Lockdown walk No. 6: Colour of erly spring by Colleen Keating

 

Lockdown walk No. 6 Colour of early Spring

a wattle way
harbinger of spring

we take the track
to a chatter of lorikeets

they dangle like monkeys
from golden banksia

spring is coming
steeling through the twigs

silently seeping
through the sap

budding vernal green
once seen it is everywhere

 

lilac waraburra is showy
it vines over the scrub

purple trails up the trees
no wonder it is often called
happy wanderer

white star flowers sometimes
called ‘tread-softly maybe because
of its spiky leaves

and the pink wax flower
just budding open
sprinkled through the bush
fuchsias delicate little trumpets
stand out

bright red comes
with the dusky coral pea
hard to see at first
and then it turned up hiding quietly
in the brambles in the scrub

And the wattles three we found today

Galahs were busy too
one on a branch as decoy
and this gorgeous one
in a hollow of the old  tree

Finally at the lookout Crackneck
we watched an eagle play


on the air currents
and then down the less worn track
back to the car

Lockdown Walk No.5 –Rising Moon beach walk by Colleen Keating

 

 

Rising moon beach walk 

the sun was dropping west
we stood on the beach
with wide expanse
Pacific Ocean vista
a luminous space
held us hypnotically
in the darkening eastern sky

 

It was beauty
that peeped over the arch
and slowly like an unfolding flower
it was the moon that rose
out of the sea
caught in a red glow
spreading a warm fiery path
‘stairway to heaven’ they call it
in Broome

 

Michael and I felt so elated
alone on the winter beach
except for one solitary pelican
and the vista just kept giving

the moon bestirred the world
steady  silent  self-assured
swelling our hearts with its light
stronger and stronger
against the dark of night

it was gift
wrapped in light
colour and beauty. No words just us
bursting with joy

this was a moment to reset my world
my days are measured by the moon
its wax and wane my calendar.

Haiku

winter beach
a full strawberry moon
sweetens each rock pool

 

Time to be slow – John O’Donohue

 

 

Time to be slow

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

John O’Donohue, Irish poet and philosopher

Excerpt from his books, To Bless the Space Between Us (US) / Benedictus (Europe)

https://johnodonohue.com/

Photo: Fanore, Co. Clare / Ireland – 2019 © Ann Cahill

Lockdown Walk No 3 Crackneck Lookout to Shelley Beach by Colleen Keating

Crackneck Lookout to Shelley Beach 

 

Whenever we  are out walking especially in the areas of beauty around our place on the Central Coast we pay tribute to the Awabakal and Darkinjung peoples and this makes us a little more aware  that we walk on sacred ground  and reminds us to pay attention and just ask and thank our entry into a place .   this of course is only a small section of the national Park which clings to the narrow line right along the coast. For us there are three main walks :

1    Crackneck  Lookout to Shelley Beach  and picked up at end  (north)  Ocean

2    Crackneck Lookout to the Trig station and back  (south)  Ocean

3    Magenta  ( lake side) to Canton Beach  north  (Lake )

Winter is  the perfect time for stepping out into our local Wyrrabalong National Park (gazetted in 1991) has the best of all worlds , the wonderful Australian Bush with its Red Gums, Blackbutts and Spotted Gums and  Scribbly Eucalyptus,  the lingering of wattle and other Acacias, Hakea, Myrtles,  Banksia  and the  promise of the odd siren of a red Waratah . (Good to know where they are so you won’t miss the October bloom.) This is backgrounded by the coastal bird life with the iconic crack of the Whip Bird and the spectacular glimpses of the blue reminding us we are walking in a rare piece of land where the bush meets the sea.

Michael gave the walking a miss today but drove me to Crackneck Lookout where we joined with many watching the wide blue sea for the whales travelling north. Excitement each time there was a blow of spray or the break of the water and a silver streak of a tail appeared. Of course they are very distant  and only those with binoculars and one woman I spoke to with a highly magnified camera. (So interesting as she is a poet and writes haiku and uses her photography and poetry together. 

Michael left me to walk down to Shelley Beach and he drove down set up the picnic and read his Kindle. The path has been newly upgraded.  In a way I preferred the old ramble of a track. And I was distressed at some damage along the sides where they haven’t worried about Grass trees and flannel flower plants and other small planting I have been aware of in the past. No doubt next time I come nature will have overcome the damage and be back to it s beauty. The blue glimpses and lookouts give a lovely touch to the walk as it clings to the coast as far as safely possible.

