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You, Amy Winehouse and Me.

You AmyWinehouse and Me
You always remind me of Amy:
Not because you look like her,
Nor because of talent, or tattoos,
But because I want to fade to black.
Every time I think of you.

Only— Amy was wrong
Because you can’t drink your way
Out of a nightmare that haunts you
Day after day;
You’re not stronger than me
And tears don’t dry themselves;
You didn’t love me tomorrow, but I
Found someone else.

Sometimes the only rehabilitation
Is going different ways,
Because life still goes on
And there will be better days.
Someday I’ll put the pain behind me
And you won’t ever cross my mind:
It will be you, not me, that fades
Away to black.

©2017 Joanne Van Leerdam


Promo Y Masquerade.jpg

A secret lay hidden behind the mask of every guest,
Identities concealed by the way each one was dressed,
Each one played a role, a willing actor in the scene,
Yet completely in the dark about a tragedy unforeseen.

Lurking quietly in the shadows, waiting for her prey,
Hatred stood in cape and hood, weapon neatly tucked away,
Prepared to make the kill with a sharperned silver blade:
A deadly disguise in a cloak and dagger masquerade.

The unsuspecting quarry, was beautiful and charming,
Her mysteries innumerable, her temperament disarming;
Unaware of impending doom: alas, her soul was quite
Unprepared for a meeting with her maker here, tonight.

Too long had Hatred waited for this moment to arrive –
Of happiness, of life itself, her victim to deprive:
The sinister assassin plunged the blade into her prize,
The weapon sliding home with neither fear nor compromise.

Without a sound, the guileless victim fell where she was slain,
The bloodied stiletto, still where it pierced her heart, remained
A vivid testimony to the violence of her death,
With the shock of pain still on her face as she drew her last breath.

Gasps of fright and cries of horror filled the frigid nighttime air
As the witnesses, aghast, each looked upon her deathly stare,
Wondering amongst themselves, “Who would want to hurt her?”
While the victim’s spirit rose to vindicate her murder.

The host of the masquerade knelt to perform the grisly task –
There was no pulse, nor sign of life, so he removed her mask;
She lay there, far more beautiful than she had been in life,
Though cold and dead, her face was yet unstained by earthly strife.

Hatred hoped to slip away, her actions undetected,
The spectral visitation from her victim unexpected,
But when she was confronted by a ghostly apparition
With blood still on her guilty hands, she offered no contrition.

The superstititious witnesses made crosses and said prayers,
Fearful of the furious wraith who stood before them there,
Faces pale, hearts in throats; yet there was only one she sought:
Hatred, by whose dread design wicked murder had been wrought.

The ghost saw nought but sheer defiance in her killer’s face:
The cold contempt of Hatred only deepened the disgrace,
For Hatred was by nature a most unprepared defendant —
Cold of heart, conceited, and entirely unrepentant.

“Will you stand before me thus, bold perpetrator of my death?
Is there nothing you would say to me before your final breath?
Vengeance will be mine, let this congregation testify:
You took my life without remorse, now you must surely die.”

She raised her hand and cast a bolt of righteous indignation
Filled with electricity that sparked a conflagration
That consumed only her killer with fiery ecstasy:
A gruesome premonition of her eternal destiny.

©2017 Joanne Van Leerdam


Promo Y She Plain

Walking side by side on same path,
She led me to believe we were at peace,
Keeping in step with one another
Until She turned and reached for me:
Hand outstretched, a polished fingernail
Transforming, as I watched, into a crooked claw
That drew a jagged line of blood down my cheek
Which flowed and flowed, and would not heal,
Bewitched by that same poison
That stole the light from her soulless eyes.
“Suffer and weep” she crowed, relishing my horror,
“Mourn and gnash your teeth.”
Raising my fingertips to my face,
Hoping to close the wound,
An arc of pain, like forked lightning,
Leapt from my cheek to my hand
As it, too, began to open up
From the tip of each finger,
Tearing down into my palm,
Splattering my clothes, my skin
And the earth where I stood, aghast,
With my own warm, sticky, crimson.
“I shall die!” I whispered.
Hatred coloured her words
Darker and deeper than sin:
“Not today. Not tomorrow.
First you must drown in blood and sorrow.”
“I bleed, and I bleed!” my cries rose,
Not in my own voice, but one of a wailing banshee
Or a ghost whose soul cries out for peace.
“Bleed and suffer hell on earth,
Agonise as your soul dies within,
May you suffer hell ever after
With the anguish this curse brings.”
Spellbound by wounds that would not heal,
My mind recoiled in a cacophony of thoughts
Each vying for position at the front of my mind,
Yet as I looked into the face of evil,
The only word that came to me,
Spilling from my blood-encrusted lips, was

