Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves . . . . and iconography by Colleen Keating

Listening to  Verdi’s Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves
my heart weeps
tears fall
my body stills
paused for the people

those without a warm bed and a home tonight.
Yes victims of war
and today victims of disasters
especially todays flood victims here

And so the war in Ukraine continues.

To see the people leaving their homes

leaving their husbands, fathers, sons behind,

leaving their homeland in the thousands,

now up to 4 million women and children

displaced is  horrible

a  tragedy.

Who could imagine this would happen again

in the 21st century.

My heart and love go out to the people of Ukraine

 and to the many people of Russia

who have the courage

to stand up and oppose this brutal invasion.

Former U.S president Barack Obama’s 2011 speech before the British Parliament said:

‘the longing for freedom or human dignity is not English, American, or Western,
but universal, and beats in every heart’.

I say it again:

We are all Ukrainians.  

Our destinies are intertwined

with the destines of all others on the planet 

as monk and social activist Thomas Merton once observed:

“we do not exist for ourselves alone’.”


“Creation of the World” by Ukrainian iconographer Lyuba Yatskiv.

(Thank you to my Hildegardian friend Amanda Dillon for sourcing these sensitive icons by Ukraine iconologists.)

It is incredible to me that within 3 months of COP26 in Glasgow, a war was launched at the other end of Europe with the explicit threat of the use of nuclear weapons or the explosion of a nuclear energy facility. Beyond its implications for human beings, the environment impact would be catastrophic.
How do these 2 possibilities exist side-by-side in our culture? Why is there always staggering amounts of money readily available for the purchase of death technology, but it’s so difficult to find the will – let alone the money – to solve our environmental problems?
Where is all the toxic waste material, the rubble of the bombed out, burnt-to-a-cinder cities, like Mariupol, going to go? The environmental impact is part of the long term human impact, but it is never discussed. Maybe we need an international court for war crimes against nature? Lord have mercy. 🙏🏼💙🇺🇦💛🙏🏼



“Archangel Michael. The defeat of satan” by Ukrainian iconographer, Kateryna Kuziv.

Praying for the defeat of the evil of war.

A friend has researched and shared Ukrainians icons

that are very touching and I would like to share them here 

Thank you Amanda for giving me permission to share


When war kills the dreams of the future – by Colleen Keating

Sending spirit of peace,  of bright starlight over fields of barley 

These are horrible, tragic times and my heart and love go out to the people of Ukraine,
and to the many people of Russia who have the courage to stand up and oppose this brutal invasion.

The  tragic  and unnecessary invasion, which has already displaced more than 2 million people that have fled across Ukraine’s borders with neighbouring countries, is not only killing and wounding the lives of so many -but also attempting to kill the dreams of a future that so many hold dearly. 

Former U.S president Barack Obama’s 2011 speech before the British Parliament said:

‘the longing for freedom or human dignity is not English, American, or Western,
but universal, and beats in every heart’.


We are all Ukrainians.  Our destinies are intertwined with the destines of all others on the planet 

as monk and social activist Thomas Merton once observed:

“we do not exist for ourselves alone’.”

A friend has researched and shared Ukrainians icons that are very touching and I would like to share them here 

‘Nativity’ by Ukrainian  iconographer Ulyana Tomkevych

Sending love and hope to all the pregnant women and mothers caught up in the atrocities of war

* * * * * * * * * *

‘Crossing the Red Sea’ by Ukrainian iconographer Ivank Demchuk.

Sending safe passage to all those trying to find safe passage through
and out of Ukraine  May you be sheltered in this exodus. 

* * * * * * * * * *

The Visitation  by Ulayana Tomkevych 

Sending love to all women in Ukraine who are looking after older parents
and young children and having to make decisions of staying or leaving their beloved war-torn homeland.

* * * * * * * * * *


“The Protection of the Mother of God”

by Ukrainian iconographer Ulyana Tomkevych . How can we imagine what it would be like to live in a n ancient and beloved and beautiful city and be told it is going to be bombed and destroyed for no reason. How does one cope with this?