 

 Brush Turkeys    There was activity with the brush turkeys sometimes called scrub turkeys or bush turkeys. I observed three hens grouped and a bit lost, you could say. I walked on and saw the male rooster cocky as ever coming down off his huge mound of leaf litter, twigs and dirt, which I presume he built although who knows??? but just along the way he met a few more cocks all up tight . Were they fighting over the same mound I am not sure but they flew at each other and chased each other. They all landed on a tree and stalked each other trying to win the battle to be the main cock  . . so funny.  I was caught in this wonderful display.

One stalked the other not knowing he was looking down on him from on high. It was a marvellous bush experience to watch. Not having any understanding but still fascinating. The photos demonstrate some of the activity. Of course the noise as they clashed and fought cannot be captured.   Bush energy at its best.

Yes I know some of my friends shoo these scrub turkeys away and dislike the way they wreck their gardens  but they have wonderful things going for them for us to be aware of .

1. They are the most ancient member of their family dating back  30 million years so that should humble us. 2. They have a hard beginning because their parents don’t care for them after they are born . . .they have to defend for themselves 3. they make compost in the name of love as they rack the garden  into a mound so the heat can build up inside for the eggs and to attract the female for firstly they are built by the male to attract a mate.  And then the eggs follow.No wonder there was such a frenzy going on during my walk. 

Lockdown Walk No. 2 – NorthBeach/Lake walk by Colleen Keating

 

   

North Beach/ Lake Walk

A new lockdown walk.  We are calling it the North Beach/Lake walk. Today we set out across The Entrance Bridge,a thing I don’t normally like to do but there were very few cars today. We turned right and headed  up onto the ridge overlooking North Entrance Beach.  It was a stunning winter day. The ocean wide and deep blue lay out like a silken sheet loosely ruffled. Large rolling waves  continuously smooth and regular came in. Spindrift sprayed lightly. A few board riders demonstrated the perfect style of the waves.
Besides the photographic views to our right as we walked through the re-stabilised dunes, we enjoyed the work that the Bush Care groups have done over the years with the vegetation and bird life. 

The track, very smooth. solid, easy for Michael to walk, and the ground cover of cerise pig face,  yellow and orange gazania, pink bindweed and ground covers of daises.  it was like a rainbow carpet spreading out over the hills and down to the beach edge.

       

Growing up stands of golden banksia  with lorikeets dangling gleefully chirping, Bottle brushes, and the mallees mainly burgeoning wattle . Seagulls, magpies and in the undergrowth lots of fairy wrens . swinging on the native grasses flipping into the shrubs . We walked quietly – the sandy path absorbed the sound of our footstep.Towards the end we came across one of the volunteer workers and chatted briefly.

 

We came out and crossed the road to the lake side .  We walked along Tuggerah Lake to the Fragrant Gardens  where we sat and had our picnic. 

We had come to rest and the lake slept without hardly a ripple.  A winter  afternoon sun

     

 

A blue haze enfolded everything . Reaching far into the distance the hills, the Watagans were suffused in a majestic blue to navy light. The hills looked like pile upon pile of tones of blue.  I felt I could reach out and and pull them to me.  Trees, bullrushes, small bamboos, reeds and the grasses had forgotten themselves in the daze blue. 

 

Just beyond two vegetated islands sat. On the furthest away a platoon of pelicans clustered close  . . one flew in and joined the group, cormorants diving and resurfacing, two ducks glided and then a canoeist glided past  leaving their wakes to whistle the water surface. 

Further out there was a flock of birds on the edge of a sand bank wading . We could not recognise them but had a sense it might have been the family of spoonbills we had caught in the muddy creek running into the lake over the south side. But couldn’t be sure. We were more sure of the chirping in the bamboo along the way and stood and watched the family of wrens . . .the blue fairy wrens and the flitting little brown wrens all busy about their chatter and just being.

(Interestingly earlier we saw a fairy blue wren feeding on  the nectar of a golden Banksia.  it flitted in and flitted away. For the last 100 metres we were joined by two willy wag tails chattering around our feet for awhile. They had a lot to say.  It felt they had been with us the whole way and came at the end to remind they have been watching our journey.

