Kur-ring-gai Botanic Garden by Colleen Keating

between breaths

Nothing more beautiful under the sun than to be under the sun”
Walt Whitman

On one of those chill winter days
when rugged up in your woolies
you don’t mind it being such –
with stay of azure sky’s low sun

an in-breath of wildness to interrupt
day to day mindset

distant ring of the honeyeater
a creek tinkles      gold      glint
tones of green     all  beckon

into a world charged with a Hopkins vibe
sienna beacons of banksia
enlivening the way

sturdy trees usher us onwards
some  ramrod sentinels
others lazed-back like friends
free   in size and shape
red gum turpentine iron bark
 peppermint    scribbly gum
thickened roots flow like treacle
into rock crevices

white trunks with stories to tell
their scribbled language intrigue

suddenly crunch crunch in the undergrowth
alerts us to wallabies
that bump bump bump away
we miss their peering eyes
but so happy they are here

deep in the forest we find a spot
in a clearing for our picnic.

magpies warble their presence
a brush turkey befriends us
two kookaburras entertain our stay
one like a zen buddhist on the bough above

the out-breath of wilderness comes
like the end of a symphony
that holds you in its other world


Some surprises y in the undergrowth

Scribbly Gum by Colleen Keating

Scribbly Gum

who writes the scribbly dialect
written into trunks of eucalypts ?
I watch the trunk of a gum-tree
no sign of a scribe

who writes the scribbly dialect
written into trunks of eucalypts?
i run my finger along the rambling lines
and enjoy the mystery

May Gibbs found inspiration
for her writing on the gum leaves
Judith Wright peeled its splitting bark
and wrote her poem
of this life she could not read.

how lovely to enjoy wonder 
believing in fairies 
at the bottom of the garden

who is this secret poet ?
who is this hidden creator?
this graffiti artist?
leaving its tag  on trees         
and what is it trying to say?

a brown moth rarely seen
is the curio   its tiny eggs hatch
mysterious larvaes  burrow down
like children in class taking up their pen
they tunnel along writing  their journey
and as the circle of life comes round 
form moths and  like students fly free


May Gibbs 1876-1969    May Gibbs MBE was an Australian children’s author, illustrator, and cartoonist. She is best known for her gumnut babies, and the book Snugglepot and Cuddlepie  and her scary old Banksia man.

Judith Wright 1915-2000   Judith Wright was an Australian poet, environmentalist and campaigner for Aboriginal land rights. She was a recipient of the Christopher Brennan Award in 1975.  Judith was also a recipient of the Australian National Living Treasure Award in 1998.

Scribbly Gum Moth tells the story of the insect’s life cycle.

Scribbly gums are spectacular Australian eucalypts that get their name from the strange ‘scribbles’ left behind on their smooth bark. These rambling tracks are tunnels made by the larvae of the Scribbly Gum Moth and tell a story of the insect’s life cycle.

Photos of the Scribbly Gums were taken by me in the Ku-ring-ga Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

Ku-ring-gai is an Aboriginal word describing the home or hunting ground of the local people.

Radical amazement by Colleen Keating


“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….
get up in the morning
and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.
Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible;
never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

by Abraham Joshua Heschel

A selection of recent moments of amazement. 




Radical amazemnt 

This morning low on the city horozon
I watched the sun twinkle through the trees
their tracery –  bare limbs of deciduous  and  evergreens
highlighting its early journey into a new day.

It is a holiday here for the Queen’s birthday
and on the sharp edge of winter it is hard to leave my bed
as one would normally do to rise with the light
I linger “under the doona” as we call it these day
and ponder Heschel’s words .

How easy it is to take another day for granted
to  look  casually  at the wonder of the light
outside my window
at camellias blooming gloriously in red and pink and white
some with soft salmon  frilled to the edge.

How easy to  treat the bird song in the high trees
 casually rather than hear it as music for my soul
and to forget everything around us
be it common, familiar, ordinary 
is  phenomenal, incredible and extraordinary.
not waiting   for it to be gone or to change to realise this

When the word radical means deep, absolute total
there is no room for measure
when amazement calls for  surprise, atonishment even shock
we have our call to live with radical amazement

Our spitiuality.No need for church
it is here right now

Sometimes I think I can hear light speak by Colleen Keating

Sometimes I think I can hear light speak to me . I hear all its moods and they often parallel with mine. The whole day the light is with me from the moment it bursts from the dark to the time it leaves for us all to rest and even with it coming and going it is wonderful in its expression. In all its sounds, in all its expressions light is true and in that comforts whatever its mood for I know things never stay the same  or static . . .joy or grief  . .this too will change.


One day the sun admitted,
I am just a shadow.
I wish I could show you
The Infinite Incandescence
That has cast my brilliant image!
I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own being!

by Hafiz

Eucalypt tanka journal, Issue 32, 2022 : update by Colleen Keating


Great to receive the latest Eucalypt tanka journal, Issue 32 , 2022,
find one of my tankas included – ‘flawed journey’
and to enjoy the leisure and pleasure in
dipping in and out of this enjoyable journal.
Thank you to the editor Julie Anne Thorndyke
for the wonderful presentation of our work.
I feel honoured to be included  . . .  named side by side with this
International group of Tanka writers

‘flawed journey’

eucalypt leaves
I search for the unblemished
only to realise
that beauty is in
their flawed journey