Possessed a poem for uncertain times by Colleen Keating




                   uncertain times

where is the still point

in this world wildly whirling?




the search for a still point
in this wildly unpredictable world
beckons us out along a bush track
listening for guidance
a calming

everything a scene
to be staged
the quiet ones
whispering wisdom
a calming hush

the creek red gums sandstone
moss-coated rocks
ferns unfolding tight-knit fists
the reassuring calls of the whip-birds
a calming hush settles

a lightness breathes
a forest breathing lightness
resurrection spangle of greens
new life blooms in every crevice
and a calming hush settles us


Finding Zen and the Opportunities of This Time adapted by Colleen Keating

“We can create a fearless life
by living daily out of our comfort zone,
and in the deliciousness of uncertainty”

Finding Zen and the Opportunity of This Time

The truth is, all of this has always been here. We’ve always been distracted, numbing our difficult emotions like loneliness and sadness and anger with social media, food, alcohol and other comforts. We’ve always felt uncertainty, anxiety, frustration and overwhelm.

It’s just that this pandemic has brought it all front and center. Put it directly in our faces, so we can’t ignore it.

That’s difficult, but it’s also an opportunity — to look directly at the things we don’t want to admit to ourselves.

To become present to our emotions.

To train ourselves in compassion, gratitude, wonder, connection, meaning and mindfulness.

It’s terrible that people are get sick and die,— we don’t want to pretend that everything is rainbows and unicorns. It’s terrible and easy to turn to alcohol are other unhealthy ways of coping with all of this.

But we need to make the most of this time, use the opportunity of this time.

We start first by recognizing whatever is there for us: overwhelm, distraction, loneliness, sadness, frustration, disconnect, anxiety.

We get present with it: how does it feel in our body? Can we be with the sensations of these emotions, mindfully, gently, with openness and curiosity?

We bring compassion to ourselves — a sense of warmth and wanting happiness for ourselves.

We then try a new frame of mind — here are a handful to try out:

  • Curiosity: can we be curious about something in this moment, from the sensations of our emotions to what another person is going through? What changes for you when you practice curiosity?
  • Wonder: Can we view this moment (ourselves, our surroundings, other people) with a sense of awe and appreciation? With a sense of wonder at the miracle of life? How does that change things for you?
  • Gratitude: Can we feel a sense of gratitude for what we have in this moment, for the other person, for our eyesight? What would it be like to lose those things? Can we see the things we have through this new lense of appreciation?
  • Meaning: What if everything we did had a sense of meaning — what if every act could be a way to love ourselves, or to love and serve others? How would that change each act for you?
  • Mindfulness: Can we simply be present in this moment? Connect with a sense of spaciousness and awareness of what is happening right now? What shifts for you when you do this?
  • Connection: Can we feel a sense of connection to others in each moment? To the light in ourselves? To the world around us? And realize how we’re supported by the entire world.
  • Empowerment: There’s a big difference between doing something because we feel we should, or because we have to … and doing something because we choose to. Can you choose into each act in your day? Or choose out of it, if you really don’t want to do it? What would life be like if you were choosing to do things from an empowered place, rather than feeling like life was happening to you?

Choose one at a time, and practice it for a few days. Life in the pandemic will give you plenty of practice opportunities, if you look for them. Embrace them, and train.


Leo Babauta
Zen Habits      Thanks to Zen Habits

“We can create a fearless life by living daily out of our comfort zone, and in the deliciousness of uncertainty”

Everywoman by Colleen Keating


The Walk

after the  deluge 
the track was heavy  hard-going 
shoes muddied  bogs to be side-stepped 
yet there was grace in the morning walk

light was breaking
through unzipped clouds 
making the bush smile
 a thousand welcoming smiles
 dazzling  and  bright eyed  

a slow waltz shimmered through leaves 
vibrant red gums  stood friendly sentinels 
mossy rocks verdantly green
palms washed clean 

i leant against the familiar trunk of a gumtree
reassured by its sturdy cool presence  
a shadow crossed my path
i looked up –
a yellow-crested cockatoo 

ferns caught my eye  dripping with dew
 as tears 

 * * *

they are walking too today
along cold corridors 
on frozen earth
they can’t hurry although it’s urgent 
a matter of life and death 

they are pressed 
no time for a last glance back
their homes their precious things
surrendered  for  desecration