And we came along the lake back to the bridge to cross and our NorthBeach/Lake walk came to an end. How blessed we  are we that we can walk from home along the beach and along the lake all in 12.000  steps. 

 

Eucalypt: A Tanka Journey celebrating 30 issues by Colleen Keating

 

Exciting to receive the latest Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal in the mail.  This month celebrating 30 issues of Tanka.

(Beverley George always  acclaimed for the first 20 issues.)

Thank you to the editor, Julie Thorndyke and congratulation on her very creative and thoughtful presentation of our tanka. Proud to see my name twice and feel privileged being included in every Eucalypt since I began writing Haiku and Tanka . . . the succinct intimate Japanese form of poetry.

Julie has her own new collection of stories Divertimento: Stories by Julie Thorndyke publ. Ginninderra Press 2021,  just recently published by Ginninderra Press so this is double congratulations  to her.  Julie spoke at Society of Women Writers of NSW last meeting  in Member Bites 

Ginninderra Press sends us exciting mail

 

You have Mail

How exciting, double exciting,  to receive two emails one after the other, from the award winning publisher Stephen Matthews OAM  at Ginninderra Press regarding our poem entries for  Ginninderra Press’ new anthology Milestones. 

Michael and I are both  thrilled to have our poems:  

cherishing the moments by Colleen Keating

Reset by Michael Keating 

selected for inclusion.

Hello Michael,

Thank you for submitting a poem for inclusion in our 25th-anniversary anthology Milestones. I’m delighted to inform you that your poem has been selected for inclusion in the book. In due course, you will receive a proof to check before publication. Covid permitting, we hope to launch the book later this year.

Regards,

Stephen

Hello Colleen,

Thank you for submitting a poem for inclusion in our 25th-anniversary anthology Milestones. I’m delighted to inform you that your poem has been selected for inclusion in the book. In due course, you will receive a proof to check before publication. Covid permitting, we hope to launch the book later this year.

Regards,

Stephen

(Stephen Matthews  and yours truly at the launch of Mountain Secrets)

 

Just reflecting . . .

I have been priveleged to have a poem in each of these past Anthologies :

Michael after reading a poem at the Writers Festival in May 2018 at Varuna Writing Centre Katoomba

in the autumnal beauty of the Blue Mountains NSW

Joy Harjo – by Colleen Keating, a Paper prepared for U3A

Joy Harjo

Joy  Harjo is  an American Poet.

She is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. 

She is the incumbent Poetic Laureate of United States serving her second term as the 23rd Poet Laureate.

She is the first American Native Indian to be poet Laureate.

She is a musician and saxophonist  and mixes her poetry and music beautifully.

Joy embraces the world .

Her poetry embraces the world every sky sea and stone.

She is an autobiographic poet, informed by the natural world 

 with a cry for the survival of her people and our earth and 

transcend the limitation of words. 

Her poetry inhabits landscape and centres around the need for

 remembrance and transcendence.

 She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Accolades

She is so well known in America with so many honours 

include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, the Josephine Miles Poetry Award, the Wallace Stevens Award the William Carlos Williams Award and the American Indian Distinguished Achievement She has received fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rasmuson Foundation, and the Witter Bynner Foundation and the Guggenheim award. In 2017 she was awarded the Ruth Lilly Prize in Poetry.  

author of nine books of poetry, including the highly acclaimed An American Sunrise,

She is Exec­u­tive Edi­tor of the anthol­o­gy When the Light of the World was Sub­dued, Our Songs Came Through — A Nor­ton Anthol­o­gy of Native Nations Poet­ry and the editor of Living Nations, An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry, the companion anthology to her signature Poet Laureate project. 

She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, 

Board of Directors Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation,

and holds a Tulsa Artist Fellowship

Influences

She read the bible a lot

 Pablo Neruda she loved for his integrity to his human beingness 

African poets especially Uganda poet Oket p’ Bitek 

Gwendolyn Brooks

 Audre Lorde (poetry is not a luxury and the litany of survival

and and sometimes she finds herself channeling Walt Whitman.

She draws on First Nation storytelling and histories,

 as well as feminist and social justice poetic traditions, and frequently incorporates indigenous myths, symbols, and values into her writing.

and she says “Most of the poetry available to her generation was set in the New England and North Western regions and was written by men or sometimes women emulating the male experience.

