Fare thee well 2020 Looking back looking forward

                                                  Looking back or looking forward

I just picked out a few dates from my journal to remember the year we leave behind . . .

25th March 

Everything is moving so quickly . It is unbelievable our world can change so quickly. I say our beautiful world of concerts and art galleries and libraries and all the enriching culture events and venues of our lives are closing .  But something in me feeling nature is exhausted and lashing out like a cornered scorpion with the sting of its tail. It is saying how else can i save the planet . . . here i bring you to your knees be afraid very afraid . . go home hide away  for nature shows us when we bring it to its knees it takes last resorts. 

Cruise ships are floating out at sea and governments don’t know how to handle them 

The cruise ship Ruby Princess is the symbol of the worst of them  Of course our dream cruise  feels like a nightmare now  and thank goodness it was not planned till late April. 

How quickly our writing has become Poetry from out my window or short walk around the block.


The inconceivable terror has arrived 

not in the form of a hurtling comet, 

not in the form of mutual nuclear annihilation

although that is still on the cards

it comes in the form of a microscopic bug

an invisible bot

it is impossible to see

like how one is unable to look at the sun

although it is shown for our imagination 

as fiery-red  spiring ball hurtling towards us 

covered in spikes that look like treacherous hooks

to catch us.

it needs us 

it cannot survive without us

it awaits on every surface

yet it is a whimp at the feel of soapy water

it dissipates like fairy floss at antibacterial whips

but thrives in us if it happens to get us.

and so we hide away

it is an unwelcome guest

it makes fear and panic go viral 

news fake and real spread 

before it around the world

faster than it can go itself

fear bursts out of its skin 

like the entrails of an giant red kangaroo

spewed on the road 

the vultures already there for the carrion 

guns sales shoot up 

panic buying


trust and faith a thin line on a far horizon 

we huddle away

bunker down

4th April

Then we woke to its new name Covid -19 

like one gets a nick name when you become on familiar terms 

yet this name didn’t make me feel any more friendly to it.

Looking for answers it is hard to find them 

when we can’t identify the questions

yet we grapple with one big questions 

how are we so powerless

before a microscopic bug 

how can something so small transport everything

we thought  important to being irrelevant 

 can transform the world in weeks.

Were we really not prepared for this. 

Was this really not beyond the realm of possibility 

we have been living 

as if everything bends around human will.

the economic markets revolve around us 

we believe it iw one directional progress 

we have been living as if we are immortal 


now we will have to learn to live the ways things really are

that we are deeply, profoundly vulnerable

that we live in constant interdependence 

and that all of the myths that we are caught  in 

that life is one directional 

that the markets revolve around us

and that there is always someone else to blame 

these myths are falling away as we write


Looking back or looking forward:  Our choice!

Our rabbits from Watership Down may be looking back to the destruction of their homeland or they may be looking forward to the image of a new homeland, a new potential, a new possibility, a new vision.

  Our rabbits have been travelling a challenging road of loss and pain and heartache which has intensified in recent months.  As those of us ‘on the road less travelled’ choose to come together in heart, mind and spirit, if not in ‘body’ and physical contact we are connected with our focus, commitment, dedication and taking spiritual responsibility for our role in the world.

The sky ahead promises unconditional love and promise of better times with more love, gratitude, forgiveness and a sense of oneness as we make our choices, to align with hope, promise and the creative power within every one of us to build a world of love, a world where we can rise above the anger, greed, resentment, bitterness, blame, shame, guilt and fear.

Love and blessings to us all we embrace and nurture ourselves, our visions and highest ideals, dispelling darkness and despair in our hearts and minds. This is Mother Earth is healing and so are we.


The year is coming to a close 

i have a whole dictionary of new words

some newly coined and some a hybrid of words .

It is a year that has changed us all .. A year of tragedy for many with to date 82 million people contacting the virus  19 and half million  USA alone with 330,000 who have died . It has shown up the inequality of our world . and sadly it is being manipulated to be a pink pandemic with women and the underprivileged most disadvantaged.  


