O Beauteous one 
This is for you
For all the times that you have bloomed
When all around have burrowed deep
Into the coolness of earth’s breast
Hiding away, biding their time
Until gentler, lighter climes
Bestir them in their loamy beds
But you, O Intrepid one
You have always overcome
You have worn your gem-like garb
In ways that made me catch my breath
Racing, chasing to my heart
Wondering if you’d shimmer on
Or if your time here too was done
But you wore your jewelled crown
Glittering in the scorching sun
I looked at you, O Enchanting one
As you cavorted with the breeze
Those molten gusts upon my skin
I gulped in then, the oxygen
That sat timorousky in the air
But I was pulled
By the oasis that surrounded you
Perfect, paradisiacal
Unsundered by the elements
There you danced so full of joy
I came to you pulled by the spell
Of your vivid hues, O Alluring one
You swayed your head
Spangled whorls overspread
Across the fretwork of your boughs
Mesmerized I reached out
Into your magic latticed web
You pricked me then, O Bewitching one
Your thorns were invisible, hidden
I knew then that your glittering grace
Your wild gumption to face the sun
Aren’t just in the softness of your blooms
But in the armor that you’ve chiseled from
The tempests - stormy and searing
I looked at the ruby that had sprung
On my fingertip that you had stung
It dazzled on my glistening skin
Its precious seams filling my lungs
My essence and throb, O Wondrous one
I found that day in the scorching sun.
Image: Fine Art America


Had to share this bit of a silver lining in my tropical monsoon sky – my poem, “Veins” got longlisted in THE PLOUGH 2023 POETRY COMPETITION out of over 2000 entries.
Launched my writing career such as it is, two years ago and this is the first formal accolade that has found its meandering way to me, so I’m quite chuffed.
Here’s to creating more shimmering scraps of poetry and prose, and to occasionally finding the universe conspiring, encouraging and smiling down too🙏🏼🌸


I know we haven’t talked in a while
I know I haven’t seen you wear your soft smile
We’ve said things to each other we didn’t mean
Tearing and splitting the vital seams
Of the fabric of our togetherness
I know that I have felt desolate, helpless
We have sat in silence, cold as frost
The glow of our closeness long since being lost
Somewhere along life’s bewildering way
I let your warm hand slip away

I know we haven’t talked in a while
I know I haven’t seen you wear your gentle smile

Through the years we have journeyed on
Along the same path but each on our own
Forged by our children, we treaded their dreams
Only seeing shadows of you and me
Still together we walked into middle age
But it’s been a while since I really saw your face
It’s been a few years since the air around
Was filled with your familiar scent and your sound
Somewhere, somehow I lost the quickening string
That bound us together through thick and through thin

I know we haven’t talked in a while
I know I haven’t seen you wear your lovely smile

But I know you’re still here, your pulse still beats warm
Even as we’ve both whipped up raging storms
They’ve whirled inside, while we’ve pulled away
The terrible loneliness adding to the fray
I know that we are a great distance apart
But I can still feel you in the depths of my heart
Let me find you once again in the mists
Of sepia memories, reminiscences
Let me hold your hand as I once did before
Let us walk together, in step once more

I lost sight of you, dearest for a while
Let me love you again, let me make you smile.
Image: Portia Mendigo


Theme: Bullying and teaching a child how to respond to it

It was Monday morning again
And Sheila lay in her bed
When her mom had woken her up
“My tummy hurts”, she had said

Her mom looked at her worried
Sheila’s tummy seemed to hurt a lot
She had missed school too many times
Was there a bug she’d caught?

She then took her temperature
The thermometer said 98.6
She seemed fine her mom thought
She did not even look sick

She then sat by Sheila’s side
And said, “let’s both take off today
Me from work and you from school
It’ll be our special little holiday”

Sheila’s eyes sparkled bright
She smiled sweetly at her mom
Her heart felt light and happy
It was a treat to be home

Mom and Sheila had breakfast
Then off to the park they went
Sheila went straight for the dragon slide
It had three crazy, loopy bends

Later sitting in the grass they saw
Something happen at the slides
A boy in a jacket and a black cap
Was trying to pick a fight

The other boy was standing there
He looked kind of scared
Sheila looked away and then
Reached out for her Mom’s hand

A grownup had come up by then
To sort out the disturbance
Sheila’s mom looked at her child
Things seemed to make some sense

She asked Sheila how she felt
When she saw the big boy be mean
Sheila looked at her mom’s kind face
“I was scared, it could have been me”

She then told her about a girl
Who had just joined their school
She would pick on Sheila
At lunch every afternoon

“My darling, there are bullies sometimes
Just as there are nice people too
The next time this girl or anyone
Tries to be mean to you

You will tell them firmly,
I don’t like this, stop this now
Or Back off, leave me alone
Stand confident and tall

Look at the girl and focus
On the colour of her eyes
When you look bullies in the face
They always seem to shrink a size

