Frederick for Winter-time – a fable

Frederick for a Winter time.

 

Some of you might know the story of Frederick
the field mouse accused of sitting about
day-dreaming, watching and listening
not sharing the tasks of preparing for winter
while his family filled every minute
hurried here and there to busy themselves
storing berries and nuts
for the long season they would bear

and how Frederick garnered
the warmth of the sun the wind in the air
for winter is so freezingly cold, stale and bare
and how he saved the colours of the day
for winters can be so long, so drab and grey
and how he gathered words that uplift the spirit

and how in the stark days of winter
most of the food had been eaten
and gossip and all the funny stories
had become threadbare
and they anxiously turned to Frederick
for sustenance
during the last cruel days before spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so Frederick asked them to close their eyes
and with his words his voice his magic
from stirrings deep within
they felt warmth the air scented
with their treasured aromas
and they saw the colours of flowers and trees
rainbows and flying birds
enduring brush strokes on their mind

and how when Frederick had finished
they all applauded –

but Frederick
they exclaimed
you are a poet

 

 

And for those of you still reading here is the story translated fom the fable.

Frederick    by Leo Lionni

 

All along the meadow 

where the cows grazed and the horses ran, 

there was an old stone wall.

In that wall

not far from the barn and the granary, 

a chatty family of field mice

had their home.

But the farmers had moved away,

the barn was abandoned,

and the granny stood empty.

And since winter was not far off,

the little mice began to gather corn and nuts 

and wheat and straw. 

They all worked day and night .

All – except Frederick. 

Frederick, why don’t you work?  they asked

I do work, said Frederick,

I gather sun rays 

for the old dark winter days.

And when they saw Frederick sitting there, 

staring at the meadow 

they said,  and now Frederick?

I gather colours, answered Frederick simply.

For winter is grey.

And once Frederick seemed half asleep,

Are you day-dreaming Frederick? 

They asked reproachfully. But Frederick said, 

Oh no I am gathering words 

for the winter days are long and many

and we’ll run out of things to say?.

The winter days came, 

and when the first snow fell

the five little field mice 

took to their hideout in the stones.

In the beginning there was lots to eat,

and the mice told stories 

of foolish foxes and silly cats.

They were a happy family.

But little by little they had nibbled up 

most of the nuts and berries,

 the straw was gone 

and the corn was only a memory.

It was cold in the wall 

and no one felt like chatting.

Then they remembered

what Frederick had said 

about sun rays and colours and words.

What about your supplies Frederick ! they asked 

Close your eyes, said Frederick,

as he climbed on a big stone,

Now I send you the rays of the sun

Do you feel their golden glow?

And as Frederick spoke of the sun

the four little mice 

began to feel warmer.

Was it Frederick’s voice ? Was it magic?

And how about the colours Frederick?

they asked anxiously ,

Close your eyes again, Frederick said,

And then he told them 

of the blue periwinkles

the red poppies

in the yellow wheat 

and the green leaves of the berry bush.

They saw the colours as clearly 

as if they had been painted in their minds 

And the words Frederick?

Frederick cleared his throat,

waited a moment,

and then, as if from a stage, he said: 

Who scatters snowflakes? who melts the ice? 

Who spoils the weather? Who makes it nice? 

Who grows the four-leaf clovers in June? 

dims the daylight? Who lights the moon?

Four little field mice who live in the sky

Four little field mice . . like you and I. 

One is the Springmouse  who turns on the showers

Then comes the Summer who paints in the flowers

The Fallmouse is next with walnuts and wheat 

And Winter is last . . . with little cold feet.

Aren’t we lucky the seasons are four 

Think of a year with one less . . or one more

When Frederick had finished,

they all applauded.

                       But Frederick,

                                     they said

                                                  you are a poet. 

 

The Launch of Desert Patterns by Colleen Keating

A launch or not a launch

The beautiful collection of poetry Desert Patterns  is launched at a non-launch in a Desert Garden.

At the Olive Pink Botanic Garden in Alice Springs, Central Australia, with an idea of ‘no clustering groups’  which is now coined ‘social distancing’ we launched Desert Patterns in a desert garden to wallabies, a wide variety of interested birds,  skinks, the wonderful vegetation of this arid garden and to one very curious Euro ( a mountain wallaby who hopped down from Annie Meyers Hill to join the frey.