Pressing forward is the resilience that Hildegard taught us . She was walled in as a young girl in an anchorage ,  she burst forth loving the garden and herbs and veriditas of nature. She was silenced from writing by Abbott Kuno and she found a way to get permission to write , then he silenced her from preaching, but she overcame that . She left the monastery leading 21 woman some not too sure  to begin her own Abbey with warnings she was forbidden to take her dowries  or have a priest for sacraments. She worked till those directives were changed . She completed her first theological treatise after ten years and built her Abbey on the Rhine gathering up to 100 women with their many gifts . She was invited to preach all along the Rhine.  Patriarchy  never gave up on trying  to silence her and once again they found a reason to do so on her disobedience for not exhuming a person she buried . She wrote and spoke and warned the men only the devil silences the musical sound whose harmony is heavenly and they quickly changed and exonerated  her. She won as a result of their fear of the wrath of God and  superstition .


  This year,

  Yes, even this year

   Has drawn to its close.



                                  Fare thee well 2020.









Democratic Poetics

A Gathering together of the finest.

Poems published in Poetry Matters from 2006 to 2019



A  final exciting achievement FOR 2020  is to have  five (5 ) poems chosen for the last Poetry Matters Journal . . .

The journal is called DEMOCRATIC POETIC  . POETRY MATTERS ISSUE 40 2020


escape with cezanne

seeing eyes

not narcissus




I like my reflection which introduces my poetry in the journal

Colleen Keating October 2020

Poetry in my life/ my life in poetry

On reflection, the love of expressing my self in words (in the early days with rhyme)  guided my way towards now, where I enjoy the pursuit of words to express my amazement with life.

My work explores the paradox and wonder of nature, the harsh realities of life, of inequality, injustice and increasing threats to our natural environment .

For me, poetry is vocational. I not so much choose it as my medium of expression as much as it chooses me. To guide my thoughts and the things I write, I prize awareness, mindfulness and an unperishing sense of wonder about the world. I read poetry and write every day.

And I am inspired by Lee Ann Womack’s words:
when you get the chance to sit it out or dance – dance.

Special thanks to Cheryl Howard for her dedication to our poetry and for her compliling this very valuable document of some great poetry. 


2020  has been the best of times and the worst of times for a writer here in Australia.

I add the proviso of  ‘in Australia ‘ for with this pandemic I would not like to be in any other country. Anxiety levels here in Australia are high enough without the death rate of the rest ot the world.

I say the worst of times because

many writers need motivation  and play off one another:

many writers work to the dead line of the critique group

many writers need imput from others

For some reason I found I could work on each day at my desk with out those stimului.

I say best of times because

my calendar and by 2020 year planner fell away by mid March.

That meant all my bookings to promote and sell Hildegard, my newly published  book cancelled so time was free and on my hands . With nowhere to go I headed to my desk.

I was fortunate to get the final research stay at Alice Springs and walk in Olive Pink’s footsteps and fly back to Sydney on one of the final normal planes to fly for months, which meant I could work on the finals parts of Olive Pink and send for consideration by the publisher.

No sooner were we home from the research in Alice Springs –  it was lockdown.

With free time and no writers’ meetings,

no groups, no committments, no visitors allowed

no launches

no U3A,

no SWW, no WWN

no time taken up driving to venues

I was free to continue my writing projects and begin on a new idea.


Firstly I was able to sort and collect an interesting anthology of my poetry which began as  a

book of sea  poems to be called Coastal Patterns but it got bigger and soon became titled

Beachcomber  not sure where it is going now!

I was able to co-edit a Picaro Poets with Pip Griffin which we called Mood Indigo  (actually it was completed before the pandemic but just wanted to add it here

Next  a Ginninderra Press Chap book with Decima  Wraxall  called Mists of Time and now a Picaro on my own – Brush of Birds

I had the motivation to send a few poems off to journals . Got lazy with Eureka when I didnt hear anything back after I sent poems which I thought were good.

And I have continued to be in each Eucalypt  with a tanka and this year  a haiku in Windfall.

I had two pieces of work in the Splish, Splash childrens work publ. SWW

I had the wonderful experience of having my poem translated into German and being part of the Hildegard pilgrimage. 

and this week had my Christmas poem chosen for a Podcast of Pastor Tara Eastman in Central New York on HOPE


5 Write Answers from Women’s Ink
















To read my poetry out loud and listen carefully for meaning and rhythm.

When I am stuck, I record it and play it back to myself. I know there are modern methods to do this on our iPhones these days, but I still have an old portable tape recorder on the shelf above my desk which I read into and listen back, checking out the lyrical bent.