the air cries silently
for their wounded homeland 
they are slow 
burdened with babies children elders pets 
 no comfort of saucepans tea pots  books music

 a shadow crosses their path
they cower  huddle  whimper

 * * * 

she is walking now
not like me
she is walking for her life 
and the life of her child
her track is short to safety
but it ‘s not 
she sees a welcome sign just ahead
but she doesn’t      let us imagine
people welcoming her with warm soup  hot bread
reassured by soldiers like sentinels 
many who reach out to help

let someone kind ease her burden
let smiling eyes greet her 
tired  and sad 
and give her shelter

when a shadow crosses her path
let her and her child be safe
and its noise not exacerbate her fear

her words i cannot decipher 
but i understand the language
she is  everywoman

Ukraine by Colleen Keating

This photo is not 1942. This photo is taken this week in Ukraine March 2022 with the colour taken out.
Thank you to a brave war journalist who I will research to find the name.


“ . . man learns nothing from history”   Hegel

“I think it better that at times like these
we poets keep our mouths shut
for in truth
we have no gift to set a statesman right “
W.B. Yeats 
from (‘On being asked for a war poem’ 1919)


can’t help being pessimistic but
but. . .I cannot be silent
in this sorrow of war

the enemy has risen its monstrous head again
where human decency  gives way
to rage that leads to war that leads to rage 

 . . . and this too will end
leaders will  make deals shake hands
some will put aside vicious propaganda
and become allies

once again trenches filled in
old war tanks disassembled  
in time they will build a cenotaph
engrave the names of heroes
not the women  old men  children
displaced and broken
not victims who paid the price

as the English FTSE and Russian MOEX
surge with share holder profits
and each trumpets themselves

no-one gains land
for there is nothing to gain
it’s all an illusion that sabotages despots
yet there is a lot to lose  
mostly humane values   sadness in a mother’s eyes
fear in a child’s heart  
hate and revenge replacing a teenager’s dreams 
the loss of human decency  in the soldier.

meanwhile the sun anchors
this tiny dot in the ocean of sky
and its lens blinks
another ‘lest we forget’


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?


* * * * * * * * * *




Last days of February : One Day at a Time 2 by Colleen Keating


” One cannot but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries
of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality.
It is enough if one tries to merely comprehend a little of this
mystery each day.
Never lose a holy curiosity.
– Albert Einstein


afternoon rain
dewdrops dazzle like
dangling fairy lights

dew drops corralled
by sun beams



morning Mozart plays
from a sleepy place I wake
with new energy
to face any curve ball
that is thrown my way


killing fields

the only sound aside from first wind rising
was the occasional brush of my footsteps
against soft cushion of earth
i looked out across the lake
the early dawn light
lay like a silver mirror
broken now and then
as several black cormorants
broke the surface and redived

in the far distance
the black swans grazed in sea grasses
and lone pelicans glided by
I watched the silver light of jumping fish
catch insects
then the pelican saw its opportunity
struck with violent grasp

grabbed the fish
its pouch beak
stretched and wriggling
while it shook its neck
and gulped the fish

I turned my attention to the paperbarks
and the symmetry
of the native miner’s wings
as it flies into a paperbark

and stand in shock
as it flew out
with the agonised death screech
of a cicada in its beak

is this place
that appears so tranquil
actually a killing field?



Merriment of  Frogs after the Rain

As the sun comes up
i walked towards the stand of swamp paperbarks
a sound like a freight train racing
through a country town
filled the air

closer it became more individual
like hearing each individual carriage clanking past
and then individual  rumbling croaks

yes the swamp was alive with frogs
all carousing and courting and
here was a living field
vibrant and alive



A Tree Kinship 

over the curve of my thoughts
comes a sound
amidst a stand of Paperbarks
they were not only breathing together
they were conversing

my heart wells up to bursting

every tree has such character
twisted and curved
not a straight line anywhere

all seem to be aware of each other
a tree kinship
each with unique characters

that breathe life  and meaning
and sanctity

the textured bark glistens with the
wash of the recent rain
in all the tones
of cream – coffee caramel tawny and wheat
desert  ochre copper  topaz and brown