Poetry had become very intellectual we could blame TS Eliot but we won’t  and it had lost touch with the heart and feeling and the voice of the people. 

Joy loves tones rhythm and the musicality of words. 

  • “There is no poetry where there are no mistakes.” …
  • “I’ve always had a theory that some of us are born with nerve endings longer than our bodies” …
  • “To pray you open your whole self. …
  • “I know I walk in and out of several worlds each day.” …
  • “It’s possible to understand the world from studying a leaf.
  • I am the holy being of my mother’s prayer and my father’s song

 She Had Some Horses                                                  

I. She Had Some Horses

She had some horses.
She had horses who were bodies of sand.
She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.
She had horses who were skins of ocean water.
She had horses who were the blue air of sky.
She had horses who were fur and teeth.
She had horses who were clay and would break.
She had horses who were splintered red cliff.

She had some horses.

She had horses with eyes of trains.
She had horses with full, brown thighs.
She had horses who laughed too much.
She had horses who threw rocks at glass houses.
She had horses who licked razor blades.

She had some horses.

She had horses who danced in their mothers’ arms.
She had horses who thought they were the sun and their
bodies shone and burned like stars.
She had horses who waltzed nightly on the moon.
She had horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet
in stalls of their own making.

She had some horses.

She had horses who liked Creek Stomp Dance songs.
She had horses who cried in their beer.
She had horses who spit at male queens who made
them afraid of themselves.
She had horses who said they weren’t afraid.
She had horses who lied.
She had horses who told the truth, who were stripped
bare of their tongues.

She had some horses.

She had horses who called themselves, “horse.”
She had horses who called themselves, “spirit,” and kept
their voices secret and to themselves.
She had horses who had no names.
She had horses who had books of names.

She had some horses.

She had horses who whispered in the dark, who were afraid to speak.
She had horses who screamed out of fear of the silence,
who carried knives to protect themselves from ghosts.
She had horses who waited for destruction.
She had horses who waited for resurrection.

She had some horses.

She had horses who got down on their knees for any saviour.
She had horses who thought their high price had saved them.
She had horses who tried to save her, who climbed in her
bed at night and prayed

She had some horses.

She had some horses she loved.
She had some horses she hated.

These were the same horses.

Joy Harjo  1983  from collection of the same name 

What are the horses

I don’t really want to say and I get asked that question often
I just leave the horses to themselves.In this powerful collection Joy explores womanhood’s most intimate moments 

 

“The Knowing”

Joy Harjo explains that she has lived her life being guided by “the knowing.” She writes:

The knowing was my rudder, a shimmer of intelligent light, unerring in the midst of this destructive, terrible, and beautiful life. It is a strand of the divine, a pathway for the ancestors and teachers who love us.

She tells us that “the knowing” speaks “softly, wisely,” and that you are always clear on what “the knowing” is telling you, but you don’t always listen.

She tells the reader the truth (she always tells the truth, by the way, you can feel it): she has sometimes listened to “the knowing,” and other times (like when choosing her violent and alcoholic male partners) she has intentionally ignored this guidance, or intuition.

I loved this concept of “the knowing,” and I am guided by my intuition, too, but I wish that she had addressed the application of “the knowing” at more mature ages. I think we often assume that life is more difficult or we are tasked with more challenging issues when we are younger, but now that I’m at midlife, I think it is the exact opposite. I think so much of youth is filled with black and white choices. Midlife is muddier, knee-deep in the grey areas, thicker and more complicated as we age. 

 

POETRY

Fire

a woman can’t survive by her own breath
alone she must know
the voices of mountains she must recognise
the foreverness of blue sky she must flow
with the elusive bodies
of night winds who will take her into herself
look at me
i am not a separate woman i am a continuance
of blue sky
i am the throat
of the mountains
a night wind
who burns
with every breath
she takes

from What Moon Drove Me to This? 1980.

Remember

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. 
Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. 
Remember her voice. 
She knows the origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people are you.
Remember you are this universe and this universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.

from She Had Some Horses 1983

This land is a poem

This land is a poem of ochre and burnt sand I could never write, unless paper were the sacrament of sky, and ink the broken line of wild horses staggering the horizon several miles away. Even then, does anything written ever matter to the earth, wind, and sky?