©2017 Joanne Van Leerdam

Teaser: The Silver Feather

Without giving any plot points away, here’s a teaser from my eerie tale, The Silver Feather. 
The Silver Feather Titled 6x9 Low Res

Once the sun had gone down and the neighbourhood had cleared of kids and folks heading home from work, Phil walked to the park where he and Libby had so often stopped and chatted  on their way home from school. He sat on the swing and let himself rock slowly in the quietness as the cold October breeze made fallen leaves scatter and drift aimlessly across the playground.

A bit like me. I’m just going where the wind takes me. Don’t know what else I can do. Wait for the pain to stop, I suppose. Blinking back tears again, Phil pondered Caitlyn’s words. Talk to her. Seriously! I don’t believe in that stuff. You’re here, and then you’re not. That’s why it hurts so much. She’s gone. 

Still, the more he tried to dismiss the idea, the more he began to think maybe he should try it. Okay, Caitlyn. I’ll give your weird therapy a shot. He stood and stretched, then set off at a jog towards the cemetery, which lay just a few blocks away. At least I’m not likely to run into anyone else there at this time of night, he thought wryly.


Promo Y Misery Plain
“More pain! More tears!”
The heartless master cries,
While beating me with cruel whips
Made from leather and hatred and lies.
I groan and cry “Dear God, how long
Can this intolerable torture go on?”
The plaything of a tyrant,
I ache to be set free;
But until then, I sweat in the heat
And groan in the silence
Because there seems to be no response:
Maybe that is an answer in itself.

©2017 Joanne Van Leerdam

Deadly Sins

Promo Nova Deadly Sins Plain

Withdrawal’s talons bite my flesh,
She devours me with emptiness;
Her fiery lust within my veins
Tortures me with searing pain.

Gluttony for the fix I crave
Drives my soul, consumed, depraved
By Addiction’s grasp upon my life,
To satisfy my heart’s desire.

Dawdling, desrisive, indolent,
Slothful Time scorns such dependence
And weakness in the one who waits
For endless hunger to abate.

Cornered by conspiring vices,
The need within me sacrifices
Pride and conscience, dignity:
The victims of depravity.

But as they circle for the kill,
One by one, they all fall still:
A smudgy, feeble shard of light
Breaks through the darkness of the night,

The ruby beam of hope reborn
Silently heralds the imminent dawn.
Light-shy, my predators shrink away
As first hint of morning saves their prey.

©2016 Joanne Van Leerdam

This poem is published in Nova.

Promo Nova Cover 2nd Final eBook with awards copy



Promo Leaf 1.37am Plain
I’m crying when I should be sleeping
And I’m not even sure of what’s wrong,
But sadness whispers it’s cruelest lies
When I’m alone in the dark for too long.

The blackness is filled with aching
And misery heavier than air,
Velvet blankets of darkness enfold me
As I drown in the waves of despair.

I wish that my mind would stop churning,
Let my body and soul find some peace;
But the pain and the fear keep returning,
Denying me any release.

If the coldest, darkest hour,
Is the one that comes just before dawn,
This darkness must give up its power
When the first hint of morning is born.

Oh please, let the first light come quickly
And replenish my heart with its fire
Let the daylight drive out the darkness
And bring me the peace I desire.

Leaf 2nd Ed Title Only copy
©2016 Joanne Van Leerdam

This poem is one of 43 that appear in the collection titled Leaf.