A plaque on a seat at a lookout

How very lucky are we
to breathe salty air
and sit here by the sea

Last Days of February: one day at a time by Colleen Keating

Life as we know it
changed this past week
yet the nankeen kestrel
hovered above us
just as before



Each day is beautiful and precious
even amidst these cloudy times
some days of heavy metallic sky
some days of grey straggling fog
with the horizon lost

nature tells us
it will turn for it has many sides
a stretched-out horizon
wider then our dreams
is still there

Today the clouds give us
feathers and angels and flying kites
all uplifting  light and full of joy


so different to the metaphoric clouds
that hang thickly over us
pounding at our hearts
fogging our minds
suffogating our bodies


lapping waves
our footprints disappear
we do not look back


Our second day 


out walking
nothing has changed
trees still stand as mystics
their whisperings
pointing the way

Some signpost along the way


And from the Sensory Gardens Just now

Lunar New Moon and a Bird Walk by Colleen Keating

Lunar New Moon

Just before first light we rose
the lunar  moon
was due

we watched  we waited
the hearth of a new day
burst firing the waves

the lunar moon
travelled into its tiger destiny

not even a whisper
or scintella of light
but one with the air

lunar moon
we search the darkness
on the horizon

light  dawn  sunrise
for a wild water tiger
i was surprised
by its gentle silent entry
like a dew drop on a rose
or the tear drop of blood
from the pierce of a thorn

60 years for its return
1962 the year I left
the cocoon of school
for the world
2022 is it the year I bow out
and return
to the cocoon of my world
in nature

lunar new year
the morning glory
are full of welcome

paperbark and purple
morning glory

Bird walk today

Can you see the two cormorants hanging out by the lake in the photo?

just hanging out
they know we are here
two pied cormorants


two cormorants
hanging out by the lake
social distancing


How many kookaburras
makes a coven
waiting for their prey




Pondering this new year . . this Angophora answers by Colleen Keating


i visit my special tree
a regular confidante
and ponder
what this new year may bring

rooted in place
sturdy stronger calmer
than i remember

it gazes upwards
out over the valley
as if it could see
far beyond our horizon

one thing changed
last visit its bark was pink
sleek inviting my hand
to run across its dimply skin





today its bark is splitting
letting go
peeling in strips and curls
burnished as an old rusty drum
exposing chartreuse rawness

i nod and thank
tree wisdom
for its perfect message


The magic colours of the trunk .



The Angophora Tree

Totems are a natural object or creature that is believed to have spiritual significance and can be adopted by particular groups as an emblem or symbol. This special tree like others before me who declared it the hugging tree is my special tree

The angophora tree is a special tree to the Darug people who are the Traditional Custodians of the area. The angophora is an ascension tree, a place where the spirits  go up and down from this earthly plane.

In pre-colonial days at the time of pregnancy, a woman would sit at the base of the tree and wait for the spirit of her child to enter her belly into her unborn child. At the other end of the life cycle, when someone passes, the body is wrapped in bark and placed in the large branches up the tree, to allow the spirit of the person to return to the heavens.

On a recent visit  I felt the spirit is still there.   There is a parallel world here in this Loreto forest .

I am writing my next poem on that at present.


(Angophora Costata   Sydney Red Gum or Smooth Bark Apple Gum)
















Let’s plant flowers! Welcome 2022 by Colleen Keating

New Years Eve

lets hope
the burst of colour and sound
scares off the old spirits
to welcome 2022

I think it will bring flowers
because I am planting them!

Welcome 2022


Dawn came with
chortle of magpies in the deodar
outside our bedroom window

morning greeted with
dawning light golden
atop the trees

the butcher birds shy ring
for them a greeting of another day
– for us a new year.

Our birds began arriving
doves  lorikeets  cockatoos
magpies and native minors.


It was a startling blue day.
An early walk as the heat was coming.
Coops Creek  forest was shady and cool.

Michael pointed out – a natural sculpture –
a very old uprooted tree
rains and winds over the years

washing it clean like bone.
Then we saw sculpures everywhere
This could be our very own Sculpture Park

with stunning shapes
albeit of nature alone.
Trees, upturned roots, caves, fallen rocks
and plants all lend themselves

from some bigger than us
to the fragile, small, sometimes
hidden things, one needs to tiptoe
quietly not to miss






(Angophora Costata   Sydney Red Gum or Smooth Bark Apple Gum)