Anything that matters

Anything that matters is here. Anything that will continue to matter in the next several thousand years will continue to be here. Approaching in the distance is the child you were some years ago. See her laughing as she chases a white butterfly.

Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit

Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you warm bread, and you will be obligated to stay and listen. But this is no ordinary story. You will have to endure earthquakes, lightning, the deaths of all those you love, the most blinding beauty. It’s a story so compelling you may never want to leave; this is how she traps you. See that stone finger over there? That is the only one who ever escaped.

all from Secrets from the Centre of the World  1989.  

My House is the Red Earth

My house is the red earth; it could be the centre of the world. I’ve heard New York, Paris, or Tokyo called the centre of the world, but I say it is magnificently humble. You could drive by and miss it. Radio waves can obscure it. Words cannot construct it, for there are some sounds left to sacred wordless form. For instance, that fool crow, picking through trash near the corral, understands the centre of the world as greasy strips of fat. Just ask him. He doesn’t have to say that the earth has turned scarlet through fierce belief, after centuries of heartbreak and laughter—he perches on the blue bowl of the sky, and laughs.

from Secrets from the Centre of the World  1989.  

This Morning I Pray for My Enemies

And whom do I call my enemy?
An enemy must be worthy of engagement.
I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.
It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind.
The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun.
It sees and knows everything.
It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.
The door to the mind should only open from the heart.
An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.  

from Conflict Resolution for Holy Being 2015

Eagle Poem

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

 

from  from  In Mad Lover and War  1990

Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

 

from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky 1994

Grace

for Darlene Wind and James Welch

I think of Wind and her wild ways the year we had nothing to lose and lost it anyway in the cursed country of the fox. We still talk about that winter, how the cold froze imaginary buffalo on the stuffed horizon of snowbanks. The haunting voices of the starved and mutilated broke fences, crashed our thermostat dreams, and we couldn’t stand it one more time. So once again we lost a winter in stubborn memory, walked through cheap apartment walls, skated through fields of ghosts into a town that never wanted us, in the epic search for grace.

Like Coyote, like Rabbit, we could not contain our terror and clowned our way through a season of false midnights. We had to swallow that town with laughter, so it would go down easy as honey. And one morning as the sun struggled to break ice, and our dreams had found us with coffee and pancakes in a truck stop along Highway 80, we found grace.

I could say grace was a woman with time on her hands, or a white buffalo escaped from memory. But in that dingy light it was a promise of balance. We once again understood the talk of animals, and spring was lean and hungry with the hope of children and corn.

I would like to say, with grace, we picked ourselves up and walked into the spring thaw. We didn’t; the next season was worse. You went home to Leech Lake to work with the tribe and I went south. And, Wind, I am still crazy. I know there is something larger than the memory of a dispossessed people. We have seen it.

from In Mad Love and War,1990 

Ah, Ah

Ah, ah cries the crow arching toward the heavy sky over the marina.
Lands on the crown of the palm tree.

Ah, ah slaps the urgent cove of ocean swimming through the slips.
We carry canoes to the edge of the salt.

Ah, ah groans the crew with the weight, the winds cutting skin.
We claim our seats. Pelicans perch in the draft for fish.

Ah, ah beats our lungs and we are racing into the waves.
Though there are worlds below us and above us, we are straight ahead.

Ah, ah tattoos the engines of your plane against the sky—away from these waters.
Each paddle stroke follows the curve from reach to loss.

Ah, ah calls the sun from a fishing boat with a pale, yellow sail. We fly by
on our return, over the net of eternity thrown out for stars.