I get so much insight from this process.

Colleen Keating is an award winning Sydney-based poet. She has four books of poetry including her latest poetry book Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey, awarded the Silver Nautilus Award 2019 Better Books for a Better World USA.



It’s hard to pin down a best advice because I’ve had lots of good advice. But perhaps the earliest and most fundamental is good old Show Don’t Tell.

I can’t remember who or when I first came across that piece of advice, but it was certainly reinforced by Patricia Gaut when I was one of her Willoughby Writers. Since those early days, I have modified it a bit so that it’s: mostly show, and tell when you really need to.

Pippa Kay is a Sydney-based author whose most recent work Keeping it in the Family won the Society of Women Writers Fiction Book award in 2018. Pippa’s work has also appeared in multiple anthologies including On Murder 2, No Thanks or Regrets, and various Stringybark anthologies.


It was years ago when I was submitting poems to the late Les Murray, Literary Editor of Quadrant magazine and all my poems were getting rejected.

I said to Les, ‘I am not a poet, am I?’

He said, ‘You could be a poet, but you need a surprise at the end of each stanza.’

So that’s what I do now and it’s working.

My own advice to new writers is a quote from Ernest Hemingway: ‘The only kind of writing is rewriting.’

Libby Sommer is an award-winning Australian author of ‘My Year With Sammy’ 2015, ‘The Crystal Ballroom’ 2017, ‘The Usual Story’ 2018 and ‘Stories from Bondi’ 2019. ‘Lost In Cooper Park’ will be published by Ginninderra Press in late 2020. She is a regular contributor of stories and poems to Quadrant magazine.



It was delivered in a workshop at the SWW by the wonderful Australian author, Sue Woolfe.

In discussing the early stages of a writing project, Sue spoke of ‘The tragedy of knowing what you’re doing’. She explained that it is actually important, in terms of the way our brains work creatively, not to know. That ‘our unconscious mind is much smarter than we are,’ and that in a sense, we need to trust that our story knows what it’s doing, even if we are initially uncertain.

I’ve since heard this idea mirrored in various ways by other authors such as George Saunders and Elizabeth Gilbert and I love and believe in the magical element of the concept, though it’s easier said than done!

Melissa Bruce an award-winning writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama. Her debut novel, ‘Picnic at Mount Disappointment’ won the inaugural Woollahra Digital Literary Award for Fiction and was Highly Commended by the Society of Women Writers, NSW.


From Elizabeth Jolley, the importance of observing and jotting down the ‘quick note’.

From Stephanie Dowrick, allowing the creative mind to bring ideas to the surface, while your hands are engaged in doing routine chores.

From Patti Miller, the value of narrative withholding, where a writer withholds certain information from the reader in order to create mystery, suspense, tension, interest and dramatic irony.

From David Malouf, that ‘writing is about an enthusiastic rush; it is also about patience’. He is right. For a writer, patience is essential – patience when writing and patience when publishing.

Dr Sharon Rundle is an Editor of books and online Story Mosaics, who has taught writing for over 25 years at universities and institutions in Australia, India, and the UK. For the past 15 years, she has edited books by authors in Australia and the Indian Subcontinent.


Shortlisted for Society of Women Writers 2020 Book Awards







P.S. Cottier | Monstrous
Tricia Dearborn | Autobiochemistry
Pip Griffin | Margaret Caro
Colleen Keating | Desert Patterns
Colleen Keating | Hildegard of Bingen



Nicole Alexander | Stone Country
Diane Armstrong | The Collaborator
Carmel Bendon | Grasping at Water
Cindy Broadbent | The Revolutionary’s Cousin
Christine Sykes | The Changing Room
Julie Thorndyke | Mrs Rickaby’s Lullaby




Colleen Keating | Hildegard of Bingen
Liz Newton | The Firing Line
Jessica North | Esther
Jo Oliver | Jessie Traill – a Biography
Annabet Ousback | Red Herrings for Breakfast
Gill Shaddick | The Hong Kong Letters




Georgina Donaghey | In the Shadow of an Elephant
Susanne Gervay | The Boy in the Blue Glasses
Libby Hathorn | Miss Franklin


Judge’s decision that no prizes will be awarded in this category


Christmas poem Gardeners of Hope by Colleen Keating

Dear Colleen

Thank you so much for your contribution to the “Christmas Sweets Mix” Episode of Holy Shenanigans Podcast. This episode will go live on Tuesday, December 29th at 4 am EST. Please share the episode link (after 4 am EST) in your social media to help increase our audience. The direct link to this episode is: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1347916/7040695


Holy Shenanigans Podcast, can also be found on Itunes Podcasts, Spotify, and most Podcast Carriers.