* * * * * * * * * *




Vale haiku by Colleen Keating

Vale Grandma and GGPat

a few new haiku
of loss and sadness while
nature continues to sing

a dim empty room
fragrance of the mock orange
leans in to the space

summer’s golden light
shines from red tips of trees
thawing our winter hearts

spanning a great age
the fallen rock is softened
lush with moss and lichen

shell of a cicada
it chose the blue flower
for its last song

thank you
i believe in angels
nurses and carers


Thank you Grandma for your love and care
all over our growing years.
We knew you always had our back
We will miss that

Now we can only hope
somehow your prayer wheel
will carry on to pray
and you are still there for us
but just in another way

Windfall issue 10 2022 Review by Simon Hanson

Windfall: Australian Haiku, Issue 10, 2022 – Review

The 10th and final issue of the much-loved journal, Windfall: Australian Haiku, was released in January 2022.

Windfall is an annual journal edited by Beverley George and published by Peter Macrow at Blue Giraffe Press. The cover artwork is by Ron C. Moss, with design and layout by Matthew C. George.

Originating in Japan, the popularity of this short poetic genre has spread widely around the globe. Australian interest in haiku dates as far back as 1899 when an Australian haiku competition was conducted(1). Subsequently, in the 1970s, Janice Bostok produced Australia’s first haiku magazine, Tweed(2).

More recently, the Australian journal, paper wasp, ran for 20 years until ceasing publication in 2016 and, with the internet leading to growing interest in the genre, other print and online journals have encouraged and supported the writing of haiku.

For the past ten years, Windfall has focused solely on haiku about Australian urban and rural life, written by Australian residents. These poems have incorporated many elements of our landscapes, seasons, flora and fauna into the haiku form.

spring equinox
over the moonlit creek
a pobblebonk chorus

Mark Miller

into sundown
dingo tracks

Tom Staudt

virgin rainforest
ninety-four rings
on a fresh cut stump

Andrew Hede

Nature haiku such as these enable Australians and others to appreciate images and sounds associated with the birds, animals and plants of this country.

waning moon
in the mangroves
fireflies stir

Maureen Sexton

rising heat
a jabiru crosses
the sun

Cynthia Rowe

winter afternoon —
golden wattle glows
on black sky canvas

Sheryl Hemphill

Windfall has chronicled some of the best Australian haiku for a decade. Issue 10 presents haiku by 63 poets. By my count, 20 of these poets also appeared in Issue 1, which suggests around 40 of the current Windfall poets have emerged in the intervening period. The growing Australian haiku community certainly includes a healthy influx of fresh voices and fresh ideas.

Some poems in Windfall relate to the interaction between nature and the human environment.

opera house steps
a long-nosed fur seal
soaks up the sunshine

Vanessa Proctor

rainforest glade
an empty packet of Smith’s
catches the sun

Nathan Sidney

While others use local flora and fauna to portray aspects of Australian behaviour and culture.

black cockatoos
in tree shadows
he stops treatment

Earl Livings

beachside walk
the roughness of
banksia pods

Nathalie Buckland

without a door . . .
the Milky Way

Leanne Mumford

Credit for Windfall’s success must go to editor, Beverley George, and to publisher, Peter Macrow. Beverley’s deep knowledge of the haiku form has enabled her to assemble a marvellous selection of Australian haiku for each edition of Windfall, while Peter has supported the journal throughout its life.

Beverley George selected the following haiku to conclude the 10th issue of Windfall. It was a wonderful choice, with the poem capturing a quintessentially Australian scene. But, more than that, the poem does not despair about ending. Rather, the poem celebrates the vitality of birth and renewal.

sheltered paddock
the udder punch
of a newborn

Glenys Ferguson

For ten years, Windfall has made an important contribution in recording the work of Australian haiku poets. Now, we all look to the future.

Review by Gregory Piko

A limited number of back issues of Windfall (No. 4 to No. 9) and of the final issue (No. 10) are available for $10 per copy, postage included. Cash or stamps are welcome, as are cheques payable to Peter Macrow. Please address to:

Peter Macrow
6/16 Osborne Street
Sandy Bay TAS 7005

1) Scott, Rob, “The History of Australian Haiku and the Emergence of a Local Accent,” The Haiku Foundation Digital Library, accessed January 22, 2022

2) Dean, Sharon Elyse , “White Heron: The Authorised Biography of Australia’s Pioneering Haiku Writer Janice M Bostok,” The Haiku Foundation Digital Library, accessed January 22, 2022