 

as I read  ‘quiet stillness settles into our very soul’

and continued:

‘maybe it’s the way the light falls

throws its arms around the old familiar  cliffs

brings them alive  beckons come

come’

 

desert patterns

the landscape dreams
of caterpillars and rainbow serpents
composed
sculptured
moulded for aeons
wind water sand
carved chiseled hefted
hewn
from rock and clay
heave of ochre red
weave curve wave

desert patterns 
draw us in                                                                

every escarpment every contour
named and known
as a mother knows its children
garments of beauty
that dress our earth
like whims of scarves 

desert patterns
draw us in 

the night sky dreams
of journeys emus echidnas
black spaces
compose
shimmer
imagination
reflects ancient stories

desert patterns
draw us in 

 

 

 desert garden  18/03/2020 ( written the day of the launch . Not in the poetry book)

already some have gathered under the umbrellas
conversations tête-à-tête over coffee
hushed murmurs like one makes in a cathedral
standing in the presence of awe-inspiring domes
and zig-zag shimmer
of coloured floors of lead-light reflection

here dreamy gold light catches the tips of ghost gums –
Namatjira’s signature –that breaks the silence from long ago
how arrogant in our colonising we had become
from rocky boulders rustic-red breaks in the hills
flames out in mica shine
wallabies laze in shady groves of Mulga.

magpies sing from spindly river gums
and one wallaby sits in red sand nearby
no doubt waiting for left over fare.

all morning the magpies watch me in the garden
their bodies wiry sleek and mottled
a good reminder of yin and yang
the balance that we always seek

I write in my journal sip my coffee
nibble on toasted fruit loaf with tiny strips of cherry
spread with whipped cinnamon butter.
Around us spinifex pigeons enjoy the company

I am startled by beauty wherever i look
and I wonder how proud Olive Pink would be
to see us all enjoying the peace of her long ago vision

 

Mother and joey                                                                 sun set from Anzac Hill in Alice

Thanks to all our supporters, . Thanks to Ginninderra Press and to the magic of Inland Australia.

Desert Patterns by Colleen Keating

When we listen, this land sings to us, holds us, nurtures us. This land is the common ground that we share. This small blue planet is the common world of our existence. Desert Patterns is a collection of poetry that touches the membrane between two worlds with the breath of wildness and our inland journeys. In its striking imagery, we have a revelation of the significance of the land and of the burden of our Australian history.
‘Colleen’s poetic journey invokes the deep spirituality of our landscape. She immerses us in “a multitude of gorgeous images” as we stand in Tunnel Creek remembering Jandamarra, marvel with Monet at Kakadu’s “blazing-blue lilies” and dream with cicadas: “is it a place the gods keep/to seduce the lost like me?” Every step of the way, Desert Patterns will entrance you.’ – Pip Griffin
‘Colleen Keating in her distinctive Australian voice combines sensitivity to place with clear, powerful free verse. Her images are both striking and profound. Again as in her previous collections, her poetry is underpinned by a gentle spirituality from a woman’s perspective. – John Egan
‘Take time to enter the world of this poetic landscape. Colleen Keating invites us to listen – with all our senses.’ – Margaret Hede
Following on the publication of her award-winning poetry collection Fire on Water in 2017, Colleen Keating, a Sydney poet, has continued to search for a sense of place in country – a land that is timeless and always changing. Much country has been handed back to its traditional owners, while mining companies and pastoralists continue to maintain their position. Aboriginal art has flourished and more people are searching for a place to call home. Colleen has also had published by Ginninderra Press  A Call to Listen and a highly acclaimed verse novel, Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey. She has also co-authored Landscapes of the Heart (Picaro Poets) with John Egan.
978 1 76041 844 1, 94pp

Versions

Paperback

9781760418441
$22.50

The Yellow Rose

 

 

The Yellow Rose 

And the weather turns around

from pyrocumulous horror

our  infernoed land is drowned

in flooding rain

and now a misty morning

for walking once again

after a scorching summer

of ash and smoke hazed air

 

I see the  rosebush has survived                                            

for  the yellow rose nods

smiles as if it recognises me

and murmurs

 

just for a moment

it stops me in my tracks    draws me in

then its smile is in the curled petals

its nods in the zephyr of breeze

and I move into my day singing

my rose has the look of  a flower

that is  looked at*

acknowledged and loved

like the rose in the little Prince

  • TS Eliot

Bearing witness to the fires Summer 2020

 

 

bearing witness

reverence is called for  . . .

a mournful dignity  on this beach today

it is far from the war zone

 but each wave carries the remains

flanked with blackened ash

it lays to rest in curves on the sand

not stark stiff birds as sometimes washed up 

blown in by severity of storms 

here is death consumed 

held up evidence 

as flotsam                                                           

and left like wreaths 

curved around a cenotaph

wave after wave 

sometimes  when washed out 

there is respite

for one does not know what to do 

but it comes back on the tide with vengence 

there is no escape  to being the witness                                

till one falls down on the sand to weep

and finds they’re not alone 

as the lament of the waves

comfort with whispered threnodies 

and hazed in smoke 

the weeping eye of the sun waits

 

 

 

Small pockets of new life come up to meet us everywhere.

 It does not help the many who have suffered the loss of loved ones, 

those who have lost their homes and/or businesses. 

It does not help the awful trauma that is with us 

and it doesn’t alleviate the  grief we bear as a nation 

at the loss of our precious flora and fauna. 