Holy Shenanigans Instagram Account is found at: https://www.instagram.com/holyshenaniganspodcast/Holy Shenanigans Podcast Facebook is found at: https://www.facebook.com/HolyShenanigansPodcast

The contributing poets, songwriters and artists that made this episode possible are:


Lorraine Savage – Church Member and sewer of all things beautiful from King of Kings Lutheran Church in Liverpool NY. Poem titled: “Dear Santa”


LeoWT  – a seminarian, hairdresser, and activist, but most importantly they are a Tejera. Leo, together with their partner, Elle Tejera, own #WTHAIR in Olean Ny. They have five children, four pets, and one passion in life, making the world a better place by loving the people in their lives.

You can contact him at: Leowolterstejera@gmail.com  or Leo wolters Tejera on Facebook. Poem titled “Hope”


Colleen Keating – is an Australian poet, who enjoys the pursuit of words to express her amazement with life.

She has four award-winning books of poetry published, including the newly launched Poetic Journey with Hildegard of Bingen. All four, A Call to Listen, Fire on Water, Desert Patterns and Hildegard of Bingen are available as book or ebook version through the publisher Ginninderra Press in South Australia , Amazon, Goodreads, and other supply outlets. Poem titled “Gardeners of Hope”.


Marilyn Dyer – is a member Hope Lutheran in Troy (formerly St. Timothy’s) is the widow of Pastor Lee Dyer. You may know her from her role as Past President of Upstate NY Synod Women of the ELCA or for her “announcements” about World Hunger at Synod Assembly. Poem titled, “I Watched the Moonrise Christmas Eve”


Adrin Fisher – is a teacher from Fairmount, West Virginia. She is the recipient of the 2020 National Writing Project at WVU Writing Excellence Award and was awarded. Her writing medium of choice is non-fiction or flash fiction. Poem titled, “December”


Francisco Herrera – (he/him/mother) left a life in classical music (viola, orchestra conducting) to begin divinity studies at Chicago Theological Seminary, (MDiv 2012). Since beginning his PhD work at the Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) he has exercised his Christian agitation skills as a seminary instructor at LSTC and the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest, co-founded the collective #decolonizeLutheranism. He has written for 1517 Media and Sojourners Magazine, and is currently knee-deep in preparing a dissertation on intersectionality and church planting. Polymath and scatterbrain that he is, Francisco pays his bills with https://www.patreon.com/PolyglotEvangel, tweets at @PolyglotEvangel, would love to cook for you (just email him), and raises money in the name of Jesus. Francisco shares a recording of his composition “My Song (for baby)” The main singer in the recording, pastor Rev. Erin Coleman Branchaud of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Logan Square.


Nancy Liccione – poet from Syracuse and Staten Island NY shares her song lyrics for her composition of, “May my life thus be a song”.


Christine Valters Paintner – comes to us by way of Ireland. She is curator of  AbbeyoftheArts.com and the author of two collections of poetry – The Wisdom of Wild Grace and Dreaming of Stones.

Thanks to audio technician and Holy Shenanigans Co- conspirator, Ian Eastman


Host and curator of the podcast is, yours truly, Pastor Tara Lamont Eastman – a creative, feminist and pastor.

Gratitude to artist Kellyn Baron who created the Artwork for this episode. Kellyn Baron, has a bachelor of arts from SUNY College at Brockport. She is a mixed media artist, who currently resides in Florida. To find Kellyn’s artwork, go to:https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/kellyn-baron



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Christmas beckons us to be the gardeners of hope, says Sydney poet Colleen Keating. 



Gardeners of Hope

When we are caught
in the world’s tumult,
when we see the edge
falling away from under us

in time of overwhelm
in this wrecked
and shimmering world
of ‘in between’ times

our hearts steel-capped with fear
our voices muted with apathy
with hope a dimmed song
with hope, a hazed horizon

we are called
to remember
Christmas in in the air
and it is in the tiny not the immense
will be the miracle
in the quiet waiting
in listening for the Word
with open hands

Christmas beckons us
to be the gardeners of hope
tending our earth,
nurturing our soil
with family, beauty, poetry.