Up Crackneck Mountain by Colleen Keating

 Up Crackneck Mountain

sometimes it takes sadness loss an empty room
to painfully be aware of presence

sometimes it takes stillness of breath
to remind us to breathe deeply
consciously with gratitude

sometimes it takes silence
to remind us to sing


and find

we did today

our first bush walk since our world changed
and we take time to adjust
to a new life without Pat in our world

an amazing eucalypt stopped us in our tracks
a grand old lady holding forth
fully present
from each angle she commandeered our attention

the light played beautifully along her trunk
adding to her starling presence

colours and tones of nature
especially the scruffy banksia men
trunks, bark, brambles decay
ant-eating bores seed pods
humus of leaf litter
were catching my eye
with a chaotic beauty that satisfied me
still feeling close to the out of control
and sense of rawness that is reality
when we experience the threshold of transition
for it takes time to find
ways to close off and re-protect ourselves

yet the music of birds
the baby wren that flew out
on a branch to greet us
the kookaburras,
the goanna that stayed for a photo
the blue and stunning black butterfly that didn’t stay
a few straggler flannel flowers
reminding us of our lockdown spring walks
where we marvelled at their abundance
and their star-light quality

At the top of Crackneck Mountain
we stopped to have a cuppa and muesli bar
marvelled at the grandeur of the ocean spread out
in all its glory
never ceasing to amaze and delight

we walked down the mountain
taking the outer less worn track
where we were reminded of new life
as fresh lime-green candles of banksia
brightly shone

and young callow sprigs of Xanthorrhoea *
their flounce like ballerinas in their grass shirts
the first breath of wind will have them dancing.





*’Xanthorrhoea’  is the name for what we mostly call the grass tree. It means ‘yellow flow’ in ancient Greek and refers to its resin. This resin was much prized by Aboriginal people, being used as a glue or as a coating/waterproofing material. The early settlers also found it extremely useful, as a glue, a varnish, polish and a coating of tin materials. It was used in the sizing of paper, in soap and perfumery and even in the manufacture of early gramophone records.

Society of Women Writers NSW and Poetry by Colleen Keating

The Society of Women Writers enjoyed a festive dayl face to face
(for the first time for months as the meetings have been held by zoom)
A fun workshop on humour in our writing.
Two great speakers  including poet and close friend Pip Griffin giving the authors talk as she told us of the three latest publications which I have spoken of before in more detail.


and then 5 poets
including me enterained the group.

Below is  the well known poet and Haikuist, Beverley George and I dressed ready ready for our performance
which was a poem about a catch up of two friends reminiscing about by gone days. It was written by Beverley a few years back and won a FAW award.  We generated  plenty of laughter what we needed today.

Below is a collage of our Christmas celebration. from the Society’s website.


 Two of my poems read  as part of the performance. 

taking wings

if ever there were a summer day so perfect

so romantic under its mild autumn sun

constantly making love to the trees and flowers 

that it made you wish to tear at your shackles

rip off your yoke

feel exposed to its sharp pinion

and to give yourself over to brash colour

without an iota of worry

a day that made you pack a sandwich

and with a bottle of water to set out 

to walk quiet ways catching the song 

of tiny birds brimming in wild blackberry brambles 

and for a moment feel your heart sing

with even a quaver of gratitude

well today is just that kind of day 

from Fire on Water  by Colleen Keating pg.107



Maybe it is the light

that illuminates jars

of coloured minerals, powders. 

Maybe the smell of curing skin, 

or sharp tang of vinegar.

It could be the plaited basket 

of moss and flower, blue woad dye 

or sharp smell of ink 

pestled down from bald-oak.

Maybe the sight of scrolls 

rolled into alcoves 

or shelved parchments,

or the elaborate books of saints

behind the monk Volmar,

enshrined on the cumdach.

Perhaps it’s the copy of Ptolemy’s Astronomy,

or the manuscripts

Volmar points out,

from all over the Christian and Arab world. 

Maybe just crossing the threshold

when Hildegard steps through the door,

inhales the air

and feels immediately at home

in a world that sharpens curiosity.

Hildegard knows,

she has found her calling.

She wants to be a maker of books. 

from Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey

Just for fun this is a photo of Bererley and me . It was taken at our performance of the same poem at the retreat a few years back.


Cultivating Curiousity by Colleen Keating.

“Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars. Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings. Now, think. What delight God gives to humankind with all these things . All nature is at the disposal of humankind.  We are to work with it.For without we cannot survive.” – Hildegard of Bingen

I love this quotation by Eleanor Roosevelt: 

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” 

Curiosity is the precursor to scientific breakthroughs, to all great literature and art. Albert Einstein said, 

“I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious.” 

