Of Cookies, People And Individuality

People aren’t all the same shape and size
As though there’s only one cookie cutter,
Nor are they placed neatly onto a tray
To bake until they’re all exactly right.
Have these people never noticed how
Two cookies that appear identical
Are rarely ever actually so?
Sometimes, even a perfect cookie breaks
Under unexpected pressure, or when
Rudely bumped into by another.
Very often, the best looking cookies
Prove to have very little merit
When it comes to both substance and taste.

Then why, pray tell, should my life or my love,
My self-image or physical shape and size,
Be required to fit into someone else’s
Decision of who and what I should be?
Whose crumby, half-baked idea was that?

The Sea.

2015-07-18 17.11.28 Warrnambool Breakwater Blog

Grey clouds glower;
A salty breeze bites my face.
The ocean whips into white points,
Hungrily reaching for something to devour.
I dare not let myself go near it today.

Instead, I sit by the old anchor
Nestled in the first tufts of grass
At the top of the beach.
It’s cold and uncaring,
Impersonal, and no company at all,
But it gives me some sense of security.
I envy its stability.
It knows its place.
It only needed to be itself
To do what it was meant to do.
Some days the sea is gentle,
Small waves lapping at my feet
As I hug my knees and
Gaze into the distance,
Wishing for something different,
Longing for things to change.



It seems so much less
Than it really is.
Some days, I sit on the shore
Watching it heave and crash,
Knowing its force, and
Thankful that it’s not
Turning me upside down,
Dumping me mercilessly,
Leaving me with nothing
But pockets full of sand.
I’ve been there.
Struggling to breathe – no!
To hold my breath,
Survive, stay afloat.
A few seconds to gulp greedily at the air
Then I am gone again,
Losing all sense of direction,
The plaything of the waves.

I’ve limped from the sea and
Collapsed on the shore,
Wondering how I hadn’t seen
The breaker that overwhelmed me.
It’s odd –
The cold doesn’t numb the senses.
It sharpens perception,
Heightens the pain,
Deepens the wounds.
Some of those wounds still haven’t healed.

I feel him before I see him.
He’s watching me,
Knowing where I have come from,
Understanding the storm that threatens.
I remember the day when
He rescued me from the sea.
It nearly won.
I was almost gone.
Then I was salvaged by his strong arms,
Beautiful hands, lifting me,
Carrying me, wrapping me
In his protective embrace.
His warmth radiated into the
Saddest, loneliest places
Within me.
Softly spoken words of reassurance –
He’s got me,
Nothing to fear,
I’m safe now.
He is beside me now,
His arm around my back,
His strength protecting me
From the elements.
He’s got me.
Nothing to fear.
I’m safe now.
The tide recedes
Except for the droplet
Weaving a solitary path
Down my cheek
As it chases after the sea
From whence it came.


©2016 Joanne Van Leerdam.

This poem is one of the 55 poems in Nova.    www.jvlpoet.com/books

I Missed All The Beautiful Things Today

I missed all the beautiful things today:
There were no rainbows, only dismal rain;
The clouds grew heavier and darker grey
With tears for what could never be again.
The path ahead appears obscured by weeds
Concealing deadly snares that lie in wait,
While miscreants and their malicious deeds
Desire to undo me and seal my fate.
My comfortless soul is crippled by fears
Amid incessant, wilful winds that blow,
And thus propel the chilling, icy spears
Cast by one-time friends who prove to be foes.
Yet, as this dreadful day draws to an end,
Despite my doleful tears amid the strife
My heart gives sincere thanks for every friend
Who sought my vulnerable heart to vouchsafe.
(C) 2017 Joanne Van Leerdam

The Passing Of The Night. 

The inky stillness of deepest night
Banishes even the moon’s pale light;
From a ghostly gum tree, serene and tall,
An owl hoots its lonely watchman’s call.
Hypnotised, creation falls under
The seductive spell of silent slumber
While nocturnal creatures eat their fill
And pursue their animal pleasures,’til
The velvet darkness of the witching hour
Concedes its lonely haunting power
To the break of dawn, like ruby fire
Burning brighter as the flames climb higher.
In the fickle morning light it seems
The lingering ghosts of last night’s dreams
Masquerade as the early morning mist,
Gathering in a silent spectral tryst
That obscures all that lies behind
Those hazy walls in both field and mind,
Until the radiant light of day
Drives the dreams and their ghosts away.

©2017 Joanne Van Leerdam


A shroud of delusory darkness
Covers her everywhere she goes;
It’s only visible from the inside
So no other soul ever knows.
Other people only ever see
Robes in all the colours of life;
She never lifts the shadow veil
That conceals her turmoil and strife.

Made of dense and heavy fabric,
It only serves to weigh her down:
Her thoughts and movements are burdensome,
Her inner voice makes no outward sound.
Her perceptions are distorted,
For that cloak whispers dangerous lies,
She can discern neither light nor truth
From within her deceptive disguise.

Thus she exists in a blighted world
With her silent, stealthy disease
While, ignorant and oblivious,
Others go on with life as they please.
Yet within her remains a fragment
Of indelible, hopeful belief
That her mantle might be removed
And her soul may at last find relief.
©2017, Joanne Van Leerdam


Abandoned Plain 2
Abandoned, for far too long alone,
All she wants is for them to come home
And breathe life into her crumbling walls,
To reanimate these desolate halls
With the love and laughter they used to bring,
The childish songs they used to sing,
She longs for the joy she used to know
When they lived here, many years ago.


Light filters through windows by time obscured,
Revealing the grime of neglect endured:
Aged joints have seized, tired hinges moan,
Paths and gardens now overgrown
Impede her steps, uneven and frail,
That rise from the winding, weaving trail
Of stones that used to lead the way
From gate to hearth in happier days.


Weathered and wizened, her colours have greyed,
Remnants of grandeur now old and decayed.
Littered with years of collected debris,
And fallen leaves from the family tree
That gather in otherwise empty corners,
Ghastly reminders of life before her
Gradual surrender to  aged decline
Ravaged by the ruthless, relentless time.
©2017 Joanne Van Leerdam.


Softly settle the sediments
As thoughtless water flows away,
Leaving precious elements
Where they shall never see decay.

Fragments of the fulgent sun
Are captured as golden grains
Cradled in the river bed
Of deep poetic refrains.

Concealed in that fertile womb
The seeds evolve and bide their time,
For a miner to dig deep enough
To give them breath, and form, and rhyme.

Yet still the water babbles on
As the rich deposits harden,
While traces of those gifts are borne
To nourish distant gardens.

Joanne Van Leerdam, 2017. 

This poem was  inspired by fellow poet, Lyra Shanti, whose fabulous book of poetry is titled ‘Sediments’.