Ah, ah scrapes the hull of my soul. Ah, ah.
  from How We became Human  New &Selected Poems 1975-2001

Praise the Rain

Praise the rain; the seagull dive
The curl of plant, the raven talk—
Praise the hurt, the house slack
The stand of trees, the dignity—
Praise the dark, the moon cradle
The sky fall, the bear sleep—
Praise the mist, the warrior name
The earth eclipse, the fired leap—
Praise the backwards, upward sky
The baby cry, the spirit food—
Praise canoe, the fish rush
The hole for frog, the upside-down—
Praise the day, the cloud cup
The mind flat, forget it all—
Praise crazy. Praise sad.
Praise the path on which we’re led.
Praise the roads on earth and water.
Praise the eater and the eaten.
Praise beginnings; praise the end.
Praise the song and praise the singer.
Praise the rain; it brings more rain.
Praise the rain; it brings more rain.
            from Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings. 2015

For Keeps

Sun makes the day new.
Tiny green plants emerge from earth.
Birds are singing the sky into place.
There is nowhere else I want to be but here.
I lean into the rhythm of your heart to see where it will take us.
We gallop into a warm, southern wind.
I link my legs to yours and we ride together,
Toward the ancient encampment of our relatives.
Where have you been? they ask.
And what has taken you so long?
That night after eating, singing, and dancing
We lay together under the stars.
We know ourselves to be part of mystery.
It is unspeakable.
It is everlasting.
It is for keeps.

MARCH 4, 2013, CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS  from Conflict Resolution  for Holy Beings 2015

 

An American Sunrise

We were running out of breath, as we ran out to meet ourselves. 

We were surfacing the edge of our ancestors’ fights, and ready to strike.

It was difficult to lose days in the Indian bar if you were straight.

Easy if you played pool and drank to remember to forget. 

We made plans to be professional — and did. And some of us could sing

so we drummed a fire-lit pathway up to those starry stars. 

Sin was invented by the Christians, as was the Devil, we sang. 

We were the heathens, but needed to be saved from them — thin

chance. We knew we were all related in this story, a little gin

will clarify the dark and make us all feel like dancing. 

We had something to do with the origins of blues and jazz

I argued with a Pueblo as I filled the jukebox with dimes in June,

forty years later and we still want justice. We are still America. 

We know the rumours of our demise. We spit them out. 

They die soon.

from Poetry 2017

Redbird Love

We watched her grow up.
She was the urgent chirper,
Fledgling flier.
And when spring rolled
Out its green
She’d grown
Into the most noticeable
Bird-girl.
Long-legged and just
The right amount of blush
Tipping her wings, crest
And tail, and
She knew it
In the bird parade.
We watched her strut.
She owned her stuff.
The males perked their armour, greased their wings,
And flew sky-loop missions
To show off
For her.
In the end
There was only one.
Isn’t that how it is for all of us?
There’s that one you circle back to — for home.
This morning
The young couple scavenges seeds
On the patio.
She is thickening with eggs.
Their minds are busy with sticks the perfect size, tufts of fluff
Like dandelion, and other pieces of soft.
He steps aside for her, so she can eat.
Then we watch him fill his beak
Walk tenderly to her and kiss her with seed.
The sacred world lifts up its head
To notice —
We are double-, triple-blessed.

Source: Poetry (September 2017

Break My HeartpastedGraphic.png

There are always flowers
Love cries, or blood.
Someone is always leaving
By exile, death, or heartbreak.
The heart is a fist.
It pockets prayer or holds rage.
It’s a timekeeper.

 Music maker, or backstreet truth teller.

Baby, baby, baby
You can’t say what’s been said
Before, though even words
Are creatures of habit.
You cannot force poetry
With a ruler, or jail it at a desk.
Mystery is blind, but wills
To untie the cloth, in eternity.
Police with their guns
Cannot enter here to move us off our lands.
History will always find you, and wrap you
In its thousand arms.

 . . . . . . . 

Someone will lift from the earth
Without wings.
Another will fall from the sky 

Through the knots of a tree.
Chaos is primordial. 

All words have roots here.
You will never sleep again
Though you will never stop dreaming.
The end can only follow the beginning.
And it will zigzag through time, governments, and lovers.
Be who you are, even if it kills you.
It will. Over and over again. 
Even as you live.

Break my heart, why don’t you?                from   An  American Sunrise   2017

The last few lines from My Man’s Feet

My man’s feet are the sure steps of a father
Looking after his sons, his daughters
For when he laughs he opens all the doors of our hearts
Even as he forgets to shut them when he leaves
And when he grieves for those he loves
He carves out valleys enough to hold everyone’s tears
With his feet, these feet
My man’s widely humble, ever steady, beautiful brown feet.

This is the ending to one of .er most popular poems.  entitled “My Man’s Feet,” in her newest collection of poetry, “An American Sunrise.”