You’ll see that she doesn’t look
Quite so fierce and so mean
Bullies are not all that brave
As they’d have you think and feel

If you dearest heart, feel like someone
Could hurt you physically
Then you must tell a teacher
And always, always talk to me

Just know that there is no one
In school or outside of it
That can ever hurt you
As long as your speak of it

Sometimes it can be hard, I know
To talk of things that make you scared
But these scary things just disappear
When with loved ones they are shared

You are never never alone with things
And people that make you sad
We will always talk of our days
The good times and the bad

And you my darling girl are good
And brave and steady and kind
Bullies and monsters have no chance
When there are people like you around

My dearest, know that I’m with you
Now and even when you’re older
Our team of two like a magical cloak
Will forever drape your brave shoulders.


I feel out of touch 
A tad bit rusty
Cranky and creaky
Tinny and such
The words clump together
With a grind and a grate
I wonder if a month away
Has dulled my tapestry of verse
Shimmering skeins that advance and traverse
Embroidering and stitching
Notions and qualms
Into billowing storms
Into rippling, sashaying ribbons of calm
Bewildering phrases that make me guffaw
Festering sentences painful and raw
In bobbing waves with lacy edges
In crashing, lashing, tearing deluges
In twinkling stardust upon my page
My blinking cursor running away
With the train of my thoughts to the drum of my heart
Laughing, singing, assuaging an ache
Grieving, weeping, caught in the wake
I wonder if my keyboard, unstirred, unscathed
For two score nights and forty days
Has borne my quickening string away.
Image: The New York Times


It’s so soakingly humid 
That I swim on the pavements
I glide
Through the waves of moisture
Like an eel,
No, like a duck in water
Submerged, breathing through new-fangled gills
A chimerical, mystical thing
The stuff of science fiction and ETs
In a universe of visions and dreams
Morphing, dissolving, changing
Even as I wade on

When I bring a glass to my lips
To quench a thirst that sits
Uneasily, timorously in my throat
There, but not really there
More habit-driven than the need
To drench a parched desert inside my skin
I swim into the water
Like a goldfish, lips turgid
Gut kicking against the liquid intrusion
But the impulse of living
Compels me to sip, sip, sip
Until I think I’ve had enough

When I dress in the morning
Each garment feels like cellophane
Stuck tightly to me, I’m cling-wrapped
Even though each begins its day airily
Lightly. I look at myself in the mirror
My forehead is already wet
In the heat of protest
Against the layers I must don
Linen - lying-in wait to suffocate
Cotton - caught-on my liquified bones
Fabric, propriety, a proper-riot
Of ceaseless stickiness
More fabric, more properness
I ignore the tangled wrangle within
I now wear also my morning smile
Even as my upper lip glistens
With the sweat of struggle
Ageless now, muscle-memorized
I step onto the pavement
To swim, swim, swim
In my designated line.
Image: Gerry Miles


I see my shadow lengthen
With the ebbing of the day
I feel it suck up all the sadness
From the bowels of the earth
With its purple, glistening hoard
Of melancholia and hopelessness
I move ceaselessly, restlessly
I will my never-stopping feet
To sever the tortured bond
That my swelling shade has formed
With the darkening world around
But my shadow just spreads out
Ever further on the ground
It suckles at night’s dreary breast
Absorbing all her suffering
So that nothing should remain
In earth’s mighty store of pain
With its ravening tentacles
My twilight shadow reaches in
Never faltering in its aim
It will not stop it will not rest
Until it has gorged itself
On a sorrow that is infinite
It’s bloated edges
Endlessly dredge
The gloom from earth’s wounded veins
My shadow ripples and it writhes
Waning only when daylight
Breaks the tragic coupling
Of the shades and sadness of nighttime.
Image: Eleanor Woolley


Theme: Growing pains with the arrival of a new brother or sister

“I don’t want a little sister!
And I don’t want a brother too!”
Said Adam with his cheeks puffed out
He was angry at the news
He did not want to share his toys
Nor share his mother and father
With another child who would
Live in his home forever

And so he stomped and huffed and puffed
And said “Nooo! The idea stinks!”
His parents looked at each other
And quietly tapped their chins
What were they to do they thought
With their one and only child
Adam never behaved like this
So angry and so wild

“Darling son, it is but natural
To have a balanced family
With a brother or a sister
Who can grow up and be
Your best friend, your playmate
Someone you can love
And you will always be our Adam
Our precious, oldest one”

But Adam still felt moody
And went up to his room
He couldn’t find his happy smile
So he wore his maddest frown
He looked at himself in the mirror
His reflection stared right back
His pouty face looked so silly
Hahaha! Hoohoo! He had to laugh!

