Belly Ache.

Belly Ache

“Ohhh, it hurts.” He squirmed on his bed, gently rubbing his belly with his hands.

“Does it?” She sat on the edge of the bed and patted his arm.

“Yeah. Here… and here.”

“That’s no good.” She laid her hand on his slightly distended abdomen, finding it firm and warm to the touch. She could feel his muscles contracting as his intestines roiled and gurgled underneath her palm.

“And I’m hot.”

“Yes, I can feel that.”

“I want it to stop hurting.”

“I know. It will, soon,” she said, suppressing a wry, satisfied smile as she looked at her watch.



©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam




Buried alive,
Imprisoned within the neat and tidy box
In which they have placed her,
Made from others’ expectations
And varnished with a heavy layer
Of not-quite transparent judgement,
She pounds against the deaf, unfeeling walls,
Scratching and kicking in desperate rage
Until her nails split and fingers bleed with frustration.
Suffocating, her lungs burn
As her mind seethes,
Both frantic for air and freedom.
Yet her cries go unheeded,
Smothered by at least six feet of
Accumulated assumptions and apathy
That both conceal the unmarked grave
And silence the sound of her fury.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam

Read my reflection about my reasons for writing this poem in my blog post, ‘Square Peg, Round Hole’.

The Shadow.

ShadowThe child skipped down the sidewalk, laughing as she landed on her shadow. She began to stomp, landing her feet harder with each step.
Then, without warning, long shadowy fingers wrapped around her right foot while another dark, translucent hand reached through the pavement for her left. She tried to keep it in the air for as long as possible until, overbalancing, she fell to her hands and knees. As spindly, shady fingers swiftly grabbed each limb and pulled her down into the ground, her shadow leapt up, stomped hard with both feet until she disappeared, and laughed as it skipped away.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam


2018-09-07 11.28.42


I no longer fear you
Nor the damage you threaten.
Having already endured the fire
My bricks are harder than your anger.
I am rebuilding, stone by stone,
All that you almost destroyed,
And those strong walls
Will keep you out.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam




Read some of the poet’s thoughts about this poem.

Flash Friday: Not Safe.

Not Safejpg


At 2.39pm, Caroline finally found an opportunity to escape from her desk as nature had been urging her to do for the past hour.

The only cubicle free was the last in the row, where a sign on the door read, “Not safe for use.”

“Don’t care!” she muttered.

She sat, then recoiled, certain something had touched her buttock. Before she could stand, cold fingers took firm hold of her like a bowling ball and pulled her into the bowl.

And the sensor on the auto-flush winked with satisfaction as it surveyed the empty stall with a locked door. Again.



An ill wind blows:
The flame shivers,
Yet she persists.
Her soul burns on,
Brighter than before,
Indignant, defiant,
Fuelled by that very breath
That hoped to extinguish her life.
The steady, constant light she gives
Illuminates the place in which she stands
And the surly disappointment on
The face of the cold and bitter wind.

ⓒ2018 Joanne Van Leerdam

Holding My Tongue.


Someone told me this morning
That I should hold my tongue,
So I’ve taken heed of the warning
Using my forefinger and thumb.
It’s really quite uncomfortable
And swallowing is tricky,
My hand is covered in dribble
And it’s getting kind of sticky.
It’s difficult to talk much
So I have to grunt a lot,
In all my life, I’ve not seen such
Dirty looks as those I’ve got.
I’m sure it wasn’t good advice,
And suspect I’ve been misled:
I wonder if it would suffice
If I just shut up instead.

©2017 Joanne Van Leerdam

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Not Famous.

Promo Y Not Famous

She was not famous
But she was loved.

Stylish, but messy –
She would never fit
Into neat little boxes
Of expectation
With tidy edges
And glossy surfaces.

And then, one day,
Like glitter sifting through fingertips
She fell through the cracks
Between those boxes,
And the wind blew,
its chill deep and unrelenting,
And carried the glitter away.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam



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Embrace Sculpture. Photograph by Eric Kilby via Flickr

Let my love wash over you, body and soul,
Like a welcome shower of summer rain,
Erase the smudges of life’s grimy residues,
Soothe the scars of your grief and pain.
Surrender your fear and doubt to me,
Make my comforting arms your home;
When circumstances conspire against you,
My constant faith will restore your own.
Let my love’s power perfect your weakness
And my honour erase your disgrace,
May the gentle kisses from my lips
Erase all the tears from your face.
I will be your refuge and tower
A barricade against life’s storms:
In that sanctuary you will be renewed,
By my lavish love and grace transformed.

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam

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