It is a sad, sombre and very sobering summer. 

 

 

The new Anthology, Love’s Footprint edited Maree Silver & Leigh Hay

 

LOVE’S  FOOTPRINT  published by Poetica Christi Press

  Edited by Maree Silver & Leigh Hay

It is exciting to have two poems chosen to be included in the very thoughtful Anthology Love’s Footprint published by Poetica Christi Press. My two poems ‘bells’ and ‘morning glory’  were chosen among 132 poems that make this Anthology an enjoyable read.

It has been a joy to read this anthology by poets whose experiences speak from and into vulnerability, risk, ageing and loss, in ways that are believable and moving. There were many notable poems which surprised and warmed me. You will be consoled and absorbed by the truth-telling  of the poets who have in common the human and divine capacity to love in both action and word. (Marlene Marburg, poet and author Grace a upon Grace)

 

The Blue Nib reviews Hildegard of Bingen by Colleen Keating

Seeing the world through childrens’ eyes

 

 

 

Seeing the world through children’s eyes. 

When the tide recedes beyond the horizon
and the underbelly of the sea is exposed
for little adventurers, Edison and Darcy
the rock platform is a necklace of pools
shimmering like emeralds and full of treasure.

Worry of slipping and falling is not their concern
they hop from rock to rock                                                    
clamber about down on their tummies
their shining eyes
reflected in the mirrored sea.

Everything is magical and extraordinary
Come here, quick Grandma 
the crabs are humongous. 
a scuttle of creatures disappear in our shadow
making us wait quietly
pretending we’re not here
as the rocks curl with camouflaged
crustaceans creeping out
and pincers like boxing gloves
point up at us.                                                    

In their eyes there is wonder
as red anemones sway the waves
as the molluscs trail into patterns
as starfish wash up like gift
as a sting ray glides past their toes
as these curious boys
learn to be respectful of the living world

Seeing the world through children’s eyes
makes me happy to be alive
as we steal out to the edge of the sea
and look for whales
as we dig in the sand on the edge of the beach
as we allow gentle laps of waves
to fill our canals and tunnels
and moats to protect our castles
until Darcy sees more fun in jumping
on them as quick as we can  mould the sand
seeing the world through children’s eyes

Colleen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elephants by Tyler Jack Little

Elephants

for Ellie

 

Elephants     by Tyler

 

Elephants are humongous.

They are light, silvery-grey.

They use their trunks

to eat and drink .

In water they like to play.

Their tusks are very strong

And they use them to crunch boulders

 

My elephant is very gentle

when he snuggles on my shoulders

My elephant is soft and small

 I always sleep with him at night

He keeps me warm  and protected

And always makes me feel right

Tyler Jack Little  (8 year old)

Eureka Street Publication

It is very exciting to have my poem Code Red published in Eureka Street. Our words are our sabre . We need to listen to our earth.

Fire poems

Selected poems

Apocalypse

It’s as though it’s suddenly turned winter,

the way the earth is covered over and the grey stretch of ash

is drawn up to its chin like a blanket.

And though it’s day, the bird-less quiet is a kind of night,

and everything we ever thought we knew has been turned upside down,

the first now last, and the last first.

— Bill Rush

 

landscape

This blackness

of landscape

as if a fire had

passed through

with no echo of water

in the dumb silence

there is though the fear

a sun, a ball of glow

just above a horizon

waiting for a breath

waiting for a change of wind

waiting for a cool voice

just to say something

— Rory Harris

 

Code red

when the sun like a cyclops rages fiery red

divots the sky in a coven of camouflage

It has no voice to plead ‘enough’

it warns us to listen …

 

in the myth Odysseus gathers forces

to ram the glaring monster

but be warned

this sun is not the enemy

it is air thick with ash that chokes ‘help’

amidst ember attacks and dust storms

 

when fish like shimmering naiads surface slimy green

float dead in display of disaster

they have no voice to gulp ‘stop’

they rely on us to think …

 

in the myth Naiads shine silver

in springs and streams and brooks

be warned

dead fish are not the enemy

it is our river’s way of weeping ‘save me’

over-used and desecrated

 

when the earth our mother is parched

her body dried and cracked

she has no voice to lament ‘code red ‘

it depends on us to act …

 

in the myth our mother-earth

cries for care for respect

but be warned

cracked earth is not the enemy

it is a strangled cry ‘no more to give’

exhausted and depleted

 

when the sea like clotted blood chokes with plastics

angry Thor thunders floods the land

it has no voice to say ‘greed does not pay’

it counts on us for action …

 

yet still in our great city people walk about

heads down in an eerie silence

eyes weep from the smoke

behind fake masks that filter reality

 

they walk unbeknown like frogs

and like frogs in the myththey are being slowly boiled alive.

— Colleen Keating

 

 

 

Topic tags: poetry, Bill Rush, Rory Harris, Colleen Keating