He also said, “Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

That’s exactly what Hildegard possessed–a holy curiosity. She must have jumped out of bed every morning, eager to discover something new. She walked the earth with the fervent belief that God placed everything here for our discovery and enjoyment. In her science book Causae et Curae, Hildegard writes about topics as varied as medicine, human sexuality, astronomy, and theology. Her science wasn’t always spot on. “There are also the five planets….And as a human’s five senses hold the body together, so too these five planets hold the sun together and are its ornament” (Causae et Curae page 29, as translated by Margaret Berger). 

But the breadth and depth of her investigations into the world around her were truly staggering for a 12th century nun.

I’m sure if she were here today, Hildegard would tell you that curiosity, just like her 35 virtues, could be cultivated and enhanced with a little effort on our part. 

Sarah’s suggestions in her daily Living Hildegard blog are

Explore an old path and look at it with fresh eyes. Read a magazine you wouldn’t normally pick up. Learn something new. Make a new friend. Travel to a different place. Take a class. Pick up a new language or a musical instrument–proven ways to keep your brain sharp into old age. 

Hildegard may be the first and best example of a commitment to lifelong learning coupled with the courage to branch out into the unknown. 

It’s good for your heart, health and brain to step outside your comfort zone and explore something new.


Thank you to  the brilliant blogs Healthy Hildegard  and   the daily blog Living Hildegard with Sarah Rhiem

Explore an old path and look at it with fresh eyes.

Curiosity on our local walk today

The play of light on the Red Gum with the peeling of bark stoped me in my tracks.

Michael  enjoying the calm greeness of the stand of Red woods

The ferns in the forest today were very active. I love the way this koru has unfolded and now all the secondary korus are unfolding.  I have caught it in a moment of time.

Curiosity:  Here we were amazed at the uncurling stage of the new fronds. I don’t think this photo does it justice but up close for Michael and I we were full of wonder at the unfurling of creation.


Wet and dry reflections.Beneath my feet. The ferns reflected.  It takes a moment for your eyes to see the play of light and silhouette.


What an amazing fungus. And the blood red colours of the trunk and play of light caught our attention for ages.
So lovely to be in our Cathedral of light and peace with the music of the tinkling creek backgrounded by bird song.

Reflections along the creek. We enjoyed the tinkling and bubbling sound of running water too.

Our monarch butterfly  danced for us a graceful beauitful performance.

Back home we were  still full of wonder and gratitude for a refreshing and healing walk. Our curiosity sated for today.

Walking two worlds by Colleen Keating

“Walk as if we are kissing the earth with our feet” exhorts Thich Nhat Hanh 

A summer storm blew up just when I was about to take a walk and I waited an hour. Little did I know in some parts of Sydney trees were downed and much damage had been done . 

However It added to an interesting walk as the bush had experienced a wild storm. There was still a wail of wind in the upper echelons of trees.  The forest world had been disturbed  

Leaves were blown wild and ripped twigs and brambles scattered the ground. Bark from the many eucalypts stripped fallen like a garment discarded forcefully. 

The light played through thunderers grey cloud with a sudden dazzle of breakthrough, lighting up small pockets of bush and then crowding over. It was an eerie feeling. 

Yet the movement of walking slowly, brought back the rhythm of my mind in step with nature.  Washed clean by the storm there was a new green and the sparks of rare sunlight threw another dimension onto the scene.

The forest floor was alive –  the small world under my feet, writhing beyond sight, but the aroma was strong with roots, mycelia, decomposers, bacteria, protozoa, worms, grubs, beetles beyond counting, beyond knowing . . .   the living and the dead brushing together to create their own symphony of sound and activity.  

The small steps in evolution going on right before my eyes,
its own miracle.  And the constant reminder we are not needed here. 

Coloured algae rooting into the sandstone, fungi at work,  soft moss and lichen covering the rocks in this rainy weather . maybe they will receed into grooves, nooks and crannies in the dry.  Small ferns, bracken ferns breaking up the rock for soil for the tree ferns,  palms, trees, and towering eucalypt  – the evolving world of plants.  All here for the ,  curious to observe the whole evolutionary plan before us.


it seems to me modern life is happening faster than the speed of thought, thoughtfulness. there is no time to ponder an event before the next one comes tumbling in and like an ocean wave  drops it new story. So it is good to walk in kairos time rather than the every day khronological time.. . .well just for awhile. 

