Shared Footprints by Michael and Colleen Keating


Shared Footprints  is a Picaro Poets chap book perfect for your pocket when out on a walk or perched on an outcrop of rock overlooking the ocean.   Order it through Ginninderra Press .

Over the past two years Michael and I have done a seasonal beach walk each season from  Tuggerah Lake,  The Entrance Beach around the headland to Blue Bay,  around the rock platform to Toowoon Bay and along the beach  for a Cafe breakfast  at Toowoon Bay Life Savers Club and then  we walk back .

We walk quietly with notepad and pen and jot down what we observe.  Over the years we have put our thoughts down  side by side in response to the beach,  the seasons and each other.  We put this manuscript to Brenda Eldridge from Ginninderra Press as a possible Picaro Poets Chap book. It was accepte,   formatted and published. It is  for people to enjoy nature hoping to stimulate deeper awareness in us all.

Available now from  /picaro poets and scroll down to our name.

It is divided into four sections

Spring: New Beginnings
Summer: Under a Melting Sun
Autumn : Tumble of Ocean
Winter: Our Shadows Long

Just a few examples

sea pattern
periwinkle meander
in the interidal zone   MK




we quicken pace
as wind leans in
hand warm together  CK



for our grandchildren, our little castle builders, channel diggers, treasure collectors

may they all be star throwers.

The Star Thrower*

  One dawn, a man was walking along the shore.

   he noticed a young person reaching down to the sand, 

   picking up something 

  and very gently throwing it back into the sea. 

As he got closer, he called out, 

“Good morning! What are you doing?”

 The young person paused, looked up and replied, 

“Throwing starfish into the sea.”

“Why are you throwing starfish into the sea?” he asked.

“The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in they’ll die.” 

“But, don’t you realise that there are miles of beach here 

 and starfish all along it. How can you possibly make a difference?”

The young person listened politely. 

Then knelt down, picked up another starfish 

and threw it  safely into the sea, past the breaking waves and said…

“Made a difference to this one.”

* Loren Eiseley  (adapted)

Thank you to  Picaro Poets to Brenda Eldridge who gives such inspiration, affirmation and support

Landscapes of the Heart by John Egan & Colleen Keating

When the noted poet John Egan asked me to collaborate with him on a chap book with the idea of presenting it to be published with Picaro Poets (an arm of Ginninderra Press) I was very affirmed and excited. It quickly became a challenge for our poems needed to have a thread of interconnectedness and for me I always want a book that someone in the future can pick up and read and find meaning and hopefully a spark of something I like to call ‘the more than”

We teamed up with Brenda Eldridge that I always find is on my wave length of wanting  poetry that says the ‘the more than’  and Landscapes of the Heart was born.  Brenda did a perfect typeset and production.  Many of our poems had been previously published in poetry journals and magazines and it was affirming to have them collected in this book. John suggested we use the quote of Henri-Frederic Amiel,

‘Any landscape is a condition of the spirit’

I have a sense our poetry is an antidote for today with Covid lurking in our midst , causing havoc with our lives and livelihoods.

What is earth asking of us today ? 

I know for me,  the poem I will share called delphic visitor  on page 15 is with me today . I am in self-isolation along way from the  Manning River  and the kikuyu grass covered in dew  and the herons that come each morning  but here at this desk I carry that scene and that heron deep inside my chest to protect me from the forgetting the beauty of our world and to protect me from being sentimental about life. The delicate exquistite heron that looks more like a shy ballerina who could be stepping out to Camille Saint-Saens The swan must kill ruthlessly and feed every day to stay alive. There is something about the Covid virus today that says the earth is struggling . . there is a message we have to listen and listen. . .


