed verse novel, Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey. She has also co-authored Landscapes of the Heart (Picaro Poets) with John Egan.
978 1 76041 844 1, 94pp




Symphony Central Coast: One Land, Many Stories


What a moving, exciting afternoon concert  we experienced on Sunday 23rd February 2020.

Originally it was to be held in The Entrance Park and we had planned to walk there but the flood of Tuggerah Lake has caused damage in the park hence it was changed to Kibble Park in Gosford.  Kibble Park is a very pleasing park but we needed to drive and hesitated about traffic and parking. By hook or by crook I wanted to go to this concert. So we went. 

The concert called One Land, Many Stories brought together performers and composers to showcase quality Australian music – from quiet reflections on our personal space in a very old country to an exuberant celebration of shared values.

There were stories of creation, ritual and first meetings

and music that evokes the Dreamtime spirit of Australia, 

the grandeur of the colonial stock run 

and the stars above us all. 

Performers from Central Coast Grammar School and Central Coast Youth Orchestra, 

plus special guest artists joined the Central Coast Symphony Orchestra. There was a world premiere of a piece by Kevin Hunt.  

It began with with a smoking ceremony. Green eucalypts leaves smoked and gave off a wonderful healing aroma . Many bathed in the smoke but there was no need to file past as we felt the cleaning power from where we were sitting. 


There was a heartfelt welcome to country. The first piece of music was very appropriate for Australia still grieving after the unprecedented Summer bush fire season – Peter Sculthorpe’s Earth Cry together with some insightful poetry about lament for Mother earth.

Next was An Ancient Forest Once Stood Here composed by Sarah Hopkins. Then a very Indigenous piece telling the creation story in music, poetry with clap sticks in unison with the European pealing of bells and the earthy magic of the didgeridoo .

Next was Stars Above us by Stephen Conroy, then the World premiere of Kevin Hunt’s 

Yaggabantana. The  lyrics were sung in one of the Indigenous languages with the British settlers singing  in English as they learn and copy each others language.

After interval we learnt that Spike Milligan was a Central coast boy and he composed A grand  waltz for the Central Coast .  Next Aurora Australis  composed by Martyn Hancock from Tasmania.

Listening to this music one could hear the cracking of the ice and the fiery colours scintillating across the night sky.  It was an exhilarating piece. 

Not my favourite, but i accept we need experimental music. Kinetica by Mark Grandison was experimenting with sound and I could see the young people in the orchestra were really enjoying it.

Then we segued with poetry from Man from Snowy River and  and the music from the movie which blended into Waltzing Matilda and back to the overture of The man from Snowy. We could see those brumby horses go.

Finally We are Australia sang in language and English. Breath-takingingly beautiful. Heartwarming and healing. As Stan Grant says we are making the space for the conversation and we are coming together more and more. 

By the way, the birds in the trees loved the soirée. They made their presence heard .It was a delight to hear them as they have been so silent all summer.


The Yellow Rose



The Yellow Rose 

And the weather turns around

from pyrocumulous horror

our  infernoed land is drowned

in flooding rain

and now a misty morning

for walking once again

after a scorching summer

of ash and smoke hazed air


I see the  rosebush has survived                                            

for  the yellow rose nods

smiles as if it recognises me

and murmurs


just for a moment

it stops me in my tracks    draws me in

then its smile is in the curled petals

its nods in the zephyr of breeze

and I move into my day singing

my rose has the look of  a flower

that is  looked at*

acknowledged and loved

like the rose in the little Prince

  • TS Eliot

Bearing witness to the fires Summer 2020



bearing witness

reverence is called for  . . .

a mournful dignity  on this beach today

it is far from the war zone

 but each wave carries the remains

flanked with blackened ash

it lays to rest in curves on the sand

not stark stiff birds as sometimes washed up 

blown in by severity of storms 

here is death consumed 

held up evidence 

as flotsam                                                           

and left like wreaths 

curved around a cenotaph

wave after wave 

sometimes  when washed out 

there is respite

for one does not know what to do 

but it comes back on the tide with vengence 

there is no escape  to being the witness                                

till one falls down on the sand to weep

and finds they’re not alone 

as the lament of the waves

comfort with whispered threnodies 

and hazed in smoke 

the weeping eye of the sun waits




Small pockets of new life come up to meet us everywhere.

 It does not help the many who have suffered the loss of loved ones, 

those who have lost their homes and/or businesses. 

It does not help the awful trauma that is with us 

and it doesn’t alleviate the  grief we bear as a nation 

at the loss of our precious flora and fauna. 

It is a sad, sombre and very sobering summer. 



The new Anthology, Love’s Footprint edited Maree Silver & Leigh Hay


LOVE’S  FOOTPRINT  published by Poetica Christi Press

  Edited by Maree Silver & Leigh Hay

It is exciting to have two poems chosen to be included in the very thoughtful Anthology Love’s Footprint published by Poetica Christi Press. My two poems ‘bells’ and ‘morning glory’  were chosen among 132 poems that make this Anthology an enjoyable read.

It has been a joy to read this anthology by poets whose experiences speak from and into vulnerability, risk, ageing and loss, in ways that are believable and moving. There were many notable poems which surprised and warmed me. You will be consoled and absorbed by the truth-telling  of the poets who have in common the human and divine capacity to love in both action and word. (Marlene Marburg, poet and author Grace a upon Grace)