When little Amara came into the world
And his parents brought her home
Adam looked at her for a while
At her cheeks and her tiny nose
He touched one small chubby hand
And when she held his little finger
He laughed his happy laugh and he knew
That he already loved his baby sister.
Image: Isabella Potgieter


She’s caught in the rush of hurrying feet 
Snippets of conversations
Of laughter, exclamations
She’s caught in a tidal wave
Of teeming, streaming life
She’s caught in the swell
Of people of voices, of sights and smells
Riding the vital wave
Pushing ahead
Her silk scarf catches the breeze
Of swelling, surging humanity
She feels it pull
Floating just a little in front of her
She quickens her step
Her feet instinctively keeping up
With the urgency of life
She feels something
In her gut, the pit of her stomach
A ripple, almost a laugh!
She inhales deeply, she can’t place
This sudden lightness of being
It feels out of place
This morning, mourning
She had felt like lead
Now like vapor she rises up
Colourless, clean
In that moment she’s someone else
Propelling her body like a comet
Lighter, brighter almost serene

She arrives at her gate
The same number, the place
Where this very morning
She had buried them
She had forgotten
For a few moments
Who she was
She was desolation and grief itself
Wearing the bruises of loss
Mourning only this morning
It all came back dawning
As she came to herself
As her blood remembered
And curdled inside
A freezing, heaving cauldron of chills
She sank into the depths of her seat
There was a sequence
Monumental, compelling
To her agony
She had to remember
She couldn’t forget
Her world had ended
When she had buried her dead.
Image: Toyism


Pin me, skin me
Kick me in my shins please
Bring me buckling, crashing down
Then grin as you haul me up
Dust me down, make an act of freeing me
When I’ve lost all my will to be me

Churn me, burn me
Laugh in my face, spurn me
Then adulate, adore me
But airily, lightly
When I can’t feel your torment or love
Or anything else inside me

Juice me, use me
Mangle and abuse me
Then write up columns flush with
New found awakening
A social issues deciphering
All the while computing,
Measuring, forecasting
Your own index of hero-worship
For calling out brutality
Other demons, other sins
Out of your realm of reality
But you orate and preachify
Because it is your deliverance
From mundaneness, insignificance

Roar out, be devout
Let your new found arousal
Wash over everyone
“Not all of us are like that”
Shout it out, don’t hold back
Declare it with panache
You are righteous no one can forget
Everyone else’s moral compass
Is a fickle sickle, directionless
You’re guilt free with that homily
With your ringing voice and sacchrine smile
You present it proudly to me
When all I can see are lips and eyes
A Leviathan dripping honeyed lines
Onto a transfixed audience
They watch and gently chew the cud
Of the weed that they are fed
By evangelical heroes of prime time

Boot me, loot me
Strangle me, shoot me
Then have a ball in my name
Found a charity, earn some fame
Let the posthumous heroine
With her tomb-tough shoulders
Become your newest Taj Mahal
Let her catapult you to the top
Always from her deadest parts
A pillaged body, a spirit crushed
A tragedy censored and hushed
From her countless cuts and gashes
She now hides under her eyelashes
While YOU and YOU and YOU and YOU
Rise like a phoenix from her ashes.
Image: Fine Art America


A lit up sky 
The stars shine
A bit too bright tonight
A glittering mask
To hide behind
Their fatigue lies cloaked
On the other side
Here for the world to see
They shine endlessly
Their brassy edges
Invisible, unseen
But on the other side
Hiding in day-light
They just seem
Like ancient divas
Bested by life
But by habit and by pride
Still cutting through
The famelessness
The agonizing namelessness
Their jagged lightning
Stumbling through the firmament
Tearing at the vaulted heights
One more time
One more time
Just one more time
To light up the sky.
Image: Crioo Lighting (of Van Gogh)


Theme: Dealing with parents’ divorce

Sarah woke up from her sleep at night 
She’d had another dream
Where she was falling through the clouds
Down, down into the trees

She was scared like she had once been
From monsters under her bed
But now she was a big girl
Why was she afraid like that again?

In her heart she knew the new
Monster that had come to life:
Her parents were always sad-angry
There was always a new fight

Sarah wanted to hide away
She wanted to close her eyes
She wished that when she woke again
Everything would be alright

But that didn’t happen and one day
Her dad he sat her down
He kissed her on her forehead
He had a worried frown

He said “sometimes moms and dads
Go through moody times
And because they’re Big-People moods
It turns them into frankensteins!

If they stay together they’ll chomp-chomp
Off each other’s heads
So they both start living in separate homes
So that they can keep being friends

And that is why Mom and I
With our fights and with our moods
Will live apart but in our hearts
Our love will never change for you

Look at it as a new adventure
New things to do with each one
With Dad you can go fishing
With Mom to the space museum

We will always keep you close
Just not in the same way
Some days you will be with Mom
Some days with me you’ll stay

Change sometimes is a good thing
So cheer up my darling child
No more fights and no more frowns
Just happy hearts and happy smiles

And know that even if a thousand miles
Separate you from me sometimes
We’ll never let you be sad or scared
We’re your Forever-Team, your Mom and I.