a poem about silence

 when one writes on silence

words get in the way

 it needs a blank page

it needs space

like the death hour before dawn

before demons come up to meet us

you can hear it

in the moment between moments

between a musical note and the next

you can feel it between breaths

between birthing and dying

between the bow and the string

twixt the lip and the cup

the moment before touch

is it in the longing?

and can you say the sharp sickle moon

that hangs on a dark winter sky is silent?

in gaol the illiterate  young indigenous father

who used violence  instead of words

to express himself

is this silence?

or the deafening silence imposed in fear

silence can be loud

a silent protest

even without poster or placard is loud

when one turns their back in silence

the noise of the silence is destructively loud

when the powerless stitch their lips together

with discarded needle and fishing line

unable to eat  unable to talk

is this silence

even if tears still fall?

anonymity  is a powerful silence

and evil thrives under the blanket of silence

a poem about silence

needs to be loud

and needs to be heard

colleen keating


daybreak over mt sondar

in the beginning

air static as a nylon petticoat pulled over my hair

fingerprints of ruby red

betray the world   dark coloured

the arc of dawn flexes

stirs mt sondar

an awakening blush

flutters fire red    catching

Namatjira’s mountain

blood red

as I sit here it pulsates

the sun not yet over the horizon

like an intruder rushes in

steals every shade and shadow

this mountain lies in the country with poise

immortalised in a gown of purple and blue

like a sleeping goddess behind glass

yet the rattle of chains and padlock

thump like a heart beat against my ribs

as in the nearby town

for a dollar

kids still buy a rusty jam tin of petrol

write this love letter

colleen keating


for the old tree to be cut down

workmen are needed that are not duped

by its leaf-ruffled song

cutting down high branches won't be hard

there is only spindly foliage

it being strangled slowly

by hard tarred surface

concrete pebbled surrounds

and an overpass blocking its sunlight

twin trucks high up

stretch to the sky

like two arms thrown up in praise

they will fall easily

by chain saw and help of a crane

however the main trunk is another thing

its presence is formidable

only the hectic scream of a powerful chain saw

can finally silence it

colleen keating

treading water

there is a touch of the transcendent

on the horizon today    the sky spreads

like the sound of a symphony    and shadows

the deep slate of sea  with its surge

of rolling energy   tufts of crested foam

and sweeps of spindrift thrown in the air like hands of praise

out there crouches a small grey boat

bobbing in and out of view

a sea snail with its feelers poised

maybe fishermen or divers near a hidden reef

maybe sailors to catch the coloured winds of the dawn

i do not expect to know more

ebb tide     the hollowed waves

like hungry mouths gulp

stretch languidly to the edge

lull   like the pause between briny breaths

then recede

on the shoreline of my mind

thoughts tread water

more lonely than the boat on the slate-grey sea

as my footprints meld with the tide

back home  I continue

to stream a shelf of diaries

colleen keating

love letter

imagine walking along a noisy street

mind twirling like a wind blown chime

enter a parkland

where even your footsteps

are absorbed by the grass

and find yourself like alice shrunk in wonderland

before a field of sunflowers

with dawning faces like a thousand spinning suns

fanfare of rusted gold

dressed lavishly in green

they turn   a slow liturgical dance

following the sun  in worship

how amazing   their sovereignty

bees dip for nectar

birds  scour out their burnished seeds

from their fullness  is their giving

i stand in the gaze of love

this zenith of beauty is for the taking

yet in all this the expression of self alludes them

i sing a jubilant alleluia chorus

you are glorious

I stand here in awe

and like poets and painters over the centuries

 colleen keating


how agreeable it is  not to be staying  forever in the family home

guarding her memories  and  being the tender keeper of her story

how much better   to strike out into unfamiliar territory

letting go of what still claims  part of you   sacred   precious

feeling uncertainty tug

walls of family photos document   celebrations and milestones

of life   forty years to create only an hour to take down

and now a wall intact  blank unfaded negates its history

books are unnecessary now with google and kindle and iPad even though

books are your life and they give wings to your heart

instead of getting soil behind finger nails and down on stiff knees

smelling compost and moist earth and though the veggie and herb patch

and garden of  blue gums and birds nurture your soul

who wants all that constant work of falling twigs and leaves and seed pods

in a diminished world you can sip coffee and  just watch

your crazy social justice wall erased by the window cleaner doesn’t erase passion

and why are there shelves of videos  preloved   and unplayable

decluttering hurts like little deaths and fondling treasures in ones hand

for the last time and choosing salvos or out bin is like loosing a little of one-self

it shocks mortality out of its pigeon hole where it was kept buried

colleen keating

maybe salacia


 she walks the beach

scanning shells on the edge

in a loosely tied sarong

hair swept up under a wide brim hat

  face lined with many lifetimes

fishermen and sailors nod and smile

sea gulls rummaging along the shore hardly notice

she walks barefoot on the sea-soaked sand

tracing the waving wrinkled water mark

bites of the briny sea at her toes

she bends to receive  tumbled gifts

golden whelks, nippled periwinkles

spindled limpets  black nerites   spotted voluted cowries

some say she listens to the music of the sea

others say she’s a drifter

or perhaps

an artist living her art

a poet living a poem

some say she belongs to the deep

maybe goddess of the sea

now and then she gazes out

to where the sea and sky converge

as if she yearns

to slip between the sentinels of crashing waves

to her home beyond

colleen keating