delphic visitor

clear winter morning
a silver heron tiptoes
through a tangle
of wild kikuyu grass
waits statue-still
strike of pick-ax blade

its rippling neck back
in an alleluia pose  

I venture into the paddock
to capture a photo
my jeans trail over dew laden grass
and this silver heron
my morning oracle
with quiver of white breast
soft flutter of blue-grey wing
cranks its bamboo legs
uncurls its gold-tip feet
tacks into flight
loose grey silk
against a blue sky

by Colleen Keating



A quote from John’s poem Sunrise over the Sea

. . Mesabi Range iron-ore red,
rotating mardi gras, the sea and sky
and carosels of rays,
an orange wheel of fortune
where the Sun King rides
his new Versailles of light. . .
Hallelujah Chorus chimes,
a sea of stars declines
and curtain clls,
the sun’s the star,
strides on stage
to wild applause.

to read more you need to go onto Ginninderra Press, Picaro Poets  web site and scroll down  to buy the book.


‘The Earth is our mother ‘ Hildegard reminded us 870 years ago










 Hildegard of Bingen envisioned a time when human activities would harm our Mother Earth. “The earth sustains humanity,” she wrote. “It must not be injured; it must not be destroyed.”

Hildegard further writes,  “The earth is the Mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all.” She recognised and revered the notion that we are one with everything in our living, breathing, glorious universe.

Reading Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey,  at this time is highly recommended as a foil for fear and anxiety at this time of crisis and as very relevant today for Earth Day after the devastation our earth has suffered. 


Hildegard of Bingen is called the founder of the environmental movement.  She is an early eco-warrior aware of the need to care for the earth and for how it gives us all we need.

Hildegard spoke of how we are one and part  with the earth how we are interconnected and interdependent on each other.

Earth Day is slipping past this 2020 with all the concern on covid -19 and with the call for physical distancing meaning it is not possible for much promotion. 

Hildegard von Bingen  lived in the 12th century, during a time when there was no inkling of the devastation, destruction and pollution that humans would wreak on our planet. She cherished the natural world around her. She lived in a veritable garden of Eden, surrounded by verdant forests, fertile river valleys, and the clear running waters of the Rhine, Nahe, and Glan rivers.

Finally a beautiful poem by Hildegard:

     I am the one whose praise echoes on high.

     I adorn all the earth.

     I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.

     I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.

     I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.

     I am the rain coming from the dew.

     That causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.

     I call forth tears, the aroma of holy work.

     I am the yearning for good.

taken from a wonderful website  set up by Sarah Riehm a devotee of Hildegard or one of our family of Hildegardians who speaks of and about Hildegard with a  gentle mixture of very scholarly research and with a voice  of Hildegard accessible for us in the 21st century.  . .how I like to think Hildegard would be writing and speaking for us today

In  Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey I have Hildegard saying these words at different times including in the poem Viriditas. But it is beautiful to see it as a poem by Hildegard.

Sarah Riehm, Curator



Easter Sunday 2020

Easter 2020


There is Alleluia in this morning in our heroes.
Easter is in them as they rise to bring, save, comfort, give life in our world.
From cleaners to the top scientists, from shop assistants to nurses and doctors those on the front line and first responders. May we all give them honour and gratitude .For us in our compassionate retreat we can only be grateful.

“Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished” . She has suffered painfully this summer . Now she has a little breather to find herself again.

Here is a dawn photo this morning from the terrace  in our time of self isolating which we are terming our compassionate retreat. The second photo a tree atching the Easter sunrise before we received it. Love the gold the first gift of morn.

Easter Morning 2020

Kookaburras wake us singing.
The sun is rising.
An amazing expanse of pink sky.
Magpies are warbling again in the nearby tree ( all summer in smoke-choked air they didn’t sing )
The moon in her silver shoon
journeys west in quiet stillness.
The birds are singing more than ever.

The sweet scent of the lemon balm Eucalypt
and the newly budgeoning buds of the sasanquas fill the air.
All our families are safe at home, some camping in their backyards, some doing Easter bunny hunts in their own gardens.
No hectic trips to church .
No frantic last minute shopping for celebratory functions.
No one has been in traffic jams.
No one is racing heither and thiether to keep important dates or to take the planned Easter holiday.
And not a plane in the sky.
The air is crisp and fresh.

