Promo Y Awoken Plain

She rests, but no longer sleeps.
Restless, indefinite rage
Writhes within her,
Churning fury,
Sulphuric bitterness
That cannot be quenched,
Fueled by distrust
Borne of abuse and betrayal.
Eyes narrowed, she listens intently;
Her nostrils flare; Her tail,
That barbed guardian of her solitude
Flicks in languid warning:
Woe betide the interloper
Who dares disturb the quietude
Of her dark and silent sanctuary.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam

If you’d like to know the story behind this poem, you can read it on WordyNerdBird’s blog.


My Child.

Promo Y My Child
In recent weeks, I have watched with tears of pride as a young man whom I helped to raise married the love of his life, with another standing beside him.
I have rejoiced in the arrival of new babies, and happily anticipate the birth of two more that I cannot wait to hold.
And I have grieved with a long time friend of mine in the tragic and unexpected loss of her own much-loved nephew.
This poem grew from our conversation.

It is for every one of “my” children, and for hers..

My child,
Although I did not give you life,
I have long given you my love—
The nurture and care of another heart
That would protect you as my own.
I have carried you closely in my heart
And raised you up in my prayers,
I have watched with pride in your victories
And wept with you when you found life was hard.
You will always have a place with me—
Nothing can separate us from one another,
Even now, this the love I have for you:
You are my child, and I your other mother.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam



The rain many so ardently prayed for
Quenches the thirst of the fire-stricken ground;
Hope takes root once again and flourishes,
Where late summer’s flames had burnt it down.

Tender green spearheads of new grass emerge
Breaking through the crust of blackened earth,
While coals and ash break down to nourish
Nature’s verdant first flush of rebirth.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam


They say the eyes are windows to the soul. I chose to explore that idea in response to the ‘Flash Friday’ prompt that was simply “windows”. 

Promo Y Windows
The windows shimmer, clean and bright,
Framed by a neatly maintained exterior;
Perfectly arranged shutters,
Cheerful flowers and a welcome mat
Belie the disorder that reigns within:
A dozen unfinished books scattered in disarray;
Photos and postcards pinned to the walls
Barely conceal old cracks and flaws,
A memo board covered by handwritten notes:
Lists, priorities, and too many messages
Of pain, anger, and self-derision;
Ramshackle furniture, tattered and torn,
Neatly arranged and draped with throws
To disguise the scars underneath.
Then the rain comes-
A sudden, uninvited storm,
Leaving streaky trails that look like
The footprints of tiny rivers
Until she wipes them away,
And adjusts the shutters carefully
So it’s not so easy for others
To see her truths and understand her pain.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam

Smoke In Our Eyes.

2018-03-19 11.29.18

A haze of acrid smoke blankets the town,
A pall that drifts in from the funeral pyre
Of trees and farms and houses
Cremated without ceremony just days ago.
It stings our eyes, scalds our nostrils,
And catches in our throats;
We tell ourselves this is why we have tears,
And why our voices break,
Or why we can’t speak at all.
We gather, like mourners at a wake,
Remembering just last week—
We thought life was tough then!
We sigh, and shake our heads,
In quiet commiseration.
“It just goes to show,” one old farmer says,
“You never know when something will happen
That turns your life upside down.”
We nod sagely, slowly,
And we blink away the tears
And curse the smoke that causes them.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam

This poem is for the people of my town, Cobden, and neighbouring communities of Garvoc, Terang, and Camperdown after devastating fires swept through on  the night of March 17th and the days that followed. 


On March 17th, late-season wildfires erupted and ran rampant near my home town in south-western Victoria, Australia. Thousands of acres of farmland and natural bush, countless animals, and eighteen homes were destroyed. Days later, the smoke still stings my nostrils and eyes, and I tell myself that is why I have so many tears. 

Today, I saw the devastation with my own eyes, and my mind took a snapshot that developed into a poem. 

2018-03-20 17.17.03

Tendrils of silver smoke curl skywards,
Bitter incense of the charred moonscape:
Last vapours of life and tears,
The ghosts of life as we knew it.

There is nothing left to yield:
Present and future intimately, hatefully cauterised
By the vermilion beast that ravages all in its path,
Its myriad voracious tongues licking and lashing,
Devouring, thrashing,
Until life and hope succumb, powerless to resist
Such forceful consumption.
All that remains are the blackened stones
And skeletons of that which stood before,
Still, silent and forlorn amongst the scars:
Grim testaments to hellish destruction.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam

I Am None Of Those Things.


I can no longer
Be everything,
Be what you need,
Be what they need,
Be strong,
Be tireless,
Be brave,
Be enough.

I am none of those things.

I love
I give
I strive
I yearn
But in the end
I only know how
To fall,
To fail,
To weep,
And wish with all my heart
That I could be anything
Other than what I am.



©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam


Sidewalk Closed Construction Urban Road Closed

Road closed.
The sign glares,
Arrogant, unfeeling,
Daring me to challenge
Its authority.

It doesn’t care
Where I want to go
Or what is on my to-do list.
Deaf to my muttered protests,
Defiantly mute in response,
It stares me down,

My priorities outranked,
Yet believing I might still have some choice
I concede—
There must be a way to
Get around the roadblock.
With map in hand,
I consider my options
Before choosing an alternate route.
The scenery may be different
Along that low and winding road
But it will get me there

Another sign,
Another diversion
From what matters.
Destination out of reach
Yet again.

My wheels spin in the dirt
Whining, screeching,
Surrounded by a cloud of protest
Billowing with dust and anger,
Getting closer to nowhere
As time blares its horn behind me
And life shakes its fist,
Both yelling at me to get out of the way.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam


This poem is perfect to share for Valentine’s Day- and every other day!

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