As i came across a quiet corner the light briefly broke thru the clouds . i felt dizzy.

I found myself in two worlds. I was present here in the echoes of coolness but sensed a whole world around me 

 I had a foot in two worlds . . . there was chatter, laughing, mourning birthing.  I realised this was an ancient popular indigenous place. I am prone to being in two worlds . Once arriving at Schofields to celebrate a new school opening, as I got out of the car and put my foot down onto the ground I was part of a massacre the thudding of the ground, the cries, the moans .The memory  has never gone away. It made me quite sick as no massacre had been acknowledged there, at the time. I believe acknowledgement is better now. 

Happier crossovers have been at Terramungamine Common where we camped many times outside Dubbo on the  Macquarie river bank. Sitting there around a fire once I was aware of stamping, dusty feet and knew on another level we were not the first here and not alone. These were ponderous activities to be mingled with. And another in the bush at Marg’s old place . I found I was in a bora ring . It was happy too and was a good reminder of our ancestors before us. And of course at Myall Creek I smelt the burnt flesh once but at least I knew this was a documented event.  

Not sure how I rambled onto this experience . The  sense of two worlds was gone as quickly as it came and the heavy clouds dulled the forest world into an ominous and enchanting place to be. 

A tiny bunny rabbit peeked up at me and then ran as fast was his little legs would go  and I called after it .  . . You stay well hidden or we will have signs up saying baits are set here . like in other places. 

I disturbed a brush turkey courtship ,. . .the female waiting below and the male preparing the nest for the next stage. I sneaked past and apologised for the disturbance. 

 I knew I was well off the normal track as I was wandering to see if there was an easier way to get Michael to the hugging tree . (didn’t find it)

The forest holds such wonder and by going slowly to savour it I find much to be grateful for. 

The intricate patterns of trees, the colours on rocks the pools and the circles I made by dropping in a pebble.


Having this time to stop and absorb my surroundings is a luxury I am grateful for. 

It is my air pocket, my lifeline  needed in the busy city of life with the crowed world of demands. 


Society of Women Writers, Christmas meeting

At our recent Society of Women Writers meeting, at the State Library of NSW fellow writer,poet and friend,  Pip Griffin inspired our gathering with her 3  recently published books.  Climbing Back by Pip Griffin and published by Ginninderra Press  was a highlight .  

Pip told us the  story of its development, and read four short evocative poems of grief, and renewal
Her work very much reminding me of Emily Dickenson’s  sensibility.

Her award-winning book Margaret Caro, the exraordinary life of a pioneering dentist  was 
displayed as available and Pip read a poem from it to whet our appetite to read more.

Thirdly her poetic book Secret Diaries :an imagined correspondence between Virginia Woofe and the New Zealnad short story writer Katherine Mansfield. As I wrote for the back cover ,

Every life is braided with luminous moments”  John O’Donohue

For those intrigued over the decades about Virginia and Katherine, Pip Griffin turns to their writings, essays, short stories, diaries and personal letters to detail a sense of what constitutes  their intertwining ‘luminous moments’   Pip gives us a window into this intimate and tragic friendship, and with poetic writing full of erotic intrigue captures a sense of provocative possibilities leaving us still with the mystery of their communion to contemplate.  Pip’s poetry at its best.

Colleen Keating

As Pip spoke from the podium I felt very happy. for  . . . . .

we are back. A resplendent  Society of Women Writers meeting.  A welcome-back and farewell to our  year with an enthusiastic group .

The day actually  began with a workshop: Writing with Humour. convened by  Carolyn Eldridge– Alfonzetti A great workshop as it was a gentle way to begin again, humour is important to every genre and  we got a lot of laughter as we got prompts to remember funny stories.

Our poetry reading were fun with some wonderful performances and finally playwright Donna Abela shared her writing journey at the Royal Commission on Institutional Abuse of children – while it is shocking it also shows how writing can transform this into powerful advocacy for children.