We are called to plant the seed
be the ones waiting
with hands open
with hearts open
for the miracle to come.

Colleen Keating 



My name is Colleen Keating.  I am an Australian, Sydney-based poet.

I enjoy the pursuit of words to express my amazement with life.

My work explores the paradox and wonder of nature, the harsh realities of life, of inequality, injustice and increasing threat to our natural environment – as a well-known novelist once put it, I want to “name the unnameable, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep”.

For me, poetry is vocational. I not so much choose it as my medium of expression as much as it chooses me. To guide my thoughts and the things I write, I prize awareness, mindfulness and an unperishing sense of wonder about the world.

I have four award-winning books of poetry published, including the newly launched Poetic Journey with Hildegard of Bingen. All four, A Call to Listen, Fire on Water, Desert Patterns and Hildegard of Bingen are available as book or ebook version through the publisher Ginninderra Press in South Australia , Amazon, Goodreads, and other supply outlets.  I have co-edited the last two anthologies for the Women Writers Network from Writing NSW and have four co-written chapbook with Picaro Poets

Landscapes of the Heart with John Egan
Shared Footprints with Michael Keating
Mood Indigo with Pip Griffin
Mists of Time with Decima Wraxall



Sent from Mail for Windows 10

In search of Flannel Flowers and my father by Colleen Keating

in search of Flannel Flowers

a soft brush paints stars
your star the brightest
with conversation  velvet
white petals
last for their few short days
once opened to the sky                                        
from the crib of calyx
camouflaged as bush you rise
catch the design of each soft edge
tailored to be just who you are
every flower with a wildness
that’s where I saw you last
in amongst the frey and white abundance

this haven frames a grief
deep below the heart     its only sound
a deep sigh
only action my gentle smile
when we nod we nod togeth

think nature       how it releases old regrets
binds sudden futures
in Obrien’s flannel flowers
a gift on my wall
given when he saw how my tears flowed
at sudden memories
of my father
with his awe at their beauty
its meaning something more then
in the star gazing flowers
even as every spindly floret
is like no other
now sway with a freeing joy

well it is said we who are left
anchored are the ones who suffer
like the see saw of life
where outer edges throw
giddiness chaos
and on the pivot
there is a stillness

the story is finished now
for another year each floral head droops
your sudden loss is softened
by walking here again next spring
you will be walking like the first time
some called an apparition some say imagination
but i will be back.

••••••••••••••••••••                     ••••••••••••••••••••••••

Then for the rest of our walk from Crackneck Lookout along the coast through the  Wyrrabalong National Park.



Yellowtail Black Cockatoos and birds on our walk by Colleen keating


Our walk by Tuggerah Lake

It was birds today that caught our attention and once our minds and eyes were observers
birds were everywhere.  Seagulls, ibis, egrets, herons, black swans in the distance, pink galhs doves, corellas, cormorants, magpies, willy wag tails, fairy wrens , plovers, kookaburra  and rainbow lorikeets, pelicans and unexpectedly we heard this noise in the banksia and there were lake visitors the Yellowtail Black Cockatoos a long way from home.




we heard them first
a contented gravelling sound
then spotted them
well camouflaged high in the old man Banksia
by Tuggerah Lake

their glossy wings
opening and closing on the air
as they shimmied from branch to branch –
made kind of eerie black fans

when a branch drooped
under their shuffling weight I caught
frowning feathers with their fold of gold
brownish seed pods in a clutch
of black talons
a jutting hooked beak
brutish in its crack and whirl
swirl of seed-scooping tongue

some say Yellowtail Black Cockatoos
are messagers of empowering strength
their sweep of air enlivening
and there was a moment
an air brush in our hearts
as we watched their hovering wingspan
gather in a gush of wild gold to heave away
against a vermillion streak of sunset
above the cobalt cut-out distant hills.
back to the high country
their mountain home

Some more photos of the birds on that one day.
They are not professional photos but they mean a lot to me.

Love the corellas and galahs feeding together.


We enjoyed the cormorants sitting on the jetty.

And the pelicans



Some names we are still checking




Plovers, Willy wagrtail and the Green Figbird