Easter 2020
when we all stayed home
in compassionate retreat

Practiced physical distancing
Not social distancing for Facetime and Zoom are a miracle of social communication . It is physical distancing we face daily which of course for grandparents who love being with their grandchildren is extremely painful.
I am a poet in residence . Normally you would pay a fortune to have that experince .

View from a hospital bed window: A story for our time

Some of you will remember the story, View from a hospital bed window.
While writing the poem about looking out my window
this story came back to my mind. I am surprised how it speaks to us
today in our time of self-isolation –
and how important it is for us to carry hope in the pocket of our heart
when looking out the window on our world.

Here again is that story I have adapted to verse.

.View from a hospital bed window.  (Anon)

Two men, both seriously ill,
occupied the same hospital room.
One man could sit up in his bed
which was next to the room’s only window.
The other man had to spend all his time
flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.
They spoke of their wives and families,
their homes, their jobs.

Every afternoon,
when the man in the bed by the window
would sit up, he’d describe to his roommate
what he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those times
when his world would be broadened, enlivened
by all the activity and colour of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake
Ducks and swans played on the water.
Children sailed their model boats.
Young lovers walked arm in arm
amidst flowers of every colour
A fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this exquisite detail,
the man on the other side of the room
would close his eyes
and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window
described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band
he could see it in his mind’s eye as the man described it.

Days, weeks and months passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived
to find the lifeless body of the man by the window.
He had died peacefully in his sleep.
She was saddened, called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate,
the other man asked if he could be moved
next to the window.
The nurse was happy to make the switch,
and after making sure he was comfortable,
she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow
to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look.
He faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse
what could have compelled his deceased roommate
who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind.
He could not even see the wall.
She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Another voice that speaks for us today is Cavafy.  In his famous  life journey poem Ithaka (see below) he says,
we only encounter what we bring along inside our soul.
We only see see what our soul sets up in front of us.  


by  C.P. Cavafy

trans. Edmund Keeley

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithaka mean.


In her poem Son of Mine Oodgeroo Noonuccal  (see below)

says in all the pain and suffering she carried she wanted to tell only of the good , the brave and the fine.Words have the power to  plants seed in souls over and over to grow the good, the brave and the fine.

Son of Mine by Oodgeroo Noonuccal

My son, your troubled eyes search mine,
Puzzled and hurt by colour line.
Your black skin as soft as velvet shine;
What can I tell you, son of mine?

I could tell you of heartbreak, hatred blind,
I could tell you of crimes that shame mankind,
Of brutal wrong and deeds malign,
Of rape and murder, son of mine;

But I’ll tell you instead of brave and fine
When lives of black and white entwine,
And men in brotherhood combine- 
This would I tell you, son of mine. 

When you can only take photos from the window  by Colleen Keating

When you can only take photos from the window 

(in self-isolation from covid-19)

I had forgotten how much light there is in the world till you gave it back to me
Ursula Le Guin  A Wizard of Earthsea

you can be caught easily by a showy redhead grevillea
the fancy filagree sprays of white Fiddlewood florets
the yellow curl of aspen’s hint of autumn

you can be caught by the one native miner
that flies in cute and curious
and snap it from every angle with each flit of wing

yet in the window frame of my mind
it is greenery that speaks to us today
with constancy of presence 


how its algorithm of leaf space
pattern and deft design
underscore artisry

how it covers the ground
when left untamed   patient when trimmed
how it begins again    never gives up

a grass tortoise of the fable
it’s slow slog     up trellis     over pipes
down walls

resolute against  drought   fire    plague
how it regenerates    never resiles
to come back


and how the most insignificant–
titled  weeds break through black plastic
distort concrete and pavement

to find the crack
the crack to get back
the light that beckons carry on 

it reminds me
how first green shoots 
of snow bells spear apart dark soil

how moist green worlds
congregate in alcoves of rock
in the hottest of deserts  

and how the play of light




giving us a thousand shades of green


Frederick for Winter-time – a fable

Frederick for a Winter time.