Book Launch of Strands and Ripples, a poetry anthology by David Atkinson

It was an honour to be asked by David to launch his new collection of poetry, Strands and Ripples published by Ginninderra Press.  An excited group of poets, writers, readers, family  and friends  gathered in the Harbourview restaurent of the Golf Club at Northbridge with stunning view of a very blue harbour as the name suggested.   With enthusiasm for our first  gathering and launch  since lockdown and as it was  third time lucky (the launch having been postponed already twice  . . .  it made for an exciting event.
with the toasting of some bubbley to our writing in 2022 and a delicious afternoon tea.
‘In this, his second collection, David Atkinson continues his themes of memory, especially of growing up on a farm in southern NSW, and the natural world, including the wildlife and people that surrounded him then and do so now. In this collection David’s scope is also wider as he extends our perspectives on the human condition. His poems are sharp in their imagery and dramatic in their language. His forms range from the traditional to the stunning use of free verse. This book is highly recommended.’ – John Egan
‘David Atkinson enables us to see things in a new light. Every theme in this collection of poetry challenges us to let him show us aspects of life from a fresh perspective. Widely published in literary journals nationally and internationally, David’s poetry always repays a careful reading. It is with enthusiasm that I welcome this new collection.’
– Colleen Keating
‘David Atkinson’s latest collection is a cornucopia of the poetic spectrum; it confirms that he is one of Australia’s finest poets. David brings a deft touch to the human condition, celebrates the wonders of nature and takes a fresh look at memories. This is a worthwhile addition to any bookshelf.’ – Decima Wraxall
His poems have been published widely in Australia, the USA and the UK. David’s previous collection, The Ablation of Time, was published, also by Ginninderra Press, in 2018. He is a poet of memory, the human condition and the natural world.
978 1 76109 108 7, 120pp








Strands and Ripples by David Atkinson and published by Ginninderra Press

is launched by Colleen Keating

at Harbourvie Restaurent, Golf Club Northbridge.

It is a privilege for me to be asked by David to launch his new collection of poetry,  Strands and Ripples and we acknowledge Ginninderra Press for this exceptional  publication. The cover is very smart and the feel of the book is gorgeous. You must be proud David. And we are delighted for you. 

David is a fellow poet and friend. There are many here who know him in different ways; his family,

those part of his past working life and now his writing life. I know David in that capacity . . .working with him in groups, workshops and the U3A poetry appreciation group. 

David is a nationally and internationally published poet, many of his individual poems being published in 1journals over these past years and as a poet has won awards and commendations. I know he will be a bit shy in me saying this but in the past three months of this year 2021,  David has won two first place prizes in poetry. Firstly he has been awarded first place in the prestigious Western Australian Ros Spencer Competition for a wonderfully evocative and very Australian poem called Gang-gang and for a very poignant sonnet a well deserved  first place in the 2021 Scribes Writers awards  . . and that for two successive years. with a Commendation in the Ros Spencer Poetry Prize last year. and a highly prized  2nd place in the Tom Collins National Poetry Competition 2019 . . . And for those who were not aware earlier this year the exciting news that David was shortlisted and commended in the recent WB Yeats Poetry Prize for Australia. David this is a very notable achievement.  It is very affirming for us as writers to be honoured for the many hours we put into our creative pursuit  and we can take this opportunity to congratulate you on this coveted award.  

That poem surely will be the stimulus for the next book. 

 Thanks everyone .

We are in for a wonderful afternoon of  poetry about  memory, music , birds  even being shuffled and shackled by crowds at The Hermitage in St. Petersburg and much more. Michael and I loved the Russian tourist poems because we experienced the same  . . .  David . . .  I didn’t even see the black corner of the Rembrandt – being only 5 foot something and being shuffled along by the crowd.

WB Yeats writes of music and birds and some of you  may know his poem, The Second Coming. It begins:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

I specifically quoted Yeats because I feel  there is an empathy with him in David’s work. Of course Yeats lived in Ireland but he is often spoken of as a musical poet, with many of his poems now put to music and David is an Australian poet  who writes of music and birds and now is  commended in the WB Yeats award.  

 What I acclaim about David poems is how he seeks out his memory in music, the lyric  via the immediate, the local,  and turns it about like the falcon turning and widens it with a philosophical slant.  This idea is shown in the opening poem:

Birthday Ballot it begins with listening to the lyrics of a  Cold Chisel song,  with restless youth and it widens leaving the reader in a deep thoughtful moment:

‘Staring into the dappled darkness 

I touch the pain of a generation’

Many of us here are of that generation.  I had to pause after that poem. Take a breath in and a deep sigh out. . . That’s what a good poem does to us. Like music it taps in below the belt so to speak, stirs for a reaction and stays with us.