The lines are pretty straightforward, but there is a poignancy in them. Her adoration of her “Man,” and the qualities she appreciates about him. His father heart, his tenderness, his grief for the loss of friends and loved ones. The end of this poem is amazing..

The Mozzie – Colleen Keating

THE MOZZIE

I am excited to have a poem in every magazine of The Mozzie this year  (2021)!

summer anguish is in the January edition

water clock is in the February edition

when  you can only take photos from the window is in the March edition

Thank you to Ron Heard for his dedication to Australian poets and poetry. I know for him there have been many hardships, loss and  sadness, and maybe times it is not easy to go on but he

The Mozzie is a small press poetry magazine that publishes the work of established and emerging poets.

An independent poetry magazine, it  publishes over 400 poems a year. 2017 will be its twenty-fifth year of publication.  The Editor Ron Heard lives in Brisbane “among the heat, rain and roof possums”and is  the author of the verse novel The Shadow of Troy which regular readers of The Mozzie  followed episodically  poem by poem , month by month .

It was reminescent of my wonderful Ancient History lessons  at High School. In the final year I studied at the Honours level and our teacher was an elderly nun Mother Oliver IBVM * who had survived throat cancer  and taught our small class of 4 girls by speaking into a megaphone  that rested on the desk. We waited upon every whispered word and we loved our time with the text Peloponnesian Wars by Thucydides, an Athenian historian who served as an Athenian general during the war. His account of the conflict is widely considered to be a classic and regarded as one of the earliest scholarly works of history. The History is divided into eight books and tells the story of the Peloponnesian War which was a war fought in ancient Greece between Athens and Sparta—the two most powerful city-states in ancient Greece at the time (431 to 405 B.C.E.). This war shifted power from Athens to Sparta, making Sparta the most powerful city-state in the region.

  • Besides being a scholar and  lover of Ancient History Mother Oliver was also the author of the story  of Mother Gonzaga Barry IBVM , the founder of the Loreto Order of Religious Sisters in Australia which is called   “Love is a Light Burden” by Mother M. Oliver, I.B.V.M. Published 1950.  My signed copy is very precious and is one of the inspirations  for my writing.

 

 

Memorising paragraphs of Thucydides like the above i can see  how I developed  my awareness of justice and deep belief in the following.

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak  is to speak, not to act is to act. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Grandchildren, autumn colour, mountains, fresh air, lyre birds, walking tracks . . .

Grandchildren, Autumn colour, mountains,  fresh  air,  lyre birds,  walking tracks  and an Old World Guest House

How special to be invited to join the family for a few days to play again in the Blue Mountains,  all of us staying at an ‘old world’ Guest House in Katoomba and returning to  Blackheath to reminisce and remember the playground our family  enjoyed in the young years..

The Dharug and Gundungurra Peoples welcome you
to this special place and ask that
you acknowledge, respectand appreciate its story
and sacred beauty

Day 1  

The family left for Katoomba early as they were booked in for the Scenic World Experience  which included the Scenic Railway down into the Valley and a Valley walk to see the amazing interactive  sculptures,  to see the old coal mine, then up the cliff and across on the  Scenic Skyway.  It was a fun  morning for them. Edison was excited about the waterfalls, and being in the front row going down  in the train the steepest train in the world, into the valley and Darcy loved his map and kept showing us where he went. 

Michael and I took our time  and stopped for a picnic lunch at one of our nostalgic venues Wentworth Falls Fall Lookout . The air was electric, the sky so blue and each deciduous tree was turning in their perfect timing.  There was a helicopter going back and forth and a National Parks woman explained they were dropping material along tracks for maintenance and taking out rubbish. It did take away from the serenity I was wanting so much but suddenly they took a break and the silence was hypnotic Not even the Falls could be heard where we sat. 

 

 

We arrived at the Guest House . . very old world with a breakfast room, dining room, games rooms and piano and had the character of a well known jazz lounge in its younger days.  At least the many  posters  decorating the walls were nostalgic for those  heady days.

We all went then to see the Three Sisters and we walked down about 80 steps with some metal ladders and out across the bridge to the first sister. We had a great picnic in one of the original caves.  Everything was so quiet . . .  by that I mean not many people . . .they had a quiet morning at Scenic world and we had no trouble parking at the Three Sisters. We were spoilt as it was not a public holiday and  little could we predict the Easter crowds.