Some of you might know the story of Frederick
the field mouse accused of sitting about
day-dreaming, watching and listening
not sharing the tasks of preparing for winter
while his family filled every minute
hurried here and there to busy themselves
storing berries and nuts
for the long season they would bear

and how Frederick garnered
the warmth of the sun the wind in the air
for winter is so freezingly cold, stale and bare
and how he saved the colours of the day
for winters can be so long, so drab and grey
and how he gathered words that uplift the spirit

and how in the stark days of winter
most of the food had been eaten
and gossip and all the funny stories
had become threadbare
and they anxiously turned to Frederick
for sustenance
during the last cruel days before spring









so Frederick asked them to close their eyes
and with his words his voice his magic
from stirrings deep within
they felt warmth the air scented
with their treasured aromas
and they saw the colours of flowers and trees
rainbows and flying birds
enduring brush strokes on their mind

and how when Frederick had finished
they all applauded –

but Frederick
they exclaimed
you are a poet

Frederick blushed, took a bow, and said shyly, ‘I know it’.



And for those of you still reading here is the story translated fom the fable.

Frederick    by Leo Lionni


All along the meadow 

where the cows grazed and the horses ran, 

there was an old stone wall.

In that wall

not far from the barn and the granary, 

a chatty family of field mice

had their home.

But the farmers had moved away,

the barn was abandoned,

and the granny stood empty.

And since winter was not far off,

the little mice began to gather corn and nuts 

and wheat and straw. 

They all worked day and night .

All – except Frederick. 

Frederick, why don’t you work?  they asked

I do work, said Frederick,

I gather sun rays 

for the old dark winter days.

And when they saw Frederick sitting there, 

staring at the meadow 

they said,  and now Frederick?

I gather colours, answered Frederick simply.

For winter is grey.

And once Frederick seemed half asleep,

Are you day-dreaming Frederick? 

They asked reproachfully. But Frederick said, 

Oh no I am gathering words 

for the winter days are long and many

and we’ll run out of things to say?.

The winter days came, 

and when the first snow fell

the five little field mice 

took to their hideout in the stones.

In the beginning there was lots to eat,

and the mice told stories 

of foolish foxes and silly cats.

They were a happy family.

But little by little they had nibbled up 

most of the nuts and berries,

 the straw was gone 

and the corn was only a memory.

It was cold in the wall 

and no one felt like chatting.

Then they remembered

what Frederick had said 

about sun rays and colours and words.

What about your supplies Frederick ! they asked 

Close your eyes, said Frederick,

as he climbed on a big stone,

Now I send you the rays of the sun

Do you feel their golden glow?

And as Frederick spoke of the sun

the four little mice 

began to feel warmer.

Was it Frederick’s voice ? Was it magic?

And how about the colours Frederick?

they asked anxiously ,

Close your eyes again, Frederick said,

And then he told them 

of the blue periwinkles

the red poppies

in the yellow wheat 

and the green leaves of the berry bush.

They saw the colours as clearly 

as if they had been painted in their minds 

And the words Frederick?

Frederick cleared his throat,

waited a moment,

and then, as if from a stage, he said: 

Who scatters snowflakes? who melts the ice? 

Who spoils the weather? Who makes it nice? 

Who grows the four-leaf clovers in June? 

dims the daylight? Who lights the moon?

Four little field mice who live in the sky

Four little field mice . . like you and I. 

One is the Springmouse  who turns on the showers

Then comes the Summer who paints in the flowers

The Fallmouse is next with walnuts and wheat 

And Winter is last . . . with little cold feet.

Aren’t we lucky the seasons are four 

Think of a year with one less . . or one more

When Frederick had finished,

they all applauded.

                       But Frederick,

                                     they said

                                                  you are a poet. 

Frederick blushed, took a bow, and said shyly, ‘I know it’ 





Below is Thomas our young poet, this spring, March  2020 (Northern Hemisphere)

sitting in his cherry tree  in his own yard, reading Frederick. So proud of him.