This insistent chord continues  with the prompts to the Rolling Stones  who ‘still can’t get no satisfaction’, the Beatle George Harrison in Weeping Guitar a gorgeous poem, and another, The Curve of her Shoulder where the poet looking back on teenage love widening out to the older, wiser poet reminiscing the lines from MacArthur Park and  lamenting ‘I’ll never have that recipe again.’

The touch of  beauty in sound continues  with many moments of outstanding poetry. The Camber of the Canter, a title I love, begins with a distant memory, coming to a climax with:

Every horse has an instinct for the way home.

You are in sight of the homestead 

when a shimmering blanket of sulphur-crested

cockatoos ripple from the oat stubble

I love these lines. Can you hear the ripple from the oat stubble?

 and here is another 

Grasshopper sizzle on the grill of summer.

A cross-cut saw of cockatoos

skates across the dawn : 

a billow of birds embroiders

the eastern sky


Bird of prey, blanched patchwork

on burnished bronze wings, 

soars on thermal air currents. 

Eerie call drifts on the up draught. 

Michael and I are there with you gazing in awe from our trip to the far north with the Fire birds and birds of prey 

David takes us there. 

To complement this I would like to read a poem,  The Flash of Indelible Pink’ page 41  David begins with a quote from a poem called Sentenced to Life  by Clive James, The Flash of Indelible Pink is on page 41  for those with a book.

We are told not to dwell in the past that’s not where we are going, but there is a wise saying, I couldn’t find the quote, but my memory says,  

‘By knowing the past you can understand the present which will inform your future.’   David takes short glances over his shoulder to the past and  he does this without sentimentality  and each time expands the memory to the present   An exquisite example of this is his poem The Scents of Memory:  With it’s smells and sounds it begins,

To recollect that day fifty years ago, a new year

of boarding school, recall the February train trip

the early morning farewell from the farm, 

fragrance of lavender Yardley,

of sleepy dressing gown  . . 

I will leave it to you to enjoy this poem as it shifts through the rear-vision mirror of the years. 

Another memory poem is Clotted Clag.

Who of us do not remember doing a school project on the piece of cardboard ?:

With care I place the pictures of Hereford cattle

extracted from a magazine located in the pile

I daub the images with homemade glue; . . . .and  later continues . . .

Visceral aroma, fingers immersed

in the innocence, of clotted  clag 

of childhood.

David shows his skills in crafting poetry  – sonnets, odes and villanelles which you will delight in. A villanelle is difficult to write and to sustain.  I will read one not only a villanelle but an eco-villanelle which pulls its punch by getting an environmental thought emphasised at a slant. 

Simply called Eco-Villanelle  it is on page 42 

Another quality I admire in David’s approach to poetry is his ability to take something and contrast both sides eg in his poem The Polarity of Mosquito the young work-experience student keen to do the research and suddenly finds nothing is black and white  . . . there are two sides to  everything.

David’s early years lived in the country, enriches and informs his poetry 

as he grapples with the life and death events  . . killing what has to be killed, the beauty and the terror of life and its paradox. The problem of Privet,  in his  clever metaphoric poem Standover Tactics, the flawed perfection of Pattersons Curse with its banquet for bees and its lethal damage for hungry cattle.  I admire how he grapples with the paradox . . . finding the balance in life and death, in decisions, in environment . David will later read to you  a poem where that frail balance of nature is always  present. 

And  I love his light hearted poems. One of these is Ode to a Straw Hat . . .

personifying his summer hat that sits patiently all winter at the rear window of the car. David takes us on a journey of the cycle of time and the seasons and it is his straw hat entertaining us. 

To finish I’d like to read, Soldered Strands on page 79  another of his juxtaposition of life poems

Let’s  today celebrate the hard journey of writing. Please join with me in congratulating David  as we together launch and welcome his new poetry book Strands and Ripples.  


Colleen Keating

Colleen Keating is the author of five books of poetry  including the award winning verse novel Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey.  Her most recent verse novel Olive Muriel Pink; her radical & idealistic life, has received a first very insightful review and has been highly acclaimed.  Her sixth collection,  Beachcomber will be published in early 2022.

She also has five chap books with Picaro Poets and  has co-edited two anthologies for the Women Writers Network, Rozelle.

For details on how to buy a copy of Strands and Ripples go to /our books