On face book Jessica wrote of their day

What a perfect first day of holidays in the Blue Mountains. We spent the day at Scenic World Blue Mountains. We went down the steepest railway 🚃 , walked the long track for the Sculptures in the Valley and then came back up the cableway  🚡 then we took the skyway out over the valley and stopped over Katoomba Falls before heading to The Three Sisters. We walked down to the First Sister and then back up the very steep steps. Only 80 of them 🥵 back up the top we had our picnic waiting for us in one of the caves. I loved watching the kids explore, especially Edison who climbed, jumped, poked, questioned everything he came across and was so determined to try everything. Nothing was too much for him. I don’t know where he gets his energy 

 

 

Day 2    Blackheath

We woke to a glorious day and down in the dining room to meet the family for breakfast at 8 am as our plan was to get on the road early to travel the 10 minute drive to Blackheath for the day.  (that became closer to an hour with the crazy  Easter traffic that appeared.)

Michael and I have gone to Blackheath hundreds of times and never , ever experienced a traffic jam!  on this road, so funny . We surmise people were on their way to Mudgee or Dubbo . and we heard the Bells Line of Road was closed due to landslides I think or fires or flood  or as a result of all three  . . these days you can choose the catastrophe andyou probably wont be too wrong.

How to describe the morning.

Firstly the air had a crisp tingle to it. . .we all needed our trackie top
but we felt invigorated by the tingle.
No-one can beat John Keat’s words:
Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness
yet I couldn’t help whispering,
leaves of russet golds and brown
and flaming fire red
tatter the emerald sky and burnish our tracks
willowing air blow gently on the trees
leaves spilling,
pitter patter down
as flaxen autumnal raindrops

 

In Blackheath, as pilgrims, we headed to our old home in Burton street where we had spent so many fun holidays  and like pilgrims we retrod our footsteps down Porters Pass  to Keating Rock, around to the lane to the warm Sunset rock  so tiny now which seemed to fit us all snuggled into watch the sun set.and we laughed about the quiet street  where the kids rode up and down with ice-cream bowls on their heads teasing the magpies who joined in the game swooping each time.

We chose the Fairfax Heritage walk because it was suitable for Pa to walk with the boys and we arrived at the view of Govetts Leap .

 

The Bridal Veil Falls  was the best I have ever seen it after the rains it flowed and pounded wildly down into the valley its spray soft lifted  by the winnowing wind sometimes caught the rays of sunlight flashing a rainbow veil. I couldn’t  catch it on film it was momentariy,  fleeting and spectacular .

To the Red Rocket park where the boys had a lot of fun and Jessica was reminded  about the many times she played there with her brothers and sisters and sometimes cousins and the near escapes they had.

Back to the Guest House and a takeaway Thai meal we shared in the recreation room while the boys watched TV and played.

 

Jessica wrote,

Down memory lane yesterday.
Blackheath.
Keating Rock.
Govetts Leap.
Bridal Falls.
Memorial Park. Still the same equipment since 1964, just safer!
We had to keep a tally of how often Mum and I said “Be Careful!!!”
When I was young we were trusted down these walks on our own!

I lived to tell the tale 😂

Day 3  

A stunning autumn day  . . blue sky touches of lifting mist , falling russet and gold  leaves 
the walkways beginning to crunch but still early autumn days.
 

We were the baby sitters for three year old Darcy, as his older brother  Edison had begged to do the full Giant Staircase down into the Grose Valley and to walk around to the Scenic railway to ascend .  So the three of them Nath Jessica and Edison drove off after an early breakfast left their car near the Three Sisters and set off down the close to 1000 steps that Edison can now say he did. We breakfasted with Darcy and then set off for a walk to get some postcards and brochures  to make a project of the Mountain adventure  for his preschool  and to help his language. 

Great photos  of Lyre Birds . It is good to know they are surviving down in the valley.

They arrived back pretty tired but very proud they have achieved this challenging walk. 

It is a great achievement for a seven year old.  Congrats Edison. Mum and Dad did well also .

When they arrived back we set off for home and made it easily dodging the Easter traffic.

We seemed to be going in the opposite direction to most!!! Maybe that is the story of our days.

Safely home after an invigorating pre easter time.